–submitted by Matthew Lettington, Read the report on his blog
When I’m stuck inside, it sometimes feels like I won’t ever break free and get outside! If you’re passionate like I am, you probably feel the same. Now that I’ve added two kids to the equation, it’s even more difficult to balance the time between my family obligations and my passion. Not that the two are mutually exclusive; as often as I can, I try to merge the two together. But it’s not as simple as stuffing a child into a carrier. There are the known issues to deal with– diaper changes, toys, and extra snacks– but heading into the backcountry adds extra challenges. Changing a bare bottom in the wind is no cup of tea, and neither is a cup of tea, for that matter! Fortunately, at three and a half years old, my son has emerged from the long cold winter that has been his era of wearing diapers.
On Saturday February 18th, I led a group of nine, including Hemingway in his pulk sled, up to the Boston Falls lookout. Although this is normally just a lookout on the route to Mount Becher, today it was the destination. We had a lazy start to the morning, and even had time for a hearty backcountry breakfast of eggs and pancakes before leaving for the rendezvous! Arriving at the parking area, we were greeted by a dark overcast ceiling of clouds–a far cry from the forecasted blue skies and sun. We were determined to make the best of it.
It was just after 10:00 am when the nine of us stepped past the burnt-out husk of the old Forbidden Plateau ski lodge. Other than Hemingway, we all wore snowshoes, though only for traction. The snow was compact ice that bore our weight easily. I’d love to say that the sled was easy to haul, but in reality, the frozen ground was unforgiving. While the sled glides easily over smooth sections, there weren’t many of them today. For the most part, the lower section of the route was a mess of crisscrossing ski and snowshoe tracks.
We used the standard route toward the summit of the mountain. As we worked our way along, I began rethinking the choice of using a sled on my camping adventures. It simply rolls too easily in deep ruts. Of course, part of the problem was my top-heavy load; Hemingway, instead of riding in the sled and creating ballast, chose to sit on top of the sled cover. Despite the rollovers, and the extra work on the uphill sections, when it came to the longish flat traverse toward the final uphill section, it was very little work to pull the pulk along. I might be inclined to use the word fun.
The real bright spot in the day was Hemingway. He is working on building his stamina for walking–though he doesn’t know it! I have an easy backpacking trip planned for the May long weekend, a trip to Cow Bay on Flores Island’s Wildside Trail. Although the two of us have done several backpacking trips, this will be our first trip without Mommy helping us along. Although I can pack light enough –probably twenty-eight pounds for all our supplies– I won’t be able to carry him very far, because he’s nearly forty pounds. The good news: Hemingway wasn’t content to sit in the sled the whole day. He frequently got out of the sled and wanted to walk; at other times, he decided it was easier to walk after being tossed off.
As we climbed our final hill, the sun shone through the clouds and our promised blue skies appeared. Soon after, we reached the Boston Falls lookout around 12:30 pm. The amazing weather made me regret that I had set this lookout, rather than the summit, as our goal. However, my growling stomach stopped me from pursuing the route any farther, and we paused at the lookout for lunch. Hemingway didn’t want to sit and eat with me; instead, he carried his lunch kit to sit with the women. I didn’t take it personally. Besides, he wasn’t too good to come back and enjoy my hot chocolate–again and again. The little mooch even helped clean out some of the ladies’ snacks!
It was very enjoyable to walk back toward the cars, with our sunglasses on. Hemingway walked across the bumpier sections, and I carried him down the most precarious sections. Overall, he had a good time of it.
We had a great day out. Of course, I found more tweaks for the pulk sled.