Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Back with our packs

Now that sports season is over, we can do things again. We lost no time in taking advantage by heading to the Flat Tops to do some backpacking. This is the second time we've taken the kids backpacking, and the first time we've taken Buster, obviously, so things could have gone either way: the kids could have loved it and busted out into nature with a roar in their throats, or they could have been timorous and sulky and demanded to go to Waterworld instead. Some of my recent insomnia has been dedicated to this exact worry, in fact: are we ruining the kids by bringing them up in suburbs and baseball parks? Some days it seems that we are.

It didn't help that when we went camping back in June, Si was sick, so he spent the trip moping around the picnic table and the tent (the nearer his electronics to be, I fretted), and Helen, left to her own devices, wouldn't stray farther from the campsite than the road. A case could be made that the children were not properly learning to appreciate the important things in life.

Definitely not ruined.
They were fine, of course. They were excited about the trip as soon as they started packing. They didn't complain about the 4-hour drive, not even once. When we piled out at the trailhead Helen did ask, nervously, if we were going to be the only ones camping where we were going - "I hope so!" I said, and she groaned, but by the time we got up over the saddle and set up our tent (at 7:30 p.m.) she'd forgotten that she was afraid of the loneliness. (It helped that we repeatedly emphasized that there were NO BEARS where we were going. No bears. None. Not up here. Nope. To the point where, partway through the next day, she said, "Well, what country ARE we in? We're not in bear country, so..." "Uh, marmot country?" I said, imagining ravening bands of golden brown marmots rushing us to lick our sweaty socks. "Pika country?" What country, indeed?)

She and Silas dropped their packs and climbed from the saddle to the top of the nearest summit - she got tired halfway there and came back (by herself!), but Si forged on. The next morning they went exploring by themselves and found a snowfield and an elk skull and then we all went together to explore some lakes.

Nearing camp around sunset.

There was relatively little of this, thank goodness. The guy is heavy for being such a wee thing.
And Buster: he's a great camp dog. He sticks close to camp and doesn't go off foraging for poop or other campers' meals (unlike some dogs I could name, Costi); he doesn't whine or get nervous, and he's game for anything, although we did have to carry him over the boulder fields so he didn't disappear. He got shivery at night and we had to wrap him in Helen's raincoat when we were sitting around the campfire. "I hope he doesn't turn out to be a sweater dog," said M., thus showing that I am not the only one in the family with a lingering midlife dog complex.

Waiting for dinner.
Plus I had to keep turning his ears rightside out so they didn't get sunburned.

Not a bad family to get stuck with, overall, right, Buster? In spite of the forcible hugging.
The other thing that was a secret balm to my heart was, when we got out of the conflict zone of electronics and baseball practice, Silas turned frequently and devotedly to M. This year was better than last year, but still, during baseball season, they tend to spend too much time together and Silas dedicates much of that time to resenting the fact that M. is his parent and does parenty things, like tell him he's had enough video game time for the day. He often refuses to see what an awesome dad M. is. So it set another of my insomnia frets at ease to see them doing stuff together, and to see Si turn to him the way, I apparently feel, a good son should.

Doing stuff like hanging food bags.
 So all of this begs the question: is this really how I wish we'd spent the summer? Instead of baseball parks and the chlorine-splashed rims of pools? Part of me: yes. But - oddly? unexpectedly? - I'm beginning to see the value in baseball and swimming. The balanced life, etc. It's not like we can go backpacking every weekend, after all. Plus May and June are unfriendly in the high country: what else can we do, but schlep around to ball fields and pools? (No, don't answer that.)

Maybe it's okay, the sports. So long as we're also able to do this.
This photo does not really show how we are perched on the hillside, toes and fingers clutching the grass.

1 comment:

irretrievablybroken said...

I am both envious and impressed. You guys are rugged--I backslid into car camping once I had kids. Backpacking is much more daring and much more fun. I know what you mean about resenting the ordinary parts of summer--I have felt that way nearly every day this year. How good to know that the old wilderness loving personalities are all still there intact, if you know what I mean!

I miss the mountains, though. And the West. Sigh.