That week sort of got away from me!
We went back out to the mountains the next day. We used to have a family saying. If your knees are stained green, it's a good day. If you caught a grass snake, it was a good day. Now we can add if, only fifty yards into the hike you look up the hill and see this:
It's a very good day indeed.
We planned on heading up the canyon and then we would take a pretty steep trail to a rocky peak Child 3 and I had hiked to the week before. Except... three people who are all rather more interested in finding the fresh tracks of the coyote we had just seen - and keeping a sharp eye out for any snakes that might be trying to catch the early morning sun - aren't, it turns out, entirely capable of actually finding a trail. Which is why, about an hour into the hike, we realized we had somehow missed the small turn-off that would have taken us to that particular peak.
We could have turned around and tried to see where we went wrong but instead we looked up at the slopes around us and decided to simply go off trail for a while, choosing a peak at random to head for. I should point out here that going off trail in a desert mountainscape isn't something that should be done stupidly - and we didn't. We were going up one face - never changing sides or moving around a slope which meant the dry creek bed that would lead us back to the foot of the main trail was always going to be in the same direction and would, for much of the hike, be visible. Because of the landscape there weren't any forests to get turned around in either so while we were off trail we were certainly not lost.
It was good fun too - lots of scrambly rocky bits and a fair amount of rethinking paths and plans thanks to unfriendly looking cacti or tenacious scrubby bushes. I was rather too busy keeping three points of contact with the quite slanty and often slippery slope we were fighting up to take photos, but we did have a nice little moment with this little guy:
who was nice enough to glare at me long enough to get the camera out.
I was rather chuffed at wrestling myself up the increasingly precarious boulders but finally, faced with a crevasse that had to be leapt starting from a steeply slanted boulder and ended in a vertical face which could (as that darn Male Child demonstrated) only be climbed by wedging various body parts into a three inch crack and sort of wriggling up out of sheer determination. I sat down and admitted total and utter chicken-hood, announcing a little plaintively that I was SCARED OF HEIGHTS and this was one too much, darn it. The Children were very kind - except when Child 3 said cheerfully, "I know! Me too! I'm MORBIDLY afraid of heights!" It enthusiastically jumped across several massive gaps about twenty feet above my head and went on, "I've just learned to ignore it!"
Yes, thanks Male Child.
Still, we had gotten ourselves within a few yards of the actual top, high enough to look down and see this:
And, with only a few dodgy moments, we made it back down all in one piece as well.
Sometimes losing the path, at least only for a little while, can be a good thing.