Wednesday, July 27, 2016

One of the greatest things about summer, or six thousand feet of elevation gain in two days

One of the reasons we choose to live close to the wilderness is easy access to some of the world's most beautiful places.  Now that most of the snow has melted in the mountains we can go hiking, which is one of my great loves.  My husband Steve and I have dragged our children up mountains since they were little, and it shows.  They are strong hikers.

My sons and I did two hikes last week, with a total of 6,000 feet elevation gain and 16 miles of hiking.  Come with us, and I'll show you why we love these mountains so much.

The first hike was Green Mountain, leading to a fire lookout with a 360 degree view of a sea of mountains.  Highlights: the wildflowers, Mount Baker and Glacier Peak visible in the distance, and a small lake to jump into and cool off in.

I love these excursions with my sons.  They used to whine and complain about heat, sore muscles or mosquitoes before, but not any more.  Now, I don't have to cheerlead them up the mountain - in fact, they encourage me when my knees start hurting on the way down.

Our conversations are fun up here... miles and miles and hours and hours of walking leaves time for talking about things they don't usually talk about.  This time, the topic of conversation was about girls.  Very enlightening, indeed.  My boys are growing up.

Two days later the whole family went hiking, including our little six-year old daughter Eva and two of the boys' friends.  The hike was on the East side of the mountains, a one and a half hour drive over the Cascade Mountains and different climate.  We knew eight miles and 3,000 feet elevation gain would be very hard for Eva, but we decided to push her.

Little did we realize that the day would turn into a 91 degree scorcher.

All was well on the way up, where large Ponderosa Pines offered shade, and mountain views distracted us from the steep trail.

But the hike led into a brushy area where a wildfire had swept through, and the energy shifted.  It was hot, scratchy, overgrown, and a little creepy with all the burnt and dead trees.

Eva crashed.  We ate lunch huddled under a tree to find shade. The other kids were chipper. Eva wasn't. The end of the hike was 1/4 mile ahead, so we decided to push on, Steve carrying Eva.  She acted fine on top, running around with the other kids, and all was well again.

But then, on the way back, Eva started looking pale, refused to walk and threw up.  Poor thing had too much exertion and too much heat.  

Steve carried all 60 pounds of her down the mountain.  Four miles. 3,000 feet elevation drop.  On his back.  Without complaining.  

My husband is beyond amazing.  While I spend the walk down feeling guilty and concerned about my girl, he single-handedly, single-back-edly carried his daughter down the mountain.  My admiration for him (which already is pretty damn high) rose exponentially.  This man has been the rock and solid foundation of our family for 14 years, and he never complains.


I'm a lucky woman, and so are our kids. 

Here are all of us resting on the way down.  Eva fell asleep on top of me.

When we got to the car in one piece (Halleluja!!!!) and drove to Mazama to get some drinks and treats, Eva threw up again and then perked up.  She drank a cherry soda and was transformed after that, chatting and happy.

The next day, she was back to her normal, energetic, exuberant self.

Lesson learned: it's okay to push kids physically, but don't do it in 91 degree weather, and make sure you have a mule person with you that can carry heat stroke victims.

Other news of the week:  The garden is producing tomatoes and lots of other veggies.  For dinner, I go "shopping" in the garden and make from-scratch meals with produce I just harvested minutes earlier.

Also, my kitchen is messier than ever, since we spend all our time outside.  Who has time to clean the dishes?

I will leave you with images with more natural beauty.  I took all of these pictures either in our garden or within a 20 minute walk from our house.  Really.


  1. Love this! By the way, stretch your quads to relieve the down-hill knee pain. I call this "my brakes are getting sore" ;)

    1. Thanks for this, Ann. My knees are killing me (and have been doing it for years) on the downhills...

  2. Reminds me of the Swiss Alps especially the deep valleys. You dodged a bullet on that one. We heard of a little boy who later died from heat exhaustion while on a hike. Scary. Glad she is OK. Once at Burning Man I got heat exhaustion and the Black Rock Ranger made me sit in the shade for an hour while he poured water on me and made me drink electrolytes to cool down my core temperature. I wasn't even throwing up but I was feeling really weird and had a thought "Am I getting too hot?" Glad it all turned out OK. Whew. (Isn't that odd how the body does that throwing up thing? You'd think it would want to keep moisture in. Maybe it's trying to off load internal heat.)

    1. I think part of the problem was blood sugar. She didn't have much breakfast that day, which I hadn't realized because I milked the goats when my husband fed the kids. She is a resilient gal, my Eva!

  3. So good that you remained aware and nature's nudging with Eva didn't turn into a whack. Grateful that my close calls have been learning experiences that did not end up in ER. Oh Corina - you must get hiking poles! We've been using them for at least 15 years. The downhill setting is spring-loaded, and supposedly reduces shock on the knees by 30%. Also great for crossing creeks and the occasional snow field. I credit the poles with why we can still do major hikes without needing a bottle of ibuprofen:)

    1. Hey Rob, I do have poles, and I couldn't hike without them! But I've always had problems with my knees, so I guess it's just a price I have to pay for doing kick ass hikes. The good thing is that my knees recover quickly!

  4. medicine for the soul- so much beauty- thank you for sharing,


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