I am fortunate enough to have a close friend who loves the mountains so much so that she bought a house there just to escape on the weekends. It’s a sweet two bedroom house in Mt. Shasta City. Right off the highway and in town with access to a grocery store, coffee shop, gas station, and other niceties. It has a gorgeous view of Mt. Shasta and is a short ride from some of the most amazing trails for hiking.
Under stress from work and in a general funk I wanted to get away and so in a last minute decision, joined my friend and her family for the weekend. My husband busy with his work, is not a winter person and loves his temperate Bay Area weather, so stayed home as I did the 600+ mile round trip drive with our preschooler and toddler. (More on that on a later post)
The highlight of the trip was our hike on Saturday. We arrived late Friday night so after a good night sleep, the kiddos were excited and ready to release some energy. After a hearty waffle breakfast we “winterized” all the kids (which involved multiple layers, much pinning down of flying limbs that were refusing to cooperate, and mommy working up a sweat before she herself could get winterized) 3 adults, 1 preschooler, 1 toddler, and 1 infant headed out the door and walked a mile to the Spring Hill trailhead.
It quickly became clear that the toddler was not interested in keeping pace so she was loaded onto my friend’s back in the Ergo carrier. She and the infant (who was snuggly warm in her carrier with her dad) fell asleep before we hit the trail.
The Spring Hill Trail is an easy 3 mile round trip hike that takes you to the top of a small hill the overlooks the valley. As you hike up the hill you are treated to beautiful views of Shasta in all its snow covered glory. Along the way are benches where you can rest and are treated to views of the mountain and town below, and some additional hikes with more views. The crown jewel is the top of the hill, where there is a picnic table to have lunch.
We left a little late so my son was quite a bit tired. He at first wanted to be carried and didn’t want to walk. But at 40 lbs no one was willing to carry him. However my friends husband soon had him amused by having him try bushwhacking and climbing up the sides of the hill instead of taking the trail. My son loved the challenge and got more excited. He called Shasta the “snowy mountain” and wondered if Boot’s red fire truck was on top (Dora episode Rapido Tico). Toward the top he was well past nap, tired and cranky. After three bites of his sandwich he promptly curled up on the bench and fell asleep in my lap.
Of course that was the moment that my daughter decided to wake up from her nap. She more than compensated for her brother, eating well, taking in the view, and sitting and enjoying life. The infant had her bottle and seemed amused at the activities of the two mini-humans she had been observing all weekend.
Eventually we had to leave the surreal site and head down to civilization. So we woke up my son and bribed him to wake up and walk with a Babybel cheese. He was cranky for about 1/2 the trip down before he fully woke up, then he was his normal high energy self. By the time we hit the bottom we knew he was fully awake and any fleeting dreams of having him go back home and nap were dashed.
We ended the afternoon with home-made chocolate chips cookies (which my son helped make) and comforting hot chocolate. After a fabulous dinner made by my friend and her husband, I put the cranky overtired kids to bed, and sat up for a while with a glass of wine enjoying the peace and quiet of the mountains.
Traveling by yourself with two kids is not an easy challenge, but one I wanted to take on. I want my kids to enjoy nature, and learn a little about getting away from the hustle and bustle of the city. My son was a little annoyed that I was not allowing him to play with my phone and iPad as much the first day, but I wanted him to look up and learn to enjoy the beauty of nature. At home I spend the weekends trying to catch up on chores and errands that never get done during the week, that I never take the time to relax. It’s a shame, but sometimes you have to go away to find that moment when you can let it all go. On Saturday night, after everyone went to bed, I talked with my husband a little, and then sat down with the iPad and read while drinking a glass of wine. I looked outside and it was pitch black, all I could see was the stars and the gleaming white snow of Shasta. I was at peace and that was the moment that I was fully relaxed. That was the reason I had come for the weekend. I returned to the Bay Area rejuvenated in a way I was not during the week and ready to tackle the challenges again. At least, until the next time I need to get away again 😉