Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making a Mountain out of a Mountain, Alaska Style

I am BACK ya'all!!

I am desperately missing morning coffee with my mom, all my friends and their kids, watching movies with my dad, and everything about the Alaska outdoors, especially since we were experiencing 75+ degree weather and cloudless skies!

If you have ever visited The Retired One, (she is dang fun-nay) she has a camera (with which she takes amazing pix) that I have been pining for, for like EVER. Yeah well, my dad got me a fantabuloso camera for my 35th bday (yeah, happy bday to me send me presents!) and so my bliss will now include some awesome photos, because if I can't capture life in a digital 3x5 I am not fully satisfied...

But today, I bring you the drama that can only be brewed by my family, which is actually fantastic because then I don't have to think about what to write. Gives my old brain a rest from being like, original and funny and witty and stuff...

OK so in the Last Frontier there is this popular mountain to climb called Flattop. See here it is, a pic from my awesome new camera:


OK so I could stop right there, but you all want the story I know...

So normally we just head out to the parking lot and look at the mountain, and the city,

and I take pictures like this:


and this satiates our need for adventure in the outdoors. However, my 8-year-old and 6-year-old begged and pleaded to climb "Mt Flattop" as they called it, again a popular tourist attraction and local recreational favorite. Did I mention it is an inactive volcano? Moving on...

The last time I climbed this mountain I was 17, and I remember it being a little bit of a trek, especially the last 30 feet or so, which is void of a trail and littered with lava rocks, many of which are not secure. Here, this is the FIRST wave of them, the last 30 feet of steep climbing looks a lot like this:
Now, for some perspective, look back at the mountain pic, and realize this pic shows that we are at about 1/3 from the top of that mountain, kinda in the middle of the mountain itself, tucked into the right of that middle angle...get what I am saying here?? And, for more perspective, at 17, in the middle of an unusually warm day in April, we slid down the snowy side, to avoid the perilous climb down...

Let's equate all of this now, shall we?

Family of 4 + two with no traction on their shoes + daughter who at this point freaks out + no way to climb out of the lava rocks easily + her being hit on the head by a falling rock the size of a tennis ball + a mom who could not get a footing, grabbing tufts of grass in order not to fall + husband, who is carrying crying, screaming daughter, and cannot help me + son who is monkeyboy climbing up without us + people around us walking up like it's STAIRS or something = OH SO MUCH FUN!

See, if you climb this mountain...

-Wear hiking boots, not your worn out aerobic shoes
-Free yourself of your liverpack so you don't get tangled up in it
-Be prepared to use your HANDS to hold on for dear life
-Put your new expensive camera in your hubby's backpack...
-You're probably sick like me if you're thinking about blogging about this if you live...
-Remember that although the woman with the cane got up and down with no problem, as did the little woman with the two year old on her hip, it is in fact still a FRIGGIN' MOUNTAIN!

So Audrey was screaming and crying and I was conjuring up a nice little panic attack of my own thinking, man, we are the WORST parents for doing this to our kids! Hubby managed to talk her into finishing the last 20 feet, especially since our son was peeking over the edge at us because he has already made his way to the top. In no way did the family, who was climbing down, with five kids under the age of 10, and the woman with the CANE, help us by talking about the lady they knew who DIED climbing Flattop, or their theories on whether or not Heaven existed. Note to those people...your choice of topic was BAD and sheesh, when faced with certain death, can you just HUMOR people around you and like, tell your five-year-old that Heaven does exist? If I could have grabbed her cane and throttled her I would have, but I was busy trying not to die...

After an hour and a half of climbing I am happy to say, we all made it!

Here are the kiddos, Jacob is elated and Audrey managed to smile for pictures and then turn into a shaking, sobbing mess afterwards screaming, "we are gonna die!" Sigh, this was supposed to be fun y'all...

