Sunday marked our last hike of the season. We picked the best day to do it considering everything is now blanketed in snow. It was also my moms last day visiting so we wanted to show her the beauty of Alaska. It may not have been her ideal hiking conditions, you know with 30 degree temps and a slight wind chill. But she was a trooper and went with it. I think we single handily set in stone that my mother will retire in a warm climate.
We decided to hike the South Fork Trail in Eagle River, which is not too far from our house. The views are stunning and it is a pretty easy hike for the kids (minus the tons of mud we had to plow through). Every hike starts out the same with the kids. The car ride up they are asking non stop "are we there yet?" "I am so excited to go hiking, are we there yet?" "This is taking for-ev-er are we there yet?". Then they are hard to control as we prepare them for the elements with layers of clothing. They run in every direction looking for the start of the trail, like dogs sniffing for a bone. Their voices are screeching with excitement. We find the trail and they take off, looking for sticks, wondering if we will see a bear or a moose. They keep the momentum for a hot minute until they bust out with the "I'm hungry, I need a snack". Then they slow down to a snails pace while protesting for food, even though we just had lunch.
This will continue on for what feels like miles, but Chris and I have learned that if we can push the boys a little harder they will forget about a snack and start moving their feet. But this time as I was stopping and going, waiting for Pierce to catch up, I couldn't help but think about my mom. Even though she was right there with us, hiking the same trail. It was not too long ago that she was pushing me to keep going. It was her that was stopping and waiting while bribing me to move it along. It was her that was holding my hand as to make sure I wouldn't slip and fall. And now it is my turn. With all these little kids yelling "mommy mommy". Now she was here in Alaska of all places, freezing her ass off hiking with the couple who everyone in the family thought wouldn't make it past the first year. With three kids, and one more on the way. Sure this was just an average hike for us. I feel like we spent the whole summer hiking. But this time it was more having her there.
We reached a good stopping point and fulfilled the promise of snacks to the kids. It felt about 10 degrees colder while we stopped and sat on cold rocks to let the kids rejuvenate. I could tell me mom was cold, but she hung in there. Chris said he wanted to go a little further before we started to lose the sun. So we did.
Avalon's little nose was pink, Pierce started to say he was tired. So we turned around. You have never seen a person move faster than when we told my mom we were going to head back. She was ready, but still she stuck it out. Not complaining of being that cold. She was getting muddy while picking up the pace far in front of us. But I couldn't blame her. That was me when we used to hike when I was little, always the first one wanting to go back to the car. I had to laugh as I lied to Pierce over and over again telling him "just a few more steps". His legs were tired and wobbly. So I decided I would carry this 40 pound popsicle the rest of the way. When my mom looked back and saw me carrying him she stopped and said "hand him to me you shouldn't be doing that". She carried him to the end of the trail and he and Ace ran to the car.
It was a good hike, filled with all the dramatics that we are used to. But it was the last hike of the season. It was the last hike with just three kids. Next summer when the snow melts away we will be hiking with four. It will be a new chapter filled with new chaos. I just hope we didn't scare grandma away!