–all photographs and video courtesy Michael Paskevicious
You’re four-and-a-half years old now–time sure flies. I made only two resolutions for 2018, and the first and most important one was to get my whole family out on a mountain adventure (Paradise Meadows doesn’t count). You’ve been my adventure companion on many trips, but it wasn’t until our January 6th trip that we summited our first mountain together: Mount Elma. It was a lot of work, but well worth the effort to see your smile when we crested the hill and walked out onto Mount Elma’s summit plateau.
Total Distance: 12 km
Starting Elevation: 166m
Maximum Elevation: 1418 m
Total Elevation Gain: 446 m
Total Time: 5h 30m
We headed out through Paradise Meadows in a light mist under a very dark sky, despite the forecast that called for sun. We weren’t alone: I was “leading” the trip for the Island Mountain Ramblers, though, in reality, it was Doug and Dean who did the majority of direction finding along the snowshoe track from Raven Lodge.
Our winter has been warm, and throughout Paradise Meadows we saw several sections of the bog, where the snow hadn’t managed to bury it. In these places I took extra care to haul the sled across the muddy/watery sections. On this day, the temperatures held with the character of our winter, hovering just above zero. The overnight temperatures must have been lower, because we walked on a few inches of fresh snow that created a great substrate for the sled to glide over.
The trip was mostly easy. Our biggest challenges were the switchbacks on the hill leading to the summit plateau, and overcoming your anxiety. We were only halfway to our destination when you started crying and calling for me to go back to the Jeep. It took a little while to console you and determine that you were concerned about being so far from the Jeep. Was someone talking to you about getting lost, recently? It was only after I showed you the GPS and explained how the maps worked, and eventually struck a deal involving Lego, that you climbed back onto the sled and allowed me to continue walking. The hills were a different issue: they were only overcome by a good deal of grunting, sweating, and hauling. We tried to have you lay on the sled and hold on, but you didn’t have the hand strength to hold on while we climbed the steep incline. Once, I tried to carry you on my shoulders, but your weight and the sled combined was too much for me, the aging adventurer. So in the end, you walked in front of me and used my poles to assist you; I would place them, and you would hang onto them and advance.
I was disappointed when we got to the summit plateau, because many of the distant peaks were obscured by the low clouds. However, I smiled wide when you noticed the form of Mount Washington rising up out of the cloud. You repeatedly called my attention to it: “Mountains. Mountains. Look!”
We stopped for lunch at the viewpoint, or at least the group and I did. You hardly ate anything, and instead absconded with a stranger’s shovel and set about trying to dig holes in the snow. As we ate and talked, the clouds wafted about, and though we never got a view of the Comox Range, we did finally get a view of Allan-Brooks, Jutland, Reagan, Albert-Edward and the mountains in the Boundary Range. It was worth the hard work to see you enjoying yourself in the snow.
Our return route was easier than I expected, though not without challenge. The sled performed better than I expected on the downhill, so I allowed it to ride out in front of me as we walked down the slopes. Rather than try to follow the switchbacks, I walked as straight down the slopes as the terrain allowed. Any worries I had about you descending on the steep snow disappeared in the first few moments; instead of walking, you scooted down on your butt the whole way. Welcome to the Island Mountain Butt-Sliders! You might not remember it, but we owe a big thank you to Doug for his help on the trip. He walked down in front of you, making sure you didn’t start sliding too fast, and later when you were falling asleep on the sled, he was the one that lifted your legs back into the sled to make sure it traveled easily.
Reflecting on this trip and others, I wonder what, if anything, you’ll remember. Will you remember a fun trip through the snow, water, and on the beach; or will you remember a grumpy, stubborn father who barks at you whenever he’s worried that you’ll fall down a hill? Whatever the case, I’ll remember the times we spend outdoors.
I love you, Hemingway.
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