| Asthmatic 11 year old, Her 1st summit
Last year my daughter Kelsey tried a couple of mountains, but never quite reached the summit's. She was born premature and as a result has struggled with asthma. Always a fighter though, she has never kept still and has never let her asthma stop her. Armed with inhalers and prednason, she and I headed for Bierstadt, arrival, 4 am. She informed me that she loves starting the hikes when it is still dark outside, who am I to argue. The air held a refreshing chill, its scent fresh in the early morning hours. Kelsey's excitement was contagious.
Kelsey in the early morning hours.
The walk through the willows was uneventful in the dark and we made it past them before the sky's started to light up in pre-dawn grey.
Moon over the Sawtooth Her excitement only grew the closer we got to the top, by now we could see a few people behind us making their way up. Kelsey was on her game today, breathing great, no coughing, we were good to go. She was pushing me, not the other way around, which was a good sign.
Kelsey goofing around
Not sure what this look is The higher we got we began to hear the Pika's waking for the day, their distinctive chirps ringing through the air. By now, the sky's were bright enough to make out details at a distance. Suddenly my daughter shouted "Deer". My head snapped up to see and took a minute to register that indeed, I was staring at several Bucks. I wouldn't have been surprised if they were Elk, but they were definitely deer. Oh yeah, its hunting season, these guys were up high to avoid the hunters.
Last look at the Deer We continued on as the deer were not sticking around to find out what we were. On up into the steepest part of the climb, which considering other mountains, is not bad at all. We started to see the Pika now, cute little critters and they were in abundance.
Pika posing on a rock We got a little further up the trail and stopped for a short breather, not bothering to sit down when my daughter asked me "what is that?" My response, "what is what?" Apparently her eyes are a lot sharper than mine because it took a few for me to see what she was pointing at. A Ptarmigan, perfectly camouflaged.
Ptarmigan camouflaged Hunger started to show up, our stomachs making some odd sounds, so, at the suggestion of my daughter, we stopped and ate one of our sandwiches, giving us a boost in energy.
Kelsey happy to be close to the top Within minutes we were at the top ridge just before the summit boulders, the sun breaching the ridge line.
The sun over the ridge
Kelsey with the sun behind her We continued on up into the boulders, by this time we saw two guys heading up towards us.
Heading up through the bouldersSurprising to me, we were the first on the summit for the day, my daughter taking the lead.
Kelsey's victory pose
The summit We held the summit to ourselves for about 5 minutes which seems to me to be a long time for Bierstadt. The two guys made it up and were nice and took a photo for us.
Myself and Kelsey They headed for the sawtooth as we headed back down.
Back down the mountain We saw the last of the Pika before they remained behind us.
A last look at the Pika We finally spotted what was to be the only Marmot we would see on this hike.
The only Marmot we sawHere come the people, more and more, the mountain turning into a busy metropolis, people of all ages enjoying the outdoors. We started hearing reports of a moose in the lake below. This would be the best photo I would get, as it vanished into the willows before we ever got close.
The moose We made it, the summit and back, arriving back in the parking lot at 9:45am. My daughter never had an asthma attack, her strength and attitude making this day memorable for both of us. A great day!!
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