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Hiker Mama
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Hiker Mama
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PostSat Mar 24, 2012 9:17 pm 
Gabriel has had it in his mind for a few weeks now that he wanted to climb Mt. Erie near Anacortes.  We’ve driven up it several times, and we can see it from many of the places we like to go on a whim.  Because he kept mentioning it (and saying that he’d like to climb Mt. Rainier after that) I thought we should give it a try.  It seemed within both the kids’ capabilities.  I don’t usually push them to do long uphill hikes due to the amount of whining they produce, but I thought perhaps they are getting more mature.

Friday was our day to hike, but at the last minute Daddy needed the car for a Dr. appointment in the morning, and we had some family issues come up.  So we didn’t leave the house until 1:30, a late start even by my lax standards.  We saw a coyote, several hawks, and two bald eagles on the drive up.  Gabriel was worried about our hike and second-guessing our ability to get it done before dark, and wondering if maybe we should just go to a lake and play somewhere.  I mulled this over as we made the drive up to Anacortes, and we came up with a compromise: we’d start hiking the trail, and have a well-defined turn-around time.  If we made it to the top, great, but if not, we’d have enough time to get back to the car with plenty of time to go to the beach and play and watch the sunset.  This was acceptable to the kids, and we started up the trail from the parking lot.

Trailhead Goofballs
Trailhead Goofballs
Gabe at bottom
Gabe at bottom

But as we climbed up the steep trail, Gabriel started having third and fourth thoughts.  So I proposed plan C: we’d climb Sugarloaf Mountain, and save Erie for another day.  We had made it almost to the top of Sugarloaf before, and wanted to see the summit.  This plan met with approval, and gave the kids a little boost of renewed energy.  It’s a tricky thing, I’m finding, with my children – knowing when to push them, to challenge them, and when to back off and let them lead with their own initiative.  Push too hard and they push back stubbornly, but get too easy on them and they give up without reaching their full potential.

The shortest trail up Sugarloaf is pretty steep in parts, with few flat areas to catch your breath.  We had to stop for a snack and water, and had to stop to put moleskin on Annika’s heels.  It seemed like it took an eternity to get up to the viewpoint where we stopped a few months ago, but once we reached it, we knew we were close to the top.
Pretty section of trail
Pretty section of trail

I think this was the prettiest section of the trail, with mossy green trees, salal and ferns, and sunny openings looking out west over the Sound.  In a few minutes you reach a section of balds and cliffs and the trail takes a few twists and turns as it winds its way up to the summit.
Almost there
Almost there

Annika had a hard time here, as she gets vertigo and freaks out a bit when there is any exposure.  It feels pretty safe to me, as long as you stay on the trail, but if you have kids who run off and get wild on the trail, this is where you’ll need to keep a close eye or hand on them.

Before we knew it (and after consulting the map a few times) we were at the top!  The kids were thrilled and proud that they had climbed a mountain.
Success!
Success!

We had plenty of time to sit and have a snack and soak in the views.  The sun was almost warm, but the breeze was cool.
Looking west from summit
Looking west from summit

We watched a bald eagle soar between us and Mt. Erie.
Mt. Erie from Sugarloaf Summit
Mt. Erie from Sugarloaf Summit

Our original goal was close to the south of us, inspiring the kids that they could do it next time.  We enjoyed the view as we rested.
Mom, you look big!
Mom, you look big!
Sedum on Summit
Sedum on Summit
Fern on Sugarloaf summit
Fern on Sugarloaf summit
We had seen 3 eagles by this point in the day, one of which was soaring near us
We had seen 3 eagles by this point in the day, one of which was soaring near us

The hike down took half the time as it did up.  There was much skipping and humming and leaping down the trail (and some creaking knees).  The kids were really happy and looking forward to going to the beach.  Our total hike time was 2 hours, 45 minutes; distance, 2.5 miles RT, 893 feet elevation gain according to the WTA website entry.
Funny white things
Funny white things

This wasn’t my favorite trail in terms of interest along the path, but it’s beautiful at the top, and worth the effort. Not much is blooming right now. The forest is mostly dark and thick for most of the time, except for the first half mile, where there is swamp, and the last section where the views open up. My kids are inspired to do more mountain summits, though, so I think this will be an interesting hiking season.

We finished the day at West Beach at Deception Pass State Park.  There weren’t very many people, which was just how we liked it.  I half-heartedly told the kids not to get wet at the beach.
I told them not to get wet....
I told them not to get wet....

The waves were gently washing up on the shore, making that fabulous whooshing sound on the cobbles.  We saw loons, western grebes, black oystercatchers, cormorants, and two seals.  The kids saw another bald eagle while I was in the restroom.  The kids chased the waves and threw rocks.  The sunset was glorious.
A glorious end to a wonderful day
A glorious end to a wonderful day

Gabriel said, “I really love it here.  It’s so wonderful.  Thanks for bringing us!”  Melt my heart.  You’re welcome, child.

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My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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Pikawhisperer
Wag More, Bark Less!



Joined: 14 Sep 2011
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Pikawhisperer
Wag More, Bark Less!
PostSat Mar 24, 2012 9:23 pm 
What a great day!  Good for you taking them out even though it was getting late.  Looks like it all worked out great!

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Karen
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PostSun Mar 25, 2012 7:30 am 
A wonderful account and photos of a sweet little summit!

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stay together, learn the flowers, go light - from Turtle Island, Gary Snyder
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Ingunn
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Joined: 01 Feb 2008
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Ingunn
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PostSun Mar 25, 2012 8:41 am 
Very cool, what a great day! I love that your kids get to take such a big part in the decision-making about the hikes, it must really add to their enjoyment. agree.gif

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IanB
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Joined: 21 Jul 2010
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IanB
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PostSun Mar 25, 2012 10:22 am 
Another genuinely heart-warming adventure!

up.gif  up.gif

That first photo is a hoot!   lol.gif

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"Forget gaining a little knowledge about a lot and strive to learn a lot about a little."    - Harvey Manning
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Hiker Mama
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PostSun Mar 25, 2012 11:05 am 
Ingunn, yes, I am trying to get them to pick more of the hikes we go on and share in the decision making.  It makes it easier to deal with them and lessens the whining.   hmmm.gif I like that they are starting to have opinions about where to go and what kind of things they want to do and see.  Above everything else, I want our hikes to be fun, so they will continue to want to come.  They will want to do longer hikes and higher summits as they get older (or not, they might give up hiking at some point) but for now my goal is to keep the enjoyment alive, appreciate nature, learn new things, and get the spiritual and emotional benefits that come from time outside.

IanB, I don't know if you can tell in the first photo, Gabe is crossing his eyes.  I didn't realize when I took the picture that he was being such a goof! dizzy.gif   My little Ham.

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My hiking w/ kids site: www.thehikermama.com
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Bryan K
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Joined: 29 Sep 2005
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Bryan K
Shameless Peakbagger
PostSun Mar 25, 2012 11:30 am 
When I have kids I hope that they have passion for the outdoors and mountains too.

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