Tuesday, August 8, 2017

Hikes, Cozy Layers, and All the Wine

It's 4:30 p.m. and I have poured my first glass of wine to steal this 30 minutes for myself. We're here in Breckenridge, Colorado with 3 other families (8 adults; 10 kids) in a huge and extremely weird house, and, as always, I wonder why I live somewhere it's 110 degrees in August when I could live somewhere it's only 50. I'm in leggings, fuzzy boots, and my softest long sleeve shirt. I have hiked until my legs were shaking, surrounded by stunning views and running water the whole way. Now we're home, about to start dinner. The balcony door is open, there is a light afternoon rain outside along with an inexplicable patch of bright blue sky and full sun. Music is playing, Landon is reading, and the girls are playing Go Fish next to me at the table. My whole heart is happy.

Landon drove up with the rest of our caravanning friends on Saturday. They all wanted to do the drive in 2 days and since one of our friends has an only child, they enthusiastically welcomed the addition of a same-age adopted son for the long drive up. Another family donated walkie-talkies to spread out between the three cars and apparently the kids' non-stop chatter was hilarious. I needed the extra day to prep and pack, and I hate sleeping in roadside hotel rooms with my children, but I'm sorry to have missed out on the road trip fun. Our temporary family of four left early Sunday morning and arrived about 5 p.m. on Sunday night, just in time for dinner (each family has one dinner and one breakfast, making this trip easy and fun and cheap) and were reunited with our long lost son.

On Monday morning, after a night of drinking and 90's music with the parents out on the balcony after the kids were in bed and then Landon waking us up at midnight covered in altitude-induced vomit at literally the exact second I finally fell asleep, we started out with some hikes! Kids get up very early when they're all sleeping in two bunk rooms (each adult pair has their own bedroom with bath; all the kids are spread out in bunk rooms and a downstairs den), so we were out on the trails by 8 a.m.

Our 18-person crew takes up most of the path, but the kids had a marvelous time with so many buddies to run with and we had a marvelous time watching them.

We got back to the house afterward, shocked to find it was still only like 10:30 a.m., so we packed lunches and decided to try another hike- this one to Mohawk Lake.

Turns out, the path to the trail head that takes you to the lake involves about 4 miles of semi-drivable SUPER rocky "road." We tapped out early, parked the cars, and decided to walk, not quite understanding the 4 mile thing. So we walked, and walked, and walked, and never actually found the trail head.

We pulled off to the side to feed the kids their picnic lunch and they did some climbing and then we found an offshoot trail to a lovely field and little pond we told the kids was Mohawk Lake.

Then a storm blew in and we high tailed it back to our cars as fast as you can do something like that with 10 kids who have already hiked about 6 miles in the day.

It's... not super fast.

We got back to the house and lounged and snacked and played games and it was so great. There were storms and open windows and sweat shirts and wine. There's an indoor hot tub the kids have taken quite a fancy to and multiple living areas for them to spread out and watch movies.

That night we played games- indoor games, with dice and cards and challenges and all my favorite things in the whole world. I discovered Yam Slam, my new favorite mostly because the dice love me, and we introduced everyone to the Paper Bag game, first introduced to us by my parents in Steamboat Springs in 2014.

James still dominated, but having the kids play at least gave him a tiny bit of competition and a few of our adults did too! I was out fairly early, my yoga utterly failing me, but a few stayed in another round or two until James destroyed them all by picking up a bag literally 1" off the ground. He's freakish. But he's mine.

Today the other families were booked for white water rafting, something I totally want to do one day, but we decided wasn't worth it with our not-yet-four-year-old and the fact that we're not even supposed to be on vacation this summer with D-I-S-N-E-Y coming in November, so we planned an afternoon on our own. But first, we did a hike all together in the morning down Snowflake Trail to Sawmill Reservoir. It was lovely and totally as short (1.5 miles) and easy (fairly flat) as advertised!

We didn't even bring our hiking backpack and Cora walked 90% of it herself!

"I'm a GOOD HIKER Mama!"

She'd been lamenting on our short car ride over to the trail head that "I don't ever see my Winston anymore" and then we came upon a big poofy white dog at the reservoir. She was so excited!

