The Last Camp Gramp update

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This is the last update from Camp Gramp. Hopefully this week I’ll update with all the stuff Adam and I were doing while Camp Gramp was going on!

The family that kazoos together annoys other people together

Day 8 — I don’t know if this one counts. We had mac and cheese for lunch. A Camp Gramp favorite. Then, when Uncle Adam and Aunt Brenda returned home, Uncle Adam ran a fabulous game in which everyone emerged alive, and Aunt Brenda took Carolyn to town to get her ears pierced! Isn’t that awesome!

We had roast beef, mashed potatoes, gravy, wilted leaf lettuce salad for dinner. Then went for a Mineral walk to the lake side. The evening ended with baths, PEACH crisp and drama. Puppy had gone walk about. 15 minutes were dedicated to finding him on my desk ….???? How did he get there.

This is the last night in the tents. Another Camp Gramp. Thanks to Heidi and Brenda, Adam and Matt who make this activity possible every year. It has been a real joy to watch the cousins play together and enjoy one another. And it has been a privilege and a joy to have them. Tomorrow they start departing, and Papapa and Gramama collapse in a heap, just like the famous Collapsible Frink! 

Camp Gramp Catchup – 2014

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Our backpacking trip was marvelous. Sensational. Superb. I have just over a thousand pictures to prove it, which I’ll be spending the next several hours getting through. However, to tide you over until I get that magnum opus up, I have my mother’s Camp Gramp notes for days 3 – 7 for your enjoyment!

To Marie in Downer’s GroveThanks!! I have Grey’s summer camp write-up in the works, and I’ll try to get that done in the next week!

Day 3 — Camp Gramp 2014

I have sad news to report. The much beloved bouncy house is too small to support all the children. In fact, they have to go in one at a time to get any sort of decent bounce. This is a catastrophe! The slit in the slide required re-taping, but even that didn’t provide enough bounce for the whole gang. It is tough getting old! The joys of childhood fade away, one at a time. We have a huge collection of toys in the attic which are no longer appropriate for the grandchildren we have.

Today we went to church, had a picnic, then Gramama headed to Sunrise to deliver the backpackers to their trailhead while Papapa and the campers stayed home. There was much game playing, running, jumping, and enjoying the crew. There were no pictures taken. I promise to do better tomorrow. (Actually, pictures were taken of Adam and Brenda as they started their 4 day hike — but they are on Brenda’s camera somewhere on Mt. Rainier.)

We ended the day with the traditional ice cream and an episode of Rocky and Bullwinkle. The Wasamatta U football story. That cartoon is rich in pun and innuendo.

Tomorrow the Pacific Science Center. May the force be with us!

Day 4 — I lied. The camera remained firmly in its case and you will have to use your imagination.

Today was Pacific Science Center day. The spy exhibit was a real hit! They learned about the Enigma Machine and saw a chunk of the proposed Moscow Embassy with 8 different kinds of listening devices embedded in the wall.

Then we went to the Lego store, where Thane and Grey purchased Legos, Brain Marbles — or some such name, where Sebastian purchased a game called “Snake Oil”, and I fell victim to the pneumatic arm kit — yes really. It is so cool! Finally, we went to Target for Little Ponies stuff — I am sorry, Heidi! Giving kids choices sometimes has consequences.

Grey saw the sign on South Hill Collision which says “Wreck Amended” and he thought it was hilarious!

The sleeping room hasn’t quieted down so quickly tonight. They are still talking, but hey, it is Camp Gramp. Tomorrow, day camping at Big Tree campgrounds. It has a lovely little stream for the playing and they are all ready to enjoy that.

Happy Birthday, Matt! Hope it was a good one. Happy Anniversary tomorrow, Brenda and Adam. May the mosquitoes leave you alone!

Editor’s Note – I don’t see a day 4, so we’ll just have to paint it in with our imaginations.

Camping at Camp Gramp

Camping at Camp Gramp

Day 5
The morning began with Lego assembly, before the adults were out of bed. My muffled voice emerged from the blankets, “Take the table cloth off the table and work there.” So Thane obediently took the table cloth off the table, put it on the floor and emptied the bags of pieces on the table cloth, on the floor. We played Sebastian’s new game Snake Oil, with fun results. It is like selling refrigerators in the arctic, but we enjoyed it. Thane’s reading is excellent for headed into K. There were, however, some little mistakes.

Gmm washed clothes, imagine that.

