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Family fall adventures: Bouldering at Alderfer/Three Sisters Park

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Saturday was like a breath of fresh air. After our month-long road-trip to Canada in July, I needed a break from traveling and we have become relative homebodies as we’ve fallen into our back-to-school routine juggling homework, soccer, volleyball, school and church activities and work.

Even though we had a busy morning with games, the fall weather was 70-degree perfection and I bribed the kids that they could skip chores if they came to play with me in the mountains that afternoon.

This is also known as being a bigger kid than your kids.

So, while my husband Jamie watched a football game and worked, we headed to the hills. One of our favorite areas to explore is Alderfer/Three Sisters Park in Evergreen, Colo. The park was once a working ranch for cattle, horses and foxes and now offers stunning vistas, landmark rock formations, beautiful old stands of ponderosa pine and the most trails per acre of any foothills park—nearly 15 miles on 770 acres. Fall colors are beginning to emerge and my gosh if our explorations didn’t make the three of us exuberantly happy. I don’t think we realized how much we needed that adventure until we started doing it.

Though we enjoy hiking the extensive network of trails, what we love most at Alderfer/Three Sisters is bouldering on the steep granite quartz blocks near the south trailhead. I’d be lying if it doesn’t make me a bit nervous for safety reasons but on Saturday, we achieved summit firsts on various formations and had a blast!! Hadley, as always, was our mountain goat while Bode was initially cautiously adventurous, weighing various drops as “Hmmm, it seems a bit risky.”

And me? I rested from climbing at one point and was just content to watch the kids explore. Until, that is, Hadley accused me of “needing to be more like J.D.’s Grandma.”

Now, normally when someone accuses you of being a grandma, they’re insulting you but she was goading me on to become like J.D.’s hardcore grandma who was a butt-kicker as we climbed the Great Sand Dunes National Parks’ highest peak.

I wanna be just like her in my 70s.

Hadley’s fuzzy picture of one of many mountain bluebirds

We discovered hidden pools in the rocks. Bode bravely role-played he was on American Ninja Warrior’s Mount Midoriyama as he leaped over crevasses. Hadley squealed at the influx of mountain bluebirds on their namesake trail. We acted out Y-M-C-A as our shadows projected onto our craggy movie screen. The afternoon sky burned blue and gold leaves whispered in the wind as we climbed our granite islands amidst a sea of Ponderosa pine and meadows.

After a couple of hours, Hadley was just getting warmed up and could have explored all day but I tempted them with ice cream and she took the bait for the second time that day (no chores and ice cream?)

Evergreen was bustling with activity and prior to getting our ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, we shopped at Seasonally Yours Evergreen Taffy Co. and Fresh Fudge for the first time. We spent an hour exploring this colorful, funky and fun shop that had everything from toys to novelty items to candy to the most gorgeous decorations.

After Hadley and Bode devoured birthday cake fudge and pumpkin ice cream, we raced down the serpentine Bear Creek Canyon with windows down, music blasting and the kids’ feet out the window.

Dare I say it was the perfect afternoon?

As we drove into Denver, we passed one of the few places we have yet to explore. Hadley queried, “Mom, why haven’t we hiked there?”

My heart sang a little more because of her love for the outdoors. It doesn’t matter where I am in the world, if I see a trail all I want to do is climb it.

And last weekend, we achieved some incredible summits in Colorado.

What fall adventures have you enjoyed?

Amber Johnson
Author: Amber Johnson

Amber is the founder and editor of Mile High Mamas. She is a passionate community builder and loves the outdoors. She has two awesome teens and is happily married to a man obsessed with growing The Great Pumpkin.

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  • comment avatar Chris September 22, 2014

    OK, we’ve hiked and mountain biked here a lot but have never been bouldering. Where is this?

  • comment avatar Amber September 22, 2014

    There are so many great places to do it. We like to start off the Bluebird Meadow Trail–there’s an outcropping at the end of the meadow loop. Then, we just kept climbing the formations behind it!

  • comment avatar Mary September 23, 2014

    Love love love this area.

  • comment avatar Kristine Colwill September 27, 2014

    I haven’t been here yet! Thanks for the new idea. Will definitely have to go when the hubs can come along because I always have a near heart attack when my kids climb anything :).

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