High-Altitude Hiking with an Asthma Kid

The sandstone cliffs of Eldorado Canyon in Boulder rise up steeply from either side of South Boulder Creek:


See what I mean?


This is a popular spot for serious rock climbers, and it’s beautiful, although the overcast sky here makes the reddish rock walls look less striking than they actually are.

Somehow, I managed not to take any pictures of AG, but here’s a good one of the Sidekick by the creek:


And – and! – I took the best photo I’ve maybe ever taken, from inside a shallow cave looking out at Streamside Trail:


We then drove up higher to hike Fowler Trail at 6,000 feet and then the longer, steeper one that connects to it, Rattlesnake Gulch Trail.

Here’s where the two meet:


Look, it’s the Continental Divide, an elevation gain of 1,200 feet above the trailhead.


Total round-trip distance = just under four miles

It’s no Mount Everest, but any significant elevation gain poses a breathing challenge even for me, and the snow and ice still packing most of the trail made for slippery footing yesterday.

My asthmatic daughter hiked the whole thing in these conditions – her younger sister got through most of it – and anyone watching would never guess at the spastic-prone lungs she has, lurking beneath that robust, healthy exterior.

It’s that hidden part that other people don’t understand, that tendency for asthmatic lungs to flare badly and suddenly and seriously in a person who doesn’t otherwise “look sick.”

This is my goal with the breathlessness project, to get that message through.