About 3, we went “camping” Camp Gramp style. That means we go to a favorite camp site, play in the stream, hike around, roast hot dogs and marshmallows, then go home to sleep. The weather is PERFECT. About 75, sunny, lovely! There was a nice breeze blowing through the trees. Just perfect!

Then we broke “camp” and headed up to Paradise in hopes of finding the Cascade fox that hangings out in the parking lot in the evening. That was a wash. We saw only a couple of deer. No bear, no marmot, no Cascade fox. But it was really beautiful. The wildflowers, oh my! They are spectacular! I hope Brenda and Adam are enjoying them and the great backpacking weather.

Tomorrow, OMSI. I think I will go collapse in bed!

Day 6 – It is hard to tell which is the more popular, OMSI — Oregon Museum of Science and Industry — or IKEA for the meatballs. They were both a hit. Thane chose the dinosaur movie, which surprises no one. The older three chose the submarine, where they have decided the sleeping quarters are a little close! Then there were the exhibits. I think Sebastian liked the Laser room best. It had holograms! Thane and Carolyn went to the upstairs room to explore with the animal puppets and play in the water. For the second day in a row, Thane came home soaking wet! We will soon be out of shoes. Tomorrow we will rescue the hikers from Mt. Rainier. Mowich Lake, here we come!

Day 7 – It is a joy to realize that children have learned from things you have done with them. But why did they have to learn that? Yesterday I took the 3 older ones on the tour of the submarine at OMSI. We got the shower lecture. He called it a sailor shower. 10 seconds of water, lather up and shampoo, then 20 seconds of water to rinse off. So, we needed showers, oh did we need showers. I sent Sebastian first. He came back in about 2 minutes — “I took a sailor shower!” Somehow I think the lather and shampoo section was not all it should have been. All of them took sailor showers, except Thane, who needs a shower, but definitely doesn’t want to take one.

Today we went to Mowich Lake to pick up Brenda and Adam. That is such a beautiful place — flowers, crystal clear water, mountains, trees. It was amazing. The road was reminiscent of Zaire — pothole city for much of the way. But that was fun too.

Now the children are playing together on different computers. That will make sense to me, I am sure. All I know is there are happy voices coming from upstairs!

Camp Gramp Day 2

Editor’s note: This is the second installment in my mother’s Camp Gramp updates. We’ll have a bit of a hiatus as Adam and I go tackle the North Side of Mt. Rainier. Tomorrow night, Berkeley Park!

The Camp Grampers

Day Two
Today was chose your own adventure day. The children are old enough to have some say in what we do, so we made a powerpoint and posters for things we thought they might like, and each child chose one. Today’s adventure was the Carolyn Adventure, Northwest Trek. The tram ride was awesome. We saw a bull moose about 5 feet from the tram. We saw caribou, bison, elk, big horned sheep, deer. We saw ducks, geese, and swans. The bull elk herd was hot, so they were all standing in the water, fabulous racks bending and twisting like wind-tossed reeds.

We even had an adventure of another kind. A 1 1/2 year old took off his shoe and tossed it out the window. In case you are wondering, they send the game keeper to pick it up!

The core area was not so good. It was warm and everyone was sleeping. We got a good view of the fox, which is why we were there. We dragged ourselves out of NW Trek, tired but happy and came home to dinner.

Now the living room is ringing with voices engaged in a game they say is called “politics”. Hmmm! What kind of grandchildren are they raising? I don’t know what the game is, exactly, but periodically there is the patter of little feet coming into my office and a child whispers in my ear, “Don’t tell them I am here!” I would never do that!

They are playing together so well! Lovely!

Checking out the scenery

Camp Gramp: Day 1 2014

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Editor’s Note: My parents take all their grandchildren for a week every summer for a hedonistic weekend called Camp Gramp. It includes Lucky Charms, adventures, tents and connection with family. We parental units are released on our own recognizance, and my mother sends out updates to assure us we can continue to ignore our progeny happily. I repost her updates, when I’m not on Mt. Rainier. Here’s the first.

Camp Gramp! Day One
It is a miracle! The children are nestled all snug in their beds — I can’t vouch for what is dancing around in their heads, but they all seem to be asleep without the usual 13 trips to remind them that tomorrow is another day. This could be because the Flynn crew were up early this morning. However it happened, it has been a good start.
Camp Gramp t-shirts are all tie dyed and tucked in their plastic bags for a night of getting more intense.