James and Landon obviously immediately took off their shoes and waded out in the FREEZING COLD water.

And then the girls followed suit.

If there's a body of water, 4/5 of the Lag Liv family is going to be in it immediately while their mama watches from the side and thinks they're all crazy.

We got back to the house, said goodbye to our rafters, and decided to head out to conquer the elusive Mohawk Lake trail from yesterday. This time we popped the burb into 4-wheel-drive and drove over boulders and puddles and crazy elevation changes to get as close as possible to the real trail head. It was a rough journey, but we made it about 1 mile out before calling it and spilling out of the car to finish our journey on foot.

Finding the trail head was a relief and felt like a victory, and then the hiking started.

A hike that I for some reason understood to be a relatively smooth and easy hike but very much understood WRONG.

It was beautiful and lovely and had every gorgeous classic Colorado cliche a hike can have, but it was a tough, steep, slippery hike - the hardest we've ever done for sure.

After climbing for forever we got to Continental Falls, which were gorgeous and huge and very loud in their roaring magnificence.

James, Claire, Cora, and I pulled off the trail to take pictures and admire the falls. Landon kept climbing a few dozen yards to a giant rock that stuck out near the falls. I waved at him, he waved back, and I assumed he was coming down to meet us.

Except, after about 5 minutes of climbing carefully over a few rocks at the quieter edge of the falls, we realized he wasn't there. So we looked up to the rock he'd been sitting on and he wasn't there either. We put Cora back in the backpack and started climbing up, expecting to see him any minute.

But we didn't.

We kept climbing, starting to call his name, and trying to tamp down the rising awareness that it was a great big mountain with huge fucking falls and dozens of trails offshooting in different directions.

10 minutes of climbing later, we hadn't found him. James could only go so fast with Cora on his back and I was basically dragging Claire up the steep rock faces trying to get high enough to be able to see more than a few feet in front of me.

17 minutes of climbing and we came upon a cross memorial with "Rest in Peace Michael" written on it, right by the edge of the falls.

20 mother-fucking endless minutes of climbing and calling and dragging on the girls and increased panic later I saw James's hand waving above a boulder ahead of Claire and me and I knew he'd found him. The falls were too loud to hear anything spoken more than a foot away from your face (not helping the panicky feeling as we pointlessly yelled Landon's name), but I was sure James was yelling at him, as I absolutely would have done if I'd found him first, so by the time I climbed up and over the giant rock, I was just crying. I hugged him and tears just poured down my face and he kept saying "but I knew where I was! I wasn't lost" and then he started crying too, probably freaked out by the fact that I was hugging him so tightly and sobbing.

And then a hail storm blew in and we raced to take shelter under a copse of trees to eat granola bars and wipe our faces with jackets now covered in mud while tiny balls of ice ping'd all around us.

The storm paused after just a few minutes and a small group of hikers passed us by and said the first lake (of two) was only another 200 yards away, but it looked like another storm was coming. So we took a breath and responsibly turned back from our white whale and headed down as quickly as we could while rain came down and darker skies threatened. Three miles later we were back at our car, emotionally and physically exhausted but determined to see those damn lakes someday. Just, you know, not today or tomorrow or any day soon.

We got to the house, dumped all our muddy clothes in the washer, took hot baths and showers and poured wine. Or ate cookies. Or both, depending on which Lag Liv family member you are.

My chicken barley chili is now simmering on the oven, all my ducklings are in the house, and our friends are expected back from their rafting any minute. More adventures, and hopefully significantly less drama, await tomorrow!


  1. OMG, Rest in Peace Michael??? I knew he was ok, of course, but holy cow!!!! That'll get your heart rate up.

    Hope the rest of the trip is much less dramatic!

  2. I am still speechless after reading this a couple days ago. I am so glad he is okay, but I cannot even imagine the fear that you felt. You are such a brave mama. Oof. Also… how do you look so beautiful on on earrrrly morning hike? And the writing on the back of Cora's shirt? So sweet!

  3. Oh man... doesn't every parent know that sudden heart-stopping terror of losing sight of your child... it's so awful and I'm so glad he was fine.