Sure, it's a tree farm. But that makes it so much more accessible for people with short legs. When you can drive almost to the top of the mountain it's more about spending time together and having fun than hiking, but we'll still call it a hike, ok?
Our target was a 2,400 foot high hill in the middle of the Hancock Tree Farm. Thanks to our special permit (and more importantly, the key to the Spur 10 gates) this unassuming and unimpressive little peak was an easy choice. It promised good views (of the tree farm, but you take what you can get) and a short hike that even Henry could handle. Where else can you get to your destination with a sub-two year old?
The drive there was quick and smooth. The big bonus about using Hancock's road system is that the roads are either well preserved due to lack of traffic or beautifully maintained because it's part of their logging operation. When we turned off the Main Line we climbed quickly with a sharp drop down to Deep Creek's valley on our right and a rock wall on the left.
After parking on the false summit for a moment before realizing the other peak was higher we got out of the car about 50 feet below the summit. There was a beat up road up to the summit so it wasn't going to be hard. Good for the kids and good for me. Time to start breaking in a new pair of boots.
(Amy got a KILLER deal online so now I have three pairs of hiking boots: The soon to be replaced have 600 miles on them, are starting to crack and rip, but still feel great. The new ones are exactly the same model (though branded differently) and will need a lot of little trips like this to get ready for something like TNAB. The other pair is the backup just in case the manufacturer stops making this particular model. I'm good for another 1,200 miles!)
From the high point we could look across the valley and see a beautiful waterfall. After studying maps it sure looks like I can get there with only a moderate amount of trouble. Definitely a new destination.
As we took pictures I realized I'd left the hot chocolate back down at the car. So... I ran down with Henry (with Tokul following) to get the gear and then huff it back up. I boiled up some water and made three steaming mugs for the kids. None of them liked it. In fact, Clara told me that Mommy-chocolate is better.
"But she doesn't make it on top of a mountain!" I said confidently.
"Yes, she does."
Huh? Time to have a talk with Amy if she's hiking without me. Do I quilt without her? No. I would never cheat with fabric like that.
After pouring out the drinks we headed down (in the middle of a surprise hail/snow storm), got in the car, started the movie (it was getting a bit past lunchtime) and realized that I was short Henry's hot chocolate mug. You know, the one Amy just got that matched the girls' mugs... Not good. So I ran back up the hill, for the third time, and found it about half way up.
Passing through the gate onto the county road I talked with a fisherman also heading out. He reported Bridges Lake was a foot higher than last year and he and his daughter only got a single fish. Grandpa Jack's favorite lake was also really high so it'll be a while before we head up for fishing, I think.
Total distance, for me including the up, down, up, down, and half an up and half a down, was was still only 0.7 miles and 135 feet of gain.