Option B

Sometimes Option B - twice - provides new adventures. Good adventures. Here's what I mean.

Wanting "new" terrain, with an assured water source, I took the girls to a more remote area, one we've visited at least once during the past two summers. However, when I got to the Hark Lake trail head, there was a large family camp, full of dirt bikes, horses and mules. No way would I risk another bad mule encounter for the girls. And I'm not fond of dirt bikes. Best to go elsewhere.

Lucky for us, "elsewhere" is only a half mile away. First Option B: Grass Lakes. The trail up is steep and dusty, but the reward is two jewels set against granite cirques at 7400 feet, much like we used to enjoy in the Cascades in Washington. No vehicles in the parking lot meant we'd have the place to ourselves. Sweet.

We got to the lakes, and for the first time, I noticed a side trail that I realized must be the way to another lake - Coffee Cup. I'd seen it on the map, read a description in a guide book, but on previous trips to Grass Lakes, had missed this junction. (The guide book described it as being at the far end of one of the Grass Lakes; it isn't.) I let the girls tank up in the lake, and on a lark we went - Second Option B.

Now we truly were on new territory! I love exploring with the girls.

The trail climbed, and climbed. There was a lot of lose granite and deep dust. Not the best footing, but OK. The photo above was taken at the top of a ridge at about 8000 ft, where one can see Grass Lakes on one side, and huge open vistas to the west on the other. We dropped from there over the course of about a half mile, to another ridge. What we saw from there was this:

A steep and unfamiliar trail leading DOWN to Coffee Cup Lake. By now, the girls are hot; we've been in the sun and dust for awhile. The steep climbs and descents are getting hard on their aging joints. I decided we should just turn back and call it good. They could tank up again at Grass Lake before finishing the descent to the car. Still, the view all along this new trail was incredible, so no regrets on my part. Not sure what the girls thought.

When we got back to the high ridge between Coffee Cup Lake and Grass Lakes, Meadow struck a pose. I swear - I pull out the camera, and Meadow's modeling instinct kicks right in. Wish I could be so casual about having my photo taken. Maia agrees with me, although in her case, I think it's pure impatience rather than self-consciousness.

I eagerly await the day when Finn can come exploring with me. Next summer for sure. For now he and I do short runs of two or three miles on the days the girls and I don't do these longer runs. I'm not ready to let Finn off leash in the woods, yet, so we'll stick to the roads, logging roads or State Park where he can run alongside me on leash. We're making progress!