Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Huckleberry Peak (Salmon La Sac) , Standup Creek Hiking With My Girls Parts 1 and 2

With my girls school year nearing it's end and my wife in the midst of her busy month of the year, I find myself with my days free with my girls. Between hitting our lake with our fly rods and hiking it seems like we can always find something fun to do together.  I know before too long spending any time with their dad won't be high on their list of things to do. I decided that this summer I would make the most of it. I can't describe the feeling of my oldest landing her first fish on a fly rod or watching my youngest struggle to land a feisty 18" trout. Watching her have the fish run behind her making the rod nearly wrap all the way around her is something I will never forget. Of course fishing is only one of my passions so to balance things out I thought a weekly outing would be in order. This Spring I bought them each their first adult fishing poles and more importantly their first real pair of hiking boots. What was more important than the purchase was the intent to use them as often as possible.

For our first hike of the year I wanted to make sure and hit some snow. I have saved Huckleberry Peak off the Salmon La Sac Road for a family outing for some time. I figured this would be about right for a spectacular weather day. I was able drive to our jump off point. The spur road we needed was covered in snow and I thought I might be able to drive it but I decided it was more prudent to park. Thankfully despite me buying the boots a bit too big, they didn't seem to hinder my girls. If was actually quite warm as we made our way up the road, passing a cabin along the way. I had to laugh when they both wanted to take off their shirts because of the heat. I think they were surprised when I gave them the OK. I had to chuckle to myself watching my shirtless girls make their way up the old road. The lower snowy reaches gave way to only patchy snow. Again I surprised the girls when they asked me if they could roll in the snow bank. Thinking this idea would end abruptly, I saw no harm. I reminded my oldest that she had forgotten to get her front side and to my surprise she again tempted the cold snow. Oh, to be young again. While I had hoped to make the summit I didn't want to sour or first trip out by pushing them too hard. After a few switchback they had enough. We stopped at the snow bank for one more roll and then headed back to the car. My youngest left her sunglasses after her roll forcing us to retrace a mile to retrieve them. It was just a wonderful day to share something so dear to me, with the hope that the love will blossom in my girls.

For today I gave the girls a choice between a longer, closer hike to see some impressive waterfalls or  a shorter , further hike to hike in snow. They chose the snow so we headed out to Teanaway for a trail that surprisingly I haven't been on. I chose Standup Creek because I wanted to climb Earl Peak via a different route and knowing that I wouldn't get the girls to the summit I would at least get an idea of what to expect. The spur road that leads to Standup Trailhead is a bit more difficult than I expected and I was very pleased that my air suspension decided to start working again. I wouldn't want to drive this road without some clearance. Just before reaching the end of the road we spooked a black bear who ran down the road in front of us giving us a bird's eye view. The girls were so excited to see a bear that if we would have turned around right there and went home I would have considered the day a huge success. After we ate lunch we made our way up the easy grade. The girls were enchanted with the multiple types of butterflies we encountered. In fact I can't ever remember seeing such an impressive show. The wild flowers were also out giving the girls yet one more thing to look at. We reached the first crossing of Standup Creek and I had hoped there was a bridge but there isn't. There is a jumble of smaller branches spanning the torrent. I had planned on carrying each girl over but my oldest demanded that she was going to cross on the small branches. I have never been so proud to see her pick her way across to the other side without showing any fear. I was happy to see she respected the danger but didn't let it effect her. I was sure my youngest wouldn't be up for the challenge but again she proved me wrong by picking her way across. I, on the other hand chose to just walk across. I am quite sure the branches would be challenged by my heft. After crossing the creek there are a few stretches of blowdowns and I marveled at the girls making their way through them with each having their own style. A short ways later the trail recrosses the creek. While this crossing probably was easier than the last I didn't want to try again. My oldest begged me to let her try but when I reminded her that the water rises as the day goes along, she thankfully relented. We retreated a short ways to a small pool that we had spied earlier. The girls were intent on swimming, knowing how cold the water was I was sure this wouldn't last long. To both their credit they did get in. I had to laugh when my oldest complained she couldn't feel her feet. After getting the girls reclothed we headed back. I had a tear in my eye when the girls walked side by side holding hands for large portions of the return.

I can't say that I have ever been as thankful for the life I lead than I feel right now. While for some it may not be fitting their aspirations but it is the life I have always dreamt.

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