On the Trail: Peak weekend

Bob Ward

I dragged my 7-year-old son up his first fourteener last weekend – an occasion that yielded a high-altitude cell phone call to his mom and plenty of compliments from other hikers – but the long-sought summit wasn’t even the highlight of the weekend.For me, at least, I’ll remember the weekend for the long hours we spent, just dad and kid on a camping trip. It’s amazing how many hours pass on a camping trip – in the car, bickering about which CDs to play, setting and taking down the tent, cooking meals, watching clouds and playing catch.As a matter of fact, Billy and I spent so much time together over the weekend that we sometimes ran out of things to talk about. When that happened we’d just shut up and be together.We packed a lot of small adventures into a weekend. After hiking Mount Sherman, we celebrated at our favorite restaurant in Leadville, and then blew an hour eyeing all the merchandise in Western Hardware and Antiques. When it started to downpour outside, we changed our plans for the night and drove south to Mt. Princeton Hot Springs. The many pleasures of a soak in hot water are only amplified by a steady drizzle. Billy pronounced it “awesome.”That night we got into camp late and cooked by the light of a Coleman lantern. I ate bratwurst, and he ate a hot dog; since I’d forgotten the hot dog buns, he used a cinnamon-raisin bagel and liked it even better than a plain old bun.Before the weekend was out, we would visit two ghost towns in the Sawatch Range, camp by a beaver pond and take a long Sunday morning hike near Independence Pass, where we stumbled over a number of mining-era relics and literally hundreds of mushrooms.By the time we returned home, I’d practically forgotten we’d hiked his first fourteener just one day before. Until I listened to his voicemail message from the top of Mount Sherman.