Some months ago, I mentioned to Son that when I retire I plan on walking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT). After a short period of time (a couple of weeks later), he asked me if I wanted to do it as a threw hike or would I like to do it in stages? He mentioned that if I did it in stages, he could go with me. I really liked that idea.
This past Saturday, we headed towards Squaw Mountain East trail for our first day hike. The Grandsons were to hike with us. 😀 The closer we got to the trailhead, the bumpier (bumpy from the runoff that carved deep meandering ruts in the gravel road when the snow melted) and icier (icy from the snow that had partially melted and then refroze) the road got. I don’t like bumpy roads and neither does grandson#1. Son and grandson#2 LOVE the bumpy roads. I also don’t like driving on ice or too near the edge of the road, especially if my side of the car is on the side of the road that drops off sharply.
On the way up to the trail head, we came upon another vehicle. They were pointed down the mountain and parked right in the middle of the road, the very icy road. As we politely tried to inch our way around them, we slid off the icy road and into the ditch. bleh. They were friendly enough and offered to tow us out of the ditch, thank goodness. We continued up the mountain towards the trailhead. We were about 5 miles until reaching our destination when we had to accept defeat for this day. We turned around and headed back down the hill. We decided to just hike in a random spot to be able to get a hike in. We might not be able to hike where we planned, but hike we would! A little ways down the hill we pulled off to the side of the road, under a pine tree where the road was clear from snow and ice, and hike down the hill.
Very quickly we came across a different trail and decided to follow that trail.
We followed the trail up for awhile and it led back to the road. We were not ready to be done hiking, so we turned around and followed it back down. All along the actual trail or just off it, there were patches of snow that had partially thawed and then refroze. Ice-snow. The grandsons couldn’t get enough of it! Grandma was the favorite target for their ice-snow “balls”. I found that if I broke the ice a little bit, the “snow” was softer just under the top layer. There was many calls of “missed me” as we headed down the trail.
About the time that we were ready for lunch, we came across a log that was conveniently positioned as a bench for grandsons and grandma. We ate our lunch, carefully collecting all of our garbage while reciting the mantras “if it doesn’t grow here, it doesn’t go here” and “if you pack it in, you can pack it out”, before setting off back down the trail.
At one point we came to an area we dubbed “The Big Snow”. It was a large-ish patch of snow that was at least knee deep to us adults. The boys were light enough that they happily shuffled along on the top of the snow. I followed in Son’s footsteps because he had already packed down the snow and it kept me from sinking further into the snow.
At some point along the way I realized that grandson#2’s “mittens” (the boys didn’t have mittens. As we were leaving my place, I grabbed two pair of my little sport socks for them to use as mittens) were soaking wet and his little hands were super cold. I took the socks off his hands, gave him one of my gloves and held his other little hand in my bigger hand until it warmed up. Then I would switch my other glove to his other hand and hold his other hand until that one warmed up too. We switched off like this for the rest of the hike.
Eventually we noticed that daylight was waning and we should probably start thinking about turning around and heading back to the truck. Right after discussing that fact, the trail became much more steep and we knew that the time to turn around was now. On our way back through “The Big Snow” grandson#1 and I made a snowman.
The return uphill to the road was much more of a workout on my out of shape self than the trip down the hill. When we found the road, son beeped the horn on the truck using the key fob. That made it easy to know if we should head up or down the road to reunite with the truck.
We did learn some things on our first hike: 1.bring a couple of pairs of mittens for the grandsons; 2.bring extra socks and shoes for the boys; 3.mark the truck on GPS before heading off; 4.check more thoroughly on the conditions of the area (road, trailhead) before assuming that it will be an easy hike on a well marked trail. If you can’t reach the trailhead because of roads, plans can go amiss.
I am looking forward to finding out what we will learn on our next hike!
The boys’ favorite part was the icy snow patches.
My favorite part was being with those that I love.