The tents are all up. The kids are getting to be a much better help in that capacity.

Much laughing and giggling and “Let’s pretending” has already gone on.

On the down side, poor Papapa has pneumonia and is feeling far from well. Hopefully his medicine will kick in soon. It is discouraging to feel worse after the doctor.

Brenda and Adam are going tomorrow morning to try for camping spots for Mt. Rainier.

I am headed for bed. My day hasn’t been quite as long, but it has been busy, and those kids are getting a head start on me.

I promise to get out the camera tomorrow.

You got to come down from the mountaintop

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My church is in the process of preparing to partner with a new minister, after our Reverand of 34 years retired this spring. I was asked if I’d be willing to do a service this summer as we get ready to call an interim minister, and of course I said yes. The following are my notes for the sermon. The actual delivery varied slightly.

Summerland

Last week I picked up my son Grey from a week at Camp Wilmot, a Presbyterian run summer camp in the wilds of New Hampshire. Burlington Presbyterian has a long history at Camp Wilmot, but it’s been many years since we’ve sent a contingent. How many of you here have been to Camp Wilmot? How many here have heard of it? It was a great experience for Grey, and I’m hopeful next year the BPC contingent will be even bigger?

We got the packing list for the week at camp a few weeks before the first day. It started with a copy of the Bible and ended with bug spray and sunscreen. Reading it over, it was pretty much identical to the packing lists I’d had for summer camp in my day! As we were getting Grey ready to go, we called my brother and sister, my mom and dad, to talk about our experiences at Christian summer camps. All this summer camp talk got me reminiscing about some of my favorite experiences.

When I was teenager, the Presbytery of Olympia had two summer camps to choose from. There was Sound View, on the scenic shores of the Puget Sound, and there was Buck Creek nestled up against Mt. Rainier National Park. My sister went sailing and cycling at Sound View, but my heart was given to Buck Creek. One of the most exciting camp offerings was a backpacking camp. I went four years in a row.

The second year may have been the best. We hiked the East Side of the Wonderland Trail surrounding Mt. Rainier. I remember climbing the high paths to Summerland, on the sunrise side of one of the world’s iconically beautiful mountains. Summerland is an alpine meadow, full of lupine, columbine, heather and buzzing bees. The winds that blow there come directly off the glaciers a few hundred feet distance and down to the desert country that grows the apples and cherries we all love. We campers were jubilant in our conquest of the mountain. We prayed together, read the scripture together, sang by the laboriously brought guitar, and saw more stars in that perfect night than I’d ever known had existed. My heart was unbearably full of the glory of God. In that beautiful place, and beautiful time, I could feel the Holy Spirit as a joy. I almost cried at the thought of ever coming down – and it wasn’t because the climb can be tough on the knees.

I remember asking one of the counselors why it had to be this way. Why was it so hard, and so rare, to feel the joy of the spirit? Why did we have to go back down to the “real world”? Why couldn’t we just stay here?

That wise counselor brought me back to the story of the Transfiguration, which is as follows:


Matthew 17:1-13

Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.” And the disciples asked him, “Why, then, do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” He replied, “Elijah is indeed coming and will restore all things; but I tell you that Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but they did to him whatever they pleased. So also the Son of Man is about to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was speaking to them about John the Baptist.

Jesus didn’t have summer camp, but as he went through Israel he climbed his own high mountain – distant and remote. As I imagine this story, it was also beautiful. In that high and lovely place, he also experienced God’s touch in a remarkable way. Moses and Elijah! There, and talking with Jesus! The voice of God speaking praise of Jesus’ work! And Peter had the exact same thought I’d had – this is awesome. Why can’t we just stay here and keep doing this.

But Jesus did not stay on that holy mountain. Instead, he went down to Jerusalem and started the hardest work of his ministry – being obedient to God even to a painful, criminal’s mocking and execution. He had his mountaintop moment, and then he came back to earth to do the things that need doing.

This story has stayed with over the ensuing decades for three reasons.

Now that I’m on the teaching end of the equation, I’m astonished and impressed by Keith’s command of the Bible. He had such a perfect scripture to answer my question in a profound and meaningful way. Clearly it was memorable, for me to be talking about the impact of that lesson 20 years later. It is a reminder to all of us that continuing to study and learn God’s word might mean that we have that word ready to go when our children ask us a hard question.

