On Tuesday and Wednesday, we did get out and enjoy the natural beauty of the Green Mountains. Tuesday we drove just a couple miles to hike a part of the Appalachian Trail. A longtime friend of Keith's parents is currently hiking the entire trail, and we wanted to at least see a part of it.
The part of it we saw, however, was straight up and filled with rocks large and small. We gamely climbed, carrying Eleanor, for a little while (maybe a half-hour or so?) because heading back down. I just kept picturing myself falling or losing my grip on Eleanor, and the idea was enough to make me hyperventilate.
On Wednesday, we went to another trail that Keith had found, to the top of Bald Mountain. Even though we were hiking to the top of a mountain, it was actually a much more reasonable trail than the section of the AT we'd been on the day before. I think it was about 2 or 2.5 miles, one way. The trail was relatively broad, very well-marked, and had many switchbacks so that it was never too steep.
We weren't sure if Eleanor would last to the top, but she surprised us once again with her patience and adaptability. What was key on this hike was the we brought 1) her favorite doll, Amelia, and 2) chocolate. As long as Amelia was having fun (and we assured Eleanor that she was, quite often), then Eleanor could have fun, too. And when we stopped, she immediately asked for some trail mix and picked out all of the chocolate pieces, leaving the raisins and peanuts behind. That's my girl!
Unlike our museum trip, me carrying Eleanor the entire time was NOT an option. Keith and I took turns on the way up (although he carried her more than I did), and she did do some hiking and jumping off big rocks.
I was so shocked when the deciduous trees gave way to evergreens, and then the evergreens thinned out and we found ourselves at the top. I didn't think we would ever make it all the way!
There was white sand on the trail at the top; I assumed that this was placed there to maintain the trail, since there were few trees and enough sunlight to be worried about weeds covering over the trail. No matter how it got there, it was Eleanor's favorite part of the mountain top. I'm not sure if she ever even looked up, she was so focused on playing with the sand and throwing rocks.
The only nap she got that day was on the way down the mountain. I carried her for a short while as we started back down, but then handed her off to Keith and she fell asleep. In the picture above, she's passed out on his shoulder, and she remained that way until almost the bottom of the mountain.
I did think, on the way down, that she had the right idea. She stayed awake for the exciting hike up, but then got to miss out on the anticlimactic hike back down, past everything she'd already seen.
On the other hand, hiking down the mountain was one of my most peaceful times on the whole trip. Now that Eleanor's talking, she doesn't stop talking much. Or telling me to talk and entertain her. So I did enjoy the absence of conversation as we hiked down, hearing instead the crunch of our shoes on dried leaves, bird song, and the rustle of the wind in the trees.