Friday, January 9, 2015

10:04 PM
Last summer I hiked South Sister with some friends and documented the adventure here. One of my best memories from the whole experience was pointing out the mountain peak to my 6 YO daughter later that day and hearing her say Mommy, I want to climb a mountain with you.

Needless to say, I was all over that concept.

Her Inspiration
But then vacation was over and the fall was very, very busy and 2014 was drawing to a close with nary a mountain climbed.

As someone who prides herself on getting out and about with my family, this was starting to be an untenable situation and one that demanded action. So, taking inspiration from a great article on How to Raise Outdoor Loving Kids, last December I started a tradition of peak bagging with my family, one that I document here, and that I plan to continue in 2015 and beyond.

First Ascent - December 14, 2014

A Mountain Amid Madness

For a while I had been eyeing a hill called Sugarloaf Mountain for our first ascent - an open space promontory that, at elevation 586 ft msl, stands head and shoulders above its skirt of residential neighborhoods and belt of freeways. It seemed to have all the correct ingredients for our first summit attempt - close by and not too hard, but significant enough and mountain-like enough that we could be satisfied with our achievement, while building confidence for bigger things.

So, on a sunny Sunday in December, post-swim lessons and pre-lunch and pre-piano recital, I suggested to my family that we Go climb a mountain! and was pleased to get an enthusiastic response. Thanks to some on-the-fly googling we found parking and the trailhead and then proceeded to hike about 1.25 miles and 400 vertical feet to the summit.

We took the Amphitheater Trail (the first staircase on your right as you head away from the playground along the Tenderfoot Trail), which was beautifully maintained and had many interesting features including:
Winding Staircases
Mossy Tree Tunnels
Clear Summits
Victorious Ascents
The 2.5 mile hike was a wee bit long for little legs given that we did not pack a substantial snack and were kind of pushing the clock both in terms of lunch and nap time (although an important lesson in climbing mountains is it can be a cold, hungry, and exhausting experience). Had I to do it over, I would have packed a picnic and eaten slowly while enjoying the 360-degree view from the top. That being said, other than a brief meltdown by the 3YO (a common theme for us) we had a great time and really enjoyed the delicious lunch we got at Piazzas immediately afterwards.

Second Ascent - December 28, 2014

The Sleeping Giant
Building off our success from Sugarloaf Mountain, on our recent vacation to Kauai we decided to spend a morning hiking the Sleeping Giant - a large mountain that stands guard behind the town of Kapa'a. We chose to climb the Nounou Trail, a 2 mile, 1,000 ft climb to the summit, which looked like this:
From the Trailhead
From the Summit
It was a stunning trail, with sweeping views of the Kauai coast and lush, mountainous interior. It was also  a pretty hard-core effort for the kids - all of us actually, as my husband and I had to take turns carrying my son in the ergo after his legs pooped out after 1.5 miles of climbing. It was pretty hot and the trail was steep, a few spots even required actual rock-climbing. We had plenty of water and snacks this time (lesson learned!), and we all felt like we had accomplished something, both at the top and at the 4-mile finish. We had a hearty lunch and spent the rest of the day lounging at the beach, another outdoor adventure enjoyed, another peak bagged.

Lessons Learned So Far
1. Start slow and build on successes.
2. Focus on enjoying the journey.
3. Pack enough snacks and water (including a special treat to encourage success).
4. Foster love and support.
5. Revisit the experience and learn from any issues.

I am currently mulling over our next summit attempt - perhaps one peak per month might be a worthy endeavor for 2015.... I will keep you posted on our progress (pun intended).

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