Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Father's [Satur]Day: Grandchild Peaks

Our plan Friday night was simple. Let's do something new and easy. Something like the Herbert Glacier Trail which is so flat your four year old could bike it with training wheels. Oh, and let's just go for a few hours.
Rather than drive all the way out to Herbert Glacier, Saturday, I totally changed things up and suggested Montana Creek, which is just a few minutes drive, and then threw Mr. X for a loop when I suggested we try Grandchild Peaks.

Instructions: "Follow the Montana Creek trail for about 2 miles. After crossing the creek on the new bridge, and a couple small switchbacks, follow a bear trail up the face of the mountain for 200 feet. The Grandchild Peak trail is unmarked and unmaintained. This 1.1 mile trail leads to the alpine." Okay...

Apparently, our trail book is a little out-dated. The turn-off or -up, was well marked with cairns and orange flagging. And once on the trail, red and white trail markers could be seen every 25 feet (curtesy USDA Forest Service).

After taking last week off, we were a little rusty and pretty grumpy about hiking through the trees. We slogged along groaning and complaining. Not sure what to expect. And then we stepped out into the open tundra. The back of Mt. McGinnis at 3 o' clock. Stroller White at 1. The snow capped Glacier Bay ridges behind us. A huge emerald green ridge line dead ahead. Incredible. One of Juneau's best kept secrets as far as I'm concerned.

We stopped for a water break. Mr. X said we were going right up the ridge. I said, "maybe". I'm terrified of heights, you know. Mr. X disagrees. We start up and things aren't so bad. We pass the marmot holes, getting whistled at as we go. We joke about sledding hills, about movie lines "aaaaaahhssssss yoooooou wiiiish", singing "The Hills are Alive", and then the ridge line narrowed down so that as I watched my feet I was looking down into the McGinnis Bowl on one side and some other bowl on the other. I got dizzy and reminded Mr. X I'm afraid of heights. He said again that I'm not; that I'm merely cautious. And a thought from my grandfather popped into my head.

No, not that grandfather. Not the one whose memory conjures up the lyrics:
When I look down
From lofty mountain grandeur
And hear the brook
And feel the gentle breeze.

The other one. My Grandpa Charles. The one who claims vertigo so acute he - while at the wheel - closes his eyes when crossing bridges. The grandfather that warned me never to hike Y-mountain beyond the Y. The grandfather that recommended the self-help book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. That's the line that came to mind - feel the fear and do it anyway. So, I did.

That's not the first time those words have come in handy, and I'm sure it won't be the last.

Happy Father's Day to all the men that teach their children and grandchildren, nieces and nephews, to take reasonable risks, build confidence in themselves and reach for the stars.


  1. So I googled Grandchild Peaks after you told me about the hike and look whose blog pops up. I laughed out loud about Grandpa telling you to never hike Y Mt. beyond the Y. The view is so much better from the top.


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