Monday, July 1, 2013

A weekend of Firsts -First Night away, First 14er of the season and First class 4

Friday was a special night in the Magee household – it was our first night away from Charlotte. My mom had expressed that she wanted to come out and visit us so I told her the last weekend of June was convenient. When you do not have family that lives in town and have to rely on babysitters if you want to leave the house alone it is a pretty big deal to have free help fly in. Chad and I have been on a few dates by ourselves without Charlotte but nothing like a whole night away. I am an avid hiker of 14ers and was dying to get out into the wilderness with Chad. While there is no shortage of friends who want to hike with me, there is a lack of people qualified enough to hike most of the harder mountains that I have remaining on my list (I had hiked 27 of the 54 official 14ers before this weekend). So I asked my mom if she wouldn’t mind watching Charlotte while Chad and I went out to camp and hike a 14er and she was thrilled. For her, it was uninterrupted time alone with her granddaughter and for us it was a chance to get away while leaving her with someone we knew could handle the job 110%. Once my mom text me that she was on the flight Friday I called Chad and let him know we would be good to go!

The mountain I picked for us to hike, Mt. Lindsey is in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness which is in southern Colorado. You drive so far south you are almost to New Mexico. After picking my mom up for the airport I kissed Charlotte good-bye and we were off. Leaving your child alone when she is three months old and breastfeeding takes careful planning. I had to pump enough milk during the week to get my supply up so my mom could feed her. Unfortunately, due to working out and being dehydrated a lot I am not one of those women who produce gallons of milk for their child. I calculated that at 4oz a meal with about 8 meals a day I had to leave at least 32oz for my mom so she could feed Charlotte. I also had to take my breast pump with me so I could pump while I was away to keep my supply up and my breasts from becoming too engorged. My fellow moms, this is perhaps the second worst part of leaving your baby – the constant pumping! We had to stop and get extra ice for the cooler and a water bottle so I could store the milk as I was not about to throw this liquid gold away. We left Denver at 6:30 and arrived to the trailhead close to 11pm. Due to the windy and chilly air we decided not to set up the tent but to sleep in the car and set the alarm for 3:30am.

Our first night alone may not have been luxurious but it was wonderful enjoying each other’s company uninterrupted once again.

At 4:30am we set off for Mt. Linsdey. Aside from just the sheer love of hiking 14ers I truly enjoy being out in nature. When Chad and I are home together we don’t have a lot of deep intense in-depth conversations. One of us is either taking care of Charlotte or cleaning the house or doing yard work. When we do have time alone we tend to be on our separate phone devices playing words with friends (against each other no less) and surfing facebook. Out in the wilderness though it’s just Bebe, Chad and me and our hiking poles. As we set off on our 4 mile journey it was quiet save for the birds beginning to wake up and the water crossings along the trail. There was no wind and the temperature was perfect even for our early start so I knew we were going to have a wonderful day.

We saw no one else on the trail in front of us and it wasn’t until we almost broke treeline that anyone caught up with us. The beauty of not hiking front range 14ers is that you usually have the trail and mountain to yourselves. A guy named Tim was hiking with only his dog Barney and he tagged along with us for the next 1,000 or so feet. Tim had hiked quite a few 14ers himself so Chad was left to marvel as Tim and I geeked out on 14er mountain hiking talk. It turned out Tim was from Ohio and was married with an 11 month baby girl at home and he lived in Denver as well. Amazing how much you can learn about a person at high altitude. I know I am guilty of spending so much time glued to technology that I do not open my mouth and mind to others as much as I should. Yet in the open air as we hiked along there was nothing to pass the time but to talk to one another so that’s exactly what we did.

Tim did not think his dog could handle the Northwest Ridge route so when we reached the junction between that and the gully Chad and I split off. Honestly I didn’t know if Bebe or I could make the Northwest Ridge class 4 ascent ourselves but I had promised Chad a hard mountain and difficult route in exchange for his accompanying me on the hike. We decided that we would just continue up to the crux and see how difficult it looked and if it was horrible we would turn around. There was truly only about 30 feet of class 4 climbing but this was complicated by the fact we had a dog with us. I scouted the route up the wall and stayed left of the giant crack but then couldn’t see a good line to go once we topped out. I began to panic a little not knowing what to do. Chad looked at me and said, “Well we are committed now, we can’t turn around and we can’t go back down.” Those words gave me the confidence I needed to keep climbing. We kept Bebe our dog in-between us and there were several spots where we had to hand her to one another. The scrambling and route finding was challenging but fun and I think we would have had an easier time staying on track if we could have stayed on the ridge line directly instead of traversing lower  to find a better route for Bebe.

the northwest ridge route on the right with the wall and big crack in the center and the standard route to the left up the gully
Once we reached the actual trail again at the top of the standard route gully we saw Tim coming off the summit. We chatted for awhile about our separate experiences and then he headed down while we continued on to the summit. There was no one else on the summit when we arrived so we were the second people of the day to make it up there. 

