Today was the day for Auden to face his demons. I knew this was coming, but really didn't know how the story was going to unfold when he was there standing at that creek.
Rewind a bit, and I'll explain how we got there. We picked up a good friend Jessie at around 7am, and were pulling into the Heliotrope trail head around 8am. For those of you who don't know, last year Auden fell into this creek. He didn't stumble and get a little wet either. He full on took a massive tumble down a fast moving creek, and got wedged between a couple rocks with water rushing over his head. How he wanted to continue hiking after that was beyond me, but alas he stuck with it, and here we were 10mo later to face his demons.
This trail is one of my all-time favorite. I don't think there's a trail out there that has the visual payout at the end, the solitude, and all for relatively small mileage. So what's the catch? Those damn creeks! That's the catch. Total mileage for the day was 6.4mi, and around 1,800ft of elevation gain (including going down to the glacier) so it's really not that bad. The trail is well maintained, but technical at the same time. If you are not sure footed, comfortable hopping from rock to rock, and comfortable on steeper stuff then I would not advise it.
The first of many creeks came quickly, and we were greeted with a temporary log crossing. Not a big deal, and we walked across no problem. The next creek had what looked like the most pathetic snow bridge I've ever seen. This sucker was razor thin, and no way was I getting out on it. With a little alternate route finding we found a spot we could hop from rock-to-rock, and made it across without problems. Sweet! The second creek is the crux of this hike. It's big, fast, and is on about a 20* slope filled with large boulders so it's easy to take a 3'-6' fall down the creek in a lot of spots. We hiked upstream a ways, and found what looked like a much better spot. It was... sort-of. There's no real "easy" spot to cross this creek and is the spot where a lot of people give up and turn around, but with only one dipped toe we made it! The "easier" third creek gave us a tad bit of trouble, and we didn't make it through without dunking a foot. Hey, we're still winning though!
We made the final push up the small ridge to the glacier wall and WOW the Coleman Glacier never ceases to amaze me! It's just flat out raw, gnarly, nasty, and so rugged looking. I love it! Spirits were high and energy levels were up so we decided to make the descent down through the lower camp, and scramble out on to the edge of the glacier for some snacks. For those reading PLEASE be careful doing this, and understand the second you step out onto what looks like just a bunch of dirt and rocks you are on the actual living breathing glacier. Rocks are VERY loose and dangerous so be careful. With some very careful route-finding, lots of sliding rocks, and banged up shins we made our way up the glaciers edge until we hit a spot where we felt was about the farthest we should go. When you can reach down, and brush off 1/2 of dirt and see glacial ice below you it's time to stop, lol. Auden thought this was sooooo cool, and sat there just soaking up the awesomeness of sitting on such a massive chunk of ice and crevasses only 20ft away. We watched a party hike out across the lower glacier for what looked to be a day of fun climbing on the lower portion.
After a short snack we packed up, and made the scramble back up to the lower camp, across the first creek, and were faced with creek number two once again. So, if you're not aware, as the day progresses and temperatures rise more snow is being melted. This results in creeks that are located at the bottom of a glacier having a noticeable increase in water flow in mere hours. This crossing did not go as smooth as the last time. There was a lot more slipping, a small amount of panic (quick recovery on his part so that's good), and a handful of very wet feet. We made it though, and little mister hikes-a-lot was quite pleased with himself. Know what's a really good bonus of dunking your shoes in a creek? It makes every creek crossing after that much more fun because you can just stomp right through the water like no big deal. Ha!
We topped the day off with a stop into the Maple Falls gas station to follow through with our tradition of the bagels with sun-dried tomato spread. Doesn't get any better than that! Sure was proud of my son today. He faced his fears, got a little scared, but without any coaxing from me was able to reel his emotions back in and push forward. We've worked very hard on how to handle fear. He knows to stop, take a deep breath, focus, problem solve, and execute. This isn't something that comes naturally to most kids, and as parents it's our job to teach them. So many people in this world will avoid their fears all together as the easy way out. That's fine, but you're short-cutting yourself from so many amazing experiences in life. Life is simply too precious and short to limit yourself.