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Cairn Ridge
posted by John : January 9, 2011

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I'm thinking I'm the best climber

Did you ever wonder what the kids are thinking about when they're out on the trail with me? Me too. But rather than ask them (that would require I talk to them) I decided to make up what they're thinking. It seems better that way. There's far less uncomfortable realization they don't want to be outside.

So early early (well, not like Mailbox early) we headed east to meet up with Molly and Uncle Boppi. Blewett Pass seemed to be roughly half way between us and Chelan. Two passes shouldn't be that bad, right? Except it was yet another in a string of snowpacolypses that are wicked awesome, but always seem to strike at just the wrong time. How bad was it really? So bad I didn't touch my coffee between home and Cle Elum when we stopped for gas. Yeah. That bad. Still, given the amount of snow that was falling big props have to go to the DOT for keeping the roads passable.

At the Sno Park (yes! driving down the per trip cost of my permits with each new visit!) we geared up like it was Everest. I think the kids thought it was. Molly and Uncle Boppi were ready to go in no time, but I guess that's the difference between one kid and three on snowshoes. Even if Clara is getting pretty self sufficient.

The route followed the road for most of the trip. On purpose. I figured an epic cross-country trip through waist deep powder and thousands of feet of elevation gain might be a little outside Henry's range so instead we were going mellow. It was snowing lightly, but again, the kids perceived a blizzard.

Along the way we came across a clear difference in mature brain thinking. (Admittedly, my brain is only mature physically.) To me, it was the bank of the road. Destroyed wilderness. Blech. To them it was a sheer cliff waiting to be scaled. Up, down, up, down. Glissading with snowshoes on is almost always a bad idea, but they seemed to think it was grand fun. (Of course, my wisdom was courtesy of experience. With luck, they'll benefit from my misfortune.)

We had the usual wanting-to-lead, wanting-to-be-alone, wanting-to-go-home, wanting-to-hold-hands, wanting-to-not-hold-hands, and the ever popular wanting-to-be-carried. All that fell away when the sun came out (SERIOUSLY? YES!) and the air started sparkling. Uncle Boppi found a great overlook across the valley and we stopped to enjoy the magic.

Magic is hard to capture, but...

From the overlook it was a short walk along the road until we went off-trail up a ridge toward our destination. Fresh snow, downed logs to step over, gaining elevation, you can imagine the kids loved it. Well, that's what I imagined. Lilly was getting tired so maybe she wasn't loving it. But clearly, everyone else was loving it.

Boppi was leading the way and found the easiest way up, but easy was relative. For little legs it was quite the climb. Almost Everestesque. A short walk beyond that found us at our summit. We had unobstructed 360 degree views above the clouds. We were so high we needed oxygen. I almost passed out. It was GLORIOUS!

Luckily, PBJs fueled us up and we were able to escape the death zone just in time. We descended below the clouds, out of the magic sparkle air, and back to the road. Oh, well. It can't all be epic, right?

As usual, the way out was LONG and made LONGER by the prospect of the LONGEST ride in the car ever. Henry sucked up to Uncle Boppi (or maybe that was me) and got a ride. Or perhaps Uncle Boppi couldn't stomach the idea of abandoning us and figured at the rate Henry and Lilly were walking we'd never make it out alive. I wound up with Lilly on my back so the LONGER road walk became all that much LONGERER.

Almost to the car Henry was back on my back and Lilly was walking, but then Henry was short a boot. And a snowshoe. Lilly came tromping after us with her new trophy like she was on a Civil War battlefield.

Speaking of slaughters, we slaughtered the stats: Three miles and 760 feet of gain.

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