We don’t often get a whole day together for just the two of us. Typically, the entire family goes on our adventures, or at the very least it’s you, Hemingway, and me. In fact, that was the original arrangement, for you both to come with me –and 12 of my closest Ramblers buddies– on our February 3rd summit of Mount Elma. But Hemingway decided to stay home for a swim lesson and his first overnight camping trip away from home, leaving the whole day for just us–our first time!
Mount Elma is a great trip to do with the family because it’s close to the parking lot, offers expansive alpine views, and provides a little fun for Dad on the steeper slopes. I’ve done it with Hemingway in the past and knew what to expect.
I brought the pulk with us, and also brought the backpack carrier as a backup because you hadn’t used the pulk before this trip. It’s a good thing too, because you wanted nothing to do with the pulk (though days later, when you watched Hemingway sliding down the hills at our house, you eagerly got on board).
You’re stubborn in all the best ways. At the start, despite my pleading, you refused to get on the pulk or into the backpack. You grinned and scrunched your nose while repeating in your tiny quick voice, “walk.” And so you did. Just like any 2.5-year-old, you’re pretty good at walking on level terrain and negotiating stairs, but on uneven ground, you’re more than a little shaky. Once the ice and snow came into play, your effort was nearly hopeless — but still you chose to struggle along for a good 400 metres before finally giving in to my pleas for you to get into the backpack.
We lagged way behind our group. The extra weight of you, the sled, and the backpack wasn’t that noticeable until we started the climb to Mount Elma’s northeast ridge to the summit. The pulk added at least thirty pounds of drag, on top of the forty-five pounds of you in the backpack. It was a workout, to say the least!
As we climbed you urged me on: “Go. Go. GO!”. I felt like your personal dog team. When I needed a break, I tilted sideways so you could reach out and touch the frozen pinecones, freshly fallen snow, and small icicles forming on the branches.
When we crested the summit ridge, I was disappointed. The usually amazing alpine view was socked in! But your reaction was priceless. You kept repeating, “What’s that? What’s that?”. It took me a moment to realize that this was your first time seeing the fog! And, high up in the backpack at the edge of the bluff, there wasn’t anything to see; you were looking straight into the white abyss. “It’s a cloud,” was my feeble response, “It’s hiding the mountains.” You must have been satisfied with my answer because you stopped asking about it.
Soon after reaching the viewpoint, we caught up with the group. Everyone stopped for lunch around noon. I plopped you down, pulled out our hot meal, and we ate pasta and drank hot chocolate. You tried your best to walk around, but the snow was far too deep for you to do anything but fall face first into it.
After lunch, I used the coaxing power of a sucker to get you into the sled. You barely tolerated it. We skidded quickly to the summit; it felt like nothing compared to your weight in the backpack. Unfortunately, the sucker only lasted about eight minutes: then the tears started, and you insisted on going back into the carrier.
The route back to the car had all the comedy a young child brings. You kicked off boots, tossed your gloves, and kicked and pulled to get my attention. I can’t blame you — it was a long time to be wedged in the backpack. After about the fifth time, I pocketed your boot –to the laughter of some of the other parents– and left your sock-covered foot flailing about until you complained your foot was cold. That was the last time I had to put your boots back on!
When we were about 300 meters from the parking lot, I pulled you out, and you fumbled your way through the snow back to the lodge, where we stowed our gear in the car and headed inside to finish the day off with friends, fries, and hot chocolate.
I’m sorry we don’t get out often, just the two of us. Perhaps this is why the day will be such a great memory for me. I look forward to a summer of adventure in the kayak and the mountains.
I love you, Octavia.