Estes Park is a little mountain town at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park. In the summer it is a bustling, tourist filled town with great weather and many outdoor activities. In the winter it is quite the opposite; an empty town, filled with the residents that are the town’s true heart and soul. The outdoor activity is still available, but the great weather has gone home with the tourists; replaced by snow, cold and most notably wind. We decided this would be a great place to spend the weekend and earn some outdoor time.
The original plan was to leave on Friday night and spend two days and nights in this winter wonderland. Plan derailed. At about 5:08 on Friday afternoon, as I was running around our house doing five things at once (folding clothes, feeding kids, packing our bags, cleaning the kitchen and keeping my sanity) and thinking about five others, Kaitlin called me on her way home from work and we decided we were both too exhausted to pack and make the trip tonight. We audibled and decided that leaving Saturday morning would be a more sane decision and allow us to relax and get a good nights sleep.
We left on Saturday morning about 10am and were at a trailhead by 1pm. The weather was a mixture of flurries, snow, sleet and wind. The wind was a consistent 15 mph with gusts up to 25 mph. We prepped our boys in as much clothes as possible and our hope was to go about a mile and turnaround and call it a day. We started out pretty well; AJ liked walking the stairs and he waddled (the 30 layers of clothes made it difficult to walk the trail let alone climb stairs) his way up and down them with a little help from me. The wind put a little damper on his spirit, so I would give him a lift until we got to the next interesting spot. Kaitlin and MJ stayed behind us as she snapped many photos and he cuddled into her body for warmth.
It appeared we might make our mile, until mother nature reminded us that, while beautiful and generous she also packs a nasty bite. In our endless packing on friday and saturday we forgot our yak tracks, spikes you put on your shoes so you don’t slip. The trail was mostly snowy, but enough weather had happened to create some slippery spots. I spotted one ahead and as AJ’s feet started to slide I grabbed his arm and pulled him across, crisis averted. Not so much, Kaitlin was in awe of the trees and did not see the spot. As she hit the ice, her body when perpendicular to parallel faster than i could say “look out”. Fortunately, MJ was riding on her front and received none of the impact. Unfortunately, Kaitlin’s back and head took the brunt of the fall and she was woozy to say the least. I helped her up and evaluated her status to the best of my ability. She appeared okay, but was definitely feeling sore and had a big headache. We went a little further, but the incident appeared to take the wind out of our sails and we soon headed back.
Later that night, after we determined that Kaitlin was okay and the kids were sleeping, we counted our blessings that it wasn’t worse and laughed about the hike. Who takes their toddler and baby hiking in sub freezing, windy weather on an icy trail filled we sharp edges. Apparently, we do.