The second is that we are needed in this prosaic, dirty, sometimes unlovely and difficult world because we have work to do here. Jesus healed, taught, prophesied and sacrificed himself. We are also called to God’s work in the thick air of the cities. As Amy Grant sang in the playlist of my youth, “But you got to come down from the mountaintop to the people in the valley below, or they’ll never know that they can go to the mountain of the Lord.”

The third part, the one I hold on to most tightly, is that you also have to go up to the mountaintop in the first place. Jesus took time for work, but he also took time to rest and to be available to listen to God’s word. I yearn for summer camp, and wish I could go back and reclaim some of those mountaintop moments. I think it is hard for us, as grown people with responsibilities and expectations, to put ourselves somewhere quiet and beautiful to think and pray and listen to God’s call. I find it very difficult. And I find it very hard to carry the passion of the Holy Spirit with me without those moments. Our church does try to find ways to encourage it – we’ve done retreats, and our services sometimes create mountaintop moments. We should all work to create those moments – both for ourselves and for those around us.

As for me? I’m hoping that next week I’ll be on those same trails on Mt. Rainier, in the sunset-shadow of mighty Tahoma where I once felt the Holy Spirit move. And I hope I find a way to open my heart to feel it again.

Letter from Camp Wilmot

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Grey's letter

Grey’s letter

YAYAYAYAY!!! The mail came today with news from camp. I’ll confess to being delightfully stunned that Grey actually used any part of the stationery set he demanded as part of his camping kit. Not pictured is the front of the envelope, where in addition to the addresses, Grey included a note that “I went kayaking by myself” as well as a well-executed picture of him swimming.

I have wondered 60 times a day how he’s doing. I still don’t have the full story, but I’ll take an update from Monday that includes BBQ chicken, nice counselors and a solo kayak trip! GO GREY!

I pick him up tomorrow morning and I CANNOT WAIT for, as Paul Harvey says, “the rest of the story”.

Beyond the rain-drenched streets

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It’s pouring out right now, which is kind of soothing actually. I get the feeling that we will have a cool rainy summer to follow our cold, snowy winter. But while I’m watching the rain, I am thinking about my little boy in a cabin and really, really hoping that he’s either getting better weather, or enjoying his stormy weather with some new BFFs.

The guy I’m missing

I’ve sent Grey away before. Camp Gramp started when he was like 2 years old. I’ve cheerfully bundled him off with my parents and only had light levels of “aw, I miss my boys”. He’s been at daycare since he was 8 weeks old. I’m a pro at parting, solid in the assurance that I’ll see him soon and he’ll have had a great time. So I didn’t anticipate much problem with this whole Summer Camp plan. I’d send him. He’d have a great time and learn a lot and make friends and grow up in new and amazing ways. I’d spend extra time with Thane – the younger, quieter child.

But man, I’m suffering. We’ve had no news since Sunday – which is good. No news means no problems that the counselors haven’t been able to help him with. They had cell phones, those wonderful teenage boys, and Grey knows my number. I have enough confidence in his – ahem – effective communication of his desires to believe he could’ve talked one of them into calling me if he really wanted to. So signs point to a great outcome. He’s fine. He’s happy. He’s awesome.

But I don’t KNOW! Before it’s always been someone I know that I left him with, and that he knew. So often I’ve sent them together. I didn’t realize I counted on the fact they had each other. My mom always sends Camp Gramp updates, and we call when we can. Just those 30 seconds of “Hi mom. I’m doing great… (then trailing off as some new fun thing totally distracts him)” put my mind at ease far more than I realized until I didn’t have them. I’m almost happy that the pickup time is at oh-dark-thirty on Saturday, so I don’t have to wait so long to see him.

I’ve been consoling myself by *thoroughly* cleaning his room in his absence. (With his permission.) I think I could entirely recreate his IKEA bunk bed using nothing but Lego bricks. The older the kid, the smaller the toys, the harder to clean. But it’s nice to come home to a clean house, even if you’re an 8 year old. I suspect it serves to make me even snifflier though.

So to console me – tell me about your first time at summer camp!

Hello mudder, hello fadder

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I don't know about all this, mom.

I don’t know about all this, mom.

I have often thought about a “Baby Book” to capture the truly meaningful firsts our children present us with. Today’s first is a doozy: first time I dropped him off in a place where both he and I knew exactly zero people and drove away with a promise that I’d be back in a week. Not only that, but you go to podunkville (aka Concord NH) and take a left for about 40 minutes. The route there involved actual dirt roads. I felt like Abraham going on a nice little walk with Isaac.

