One of our favorite things about living in Calgary is how close we are to the Rocky Mountains. This past weekend, we decided to hike up to Grassi Lakes, just southwest of Canmore, AB on the western edge of the Rockies.
It's always a challenge finding a hike that's interesting enough for my husband and I, but not too difficult for the kids. When they were younger, it was easier because we could just put them in the baby carrier and off we'd go. I'd heard that Grassi Lakes was a good family hike, with two routes to the top: one easy enough that you could take your stroller and one that was described as more difficult, yet much more scenic. Neither of us were really into "easy", but Google had told me that even the more difficult route would be manageable for a four-year-old, so we decided to try it anyway.
Both Murray and I were fairly certain that at some point Mia, our two-year-old, would want to ride in the baby backpack carrier so we took it along. Little did we know that our fearless daughter would insist on hiking the entire two kilometres up the mountain. We asked her several times if she would rather ride on Daddy's back and she always responded with a firm, "No."
This gives you an idea of how high she climbed:
The trailhead is at the same elevation as the road and reservoir. We weren't at the top yet, about three-quarters of the way. That's when she did this:
Once we got to Grassi Lakes, there were some pictographs and Aboriginal rock paintings, but you had to climb some more to see them. Mia did that too. It was pretty steep and the rocks were slippery so we bribed her to get into the backpack on the way down. Here we are looking down at Grassi Lakes from the pictographs.
She stayed in the backpack for the first quarter of our way back down the mountain to the parking lot, but the rest of it she walked. People who saw us couldn't believe that someone so small was climbing and hiking so much without really any trouble at all. And it's not like we were making her do any of it. She wanted to do it, so she did.
She's always been stubborn, and has a bit of a daredevil streak in her. Witness the time at the playground that I caught her going down the big slide head first, intentionally. But what struck me the most about her insistence on climbing up that mountain was first, her determination, and second, her confidence. I remember thinking as she took off up the trail that I hope that she never loses those qualities. She fell down - more than once - and each time got right back up, dusted off her hands, said, "It's okay." and kept moving. Not one tear. Not one whine. Nothing. You know, those moments when your kids absolutely amaze you? This was one of those times.
My favorite picture is one taken right at the beginning. She's standing, waiting for the go ahead from the rest of us. She has no idea what lies ahead, but you can tell in her posture that she's ready. A little hesitant maybe, but ready. I like to think of it as a metaphor for her life. Oh, the places she'll go.
(with apologies to Dr. Suess)
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