Oh, I certainly wish I had the stamina I had when I was in my early twenties. There’s something about carrying and delivering two children, and then once again carrying them on a mountain that really wipes a mother out. Younger, unattached hikers could probably accomplish the 15 mile round trip hike to the Granite Tors in a day, but we Ardoin’s, toting two small children, cannot. We did make it eight miles, though! Hooray!
Our first day camping, we took the short 2 mile loop at the Granite Tors trailhead, just to scope out the scenery. A wildfire cleaned out the clutter of the forest back in 2009, leaving a charred landscape in its wake. New growth has taken over. Bright green buds burst out of the black spruce like fireworks; their neon needles contrasting sharply with the burnt trunks at their center. The brush underfoot looked as though nothing had happened. It was springy and marshy with snow melt, and saturated in color — not scarred like the tall trees above.
Truthfully, I cannot remember a time when my shoulders were that sore. I had Woods in a front carry in the ergo, and Isaac had Margot in the REI structured hiking carrier. Both of us had day packs in addition to the kid weight. After an afternoon of my shoulders being pulled in two opposing directions, and a steep climb up toward the Tors, I was completely wiped. The tors are large granite protrusions popular with climbers. They’re unfortunately just a few miles too far for the burdened day hiker.
The trail starts out as a leisurely stroll along the Chena River. It splinters off into a boardwalk trail that steers you over to the fork where you can either elect to take the shorter two mile loop, or carry onward to the long trek to the Tors. The boardwalk ends abruptly when the foothills meet the valley. Then a quick ascent along a trail that runs through a birch forest. On the right in the distance, a large beaver dam (not pictured) created its own pond. The occupants where nowhere to be seen.
The slow lumbering mosquitos of early summer were slow to get us, unless we stopped. Sally was unable to keep them off of her, unfortunately. Her furry hide twitched and flinched the entire time.
Once the elevation plateaued, we entered a more exposed terrain, with lower brush and more of the charred remains from a wildfire past. The sun barred down on us, but the cool temperatures kept us from roasting in the high-noon light.
At this elevation we were able to see a great distance in every direction. The lush green hills, with their tiny freckles of unmelted snow, seemed to roll on forever. We found a clearing where we could eat our packed lunches in peace. Margot fed her crust to Sally, who was just as hungry as the rest of us.
We made it to a back country campsite with sweeping views of the Tors (still a few miles away). Although the daylight hours stretch long into the night, our kids’ happy dispositions do not. Opting to head back to the camper to clean and rest up before bed, we headed back down the mountain at a much quicker pace.
On our descent, Margot sang songs about quesadillas to keep the bears away, and Woods slept soundly against my chest. We all had an incredible night’s sleep.