Sunday, August 26, 2012

Day 26: Backing with kids: our 200 mile summer - Sibling bonding

Dollar Lake over Glenn Pass to the Bullfrog Lake area

Bekah taking it easy on a floating log on Bullfrog Lake
 I am sitting at our camp tonight, in a meadow just outside of my most favorite lake: Bullfrog lake.  It is so popular and gorgeous that for the last 25 years, it has restricted all camping.  Our low mile day of about 8 miles, included traversing through the gorgeous Rae Lakes Basin and climbing over Glenn Pass, considered by some to be the most difficult pass on the JMT, was just what the doctor ordered.  A rugged, granite rocked trail is our guide through miles and miles of uphill boulder fields to our pass of the day.  Last year we did this pass and had to traverse over a snow field at the top, which was harrowing.  This year we'd have it easy.  No snow. 

Climbing Glenn Pass in 2011: Cade - 10, Bekah -8
Rae Lakes Basin has multiple approaches and is part of multiple loops making it the most crowded section of trail we encountered all summer.  We met more JMT through hikers, now just days from the official Mt Whitney end.  Sporting huge smiles, they knew with their end in sight, they were about to accomplish their 211 JMT through hike goal.  We even crossed paths with a couple spending their Sunday ultra-mile running the 45 mile loop from Kings Canyon National park up through Rae Lakes and back to Kings Canyon.  It starts to feel that America is full of slim, fit looking athletes as we are continually surrounded by highly motivated, smiling, folks in action.

Top of Glenn Pass with Tom and Scott
Rae Lakes Basin is the valley behind us: full of lakes and surrounded by high peaks

As hard as it is for us to have enough time for our kids, our kids have even less time for each other.  But in this setting, Cade has time to focus on Bekah a little more. "Bekah, I so badly want you to catch a fish!  The feeling is incredible!" Cade announced to his discouraged fellow fisher lady, who had not caught a fish yet.  Tonight was our final night.  If it was to happen, it would have to happen tonight.  We are all rooting for her.

After living out here all summer, Cade was not content to merely observe his surroundings but seemed to desperately crave more - he wanted to join the ecosystem in action.  With his homemade willow rod, he has no longer just crossed streams or walked beside lakes.  He has instead become a student of fish behavior, stalking them in a crawl or crouched position in the tall weeds, along the banks, becoming a little expert on fish habits.  Consequently, his hours in this fish classroom have awarded him with nearly 20 catches.  He's figured out how long to let his fly land on the water, how to wriggle it just right to mimic a real bug, and which fly from his collection (fellow hikers and fly fishing aficionados cannot resist donating flies to his cause) is the best match for the evenings hatch. 

Tonight I am a keen observer of a brother who is not encumbered by his own 11 year old world, but one who is willing to look beyond himself and help his  sister catch her first fish.  With 20 catches, he clearly is the resident expert in Bekah's mind so she drops to her knees and crawls along the bank for hours, mimicking her brother.

I am not sure whose squeals were louder, Bekah or Cade's, when at last, Bekah landed her first fish: a 5" Brook Trout.  Success feels good. 
The River Runs Through It: Cade never gave up, even when he got skunked for 3 days straight
Just as Tom experienced with 15 strangers turned friends on a backpacking trip in high school, Cade and Bekah have bonded in ways they just can't seem to in the busyness of home life.    They have thousands of memories together, built on shared experiences of teamwork towards a common goal.  As their mom, I am deeply blessed to see these types of bonds forming between brother and sister.

Everything from the giggles over more gaseous emissions wafting in their shared tent to the hi-fives on the top of another challenging pass to setting up a tent together all have formed the foundation to what we hope will be more than just a sibling relationship, but a real friendship.

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