Not Quite According to Plan…(July 18th)

A man’s mind plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps…(Proverbs 16:9, Amplified)

Sometimes, things go according to plan! Like, on a Friday night after work, on a warm summer day, when you take your kids to the local swimming hole 🙂

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The falls were beautiful, the water was cold…Kind of like refreshing, but with more cold-ness 🙂 And it was a great, splashing, squealing fun time!

And sometimes, there are other plans than your own at work, and you just have to follow where He leads 🙂

Saturday morning, we woke up super-early and piled in the truck, headed for a fun hike to the ghost-town of Monte Cristo. It’s an old mining town that, for years, has been a popular hiking and camping destination in the North Cascades. It was a 4-mile hike, but an easy one, following the Sauk River through pretty level terrain. We knew Asher would be sooooo excited to finally see a mine, and it would be a great adventure for all of us!

Our plans took a sharp turn at the trailhead, where a sign read “Monte Cristo Trail Closed for the Season”. It went on to describe the fine and jail-time penalties for anyone caught anywhere along the trail. Seems it’s time, after years of use and no reported issues, to conduct a complete site-cleanup of all the mining debris 🙂 

What to do instead? After chatting with some other hikers and studying the trail maps, we determined to take the trail to Weeden Creek. It was a short, gentle hike, and the prospect of spending a day splashing around in the creek sounded great to everyone!

Off we went, down a wide dirt road, now closed to traffic, in the dappled sunshine, enjoying the summer meadows, overflowing with bright flowers.

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The wide road narrowed, and a large wooden sign pointed the way along a forest trail to Weeden Creek…So on we went, now winding our way through the shady forest…Where other “wildflowers” were in bloom – this conk, which ultimately will be a simple, white half-moon attached to this tree trunk, was just beginning to “blossom”!

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We crossed over little streamlets that made their way down rocky channels…

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And took a rest on a comfy rotten log at the switchback…

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Wait a minute! Switchback? Why are we on the switchbacks? This was supposed to be a gentle hike to Weeden Creek after which “the path rises sharply through a series of switchbacks on its way up to Gothic Basin”! Did we somehow miss the Creek and start climbing the mountain?

As it turns out, we did 🙂 We spoke to passers-by several times, confirming that we were definitely on the path to Gothic Basin, which is a challenging trail that ultimately leads to a series of glacial lakes up-on-top-of-the-world. It’s a well-travelled trail, a little narrow at times, but safe…And the kids decided they just wanted to keep going! So we did! After a few switchbacks, I put Vivi on my back in a carrier, and Joe shouldered the extra backpack, and we continued to make our way up, switchback by switchback. The boys often led, and we found a lot to enjoy as we worked hard climbing the ridge, finally entering a patch of mostly-level traverse, dry and a little dusty, with a strong sun in the high-alpine terrain…The views were spectacular, of course. And the hikers that we passed were encouraging, and often amazed 🙂 The kids frequently heard about what troopers they were, and one hiker said she had been on this trail 3 times and never seen children make the climb. The boys actually just took it all in stride, like they do this all the time, the little mountain goats!

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And the cascades were the most rewarding of all! At the first waterfall, Asher and Spencer hit pay-dirt – it was full of tumbled rocks which, in turn, were full of glittering pyrite and quartz. They agreed that it was better than any mine they could imagine, cracking rocks with Asher’s rock-hammer, and filling their pockets and backpacks. Actually, I didn’t realize just how full Asher’s backpack was until the descent! The little trooper must have carried 10 lbs of rocks down the mountain!

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At this point – we had a decision to make…It was after 1:00, and we had another hour-long stretch of steep climbing to reach the mountain top and then descend into the lakes…The boys were gung-ho, but there just wasn’t enough daylight left for a hard climb and a safe descent. So, we called it…And equally-cheerful made our way back down to play in the waterfalls again!

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Everything is sharply-brilliant in the high-altitude sun…

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And everyone is busy in the mountains in the summer!

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Down-hill certainly goes faster than uphill, although a steep path down switchbacks will quickly let you know how tired you are, as you stumble over rocks and roots, and wonder why your knees feel sore.

But soon enough, we were back where we had begun, down in the low valley at the Sauk River, back at the sign that had directed us to Weeden Creek. I still don’t know where that silly creek was.

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But the riverside was cool and inviting, a rocky shore and a shallow bend, where Vivi could find a “perfect spot” to sit and be cute…

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Where a little exploration would reveal a salamander paedo-morph (juvenile), who was too well-camouflaged and slippery to be held for long…

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And a shiny copper-colored frog, who Asher could just manage to hold onto!

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And, a spot just deep enough for my little polar bear to take an icy plunge!

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Oh goodness, how those kiddos enjoyed playing and splashing in the water after their big hike. And I sat on the edge and rested my hike-weary feet in the cold water, and just soaked it all in!

The wide path back to the truck was brimming with the afterglow of a thoroughly satisfying day. The kids even made friends with another hiker, laughing and chatting about their adventures all the way back to the truck!

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So, things didn’t go quite according to plan…

We didn’t hike the trail that we set out to hike. We didn’t finish the trail that we hiked instead of the trail that we set out to hike. And still, after 10 miles and 3,000 ft of elevation gain, I declare it a success! I was really struck by how much the boys had grown. There was no whining. There was no disappointment. There was a great spirit of adventure and enjoyment. There was delight, there was a confidence and strength that weren’t there yet even last summer. There were songs of praise sung to the Lord along the trail, even when we grew weary! On this path, the Lord showed me that I could make my plans, but He would direct my steps, and the journey would bring so much more than I even bargained for, as long as I could define success according to His terms.

And after a day like that, when Sunday comes, one might just doze off on the couch at some point. I mean, I was fine, of course, but Vivi was whooped! 🙂

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