Wednesday, November 14, 2012

the sweetness of sugarloaf

family camping adventure number two: sugarloaf ridge

we were there primarily to take advantage of access to the rfo, but there were other attractions, too:

the planetwalk - we had planned on doing this, but opted for a different hike instead.  still, a very cool idea, and at least we got to see some of the inner planets.



hanging out and being silly:

keeping our eyes open for wildlife (we didn't actually see any ourselves, but a fellow camper was certain she heard them):

it occurred to me that i would love to have this sign and change the word "rattlesnakes" to "children"

enjoying the forests and the trees:

and climbing to the highest heights:

when we were at half moon bay, the kids congregated in the big climbing tree.  here, the rocks next to the campsite beckoned to them; even the littlest campers of all had little fear (unlike me, who got just a little woozy when looking over the edge).

speaking of heights: a little hiking party assembled and agreed to head towards the summit of bald mountain, from which we were expecting to have an amazing view at over 2700 feet.  soon after we started, i began questioning the wisdom of such an adventure but kept it to myself.  our party quickly got separated into several groups; it could have been anticipated better that the different ages and levels of endurance and enthusiasm in our kids would have us splitting up to tend to individual needs.  ander had started ahead of everyone and took the left fork; the rest of the party took the right.  he and i stayed behind to sort out our plans, and steve caught up with diana and some of the other older kids.

although we did not catch sight of steve again until he and diana and another friend were making their way back down, ander was determined to find his dad.  and so we hiked up the mountain.

i was not in any kind of physical shape for this.  i was also dressed for cooler weather, as was ander.  but i was prepared with a backpack full of water bottles and snacks; steve and diana were similarly outfitted.  and we all had sun hats and sturdy shoes.

"slow and steady" became my unspoken mantra.  i kept my voice and words as optimistic and cheerful as i could, wanting to support ander's flagging energy and spirits.  his intense desire to be reunited with his father who had come home especially to spend time with us fueled me.  i let him set the pace, encouraging frequent rests under the infrequently-located shady spots.

we met other hikers along the way, and bikers, too.  many of the paths we took were paved, which were terribly rough on my joints, but provided the surface required for those enthusiasts who slowly made their way up to the top, then came whizzing back down at breakneck speed.

and then we heard familiar voices and saw the faces we most wanted to kiss!  steve, diana, and another friend had made it to within 30 yards of the summit.  diana was feeling the efforts of her exertions, and decided (wisely, i think) to forgo the joy of continuing a bit longer in favor of ensuring sufficient energy to make it back down again.  what a relief-filled reunion it was!

i was stunningly proud of both of my children. they surpassed my expectations of what they could do when they put their minds to it.  the walk back down replenished them; they were so full of energy by the time they hit the forested base of the mountain that they practically ran through the fields so they could start climbing the big rocks again.

the camping kids never got bored.  they played board games and battle games.  they climbed and collected around the campfire.  there were plenty of smores and screams of delight and terror.  i don't recall a moment where i saw diana sitting and reading a book - she was always in motion or with someone else doing something.  kinda like newton's cradle here:

and to top it all off, on the way home, driving through the wine country areas of sonoma and napa valley, we visited yet another pumpkin farm - stanly lane!

this was, by far, the most cheerful and varied patch we had been to.  there were plenty of sunflowers peeking out in between stalks of corn, the hay bale maze was intricate and interesting, the hay pyramid was an awesome sight to behold (in fact, it was seeing this on the trip up to sugarloaf that made me think of stopping on the way back).  snacks, shade, and so many gorgeous kinds of pumpkins to choose from.

this slide was inside the pyramid!

mmm...pumpkin bread.  seriously yummy.

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