Hiking with my 8 year old grandson, Caleb
Caleb is my grandson. He’s great. We recently enjoyed hiking together to Soda Peaks Lake in SW Washington.
Preparation is important to every successful outing. My wife (“Nana”) packed a lunch for Caleb and made sure he had a warm jacket in case it got cold at the higher altitudes. I packed my own lunch consisting of a baggie full of sugar peas. Caleb wanted to have some hot chocolate when we got to the lake, so I was going to have to stop at the store on the way to get something to heat water in and something to drink the hot chocolate.
We got gas and headed for the store. I bought some protein bars and water to complete Caleb’s supplies. Then I picked up a “mess kit” for the hot chocolate. Heading for the check stand, I received a call from Nana saying that the hot chocolate got left behind on the counter. I texted back “ok” and picked up some instant cocoa to take with us.
Finally, we hit the road. After a short while, Caleb began to ask how much longer. I expected that! As I was thinking ahead, I realized that I had left the NW Forest Pass behind. I would need to pick up a day pass in Carson. After our pit stop in Carson, we headed north and arrived at the trail head.
Hiking with an 8 year old is quite interesting. Caleb was full of energy and was bouncing off rocks, running along logs and making Papa a little nervous. Then he let out a few yells and hollers just to hear his voice echo off the surrounding hills. After a time, he asked, “Papa, why don’t we see any animals?” I simply responded, “Hmmm. I don’t know. Maybe we need to be quieter?”
Looking down at Soda Peaks Lake
This hike starts with a 900 foot elevation gain, following a ridge. Then, there is a 700 foot drop in elevation as the path leads down to the lake. Soda Peaks Lake is a nice spot. If you are looking for a place of solitude and serenity, this is a good place. But the solitude and serenity you might normally find is interrupted today by the exuberance of a grandson. Rocks are tossed in the lake, just to hear the splash and watch the ever widening rings in the water. I tried to make a small fire to heat water amid pleadings of “Let me light it, Papa!”
Eventually, the water was heated and a packet of cocoa poured in. A second packet followed to make sure it was rich enough. Since we forgot a spoon (maybe Nana packed one in Caleb’s pack), we stirred the cocoa with my pocket knife. After drinking the hot chocolate, Caleb used the knife to impale one of his apple slices and began to roast the apple over the small flame. I enjoyed what was left of my sugar peas (Caleb was eating them while I was lighting the fire). Then the fire was doused and we started back.
The return trip started uphill, naturally, for 700 feet of elevation gain. On the way, Caleb was bouncing off the rocks and running along logs. Then he said, “Papa, I’m tired. I can’t walk another step.” “OK, you rest here for a moment,” I replied. “I’ll walk a little ways and you can catch up.” After rounding a corner, I called out, “Caleb, come on.” Caleb then ran up the trail and quickly caught up. Dramatically, he breathed hard and said, “I’m tired.” In a few moments, he was bouncing off more rocks and running along more logs.
When he got thirsty, I gave him some of my water. He had left his water in the car, of course. The remaining downhill part of the trail was a lot easier. But I realize I’m getting older when I slip and fall and there is concern in Caleb’s voice as he asks, “Papa! Are you ok?” “Yes, just give me a moment to get up.” But my “moments” are longer than his “moments” and he repeats, “Are you ok?” “YES!” I said, and promptly got to my feet. The same type of comments happens when I hike with my 24 year old son.
We arrived back at the car and drove home (“How much longer, Papa?”).