Well, the hike I have long referred to - both here and here - was finally upon us. I'll be honest: heading into this three-mile, "moderate" trail, I was a novice and completely unaware that Mystic Lake Trail was, indeed, three-miles and classified as "moderate." But I was determined and, looking back, I can't quite put my finger on why. I can say, however, that in hindsight, it was the hike that made all future hikes happen.
Since our plans for this had been foiled thus far, we left the house on this particular day specifically to hike to Mystic Lake. I packed a bonafide novice lunch that Jacob was ultimately too afraid to take on the trail because we were in Grizzly Bear country in the middle of the summer; and we dressed to keep us from the mosquito buffet but not necessarily for the heat, which was still pretty intense, depending on - we learned - which side of the mountain you happen to be on.
So, here I am carbo-loading in the parking lot on pasta coated with Pesto sauce. Not gonna lie, it was pretty amazing.
You can spot the real seasoned hikers by their Jansport backpacks.
Look closely and you can see a bird blending in with the trees and rocks, which would normally have me screaming bloody murder, but he was a mostly-walking bird.
Once upon a time, a Unicorn danced through the forest to Mystic Lake...
...While the Little Prince just wanted to drive his pick-up truck.
Just call me Cheryl Strayed!
Being the novice-hikers we are, though we lacked food smells, we also lacked bear spray or anything else to really defend ourselves. So we took the Parent Trap route of making random, loud noises, wearing bright colors, and I told the kids to bang two stick together. We didn't get eaten, so yay!
I gawked and took pictures of the awe-inspiring scenery, not realizing that we would soon be amongst the jagged rocks.
That speck of blue is Jacob with the kids during the most difficult portion of the hike. On the side of the mountain facing the blazing sun, one of the longest, steepest, rockiest parts of the trail, where I doubted we were headed in the right direction, and Jacob was tired and hungry and ready to turn back. But I had been reassuring everyone since mile one-and-a-half that we were "almost there," so I was sure we had to be getting close.
It looks a bit pretentious but the walking stick really does help during those uphill stints. So much so that even Holden was looking for one his size.
Everyone was pretty sick of me at this point but I was NOT GIVING UP.
By this point in our summer - early July - we had already been on more adventures than the previous year combined. And although this was the first real hike hike our family had ever been on, it also ended up being the most difficult; while Zoey enjoys our continued forays into nature, her inevitable first question is: "How many miles is it?" Little did she know then, however, that the more she did it, the easier it would become. And we quickly realized that even though nature can look familiar, it is always uniquely breathtaking.