A Family Adventure


Tyson, Emilie & Isaac

A kite in a tree

April 3, 2016
Emilie Phillips

I had written off this weekend as an indoor weekend. All week, the weather forecast had predicted cold and rain for the weekend. Saturday we got a bunch of chores done. By Sunday morning, the forecast had changed to merely cloudy, windy and cool. As usual, we didn’t get ready early enough to go somewhere significant. And it looked like it might be unpleasant on top of the bigger mountains. So we went to ye olde standard Watatic. We threw jackets and lunch into the packs. Tyson grabbed Isaac’s kite.

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It was a cold walk up the hill. Tyson and I both ended up wearing all our spare jackets and pants. Isaac had refused his rain pants, so he was happily warm in his snow pants. The ground was slippery with a dusting of snow. There were patches of deeper snow. I spotted a few with bright spring ferns poking through. I didn’t get a picture though. I’ve been having troubles recently with my camera not auto exposing the way I want it to. I’m not sure if something is broken or if I somehow missconfigured the settings. Either way it has been really frustrating the last many trips not getting good pictures.

Isaac and I paused in a sheltered spot just shy of the summit. Tyson went ahead to unfurl the kite. By the time we caught up, he was cold and grumpy. There was definitely wind. I launched the kite and slowly paid out the line. It flew well for a while but then dropped to the ground not far away on the rocky summit. Tyson flew it next and let out a lot more line to get the kite above the turbulence near the ground. It looked good. So we tied the spare string off. We didn’t quite get it right and had to untie and start over. While we were futzing around with it, I noticed the line in my hands had gone slack. I looked up to see the kite fluttering to the ground. I gave one valiant pull, completely messing up Tyson’s knot. But the kite was done.

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It had disappeared over the edge of the hill. At first when I walked over, I thought it had fallen into bushes, but as I got closer I realized the hillside dropped away and I was looking at the top of a forest. The kite line draped across the top branches and the kite was hopelessly far away. I thought there was no way we were getting the kite back. But, I reasoned, if I just gave up, there was no way we were getting the kite. If I tried my best, maybe there was a chance.

Retreating back down to safer branches

Retreating back down to safer branches

So I scrambled down the slick rocky ledges and slip-slid down the leaves to the base of the tree holding the kite. The tree was 4″ in diameter. I gulped. I’m not as small as I used to be when I made a habit of climbing trees. I found it easy enough to pull myself up and scramble up the tree. It was a little harder to ignore the fact that some of the branches I stood on were barely thicker than my thumb. I didn’t dare climb high enough to reach the kite. Every time the wind blew, the tree swayed alarmingly. Tyson pulled on the kite line from the summit rocks. Working with the wind, he dropped the tail of the kite into my reach. I grabbed it and tied it off near the trunk. Then I reached out onto precariously thin branches and bent them back to me until I could grab the clip holding the kite to the line. I detached the line and Tyson worked it back to the summit.

With that accomplished, I retreated down to more sizeable branches. The kite rigging was still hopelessly stuck in the twigs above my reach. I couldn’t see any way to get it other than breaking the branches. I yanked on the kite tail, hoping the branches holding the kite would break and not those holding me. It worked. Though I had to yank a few more times as it caught on lower branches. Finally, I collected the snarl of strings, twigs and kite and carefully climbed back down the tree. We decided that was enough kite flying for the day and headed home.

Isaac crossing the beaver pond

Isaac crossing the beaver pond

We made it back to the car mostly uneventfully. Isaac’s water bladder hose froze. Right near the cars, he fell into the beaver pond that has flooded the trail. We were so close to the car, we hiked out and stripped the wet clothes in the car.