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.

18 responses to “High-Altitude Hiking with an Asthma Kid”

  1. Sarah says:

    I’m so envious! I love climbing and hiking, but right now, I don’t have access to good hiking trails (there’s walking trails, but I’m of the opinion that the word “hike” implies a degree of difficulty greater than the walking trails around my down can provide), and my finances prohibit taking rock climbing lessons.

    Those photos are beautiful, though!

  2. Danielle says:

    Can’t wait to go home and do the same!! I’m like AG in that I love hiking. Hiking can be tough for us asthmatics, as the aerobic nature of climbing uphill coupled with the high altitude can leave us pretty out of breath! But it’s doable as long as we take the right precautions and it’s totally worth it!! I’ll be posting pics of my first hike when I get home!

  3. kerri says:

    Gorgeous pictures, Amy! Hope you all had fun!!

  4. Amy Anaruk says:

    Sarah–I totally agree on walking vs. hiking. During my last couple of years living in flat, flat Florida, we knew we were moving to Colorado & it was VERY hard to wait.

    Danielle–Looking forward to them!

    Kerri–Thanks, we did. And the Sidekick was extremely thankful that the “plans” for hiking again today were only an April Fool’s joke.

  5. Babinnes says:

    Hi there, Are you going to be posting a follow up page? The hubby and me have spent some time browsing over your web site and funnily enough you touched on a little something we were referring to only the other day with our daughter. We very often find ourselves arguing with the smallest of issues, isn’t it childish?

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