I woke up bright and early today My toddler woke me up bright and early today. She was ready.. i have no idea what for, but she was Ready. Having survived a difficult bickering fight for my sanity the day before, i needed an excursion for my little darlings. Something that would last most of the day. Child labor was not entirely ruled out.
I settled on the bright idea of a hike. We have lived here over a year and it was a beautiful day, and if there was an opportunity to find a momma bear looking to adopt, i had two ideas for her.
I found a trail that matched up with a hiking book my mom purchased (last summer) and zeroed in on an ‘easy’ level trail. I packed my bags, purchased an annual park pass – i wanted to commit early on – and loaded my daughter’s mini pack with wipes, a diaper, and her water bottle.
We hit the road eagerly anticipating adventure. In honor of the adventure, i decide to go the 30 minute drive without giving the kids a device. Let them look out the window at the beautiful scenery…. well, the one that’s not color blind can appreciate it, at least. Let them marvel and the rolling majestic hills. The other drivers picking their noses and scratching their crotches. We were about fifteen minutes in (a record, i will have you know) when i hear the first, “Mommy, can i have your phone peas?” “No, honey, oh look! How pretty!”
Distraction worked for about five minutes. Then the two kids realized neither was going to get their way, so they started spitting at each other and playing “let’s see how long before mommy crashes or explodes”. A family favorite. After 25 minutes I was considering lobotomizing myself with a left over drive through straw. Thankfully, we arrived in time to save my frontal lobe.
We pull onto a beautiful tree-lined winding road. We arrive at the smallest parking lot I have ever seen. There was one spot left and I nabbed it. It happened to be next to the restroom, but I’m not proud. Might come in handy. We unload out of the van, we grab our pack…… singular. Somebody forgot the toddler pack.
I tell my daughter, “Ok. Don’t poop! Ya got one diaper, and it’s the one you’re wearin’.” “what, mommy?” and off we go.
The trail is beautiful. There’s moss everywhere. Green all over. Easily walkable trail. We are parallel to a river, but it’s hard to see through all the foliage. After ten minutes of walking and oohing and aaahhhing, my son says to me, “Mom, thanks for bringing us here, this is GREAT!”
My chest puffs with pride and happiness. You. Are. Welcome.
Feeling like the mom of the year, we approach the access to the river. It’s majestic and everything I expected Washington to look like. There’s even a guy fly fishing! My son was especially impressed with this sight. The kids skip rocks, we get good pics, and we are on our way.
We see a couple birds, and a slug the size of my palm. It was quite gross, but the kids loved it. We get to our first little lump of a hill and scale it pretty easily. At the top we stop for water and some crackers. We forge on feeling pretty confident… but starting to wheeze a bit. We check the guide book to see we are heading the right direction and march on.
Some of the tranquility fades as I remind my kids to stay to the side so they don’t slip down the side of the hill. After the 8th time reminding my son, it becomes more of a bark.
We trek on.
We reach a ‘switchback’ (a new term for me, and i’m now using it wherever i can)
My eyes bulge a little. My mom takes a deep breath before ungently urging my son ahead of her onward and upward.
I adjust my backpack. My game console -themed one shoulder sling backpack – and try not to look up.
Small children begin to pass us.
My 7 year old, my mom, my 2 year old daughter, and myself are nearly single-file to allow the senior citizens and teenage sight seeing groups to pass us.
I begin to take notice of the growing traffic, and the amount of people carrying packs with thirty pound weights in the form of children in them.
I am feeling slightly more than inadequate trying to make this hike.
We reach the top of the first elevation and come to a rest point. There’s a man and his slightly chubby pre-adolesent. We are laughing at ourselves and how much huffing and puffing we are doing when the man tells us the bridge and waterfall are still ahead.
My mom and i give him the hairy eyeball and ask, “Is it worth it?!” with bright flushed tomato cheeks and sweat pouring down our fake-hiking gear.
“Oh, it’s so worth it. You HAVE to do it! It’s really not that bad”
famous last words.
Never trust a person who has obviously hiked before. Has no sweat stains accessorizing his shirt. And looks perfectly calm standing atop a hill.
I don’t know if he just wanted us down wind, or thought he was doing his level best at a public service for pushing us to exercise more, but I think he was aiming for manslaughter, personally.
We eye the treacherous downhill climb ahead of us knowing full well what goes down must come back up … after already exhausting oneself from completing a hike. We tredge on. Begrudgingly. The wind has completely left our sails from the front of the hike and now we are moving on out of sheer determination and pride.
Fat chicks can do anything skinny chicks can!
… except eat better… and exercise more… and complete an “easy” rated hike, it would seem.
We did reach nearly the end..i’m sure of it. I can’t say for certain because staring up at a steeper switchback and knowing there were still 103 steps up to the falls, we decided to cut bait and hoof it back.
Eventually, after being passed by family after family and grandparents aplenty, and dog hikers and chubby gamers, we made it back to the clearing with the river access.
The kids were renewed. They chucked rocks into that water like nobody’s business. I scrambled my sweaty ass up the nearest boulder that could hold me and just sat. Reveling in the amazement that I was still somehow alive.
The kids could have stayed at the water and played the entire time. However, I had things to do and a drive to make, so we reluctantly headed back to the trail. I got off the boulder and left a gigantic sweaty ass crater for the next person to refresh themselves on.
By now the toddler was crying, the boy was antagonizing, gramma was just done, and I was simply trying to keep my pulse going. I kept having visions of collapsing somewhere remote on the trail, EMTs finding me and refusing to lift me out via stretcher. Instead, i heard calls for helicopters and “RHINO DOWN!!” being shouted to anyone in the way.
I’m seeing the fresh-faced parents newly stepping onto the trail sighing relief it’s not their children making the racket. Relief on the faces of the childless hikers that renew their faith in birth control. One man commented “Happy Times!” to try and make me feel better.
I was actually laughing and chuckling the whole way out under the cries and shouts from my toddler who was pissed at a myriad of things.
We are nearly at the end (which is the beginning) when there is a tree splitting the path. One large branch is low hung to one side, and clear where we are walking. A man with an empty kid pack is trying to duck under the branch and gets stuck. He backs up and tries again. On the second try he clears it and here’s what happens next.
My son: “Ha! That guy’s backpack got stuck. HA!” as he turns to look at the man. I open my mouth to admonish him but am interrupted by him turning back to the trail, tripping over a rock, and landing on all fours in the dirt.
I might be going to mommy hell, but it was the funniest thing i have ever seen, and i couldn’t hold back my laughter (after confirming with my own eyes he was not bleeding, OF COURSE)
I told him, “This is your first lesson in karma, my friend.”
So now he’s crying and rubbing his hands together.
My daughter is shrieking that we are leaving.
My mom is out of patience and breath.
I am laughing.
We pass a line 10 people deep for the restroom and get to the blessed van. Our ticket out of here. Our light at the end of the trail, if you will.
My mom opens the door of the car to which my daughter protests. I hear a mental snap and my mom barks at my daughter to “GET IN”
I see the bathroom line turn nearly in unison to gape at us.
In the end, we made it. We all managed to keep it duct taped and gummed together to get back to civilization to which my mother tells me, “Next time, let’s just go see a movie instead.”
My thighs and my ass agree and disagree all at the same time.