Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Mount Riley :: Day 1 in Haines



In case you didn't get the memo (or, more likely, I forgot to mention it -- I'll be time-travel blogging this upcoming week, blogging about events in the past and then posting them in the past), I'm back in Haines, Alaska. I left here about 8 or 9 months ago and it was time that I come back and check on humans and the mountains that I find pretty scrumptious.

I arrived on a sunny Monday which, apparently, was rare for this summer. According to the news or some human, this summer it's rained around 280% more than normal. It's just been a big soggy summer. I was grateful for the sunny arrival.

The next day was sunny too and I felt honoured to be invited to join the homeschoolers for a hike up Mt. Riley. Mt. Riley isn't too ambitious a hike... but it might be considered that when you've got ankle that roll even when walking on carpet or when you're hiking with 12 kids ages 6 - 16.

To respect the privacy of the families, this is the only shot you'll get of the crew.
The hike, if you were a crow, is only 2.6 miles - but switchbacks and meandering trails make the actual hike significantly longer. It also isn't too high of an elevation gain, The peak is at 1,760 feet of elevation.

Since I came to Haines a few year ago, I've wanted to hike Riley. Why hadn't I? My ankles. My ankles are nasty little funky-monkers who roll constantly and hiking can be a death sentence for them. Every, every time I hike, it's almost guaranteed I'll roll an ankle. Now, sometimes it's a wee roll that I can walk off - but other times it's a major one that takes a few weeks on crutches to heal and puts me back at square one. I never know what sort of roll I'll get so hiking sort of freaks me out.

I'd wanted to hike it, but it just hadn't happened yet. This time finally seemed like the right time. How often do I get the opportunity to go hiking with so many of the kids I've come to love in Haines (it was not difficult). It would also be good for my asthma. When hiking with certain folks, they want to run the trails (which some of the kids do) and it forces me to overexert my lungs and have my asthma act up. With kids, they went a pace that was comfortable.

At 9:50 AM, Mrs. G and N picked me up and took me to the trail head. None of the kids knew I was coming so my arrival was a surprise and it was a sweet reunion.

The hike up was a steady climb and I found myself in the finest of company. Games were played, like "A my name Alice" and songs were sung.


Wild blueberries were also picked. So, so many blueberries! This probably slowed us down by about 50% as the kids kept finding themselves having to leave the trail to pick another handful of blueberries. They were really sweet and kept handing them to me. S went to the back, where I couldn't see her, and picked me a huge surprise-bunch of blueberries! She has such a giving heart.

The view at the top was an amazing sight. Mount Riley is the highest elevation on the Chilkat Peninsula, where I live, so from up there, you could see everything! You could see the entire town of Haines, up the road towards the Yukon, out Lutak, up the Chilkat River, Rainbow Glacier -- everything.

The kids took to the trees and started climbing and some were even attempting to leap from tree to tree. I kept thinking, "This is their school. This is their school time." They were all hiking not just for fun but to rack up PE hours for the upcoming year. They've been hiking the past couple weeks, building up each week's hike in difficulty.

The way back down as a bit trickier for me, with the ankles. My loose ankles mess up my knees, so I plodded down slowly - luckily, I was in good company. In the last 25% of the trail, I ended up rolling my ankles three times. Luckily, I had a brace I could put on and I was all set to walk later that evening with Dani.

It felt really good to climb that mountain.
I think I live in the most beautiful place in the world.

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