This week the weather was amazing. The sun shone so much it felt like spring, so naturally I wanted to get out of the house and do something. When I suggested we go snowshoeing, at first Big E was not interested. He wanted to go play with his cousins. Unfortunately for him, an avalanche closed the road down the canyon so we did what I wanted to do – snowshoeing!
Phase one of our adventure was a picnic at the Sundance Nordic Center
. My kids love picnics so we often include them in our days, even if it’s just eating on a blanket on the floor of the car repair shop. Food is just more fun if it comes from a picnic bag. The bonus about starting out this way is that it allows us all to have the best possible experience. I was not about to take my kids out on an adventure without them having full bellies and empty bladders. It makes all of our lives easier.
After we ate, little g had her first meltdown of the day. I didn’t know if it was too bright, too cold or too tired but she started crying and I couldn’t figure out why. It wasn’t until we walked back to the truck that I sniffed the problem. Lo and behold she had pooped in her diaper, requiring a multilayer diaper extraction. If you are planning a cross country ski excursion, be aware that the Nordic Center only has outhouses, so plan accordingly.
With g standing in the driver’s seat of the truck, I took her out of her snow clothes, stripped her down and changed the stinky mess. It was not ideal but we didn’t have any other choice.
After the diaper drama was taken care of we moved on to phase two of this adventure – gearing up. We rented Big E his strap in nordic skis from the Sundance Nordic Center
. They’re not true nordic skis, but rather skis with a stirrup on each, that straps over the kid’s own snow boots. It gives more control and stability than classic nordic skis.
Little g rode in the hiking pack. I always put her in the pack at the last possible moment because she tends to cry while I strap her in and doesn’t stop until she’s moving. On this adventure, however, she waited to wail until I started moving and didn’t stop for twenty minutes straight.
I strapped on my snowshoes then hefted little g onto my back. The picnic table was very helpful for this part since getting the baby pack on without tipping the baby out is always a bit of a trick. In this picture we’re all geared up ready to go.
And so began phase three – hitting the trail. On this nordic ski adventure I didn’t have the luxury of another adult. Because I know my son’s patience runs out quickly I started the trip by reminding Big E of the book The Little Engine that Could by Watty Piper. That particular book is one of my mom’s favorites and I remember her often quoting the famous line, “I think I can, I think I can,” when I was growing up. I tried to get Big E excited by saying we would pretend to be the Little Engine and if we fell we had to chant its famous catchphrase.
Hopes were high at the outset. I knew from the last time we went cross country skiing that Big E would likely be spending plenty of time on the ground. For that reason I decided the best trail for us was the Lil’ Rodent Loop
. It is short and sweet, right by the yurt and wouldn’t be used by anyone else.
Big E struggled with the skis, constantly crossing them and falling down. Being the headstrong boy that he is, every time I tried to help him up he yelled, “No, I can do it myself!” His attitude, along with the still crying little g, made any attempt at positive encouragement through pretending to be Little Engines that Could fly out the window. With every flop came crying and complaining from Big E, plus crying and complaining from little g who was rapidly approaching naptime. At one point E was lying on his back on the snow, wrestling his skis around and one ski popped snow onto his face. Needless to say, he was not happy about it and from that point on I decided to take things into my own hands.
Although I want E to learn how to ski on his own, the stress of two crying children was too much. From that point on I did everything I could to keep him from falling down. I wanted him to have a positive experience and that just wasn’t happening. So, I held his hand, pulled him up, eased him down the downhill sections and pushed him up the uphill parts. I stopped giving him pointers and just let him move however he wanted. If he fell I just grabbed him and pulled him back up, which was not an easy task with a baby on my back.
We finally made it to the end of the trail and a miraculous thing happened. Little g stopped crying and Big E started laughing. That’s right, true laughter at the thrill of going down a slope on skis. For one brief moment he understood the joy of skiing and I couldn’t help but smile. That joy is exactly what I experience every time I’m on the mountain. More than anything I want my kids to experience it too.
We headed back to base to pack up our gear. We had only been on the snow for 30 minutes, but that was enough. Little g was ready for naptime, Big E was tired from falling and I was exhausted from carrying 30 pounds on my back while lifting, pulling and pushing my 4-year-old. The trip was short and stressful, but at least by the end we were finally all smiling.