I've got a great place to take you guys." Dan says over Sunday breakfast.
I'm still making out with my coffee, the kids are building indoor fort XVIXII, and surely it's a crime to be discussing
anything requiring squeezing limbs into snowsuits so early on a weekend morning.
But Dan's been known to say, after being home with the kids for two hours, I've been home all day, I'm ready to get
out anddo something!" And I know how he feels because two
hours at home can pass in this surreal, art film-ish way, where I feel like I'm reading a script while falling asleep
underwater: We only draw on paper," I parse with absolutely no feeling, while kids Matisse
the table with ink.
Thanks to Daddy-gumption, an hour later, snacks are packed, kids are perched in backpacks, and Dan is pointing up at
Up there! You guys are going to love it. Just a few quick switchbacks."
We follow Dan's snowshoe tracks from a previous hike while he points out elk poop, deer beds and where he
believes Native Americans sharpened arrow tips in the sandstone. The child I'm
hauling asks why are you going so slow, Mama? Can you catch up to Daddy?" I'm breathing
too heavy to explain the physics of boots sinking in snow, 30 pounds on my back and the
relentless, upward trajectory.
Just. Enjoying. The. Scenery." I huff.
It's easy from here," Dan announces, my legs since turned to Jell-O, and what he means is: It's flat; a flat sheet of
ice, 2 feet wide, between a cliff face and a scabbard of icicles.
We arrive, and it's amazing: a snow-free, south-facing sandstone ledge like a stage onto which the sun projects. The
kids explode from our packs like sparrows scared up by a cat while Dan and I recline on solar-heated rocks and gaze out
at a world glazed with snow.
The sky is a symphony of blue, like a wildly uplifting piano note held for eternity.
It's almost ridiculous, comical, this forever blue; like the heavens are shaking out a cerulean sheet, drying it over
the Animas Valley.
Col and Rose spy a box elder bug and dig it a hole, which they fill with snow, creating a pond so the bug can swim.
Luckily, the actual insect scurries away before the project is completed. The kids climb rocks, discover prickly pear
cactus and packrat poop and nibble dried lemonade-sumac berries.
I scold the Mama-skeptic in me who was, an hour ago, questioning Dan's plan, citing late
naps, runny noses and hikes not previously tested.
I should know better. When Dan is in charge, there are wild turkey sightings, cotton-candy sunrises and eavesdropping
on mating deer in a frostbitten field.
And there are late naps and sore legs. But I think I know someone who can offer a massage while the kids get back to
fort building and I reunite with the morning coffee, cold now, but somehow even
Reach Rachel Turiel at "_blanks">email@example.com or check out her blog about raising children, chickens and backyard food at
6,512 feet: 6512andgrowing.wordpress.com.