What I Did on My Summer Vacation, Part 1

Like I said the other day, it sure doesn’t feel very much like fall around these parts.  For the next couple days, I’m going to be posting some of my favorite pictures from our travels in the West, this summer.  (Mostly for the benefit of our relatives who are in the pictures!)

It has become a tradition for the Bionic Man and I to drive across the country each summer to spend time with our extended families.  Both of us grew up in Utah, and that is where the majority of our family members still live.  Our strategy is to drive out and back together, but the Bionic Man flies home to work for a couple of weeks while I stay behind to chaperone our children as they get spoiled by grandparents and play with their cousins.  (It’s such a sacrifice for me, wink wink.)

While the Bionic Man is with us, we try to spend as much time in the mountains as possible.  After the drive across Wyoming, we spent some time in Idaho at our first family reunion.  We did some hiking there to get used to the altitude before going on the really big hike we had planned.

This shot of Justone, the Bionic Man, and his Bionic Father hiking together is one of my very favorites from the entire trip.

In our quest to gain altitude, we spent another day playing and hiking in the mountains near Snowbird, Utah.  We cheated by riding a tram most of the way to the top.

The day after we hit the not-so-snowy-slopes of Snowbird, we went on the hike that was the really big deal on this year’s trip.  The Bionic Man had been planning this for months.  We climbed Mt. Timpanogos above American Fork, Utah.  Hiking Timp was one of the Bionic Man’s favorite things to do when he was growing up.  We decided to leave Superkid safely behind with Grandmother for the day, but the Bionic Man was confident that Justone and Endeavor could make it.

We were joined in our ascent by the Bionic Father and Uncle Lance (who happens to be a seasoned mountaineer.)  Our friends The Hendys, who now live in Las Vegas, Nevada, joined us for the first mile or so and then wished us bon voyage.  They were so smart.

It was a lovely day for a hike.  For the first little while, I had a great time chatting and catching up with Heidi and Mike (center, in the green shirts)

and enjoying the interesting terrain.  We paused for a break at this waterfall, and the Hendys wished us well on the rest of our journey. 

 And then the real hiking began.  Oh. my. heck.  I cannot tell you how much I wanted to quit and go back within the first hour after that waterfall!

I could not for the life of me imagine how we were supposed to get up and OVER that cliff ahead of us.  And that wasn’t even the top of Timp!  See what looks to be sheer cliffs ahead of us on that trail?  They are sheer cliffs!  Um, there were little skinny trails criss-crossing those cliffs that I had to climb up.  That my children had to climb up!  The Bionic Man mentioned that he hadn’t realized how treacherous of an ascent it was the last time he climbed….when he wasn’t a father.  Really?!?!  It should not surprise you that Endeavor and Justone were the youngest hikers on the trail, that day.

Justone!  Step away from the edge of that cliff!  Are you trying to give your poor mother a stroke?

I huffed and puffed and regretted every single crumb of junk food I have ever had to eat in my entire life.  But the scenery alone was worth every painful step.

I was so proud of Justone and Endeavor.  Justone was determined to be the first one to the top, and he hiked hard and without complaint.  I can’t say Endeavor hiked without complaint, but she was a trooper to keep going and do something that she hadn’t been too excited about to begin with.  She and I provided a lot of entertainment and encouragement for each other.

Wait–stop right there.  Could someone please, please try to explain to me why my hair looks that good after sweating my way up a dusty trail all morning?  Better yet, explain to me why no amount of primping, curling, and hairspray can make my hair look that shiny and voluminous before a)church b)family portraits and c)dinners with the Bionic Man’s work colleagues.  It’s like a Pantene commercial, right there on the trail.  I said the trail.  Where I can’t get cell phone service, I’m covered in dust and sweat and sunscreen, yet I can have my best hair day ever.  I officially give up.

After about five hours of steep, upward climbing, we reached this valley

which had a beautiful lake in the middle of it.  Somehow I missed getting any pictures of Emerald Lake, so I’m borrowing a picture of it from flickriver.com so you can see.  I think I was just too tired to hold up the camera, at that point.

Sitting down for lunch by this icy, icy cold lake, our experienced guides pointed out the summit to Justone, Endeavor, and I. 

I announced that I felt incredibly fulfilled by my day on the mountain and also that I wanted to live to see my next birthday.  Endeavor and Justone felt the same way, THANK GOODNESS!  We made a pact to reach the summit next year or maybe even the year after that, and sent the Bionic Men on their way with our blessing.  (That would be my husband, his father, and his father’s brother.  Truly bionic men, all of them.)

The children and I hiked down on our own.  Going downhill wasn’t any easier than going uphill.  And it was scarier.  There were a few times when I wanted to click my ruby slippers and become one of these:

Yes, those are really mountain goats, which we really saw.

Thankfully, the children and I made it down safely.  And it was good that we let the Bionic Menfolk get to the summit….because on their way down, another hiker slipped and fell off the trail a few yards ahead of them, sliding thirty feet down to the edge of a dangerous cliff.  Uncle Lance had a rope and other special equipment, knew how to use them, and directed a rescue, assisted by the Bionic Man and his Bionic Father.  They were able to provide first aid treatment and get the hiker and her group safely down the mountain.  I still get chills when I think, “What if I had wimped out completely and made them climb down with the children and I?”  If even one of them had come with us, a life would have been lost that day on Mt. Timpanogos.  I’m also incredibly grateful that Endeavor, Justone, and I made it down without event.

Told you they were bionic.

If you would like to hike Mt. Timpanogos, don’t let my scary story stop you.  Take an experienced mountaineer with you, wear sunscreen, carry LOTS of water, get yourself in shape well beforehand, be prepared, and learn more about it here or here.  I’ll see you at the top next year!

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