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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Mt. Eisenhower (#2) and Mt. Pierce (#3), June 21, 2008

Trails: mainly Edmands Path and Crawford Path. 7.9 total miles.

This was a magical, wonderful day.

I woke Alex at 6am and we headed out early. My daughter was a bit bleary-eyed, but excited. On the way there, we saw this by the side of the road...

There's a moose in there, in the middle. It had come right up next to the car, and then when I pulled out my camera, it of course decided to walk away.

We found Clinton Road and drove to the trailhead. There were a few cars already there, and we got quite a few looks by the others while gearing up. I explained to Alex quietly that grown-ups aren't used to seeing kids on the least not these kinds of trails.

The first part of the trail was lovely. Beautiful trees, fungi, flowers, turns here and there, stream crossings (but with wooden planks and boards put over the water). The grade was easy to moderate.

We were passed by many groups of people, almost all of whom spoke nicely and respectfully to Alex and myself. There was one woman who spoke down to her, "aren't you ambitious, are you sure you can do this," etc. in sticky-sweet tones while giving me nasty looks on the side. I wanted to accidentally knock her over with my extremely-stuffed, prepared-for-every-possible-catastrophe pack. Anyway, after she moved on, Alex and I had a long discourse on the irritating qualities of adults who treat children as though they were retarded puppies.

The trail got steeper and steeper and steeper, but both Alex and I were taking it slowly and we felt in very good spirits. Alex began a rhyming game. She would say a word and I would make up rhymes, then I would say a word and she would make up rhymes. That game lasted about twenty minutes or so and got us through a particularly steep bit. I then began softly singing childhood songs that she hadn't heard before, silly ones to make her laugh (Bumble Bee, On Top of Spaghetti, etc.). We then sang together for a while. She made up some songs, I made up words to Beatles tunes, etc. This is basically how we got ourselves through an hour and a half of steep and steady hiking.

Steeper and steeper and steeper...and then the views opened up while we hiked. Alex took a look over her shoulder at one point and went, "Woooowwwww!!!" From here on out, we had views, views, and views. Gorgeous, amazing, on-top-of-the-world views. We hiked over rocks and splashed through a bit of water running down some boulders (we passed a nice man and his dog here), then made our way up up up. Once we got to the alpine zone, the hike became much less steep and we made our way over loose rocks and boulders.

Finally we made it to the Mt. Eisenhower loop trail.

From here we went almost straight up....

and up...

until we reached the...summit.

Alex was so happy and proud of herself. We sat for a long time, ate Powerbars, and chatted with the four million hikers who passed by. The views were so clear and beautiful that Alex did not want to go back down. After she drew her summit picture, I asked if she wanted to try to hike over to the top of Mt. Pierce, and then go down from there. She said yes.

We took the Crawford Path (part of the Appalachian Trail) from the peak of Eisenhower to the top of Pierce. Completely spontaneous, the hike felt free and wonderful. Alex chatted up everyone we saw along the way (these trails are very popular, people climb up one mountain and then just go from peak to peak...they stay at huts along the way and sometimes make it a two or three day there were a lot of people up there). The two of us discussed pirates (their parents must not have loved them very much), and we had a few philosophical discussions on death and dying.

After much conversation and easy hiking, we got to Pierce and took a rest...

Alex drew her summit picture, and then accepted chocolate from a couple of very nice ladies who thought that any five year old who hikes two mountains in one day should have some chocolate. We enjoyed the weather, the views, the conversations with other hikers, and the friendly dogs who took a shine to Alex. We then we took a sidepath down Pierce to Mizpah Spring Hut.

After we used the facilities and refilled our water bottles, we began the descent toward the valley.

Alex was peppy and cheerful the entire way. We actually passed other hikers, most of whom enviously commented on her energy. We met up with a couple close to the bottom and hiked most the remaining mile or so fairly close to them.

And..we made it to the bottom!!

I sheepishly asked the couple for a ride to our car...since we had gone to Pierce and come down a completely different trail, we were now about two miles from our vehicle. They graciously complied, and we arrived at our car approximately 10 hours after we had left it.

What a lovely day with my daughter!


  1. Glad to see u guys are still making progress and staying safe!
    I don't think our 7 year old Ashley really believed a littler girl than her was hiking bigger mountains. It has been very inspiring to Ashley to read about Alex's adventures.

    Chip and Holly Grant,
    (met you on the Crawford Path from Mt. Pierce and gave you a ride to the Edmands Path)

  2. Hi Chip and Holly!

    I apologize for the late response. I just now saw the comment you left!

    It's nice to hear from you, and I thank you again for giving us a lift to our car. That was a huge help!

    Hopefully we'll run into you again out there, hope I can somehow return the favor someday.



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