I raced home to the good news that Clara had done well at the dentist. Last time around she had refused to let the good doctor look into her mouth and even the promise of pretty princess sparkles on her teeth (delivered via the polisher) were insufficient to buy her favor. Turns out what she really wanted was to go "night hiking" with Daddy.
So off we went. TNAB was starting the season with Cedar Butte. At five miles and about 1,000 feet of gain it was a good fit for Clara's abilities. The only problem was that TNAB is short for the Thursday Night After Burners for a reason. It's not really a pace that a five year old can match.
But that's why we started early. Only, it wasn't early enough. Others were starting to show at the trailhead as we walked down the trail. We made good time, but as we got to the beginning of the trail itself the crew caught us and blew right by. No hard feelings of course, that's the way of TNAB. Everybody races for the top and if you can't keep up, well, bummer. (They're not heartless, though. Nobody gets left behind.)
So we hiked just the two of us... and Tokul. Of course. It's been years since I'd been up Cedar Butte (so long I don't even have a trip report online) and it's been reworked since then, but all unofficially. At the first intersection there was an arrow pointing up. Hmm... well... up it is, I guess. We started that way and although it seemed a little less well travelled than I would have expected it was quite pretty.
Unfortunately, it wasn't the way we should have gone. It was the old, direct route to the summit that was steeper and completely overgrown. Oh well. By the time we figured this out it was too late to get back on track and still summit. We pushed on and found ourselves at the junction of four trails at a little saddle. We paused for a quick snack before charging up the last little hill to the summit.
Unfortunately, about two minutes from the top the rest of TNAB passed us on the way down. They gave Clara kudos for doing as well as she had and although I was bummed she wasn't at all. She confided in me at the top she was happier to be hiking with just me rather than me and my friends.
The summit itself isn't all that great. Views are limited even when the clouds aren't there, but of course on this night it was completely socked in. It did clear for just a brief moment and we could see the lights of North Bend, but then we were left just with our sandwiches and hot chocolate.
On the way down we took the new trail and it was far better than the old trail. Although it was dark it looked more scenic. Clara was done for so I put her up on my shoulders for the ride out. We were home only a little later than she should have been in bed, but she got her first TNAB trip under her belt. It only takes two to be a veteran.
Totals: Five miles and 1,000 feet of gain.