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J-Man’s First 14er

Last week we returned from an awesome trip to the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. The mountains are filled with alpine lakes, an abundance of wildlife, snowfields, spider webs of 4-wheel drive roads, waterfalls, ghost towns, mountain biking, beautiful wildflowers and numerous 14,000ft mountains.

View of the San Juan mountains 


While planning the trip we scheduled to summit one of the 14,000ft mountains and we did exactly that. Bedge and I have summited other 14,000ft mountains but we wanted J-Man to do his first. We chose Handies, which neither of us had done before. It is one of the ‘easier’ 14,000ft summits. None of them are easy per se, but this one was an easier one at 14,048ft.

There are two different approaches to the summit. You can hike out of American Basin or Grizzly Gulch. Grizzly Gulch is the longest of the two approaches. With J-man in tow we chose to hike out of American Basin – 5.5 miles round trip with 2,500ft of elevation gain. We camped in American Basin the night before and started our trek at 8am the next morning.

The night before our summit in American Basin


Bedge wanted to carry J-Man on this hike and so be it. With that kinda of elevation gain I didn’t argue. We chose not to let J-man do any portion of the hike on the way up. Thunderstorms are prevalent in the afternoons in the San Juans and the last thing you want is to be caught in lightening storm above tree line, on a summit with no shelter. We wanted to get to the summit as quickly as our legs would climb and if there was time on the way down J-Man would be able to do a bit of hiking on his own.

The hike to the summit was spectacular. There was a myriad of wildflowers – indian paintbrush, columbines, old man of the mountain, marsh marigolds, parry primrose and so much more. You pass Sloan’s Lake a little over a mile into the hike. The lake is filled with glacial silt making it a beautiful turquoise blue.

So beautiful!

View of Sloan Lake from the trail

We crossed a few snow fields, a creek crossing, heard a couple pikas squeaking at us and spoke to dozen or so hikers that were in awe that we were bringing J-Man to the summit. It blows my mind that people aren’t familiar with seeing ‘babies’ on the trail.

Snowfield crossing

Creek crossing early on in the hike

We reached the summit and holy cow was it packed. There was a huge group of high school students from Texas and a bunch of smaller groups and families. It was so great to see everyone enjoying the outdoors and the beautiful day.

J-man was a rockstar when he arrived. People started asking to take his picture, wanted to know his age, if it was his first 14er and wanted to make sure he ‘signed in’ (there’s a guest log on summits.). It was fun and a warm welcoming.

We had our lunch on the summit and then headed down. The sky was sunny and clear from any threatening clouds, so we let J-Man lead the way down.

Having lunch at 14,048ft!

J-Man on the summit

We did it!

30 minutes in to our decent the clouds started rolling in and getting darker. It’s amazing how quickly they arrive and become threatening. We secured J-Man in the pack and continued our way down.

Pretty steep section of the trail on the way down

Amazing view!

It took us about 5 hrs to do the hike with lunch on the summit, rest breaks, and photo stops.

What an accomplishment for us!

We can’t wait to take J-man on his next 14er. We haven’t decided which one it will be.

Maybe… Torrey’s, Gray’s or Bierstadt.



Have you had any adventures or accomplishments with your tykes this summer? Do you have plans to accomplish a hike, ride, climb or any other outdoor activity with your tykes?






  1. WOWZER! I love the pics. What a great family trip!

  2. WOW! Congratulations. This is very inspiring. The pictures are lovely, the family is beautiful, and the accomplishment is huge! We need to get our little one out there. She would love it.

  3. I love this! I just found your blog and LOVE IT! My husband & I do not have children yet however we plan to take them everywhere we go already! Thanks for being awesome parents and taking your kiddo adventuring. I’ve had so many people tell me, hike/camp/adventure now because you can’t with kids.


  1. […] I shared with you J-Man’s first 14er summit and for today’s Tuesday’s Tip of the Day I want to stress the precautions that are […]

  2. […] In the end the burns weren’t nearly as bad as I originally thought they would be. He got a minor blister on one finger and a couple discolored marks on two others. Thank goodness! It could have been a lot worse. (This was the night before his 14,000ft summit.) […]

  3. […] 4. On the way up to the summit of Handies Peak (14,048 ft) – San Juans, CO (J-Man’s first 14ner) […]

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