Hiking hard, fast, far, and deep into the night don't exactly make for kid-friendly trips. Of course, Clara and Lilly ticked three of those boxes on The High Divide a few weeks prior so maybe the only problem was hiking "fast." And "fast" can be beaten by starting early.
One of my favorite trips regardless of the time of year is Rampart Ridge.
It's hard because the trails aren't maintained, the slopes are steep, and you really need to know where you're going.
It's fast because it's scheduled toward the end of the year when the day is shorter and the epic sunsets can get away if you're not there on time.
It's not far. One of the best features of the hike is it's just a couple of miles.
It's deep in the night for sure. Headlamps are a must.
Now that Clara's in her tweens she's old enough to hold it together even when she's tired. That meant she was able to join me for this trip and we might even make it on time if we started a little early.
This was my fourth time up the trail to Lake Lillian this year so I knew exactly what to expect. Even Clara's been up the trail once, but it was four years ago and even my memory's not that good.
We made quick work up to Lake Lillian and then paused to take it in. It's such a pretty lake it's no wonder I'm there so frequently. But it wasn't our destination so we started up the Gully of Doom (named by Henry on our last trip). As steep as it is, it was a lot easier without a 50 pound pack.
The wind blew at the top, refreshing us to the point of being chilled. As we continued other hikers joined and passed us. We were in no hurry and were making great time so we played on the rocks and stopped to take a sample of one of the upper tarns.
Clara was in heaven when we reached the summit block and had to scramble up the rock. Since our trip to Headlight Basin she's loved scrambling. Given a chance I think she'd become a rock climber, but then I'd have to become a rock climber and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.
We chatted with the other hikers and scanned Alta Mountain for signs of three other hikers we thought were out there. Meanwhile the sun began to set, turning the clouds a bright pink. Rampart Ridge delivered again.
The way down was slower as we hiked by headlamp only. The Gully of Doom presented the most trouble, but nobody fell and we weren't even the last hikers off the mountain.
I go back and forth between loving that the kids are growing up and becoming more capable adventurers and hating that they're getting bigger and closer to the day they'll leave me behind. I'm still trying to find some way to stop time, but until then I'll just have to enjoy nights like this when my daughter can climb the mountain and still fall asleep in the back seat on the way home.