Cave Ridge is a wonderful place.
The approach is through the Commonwealth Basin, full of rushing creeks, big trees, and surprise clearings. The upper reaches are a mix of sub-alpine meadow and rock steppe with caves thrown in here and there. Our route goes by one cave that is rumored to go way down. (That's a technical, caver term.)
(Yes, you can also get to Cave Ridge by following the very short and very steep trail from Alpental, but we save that for Guye Peak and Snoqualmie Mountain.)
Along the way the trail devolves from a major thoroughfare to a faint trace. Near the summit we found snow for the dogs and views in spite of the high clouds. The sun even popped out a couple of times and the rain never fell.
And yet... meh. It's a great hike, but something was missing.
Friends, dogs, views, and flowers. But no kids.
The week before the girls and I had joined TNAB at the trailhead and for the first quarter mile before they sped out of sight. We didn't go all the way to the summit of Pratt Mountain, but it made me so happy to be out with them.
As much fun as TNAB is, it can't compare to hiking with the kids.
Don't get me wrong, TNAB is still a fixture on my calendar. The kids couldn't have made it up to Cave Ridge in any reasonable period of time. Same goes for most of the hikes on the schedule. Hiking with adults keeps me ready for anything the kids are ready for. There's also something remarkably liberating about hiking with adults. I don't have to be a parent with all that entails.
So this time Cave Ridge was just another hike. Much better than Mailbox, but nothing to write home about. (Except here I am writing about it.)
I guess to recapture the magic I've felt there in the past I'll have to get the kids up there. I wonder what I'm doing next weekend...