Thursday, September 11, 2014

Our amazing rite of passage

A few days ago, our family of five embarked on an adventure that will stay with us forever.  It's the first time we ever did this, all five of us together.  Mostly it's Eva's fault that we haven't done it before, since she was too little for such a thing.  But now, we did it!  A rite of passage successfully survived and enjoyed: a backpacking trip, sleeping on a high mountain top, bonding as a family over sweat and sore muscles and incredible vistas.  Meet the Sahlin's at Mount Baker:

The hike is called Heliptrope Ridge, and there are two options: either hike up to Coleman Glacier, or head on up the route climbers use as a base camp to climb Mount Baker.  The second option is gnarly, especially for a four-year-old.  But Eva did it!  Amidst wildflowers and views of the vast, dramatic ice fields of Coleman Glacier, we ascended the ridge, panting, sweating, ohhh-ing and ahhh-ing, laughing, sulking, encouraging each other.  It was so worth the effort!

We made it to base camp just in time for dinner.  When you hike with three children, it's mind blowing how much food you have to pack.  Food offers a huge bribe factor, and we used it shamelessly.  
"If you hike a little longer, you'll get a chocolate bar, Eva."
"Just a few more minutes, and you guys can eat all the dried mangoes."
In my case, the bribe involved knitting.
"Just a few more steps, and I can sit down and knit."
Here's our camp spot, looking up at Mount Baker.

One of my favorite memories of this trip was Eva, standing at the edge of a cliff, singing her heart out to the mountains.  The sun got lower on the horizon, and this girl stood and sang.  We put on our coats, because it got chilly fast, and still Eva sang.  We brushed our teeth while the sky changed slowly.  We wrapped our sleeping bags around ourselves against the wind and cold.  While the sky turned redder and redder, we stood and marveled, and my heart felt so full and happy, I could have wept.  Later, we watched the full moon come up over Mount Baker.  Could it have been more magical?

Eva and I slept in the tent, Steve and the boys slept outside within a windbreak they made with rocks.  It was the worst sleeping-in-a-tent experience I ever had.  All night long, the wind battered the tent, making a huge ruckus, even lifting up the tent, the sides of it slapping my face and feet.  Eva woke up every hour, restless and scared by the noise.  I couldn't wait for the morning to escape this nightmare.  And morning came.  Lukas snuggled in the tent with Eva for a while, we got breakfast going, and then decided to descend to find some sunshine.
On the way down, we stopped at Coleman Glacier.  It's impossible to describe its beauty and grandeur with words, so I'll let the pictures speak for themselves.

We spent the rest of the day descending back down the mountain, and once safely in our van, drove to Artist Point, where we hiked around some more and tried to take pictures of Mount Shuksan, which was hiding in the clouds.  That night, we camped near the town of Glacier, so we wouldn't have to drive all the way back home and back again for the boys' homeschool program in Deming, which is quite close to Glacier.  We are getting our hiking yaya's out!  And I haven't even told you about my other hike with Eva and her little best friend.  I'll leave that for another blog post so I don't overwhelm you with pictures!


  1. What a fantastic memory-packed trip, and it will stay forever in the children's heart too. You have the best family and you and Steve are great parents! Your children look all healthy and happy! Congratulations!

    1. Thank you so much! I hope that we are sowing a seed in our childrens' hearts: the seed of loving nature and going into nature as a refuge. This was a very strong theme in my own childhood. We were poor and couldn't afford going on all these vacations that my friends went on, but we did hike in the Alps, because it didn't cost anything. I am so grateful for these formative experiences!

  2. Oh how I love this hike! We havn't done this since our eldest was in a backframe. What a beautiful thing for your family and how exciting for Eva to be able to champion it out!

    1. Kai, I bet your kids would love it, too!

  3. This is just wonderfully inspiring!! I'm thinking of the sound of music and hiking with my children in a line behind me as we sing! :) Thank you for sharing Corina!! Love you!

    1. It's totally sound of music, isn't it?


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