When Samantha came to visit us in Fairbanks seven years ago, I insisted she use the outhouse in 40 below even though I preferred, when she wasn’t around, the convenience of what has been deliciously, and inappropriately, called a honey bucket. Since she was new to the Arctic clime, I assumed the role of tundra guide and explained that we only drive to the Tesoro gas station and use its bathroom in emergencies. In the same way that last-born runt piglets never get enough milk because of their greedy older siblings, I enjoyed the leadership opportunities afforded to me by being first-born into Alaska a year before Samantha’s arrival.
Who knew the only way Sam would finally get a taste of life’s milk was if her older sister had a child? I’m kidding; of course, Sam has been enjoying life’s mammary glands for years now without the overbearing interference of her sister. Yet, being an older sister and a mom are not entirely dissimilar. I mentioned my recent breakthrough—the desire to camp. This breakthrough was immediately followed by another—the desire to climb treacherous mountains. I like doing these things because Clara likes doing them and because I want to be strong for her.
We embarked on Soldotna’s infamous Skyline Trail on Thursday. Generally, I have no use for pain and subscribe to the life motto Aaron and I claimed as our own when bicycling up his mom and Alan’s hill on Fundy Drive: “Slow and steady wins the race.” We’re not sure what race is won by being slow, but we sure think it sounds good. We also prefer “No Shame” to “No Fear” and it was with these pep talks in mind, that we climbed and rested, climbed and rested, and rested some more on a mile walk up into the sky.
I actually had to climb this puppy with my hands, which made me feel good, like a twelve-year-old boy.
After reading Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, I wanted to dig a hole in our hall closet with the hope that it would lead me to gold and unicorns in China. I think a hemlock forest in our backyard would have been a nice fantastical substitute for time traveling.
Finally, the trail escorts us into the saddle of the mountain where we can look for bears playing in the lakes.
Cute thing is getting a nice little paunch, and trying out her two-step on rocky terrain.
Clara says she’ll walk so long as her first steps are on a mountain.
Doing my thing on a mountainside.
Delilah was born to trail blaze. She simply does not tire.
And what goes up, must go down.