To start off the kids’ spring break, and our stay-cation while Nick is headed out recruiting, we decided to try to get in our first camping trip of the year. The forecast looked…doubtful. I was determined not to live up to my previous status as “fun-killer” when it comes to anticipating problems with an adventure and ending it before it begins. I was going to just roll with it. So I went to the grocery store on Friday and bought all the camping food. Friday night, despite the rain, Nick and I gathered in the kitchen and prepped our campfire food for the following night. I went down to the garage and made sure the camping boxes were appropriately stocked for the trip. I did not say “we probably shouldn’t camp this weekend.” This was a major win for me.
repeat history today, folks! This hike was going to happen! When we found our trailhead the crew was ready. Backpacks on, hats in place, positive attitudes flying high. We started down our trail and missed the first off-shoot that would take us to the short loop to the pinnacle. One member of the hiking party was not pleased with me. I adjusted and figured we could just hit that loop at the end of the hike. Nothing lost! And we pressed on. This would be a great time to mention that our 3-year-old was on his first trip where he could really do a decent amount of hiking on foot. This was a win for him and for my husband who had drawn the short straw of having to lug our huge little man in the backpack. The kids were happy and clipping along at a good hike-pace and our youngest daughter, who tends to struggle a little on hiking days, had taken her place as “Lead Dog” and was loving every minute.
Little man returned to his perch in the backpack carrier after Nick’s heart rate came down out of the danger zone. My William is perhaps the sweetest companion ever in such circumstances. The hike had gotten tough, Nick had an extra 45 pounds of human strapped to his back, but Will wasn’t going to take his dad for granted. He was like our own personal life coach. “You can do it, Daddy! You are so tough! Mommy, you are so strong! Good job!” It was cute, but I won’t lie, it also was pretty encouraging!
Because rule #2 is HYDRATE!) Grace took a gulp of water, and no lie, jumped into the picture with a huge smile and said “Yay! Let’s finish this hike! I’m Lead Dog!”
At this point we had 5 happy kids, 2 exhausted but happy parents and a deadline if we wanted to be able to drive to the campsite and eat dinner before dark. We needed to haul down the mountain and get back to the Big Van. But you see, the trail was not marked. We had no idea, short of retracing our steps, how to get down the mountain toward the finish. Thankfully our oldest daughter is observant and wise and found the appropriate trail. We adults certainly would have found a way, but it was absolutely going to be longer than the right way. For not the first time that day I was grateful for Sophia. We made it back to the beginning, loaded up in the van, plugged our campsite into the Big Van GPS. (We had no signal to use Waze, which would have probably been a game changer, but that’s life in the wilderness). Our path to the campground road involved a turn around where GPS suggested going all the way to the next intersection 9 miles down the road (once we realized the plan we u-turned at a scenic outlook and cut a few minutes off the trip). But we made it to Campground Road.
As we pulled in we saw a group with their tents set up in a roadside site. It looked awesome but had no bathroom nearby and we girls need a potty. So we kept driving. The group waved to us. We waved back. They waved again. “Haha! Maybe they are trying to warn us that the road is closed ahead!” I laughed…Nick laughed. We kept driving. And we made it the few remaining miles down the skinny trail-like road that was littered with fallen trees. We could see the campground sign. On the other side of a locked road block. It had happened again.
Seriously, Van GPS? Again we couldn’t turn the van around on the narrow mountain road. Again we couldn’t drive in reverse 3 miles back. But this time Nick decided to walk for help. And by the grace of God a park ranger was found, a spare key was acquired, and he swung open the gate to let our Big Van and our Big Family through to the campsite.
We thanked him a hundred times. He smiled and said “Oh, You are welcome!…and you just beat the fog!”
We maybe should have known the weather excitement was not done for this adventure!