Isaac declared he wanted to go for a hike up “that mountain” pointing out the window on the drive back from Christmas tree shopping. Well, I couldn’t identify which mountain he was pointing at, but if he wanted to go hiking, we could do that. I texted ahead to Emilie and requested that she get packs ready. Emilie has having a sick day, so it would be just Isaac and I.
Emilie has posted that we have been weaning Isaac from being carried when hiking because he is getting heavy, and especially so for backpacking. Since I didn’t know what mountain Isaac wanted, we chose Mt. Watatic for being reasonably close, having a nice open summit, and being a bit of a stretch goal for Isaac to hike. The mileage was well within his experience but would stretch his continuous climb limits.
The original idea was to get going quickly and back home at a reasonable time for his nap. That was, of course, hopelessly optimistic. For Isaac, the world is full of “squirrels”. All sticks had to poke things and all big rocks had to be climbed. …nothing wrong with that. If we don’t get to the summit, there is always another day.
After the short approach, at the base of the mountain the trail passes between the halves of an 8-10 ft tall rock that has split and separated by about 6 ft. Isaac just had to climb it! Neither half was something that he was going to climb, but if one doesn’t try, one never learns. I helped Isaac find a route he could try to climb and spotted for him. He climbed a few moves, pushing his comfort level a couple notches, before declaring that he couldn’t go any further.
We continued hiking and encountered many more “squirrels”. A slow moving group passed us and eventually Isaac decided that we should catch up with them. We never passed them, but he did keep going with only a few minor attempts to get a ride from Dad. It was starting to look like we would make it to the top, even if we would be getting home later than hoped.
Isaac made several optimistic declarations of seeing the summit, but eventually reached it under his own power. We sat down for some lunch, carefully defending it from the dogs that were also enjoying the blue skies and fresh air.
Isaac looked around and noticed the 2nd summit. It is a little lower, but has better views. Isaac decided we should pack up lunch and hike further. On the 2nd summit, we ate our lunch and I played tour guide for a few people who asked about the names or locations of certain local summits.
After lunch it was time to head down. We put stuff back in our packs. I helped Isaac get his pack on, and down the trail he went before I could close and mount my pack!
The hike down started out well with only occasional, not too insistent, requests to be carried. As we progressed he slipped and stumbled more and required greater levels of coaxing. Then about 2/3rds of the way down we passed a kid about Isaac’s age headed up on his Dad’s shoulders. Isaac demanded a ride! After much debate and negotiation as we continued to hike, he eventually relented. …for a little while. A short time later I suggested that he be careful on a steeper section covered with leaves. He then declared that he needed a ride because it was slippery. We debated and negotiated until we were at the bottom of the steep leaf covered section when I declared that he had already done the slippery section and his position was no longer valid. He kept trying to negotiate a ride until we encountered the next distraction.
Back at the large split rocks we found a family with kids of all ages. Isaac rested and watched intently as all the kids climbed the rocks. Even the littlest made it up with help from his dad. Next we stopped at the beaver pond. It had already frozen over. Isaac tossed a chunk of ice onto the pond expecting it to splash and was surprised when it skipped and slid instead.
Back at the car, Isaac almost fell asleep instantly. I chattered at him incessantly to keep him awake for the 30 minutes home for a proper nap.