I did manage these pix, at 3500 feet up (the actual climb is about half of that from the parking lot):
Imagine if you will, mild 70 degree weather, barely any wind and crisp clean air with these views...I love my state!

Now for the trek down...

This is what we saw:


I mean, what we DIDN'T see. In case I forgot to mention it, we're on a stinkin' MOUNTAIN, so from time to time clouds do roll in, and then you can't see anything off the edge where you are supposed to start climbing down, with a screaming daughter who declares every 15 seconds that we are gonna die...

So since my son and I have no traction on our shoes, and Audrey is screaming and staking out her little territory on the top since she REFUSED to climb down, we had to have my hubby coax her into climbing down, with her tucked between him and the rocks, while she crab-walked down, using hands and feet, with me behind her doing the same, and Jacob behind me, also crab-walking, and sliding into me because ya know that is SO fun to do to your mom who is having several panic attacks in a row! (wow, nice sentence!)

About the time we hit the second wave of lava rocks, Audrey decides that is the FUNNEST thing she has ever done, this is the GREATEST day of her life, and Jacob takes a turn for the worst...he needs to poop. Like, NOW!

We cannot veer off a trail, there is none, we are on jagged lava rocks, you can't run down, you can't hide behind a tree, there are people all around us, and he is SCREAMING at the top of his lungs, holding his bottom, "I AM GONNA POOP!" This goes on every 3 minutes, for 20 minutes. This is about as helpless as I have ever felt in my life, people.

With each attack I would hold his hand and help him breathe through the volcanic-like intestinal contractions, and meekly smile at the people walking/running past us. They were obviously trying to avoid us. Who wouldn't?

It took us about 45 minutes to get down, making the whole trip just under 4 hours. Jacob's spasms went away and he escaped a blow-out, Audrey was THRILLED she climbed a mountain, we were exhausted, and I was happy we all survived.

Thanks for the memories, Flattop. I shall never climb thee again!!

**note: the rock that hit Audrey ricocheted off of her, thanks to my hubby's quick reflexes to get her out of the way, and it didn't even produce a bump, God had His angels around us, as that could have been a disaster! She is fine, but that was a good reminder to always be careful when climbing rocks!

8 comments:

w said...

thank you for that lovely tour. i was thinking of climing mt flattop when we visit. but now. i feel as though i've already lived the experience.

plus. there is no way i can hold in my poop like your boy.

w said...

and by climing. i meant climbing.

Kearsie said...

AHAHAHAHAH!........HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!.....phew, it brings back my own Flat Top memories. Except I was too out of breath to scream or talk about poop and chose to slide down the side if the mountain on my butt through the snow. Good times, good times...

The Retired One said...

Oh, how I missed your blow by blow descriptions of your experiences....you made up for it with this one!
Him yelling "I gotta poop"...cracked me up.
Thanks for the shout out about my camera and photos.
Wow, those are GORGEOUS landscape shots...!!! What a beautiful place. I wanna go there now. But, not climb the mountain. No Sireeeee.....
I would need more than a cane!
When you stop and catch your breath, I got a few tips on how you can enlarge your photos on your blog if you want to...those would be even more gorgeous if they were bigger on here...I tried to click on them to get them bigger, but I couldn't get them bigger.
But they were crystal clear.
Don't ya' just frickin' LOVE that camera?????
Great job, the photos are wonderful!

Jennifer said...

And this is EXACTLY why I am an indoor kind of girl. The possibility of pooping my pants while climbing down a mountain is too great a risk. I'll stick to the parking lots. ;-)

I'm glad you all made it safely down!

Nilz said...

A tour to climb up Flattop - I liked it and I hope I'll try to reach the top and to survive just to say - 'NEVER AGAIN'!

Happy! Happy! Happy!

Lynn from For Love or Funny said...

May I say that the "I gotta poop" episode was priceless??

Mhar's Display said...

The scenery is very spectacular. I love the pictures. I want to come visit there. Agh, its awesome!

Mharms

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