Classic summer camp.

Classic summer camp.

Grey was super subdued on our trip up. I’d opined that I thought it would be good for him to do the trip up without screens, expecting that this was completely unrealistic. I also bought him Garrison Keillor’s “Pretty Good Joke Book”. This lead to predictable results. Also, the book is clearly less G-rated than I thought, as I, um, had to explain quite a few vocabulary words I was hoping to have a few more years on. I guess it was a good chance to tell him what they really mean? (Sample: “Son, let’s have a talk about sex” “Sure dad, what do you want to know?”) But even without any screens on a 2.5 hour trip, the back seat was very, very quiet.

“Mom? Is it normal to feel both excited and scared at the same time?”

Yes son. It’s very, very normal.

Archery? Things are looking up!

Archery? Things are looking up!

Last night he had a rough night going to bed. I think packing his bags helped impress upon him that he was really doing this thing. He was really going to a new place he couldn’t visualize with people he didn’t know doing things he couldn’t imagine. It probably doesn’t help that 100% of his knowledge of overnight camp comes from Foxtrot cartoons. (“Will people prank me?”) I called my folks, and my brother the Presbyterian-Summer-Camp-Champlain who all reassured Grey it would be fine! Great! I could hear his skepticism. He squirmed and looked miserable. “I’m not going to know anyone! I wish I wasn’t going.” He finally fell asleep with his head on my lap, for the first time since he was a baby.

I was super relieved this morning when he insisted on an early departure because he didn’t want to be late. There was the quiet ride. We drove over the highly civilized dirt roads, and got to Camp Wilmot maybe a half hour early. He and I walked the grounds while the camp got itself ready for the latest influx. He insisted on carrying his very heavy backpack (“I need to learn to carry my own things!”), but didn’t want to see the lake. Or the cabins. Or the labrynth. Or the big hill.

Instant BFFs with Ethan

Instant BFFs with Ethan

As we were walking back up the hill to register, a young man – Ethan – came to introduce himself. “Hey, I think I’m your counsellor!” They hit it off like a house on fire. Grey stood up straighter and looked much less skeptical. As we registered, he confided to me that he and Ethan were “just alike!”. When the time came to walk down to the Purple Cabin that will be his home for the week, his stride had the strength of a kid who no longer knew no one. I said goodbye and turned to go. He sentimentally started showing Ethan the “Grossology” section of his Bible. (Mom knows how to keep a kid’s attention!)

Grey's home for the next week

Grey’s home for the next week

He was great. I was fighting tears. And that’s it. I will have an update in a week, if all goes well. So will you. We’ll both wonder together how things are going. Will he remember his sunscreen? Will he have trouble going to sleep without his brother? Will he like camp cooking? Will he feel the Holy Spirit sneak into his soul at the evening campfire?

You and I will never know the full story. Grey is the writer of his own tales now.

Someone who is temporarily an only child spent the day creating wooden Dragons of Kir pieces with his daddy.

Arthur, King of the Britons

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It's a bad sign when waterfowl make themselves at home in your campsite

It’s a bad sign when waterfowl make themselves at home in your campsite

Some people go camping to have fun. Others to spend quality time with their family, relax, enjoy the outdoors, and build really big fires. I – apparently – go camping to see how much suffering I can inflict on my family before they start refusing to go camping with me.

After a five day Memorial Day camping trip last year where it rained every day – except for the last when it snowed – I moved our longest camping trip of the year to the Fourth of July this year. The fourth usually has the best camping weather of the year, with the heat mitigated by the cool breezes over the eponymous lake. After a long cold winter and the buggiest weekend ever for Memorial Day this year, I looked forward to long afternoons on the still waters of the lake baking beneath a New Hampshire sun.

We arrived later than desired to White Lake on Wednesday, but with plenty of daylight and fire-time ahead. The site seemed unusually dark for the time of day and year. Adam started slinging ropes in his inimitable manner. The first knot was not tied when the rumble of thunder drifted across the darkening waters. By the time the guidelines were set, the rain started. Halfway through getting the first of the tarps up, the rain was so fiercely intense that even Adam and I had to give up. We went to Hart’s Turkey Farm, hoping the storm would abate with enough daylight left for tent-pitching, or we might have to (for the first time ever) give in and get a hotel.

