Summer Sunday: Climbing Ajax for the First Time (With Kids Hiking!)

Summer Sunday: Climbing Ajax for the First Time (With Kids Hiking!)

IMG_2308The day started with a trip to Clark’s candy aisle at 7 o’clock in the morning. “Pick out anything you’d like,” I said to my girls, ages 6 and 9. Siri and Quincy looked at me like I was crazy. Or at best like some alien with green horns had swooped in and replaced their mother. “I’m serious, you’re going to need it. Summit candy,” I explained.

They each grabbed a packet of Starbursts lest their mother regain her senses and before long, our family of 4 was banging up towards Ajax in our Subaru. After we parked at the power station, we started up the dirt switchbacks. The girls took turns complaining. “This is hard!” “Why are we doing this?!” Our promises of the views from up top, of the picnic lunch we’d have up there, of the candy we would enjoy soon lost their magic. “I don’t want to hike anymore,” my 9 year old complained. “This is boring.”

I ripped open the first packet of Starbursts, not ready to quit yet. “How about every 3 switchbacks we have candy?” I proposed.

IMG_2306“And we’ll each hold one of your hands?” Andy offered.

We settled into a happy pace for the next half hour. The girls are in good shape when they want to be. They have, after all, grown up in Telluride, where it’s normal to start mountain biking and skiing not long after you can walk.

Yet, soon enough, even the added bonus of trail candy lost its luster as well. After we’d climbed up into Ingram Basin but before we’d started up the grassy switchbacks up Ajax, the girls both collapsed onto a rock. Quincy sat with her head in her hands. I exchanged looks with Andy. Had we bitten off more than we could chew? All I wanted was to us to be outside as a family for the day. Maybe we would have been better off having a picnic by the river.

My phone started ringing. Surprised that it could get cell reception up this high, I answered. My parents were calling. They laughed when I explained where I was. “Hang on a sec. You’re on Ajax?” my dad asked. “Put those girls on speaker.”

Now I should back up and explain. My dad (Poppies) has this way with children. He’s the guy at parties with a gaggle of kids standing close by demanding that he “pull” his thumb off. He expressed his awe to the girls that they were climbing such a big peak. He told them that he turned around before that, tired and with an upset stomach.

We hung up the phone. Both girls stood up. “Ready,” Siri said.

“Really?” I asked. “Because we can just turn around if this is too much.”

IMG_2310“Mom, we told Poppies we would,” Quincy explained. Before long, we were picking our way across the shale-packed ridge that leads to Ajax’s summit. Although at 12,900, there were still a few peaks higher around us, at that moment, we felt as if we were on top of the world.

“Our house is down there,” Quincy said.

“Everyday, we look up at this peak, but today we’re looking down at our house,” Siri said.

The clouds were starting to gather, so we took a quick summit photo and packed up our picnic. We glanced once more at the town we get to call home, grateful that we had challenged ourselves and grateful that we had the chance to spend the day together.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.