After a week at home taking care of Henry and Amy the girls were bouncing off the walls. After breakfast with the promise of the nurse coming by for the last visit the girls and I headed out to try Clara's legs on Rattlesnake Ledge.
Clara and I are excited by the prospect of an overnight hike, but to figure out where we're going to go I need to have a better understanding of how far she can realistically go. She's made it up to the bridge over Twin Falls, which is about three and a half miles and 500 feet of gain. The next step in her training regimen (and Papa's, too) was Rattlesnake Ledge. About the same distance, but twice the elevation.
We got out the door at a decent hour and the 10 minute drive to the trailhead went quickly. Lilly willingly got into the backpack, but that proved to be short-lived. She wanted to walk just like Clara. I wouldn't have minded since she's getting to be a big girl (about 25 pounds) except she is slowwwww on her feet and just a little too short for me to hold her hand without slouching.
The Ledge trail isn't anything mysterious or especially scenic. The bottom section ("spooky," according to Clara) is second or third growth forest with loads of underbrush. Up higher much of the undergrowth thins out as the trail bumps up against the watershed boundary.
We stopped a couple of times for snacks and water, but generally marched on. A massive group of junior high school student were on their way down so we had to dodge kids with iPods, droopy pants, and spiked hair. Most of the girls were polite and happy to see Clara and Lilly. The boys were generally in a bad mood. A few were conscious of their actions and told their friends to slow down when they passed us and such. After I glared disapprovingly at a kid who cut a switchback knocking down a wall on the trail his buddy hit him in the head and told him not to cut any more.
At the top Clara got kudos for her accomplishment and she revelled in the praise. A couple of people made the obvious, "You've got your hands full," comments to me and I held back telling them that shortly I'd have Henry strapped to my chest, Lilly on my back, Tokul on leash, and Clara tearing up the trail ahead of me.
It took two hours from the car to the top. The sign on the trailhead said to expect and hour and 45 minutes to climb proving once again that Clara is fast and the officials quote slack times.
The girls sat on the rocks on the Ledge and looked down into the valley while sharing snacks. Tons and tons of other folks showed up and our seats became very valuable. Unfortunately, we had to get back and Clara declared she had to pee. We started down with the hope that Clara would be able to hold it, but it was soon apparent it wasn't to be so we pulled off the heavily travelled trail in the best spot we could to let her relieve herself.
Lilly walked, rode in the backpack, and rode on my shoulders. Clara only took one spill on the way down while she was looking for salmonberries, her favorite early season trail treat.
It took us only about an hour to get down. The only real casualty was Lilly's Mariners hat, which disappeared from her head somewhere along the way up and it was adopted by someone else. Probably the same person that found my camera at Gold Creek. Hmph.
Total distance was four miles and elevation gain was 1,175.