Oh, thank you, Kozmik All! A break in the rain! On a weekend, no less!
The sun was shining, the air was crisp, OmegaDad was preoccupied with the
Taj Mahal the new play structure for the dotter, so I decided to grab the girl, get into the car, and go hiking on The Butte.
Now, I know the way to get to the butte. You take the Old Ben Highway from downtown Small Town Alaska, where OmegaDad works. No problemo. I had a printout describing that you drive 5.5 miles from the start of Old Ben Highway, turn on the Butte Loop Road, quick, clean, easy.
So, of course, instead of taking Old Ben Highway, I took new Ben Highway. Oops. My trip odometer hit 4 miles, and no butte in view. My trip odometer hit 5.5 miles–right where I was supposed to be turning onto Butte Loop Road, and there it was: the intersection between Ben Highway and Parker Highway, on the way to Big City.
At which point, I allowed to the dotter that I had gotten it wrong (once again…I’ve done this before, dammit!), so we’d go to the Old Ben Highway exit and drive back.
Which, of course, took us twenty or so miles out of our way, but was just as quick as getting off at the next exit and turning around.
Then, when we finally drove the Old Ben Highway, I turned off on the wrong end of Butte Loop Road. The one where you have to drive the entire loop to reach the road to the parking lot at the bottom of the butte trail.
Then, as I’m looking for MotherLode Street to turn on, it doesn’t show. And doesn’t show. And doesn’t show. And I see a turnoff without a street sign, it was missing from the stop sign top. And ahead of me is…once again…Old Ben Highway. So I loop a u-ie at the next street, preparing to go investigate the unnamed street. As I do, a gentleman in a pickup slows down, honks his horn, and pokes his head out the window.
“Y’all lookin’ for MotherLode Street?”
I allowed as how I was.
“Weeell, that’s it back there–” he jabs his thumb back over his shoulder, in the direction of Nameless Street. “There’s a guy whose last name matches that street sign, and he stole the street sign and has it hanging on his house.”
I thanked him, and we headed back that way.
Then we started up the hike. Oh, it was glorious! It was cool, clear, crisp. The trees were golden. Here and there were current bushes with red leaves, and fireweed with scarlet spikes of leaves and pink and white seed fluff at the top. There were banks of Devil’s Club with huge, platter-sized yellow leaves and bunches of blood-red berries. In spots on the trail it was carpeted with yellow leaves.
We climbed and climbed and went up and down and around, and finally reached the benches at an overlook. Of course, my camera batteries had died. Of course. So you don’t get to see the panoramic vista, with the mountains draped with snow, the clouds hovering over them, the valley filled with autumn colors. Trust me, though–it was utterly gorgeous.
Now, above the benches and overlook was the remainder of the butte. There’s supposed to be a 360-degree view from the top, and it’s supposed to be stunning. I really wanted to go up there. But…it’s steep. Steep enough so that at the bottom were real stairs. I convinced the dotter to give it a go, and we started up. And up. And then, the stairs segued to steep trail littered with slippery leaves, with an occasional spot of informal steps (small logs placed across the trail). We kept going, heading up a couple of switchbacks.
But then…then there was the spot where it was steep enough that they had put a knotted rope by the side of the informal steps to hold onto and pull yourself up.
At which point the dotter gave out. Her feet slipped on the leaves, she tumbled to the ground, and she started whimpering. It was just too much for her.
So I had to talk her into standing up, and talk her into holding my hand, and talk her through slowly working her way down all that stuff (”You’re doing it. That’s good. Keep it up. Yup, there you go. You can do it. Good girl.”), past a few spots where she slipped and fell again, and clutched at the ground to the side going up the hill in panic. But she made it down to the benches, and I immediately had us sit down, and had her snuggle up with me, and told her that the definition of being brave was that you do something even though you’re really scared about it, and that she had been very brave.
And then we headed back down the trail, back to the car, and she slept in the car on the way home.