We’re on the final days of a great vacation (meaning that we left Ithaca) in the middle of summer. After five days in Maine visiting family and friends we made our way to Vermont where you ate almost an entire pizza before we missed the ferry across Lake Champlain and drove to the Adirondacks to spend a night on a farm. You loved the cows.
But today you hiked your first real mountain, Cascade; one of the 46 high peaks. We had a nice big breakfast and got to the trail around 10am. We set off far too quickly, though, and you were huffing and puffing before we even got half a mile in (it is 2.4 miles to the top, with 1990’ of elevation gain). First you shed your Minecraft backpack (with a 3 pound hardcover book inside that you felt like bringing up a mountain) and then your Minecraft hoodie (which went in the backpack that I ultimately carried up the mountain). Still it wasn’t enough. About a mile in you were ready to quit. You were upset, and challenged, and miserable.
Then you ate CEREAL! And after that you were a new dude. You practically ran up the trail (you actually did, at times). And about 2 hours after we signed in at the trailhead, the clouds replaced the trees and we approached the exposed summit.
You’ve hiked in the past, but not like this. We’ve done five and six mile gorge hikes in Ithaca, but Cascade was different in that the payoff was huge. You loved making it to the top, and I never doubted that you could do it. You ran around (careful to stay off fragile grass), smiling wide, and found a spot to settle down that was somewhat protected from the strong winds.
After more food, you did, in fact, pull out the book I carried up and read a bit of it. Another hiker that we talked to during the ascent even came over to congratulate you, acknowledging that he couldn’t have climbed Cascade at your age (you’ll be 10 in two weeks).
As we turned to go down the mountain, the skies cleared, showing you exactly how high up we were, and how there are even taller mountains all around us. We took it in with the goal of making in down the mountain in an hour (which we did). You gave high fives to everyone heading in the opposite direction (they appreciated it). And once we stumbled back to the car we drove as quickly as we could to get ice cream.