with blanca and ellingwood behind me

We could see hikers at the saddle on their way in and decided to make our way back down before there was a big que in the gully.

descending the standard route
Not descending the route you ascended presents its own set of challenges. I believe we could have made it down a lot sooner had our route finding been better. We started to descend down what I believe was the North Couloir on accident thinking it was the North Face until a hiker above us thankfully saw us and told us not to go down that way. At about that time I had stepped on what I thought to be a stable rock that was the size of a microwave and it gave way underneath me. Fortunately I moved off of it before it gave way and took me down the gully with it. The descent was very slow going and we knocked down several rocks that could have easily hurt anyone had they been below us. Chad and I kept our helmets on because at this point other climbers were starting to come up the gully and we were afraid they would rain rocks down on us. I was amazed at the amount of people that were climbing that did not have helmets. All in all I would say we saw maybe ten other climbers on the mountain and we were the only ones to have taken the class 4 route. I only saw one other woman who was waiting at the saddle for her friends after she decided not to summit. While I was never fearful for my life on Lindsey I must say I grossly underestimated the mountain and it was a lot looser and more steep than I had originally thought it to be. I was glad I had not brought up any of my friends who were less experienced in mountaineering!

We made it back to the car around 1:30 putting our total hiking time at about 9 hours for an 8 mile hike. We could have shaved off time had we not had issues route finding. It was just starting to sprinkle on us as we reached the car and I was thankful to have been off the summit by 10:30am. 

After such a long hike I thought my boobs were going to explode and so Chad had to drive while I pumped. I was the only woman to summit the mountain that day and definitely the only person on the mountain with a breast pump. I was reminded once again that I am not the same person as I was last summer and took mental notes that anyone else I hike with will have to deal with me pumping as well! Not an easy task but I am blessed to be able to continue to hike the mountains I love. I never felt winded or out of shape on the mountain which I can attribute to my attendance at bootcamp starting 4 weeks post-partum!

Once the hike was over with we began our journey home to Charlotte and my mom. We arrived around 6pm at our house to my mom hanging out while Charlotte was napping. My mom has raised four children so she had no problem feeding Charlotte, putting her down for naps or taking her for walks around the block. Seeing my mom with Charlotte made me realize how much I miss my mom’s presence and how fortunate I am to have her when she is here! The rest of the weekend we spent time at my friends baby shower and enjoying Jazz in the Park and the farmer’s market. Time went by too quickly and before I knew it I was dropping my mom off at the airport. I was extra sad to see her go this time.

I have returned back to work and have an overnight trip this week so this night away gave me confidence I can leave Charlotte and be alright. Having a child means there is so much more balance that has to occur in your life between what you want to do and what you must do. I know it is good to get away from Charlotte now and again because it makes me a better person when I return to her but I hate leaving. I suppose now is the time to do so though before she gets old enough to actually realize I am gone. While I know I can hike many more 14ers this summer for both Chad and I to be able to go camping together was a special trip. He is not the biggest fan of hiking so I truly appreciate him spending his weekend when he could be resting with me. I feel both him and my mom are the reason I was able to have such a wonderful weekend and summit on an epic peak and for that I am grateful.

After this weekend I realized having a baby doesn’t mean you have to give up doing the things you love but it does take more consideration and shifts to make things happen. I cannot just leave ever weekend to hike anymore and when I do leave I am a slave to the breast pump. I am glad however, that our first night away was a success and I know I can do it again and it will get easier. It will all get easier.
As Chad said on the mountain, I’m committed now…there’s no turning back…so I might as well keep climbing up….


  1. So this comment isn't related to this post, but I remember you saying United health care covers a breast pump. We looked into it and it says they cover 100% but you have to get it through a hospital. How did that work out? Do you just call and "buy" one from them, if so what type do they have? Thanks for your help.

  2. So what you do is call united and tell them you want to buy a breast pump. They will give you a list of medical supply distributors that you can pick from. I believe there were three companies. You will call the company then and tell them you are using your insurance to buy one, give them your insurance info and then pick the one you want. I had a choice between a medela and a purely yours Ameda and I chose the purely yours because the medela was only battery powered and the ameda was battery or electric. Then the company will send it to you in the mail. You don't have to buy through the hospital in fact I think you only go through the hospital if you want to rent. United only covers one rental or purchase in your lifetime so you may as well buy since they are paying!

  3. THANK YOU SOOOO MUCH!!! :) You have been so helpful to me with this whole baby process.

  4. Oh you are so welcome! Moms gotta help each other out! Just an FYI with the breast pump will come these little white membrane things that attach to the pump and the milk trickles through them into the bottles....change those every three months or so with the replacements they give you. I thought my pump was losing suction and was dying on me and I changed those out and it worked great again. No one tells you these things!