My rope-ninja husband managed to get everything strung. We slept contented that night to the staccato fugue of raindrops on a tarp. Thursday started strong. We went swimming in the morning. However the forecast said a major thunder cell would come through at four, and that the rest of the weekend would improve. So we went to see “How to Train Your Dragon 2″ at 5 pm. We emerged to a sultry hot evening that would’v been perfect for swimming. D’oh! We got a chance to roast our hot dogs, but the rain started about bedtime. Once again, the sound of the loons was drowned by the tap tap tapping on tarp tarp tarps.

Friday was a complete loss. When it wasn’t raining, it was because it was pouring. Buckets of water. Multiple emergency alerts on the phone saying things like, “For the love of Pete, you idiots! If you’re camping, stop camping! What part of extreme thunderstorm makes camping sound like a good idea!” We spent the entire day in our tent. With our tarps up I didn’t really consider bugging out, until I started getting texts from a friend back home asking who my next of kin was and whether I preferred cremation or interment. Apparently Stoneham got hit hard. (I’m writing this on the iPad on the way back, so I don’t know what the damage looks like yet.) Happily we missed the hardest punch that Arthur landed, but as I lay there next to a vernal creek flooding its banks, listening to branches creak above me and – yes – the veritable 1812 overture the rain was playing on the tarps I wondered. Just what would it actually take to talk me into getting a hotel room? Pondering this unponderable, I rolled over and zonked out.

Upon waking on Saturday, I felt the expansive five day trip compress before me. We had exactly one full day of non-crap weather in which to do all the summer camping things that needed doing. I stepped out. It was cool and windy. Now, I’ve been training my eldest son in the finer ways of the world. Specifically, I’ve managed to convince him that Mt. Chocorua is taunting him and calling him a weenie and claiming that Grey can’t climb Mt. Chocorua. All this was in preparation for getting some company in my attempt to get Mt. Chocorua to stop calling me a weenie and taunting me all the time. However, I had an unexpected attack of common sense, and realized that my 8 year old actually couldn’t hike Chocorua, especially since I was a little nervous if I could make it.

Instead, the whole family headed North to Pinkerman Notch to make an attempt on Lowe’s Bald Spot. It looked easy on a map – 2.5 miles in and 2.5 back. I strapped on my brand new hiking boots and loaded up a 25 pound pack entirely filled by water bottles and sweaters. Adam and I are planning to backpack the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier this summer. That’s my first backpacking trip since I got my ACL replaced, and so I reckoned I needed to do some training and figure out what my knee will require to be comfortable. The four of us (plus Puppy) set off up the trail.

In my head, I knew that the whining would start about 10 minutes in. I planned on at least 3 times when one or both boys would just sit down and refuse to proceed. We forded rain-flooded streams. We climbed up roots and boulders. We walked across log bridges. The boys? WERE SPECTACULAR. Grey was a gazelle, running like Legolas across boulder-strewn pathways with unconscious ease. Thane was more a Gimli character, if Gimli liked to skip and preferred to find the muddiest, soggiest, wettest path. He had my heart in my throat as he crossed flooded streams. Still it took him nearly 2 miles of hiking before he ended up completely in the drink. Then he complained about the fact he had wet shoes and socks… exactly zero times.

We made the summit we were headed for and tasted the sweet flavor of victory. Also, Hershey’s chocolate with those great peanut-butter filled pretzels. (At least SOME of us did. Others of us had our chocolate cruelly given away.) The path back home, my knee starting to ache with unaccustomed use, melted away in front of us as Thane talked Pokemon and Grey laid out some awesome ideas for a role-playing games he was going to run. It was an awesome hike. Grey, Adam and I all think it was the best part of the trip. (Thane votes for the swimming on Thursday.) Plus, I got the data I needed. I do need two hiking sticks, plus a regular support brace on both knees to feel comfortable backpacking. Also, my new hiking boots are da bomb.

Today, the plan was to go swimming after we broke camp. We were faster than usual about the camp breaking, since Adam got a head start last night. We sunscreened, bathing suited, etc etc. We got to the beach. The wind was blowing hard off the water. The sun was MIA. We spent like 20 minutes attempting to have fun.

But Hurricane Arthur did not defeat us! My streak of sticking out the weather remains unbroken! I admit I’m getting a little nervous, though, about how our bad weather keeps raising the stakes. For Labor Day I’m anticipating either a Category 3 Hurricane, a blizzard. or maybe both!

You can see pictures, mostly of our hike, by clicking here.

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