When my family goes hiking you never know what to expect. As my dad said these very words, I knew this was the beginning to an ultimate adventure.
At the start of the Skyline trail (a few miles out of Soldotna) we hiked up a path leading into fairyland. The trail was laced with all kinds of wildflowers, and the mountain vegetation spread over us like a big green canopy.
It was a sunny day, the forest kept us cool until we reached the tree line, and it was then we started to perspire. As we sat down to rest, my family could look up the mountain into a whole different world. We humans get so caught up in our man-made world that we forget the natural world.
The mountain’s unique beauty made me ponder if a painter went crazy with color and texture. The beauty was exquisite, the jagged peaks and the remaining snow patches gave the mountainside character. I don’t think dad felt the same way. I ought to remind you that his nicknames for his kids include “chicken lips,” “turkey toes,” and the occasional “knuckle head.” (Only his students are special enough to be called bonehead!)Not exactly a deep thinker.
We reached the rocky trail leading to the mountain peak, and the wind started to pick up. My hair whipped in front of my face as I tried to find the right footing so I wouldn’t slide back down the mountain. At these times I regret having long hair. I spied a fellow hiker kneeling a little ways down the slope. I wished I could sit with him and soak in the sound of howling wind and the rocks crunching under hikers’ feet.
My family drew nearer and nearer to the summit, and then we encountered a small patch of snow. My sister Nikki and I dove face-first into the ice crystals and our dog Halo wasn’t far behind. She leaped into the frosty patch and continued sliding down the slope. I almost expected her to be waiting at the bottom of the mountain when we tried to find her.
As we proceeded up the mountain it got colder and even windier than before. Finally we reached the peak, and we stepped the last weary step. You’d expect us to be without energy, but it was just the opposite. With Kelsie leaping around like Heidi in the Alps, Nikki and I running from one rock to another, and Halo racing back and forth, we could barely sit still for the family picture. The excitement was hardly containable.
As they say, happy times never last and unfortunately this exciting time followed the tradition. It was time to descend Skyline. On the way we had to be careful about our footing, or else we would be going down faster than we expected! On the way down I picked one of every wildflower I stumbled upon. Before long I had both hands full.
Since I wanted to leave you with something sweet, I saved the grove of spruce trees clinging to the slope for last. These were not ordinary spruce trees; they were bent and twisted from the wind on the mountainside. They reminded me of people who believed they could conquer the wind, but they turned out to be fools. The blowing force of wind is indestructible, yet it can create something wonderful like the trees. My sisters and I climbed them and ran our fingers over the bark and tried to memorize the shape so we could remember it forever.
We reached the family car, which was hot from the sun, and climbed in. I watched my wildflowers start to wilt and whither under the sweltering heat. I kept in mind that they would not last for eternity, but I knew this special memory would.