August 2, 2012

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by Christy

On Monday we hiked Iron Mountain in the Cascades for the first time with our friends Michael, Mara, Mackenzie and Ian. We opted to leave Nora home with her beloved Connie, who was available for a whole day on rather short notice. Nora is a bit too young to do that kind of hike on her own, but a bit too big to carry on the trail. With Connie at home, she was more than happy to see us leave for a whole day!

It was a perfect day. The kids started playing "fart darts" with pine cones as soon as we hit the trail, which means that they ran about the first quarter of the way up. After they ran out of steam with that game they were great hikers the rest of the way up, hiking 1300 feet of elevation almost continuously. We stopped to let them climb all over some huge lava rocks littering the ground around the extinct volcano that is Iron Mountain. We took our time admiring and trying to identify the flowers that we encountered in the forest and meadow, and were grateful to get a flower guide from some folks we met on their way back down.

The view from the top is amazing. We could see all of the major peaks in the Cascades all in a row, from Mt. Hood far to the north to the Three Sisters, which felt like they were right next door. At the top they have a deck platform, replacing the old fire lookout. We shared all of our cheese, salami, crackers, fruit, and candy. A little sugar helped the motivation level.

The trip back down was the express way. It's all downhill, but we had an extra urgency to get to the bathroom--for all of the kids! Anders was first in line and I jogged about 2/3 of the way down the trail behind him and Mackenzie, because we knew that there was a bathroom at a switchback down in the forest. Thankfully, all of the kids made it and disaster was averted. The rest of the way back to our trailhead was more leisurely, but I've been sore for the next few days thanks to my trail run!

On the way back to Corvallis, Michael and Mara suggested that we stop at Cascadia Park to take a dip in the shallow river. The kids had fun splashing in the still-cold river, full of melted snow pack. With only Anders, we stopped at A&W in Sweet Home for a milkshake on our way home. It's nice to get him a little treat on the way back. He said on the way that he wishes he didn't have a little sister with a special diet, but he is also so thoughtful and kind when he is with her. It's nice to give him a special treat when we can be with him alone.

We are so grateful to have good friends to guide us on new trips around Oregon, and Connie to make Nora a very happy girl while we get to go on a hike like this. Oregon is amazingly beautiful and we have only seen a tiny part of it so far. We are so very thankful to get an opportunity to take a day trip away from home with our boy and our friends, not worry a bit about Nora, and be home by dinner time to spend the evening with her. So grateful.

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