raising little ones in the great outdoors

Trip report: Cascades

We’re hoping to run some trip reports from parents. If this sparks an idea feel free to contact us. I know most everyone has put away there skis for the summer, but up here in the Northwest there’s still plenty of snow up high and these photos were just too good to pass up. Enjoy.

The Trip: A backcountry spring skiing over-nighter

Where: The Eastern Cascades (no powder stashes were harmed in the creation of this post)

When: May 2009

The Players: Howard and Michael.

The camping was quite pleasant in a ponderosa glade.  We observed pileated woodpeckers, signs of a bear's successful search for termites inside a rotten log, and porcupine-stripped pine boughs. The glide back to the car, in dappled sunlight through an  old track in the forest, was still skiable, with the exception of a few bare patches we walked across in our skis.
howard-8

This trip was a pinnacle of sorts in a 5 year progression. He loves camping, campfires, nature, and SKIING. Michael has always wanted to go "backcounty skiing" with me and my adult partners, so this was a chance for him to experience it firsthand.

After Michael was born, I eagerly awaited opportunities to take him out.  I can remember cross-country skiing when he was 2 months old in a chest sling.  He's always loved the motion  - of cross country skiing in the front-mounted baby backpack, outings behind my bicycle in the baby dragger, long training runs in the jogger.   At age 2, I started him on plastic cross-country skis.  He would ski for for 15 to 30 minutes, at which point he was "done.”  Then I'd put him in a backpack and do a "short" tour while he napped. He's done a few 5 mile day hikes prior, so I had some inkling of how he'd last throughout the day ~  the early warning signs of a need for a break.

After Michael was born, I eagerly awaited opportunities to take him out. I can remember cross-country skiing when he was 2 months old in a chest sling. He's always loved the motion - of cross country skiing in the front-mounted baby backpack, outings behind my bicycle in the baby dragger, long training runs in the jogger. At age 2, I started him on plastic cross-country skis. He would ski for for 15 to 30 minutes, at which point he was "done.” Then I'd put him in a backpack and do a "short" tour while he napped. He's done a few 5 mile day hikes prior, so I had some inkling of how he'd last throughout the day ~ the early warning signs of a need for a break.

With a combination of a (human) rope tow and lots and lots of candy bars, we made it to the base of the summit cliffs of my favorite backcountry ski area. I have had a number of adult partners who did not fare so well.  I realized Michael was an exceptional case as I pulled him up the first steep section. I thought to myself “Pulling him isn’t so difficult, after all.” Then I looked back. Michael was skating his downhill ski to help propel us along. It was much harder without his help.

With a combination of a (human) rope tow and lots and lots of candy bars, we made it to the base of the summit cliffs of my favorite backcountry ski area. I have had a number of adult partners who did not fare so well. I realized Michael was an exceptional case as I pulled him up the first steep section. I thought to myself “Pulling him isn’t so difficult, after all.” Then I looked back. Michael was skating his downhill ski to help propel us along. It was much harder without his help.

Many tricks & techniques were employed, from the hip-carry over logs and streams, towing via rope harness, ski-skating, side slipping slopes, the pole-pull-cata-pult, the single-ski slip-shot, and holding hands through the tough spots.  I was delighted that he enjoyed the trip to the extent that he did.

Many tricks & techniques were employed, from the hip-carry over logs and streams, towing via rope harness, ski-skating, side slipping slopes, the pole-pull-cata-pult, the single-ski slip-shot, and holding hands through the tough spots. I was delighted that he enjoyed the trip to the extent that he did.

On the way down, we  negotiated a narrow icy trail through thick north slope pines, made big turns through open glades, and finished with a  delightful roller-coaster glide back to camp through a series of open meadows, carving a serpentine track around the trees and patches of bare earth.

On the way down, we negotiated a narrow icy trail through thick north slope pines, made big turns through open glades, and finished with a delightful roller-coaster glide back to camp through a series of open meadows, carving a serpentine track around the trees and patches of bare earth.

I got a big rush of pride and happiness that he really loved the experience. I felt like I was having a positive and hopefully lasting effect in someone's life.   My confidence that I can  actively manage an extended outing to be fun for a kid also grew.

I got a big rush of pride and happiness that he really loved the experience. I felt like I was having a positive and hopefully lasting effect in someone's life. My confidence that I can actively manage an extended outing to be fun for a kid also grew.

This is a map of of our route that Michael drew afterwards.

This is a map of of our route that Michael drew afterwards.

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12 Responses to “Trip report: Cascades”

  1. Steve Bohrer says:

    Awesome, thanks for sharing! What a testament to the joy that can come from a little patience and a huge pack!

  2. Great trip report. Keep them coming, I love reading them!

  3. robin says:

    BTW, Michael is 5.5

  4. lawless says:

    Rad trip. Makes me stoked to take my 5 year-old camping.

    Here’s a good trip report from Surly Bikes blog a friend turned me on to:

    http://www.surlybikes.com/2009_06_01_blog_archive.html#6830106605784433896

  5. Danny says:

    Great post! Good idea on the Trip reports. It makes it a lot easier for parents to get their kids out when they see how possible it really is.

  6. howard says:

    yeah, the campfire – crucial.

  7. Marlow says:

    I notice the wife had the good sense to stay home.

  8. Auntie Babe says:

    Howard,
    Received these pictures etc from Teresa via Joe. Hope you don’t mind. I loved them. Miss knowing your 5.5 Michael and seeing you and Robin.
    Keep up the good work —-and fun.
    Love, Auntie Babe

  9. Mary McCoy Weiss says:

    Hey Howard,

    What a cool trip. Impressive for a 5 year old. Louis is 4 and Leo is 2, I’m due July 25th with #3. You can find me and photos on facebook or http://www.adamdolph.com , however Adam hasn’t updated for awhile.

    We’ll have to come see you when our boys are a bit bigger and you can show us your mountains.

    Lots of love,
    Mary

  10. I love the map. That is the best representation of bashing through the woods.
    Thanks again howard. If other people have trip reports send them on in.

  11. Matthew McCoy says:

    Howard, nice pictures! It looks like you both had fun. I’m glad you are doing well. It sure is a rewarding knowing everything you do with your child will leave an everlasting memory. I have to bring my family out to see you guys someday!

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