Sunday, December 12, 2010

Stone Mountain

Today was family adventure day. Me and the girls had plans until it stormed all night and froze this morning. There were snow flurries when we left the house. We were winging it. Hasty plans don't always work out though, it's a lot like forcing a ride, but sometimes that's the best you can do, and we did, at whatever peril.

Breakfast/lunch was good. We ate downtown at the Highland Bakery. Comfort food. Yum.

 Highland Bakery

Our new plan involved Stone Mountain. With sketchy weather, it should be pretty interesting, and there are some trails there that we haven't explored yet too. The attractions were all shutting down at 5, but we could still climb all over the mountain until midnight if we wanted to.

We started out on the southern Connecting Trail.

 The Girls on the Connecting Trail

Less than 10 minutes later I got a call from my father-in-law. The Saints game was about to start. I called Kathryn to get her to record it, but as usual, it wasn't on the air in the ATL.

The Connecting Trail led to the Nature Garden Trail and eventually to the Cherokee Trail.

 Stream Crossing

Sophie was having a great time. Iz would have been having a great time if her toes weren't freezing. She had a lot of trouble with that last year. Smartwool socks helped, but we never really figured it out before it got warm again. The rest of us would be fine, but she'd still be cold. It takes her longer to thaw out too. Do we just need to insulate her feet more, or is the rest of her getting colder too and her body's cutting off the blood supply to her toes? Are her shoes too tight? Does she have poor circulation? We've got all winter to figure it out, but in the mean time, she's pretty miserable. I loosened one of her shoes to see if that would help.

The train came by.


We're going to ride it next time. Hopefully we can ride the gondola too.

Eventually we started climbing Stone Mountain proper.

 The Girls on the Cherokee Trail

Granite seems to be either the grippiest or most slippery substance in existence, depending on how wet it is. Today's wetness was sometimes ice. We were super-careful.

Iz's toes were still killing her. I took a quarter of the map they'd given me when we drove in, wrapped it around the toes on her left foot and we gave that a try.

Sophie's toes had been fine all day. Her shoes were "wilting" though. I love her vocabulary.

The Cherokee Trail led to the Hike-Up trail, and we hiked up, past the Gum Poles...

 The Girls at the Gum Pole

up and up and up.

 The Girls on the Hike-Up Trail

The map-wrap appeared to help a little, so we stopped at the halfway house and I did the same with her other foot.

The trickles of water running down the rock now had a thin layer of ice on top. The puddles were frozen solid.

We kept climbing. Eventually there were no more trees to block the wind, and man it was whipping. Fortunately it was at our backs, kind of pushing us on, but it was really cold. At the very top, it was so strong, the girls felt like it was going to pick them up and throw them over the side.

 Sophie at the Top

They were honestly scared of that exact thing. Terrified of it. Almost paralyzed with fear. Now that I think about it, they'd never been in really high wind before, and they weigh virtually nothing. It couldn't chuck them over the edge, but maybe it could have knocked them down.

We worked our way over to the little building at the top, huddled down behind a pillar, barely out of the wind, and assessed our situation. It was intensely cold, intensely windy, starting to snow and the girls were terrified, but there was nothing to do but walk back down. Iz's toes weren't hurting as bad though, the paper trick was working, and I was confident they could make it, even if they weren't. 1 2 3 Go.

I grabbed their hands and towed them down to the treeline. There's one really steep spot where they put a railing up and it was extra slippery there. None of us could feel our fingers or toes, we just had to wrap our arms around and work our way down, inch by inch. There was a couple ahead of us that kept looking back and probably called Child Protective Services on me when they got back to their car.

When we got to the treeline, we took a break. Out of the wind, it actually felt warm. Iz lied down on the pine needles for a minute. I kept an eye on her though. I've heard of people getting really hypothermic and wanting to lie down and sleep. I didn't think we were anywhere close to that cold though. It worked out. She was like a new kid when she got up. Like she'd left all the stress lying there and just stood up and walked away from it. I've never seen a transformation like that. It was weird. It made me worried that there was actually something wrong with her, so I kept talking to her after that until I was sure she was fine for real.

Sophie's toes were thawing out and seriously killing her. She was crying and kind of even screaming a little. Finally I had to tell her something like "Dude, you've got to use more self-control. If you keep that up, somebody's going to hear you, and think that I'm hurting you and think you need help. That could be pretty awkward." Thinking about it though, I was, at least indirectly, responsible for her pain. She understood though and got it under control.

Five minutes later everybody was feeling fine. It was like a kid pulling a tooth; yeah, it hurts, but the fear is the worst part. When it's done, you realize it wasn't that bad.

That said, there's a fine line between building character and just torturing kids. I walked it today. As much as they learned about their limits, I learned even more. With all that we've done together, I forget they're still little. I need to remember that.

Nobody got broken though, and we had some good noodles at Doc Cheys. I've said it before: as much as I love the outdoors, being in the outdoors makes me really love civilization. An hour ago we were freezing and struggling and now there's a friendly guy handing me a bowl full of all kinds of different things all stir-fried together. Oh yeah!

Sophie made noodle-art.

 Sophies Noodle Face

And apparently her blood type is coffee.

 Sophies Fortune

What a day.

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