Passing on the peak bug...It was forcasted to be a beautiful autumn day. Possibly the last warm weekend of the season. As I was researching which peak to bag, I decided to plan around my planned hiking buddy...my 4 year old daughter. My research brought me to Reynolds Peak. When I told her that she was going to go hiking with me this time, she was really excited and made it a point to remind her mom and sister that she was going to hike with daddy. We started hiking from the Big Water Trailhead located about 9 miles up Millcreek Canyon around 9:00 am. At the begining of the drive into the canyon, the music was turned off and I allowed my daughter to take in the change of seasons. Needless to say, she was excited to get hiking. I was anxious myself and at the same time didn't know what to expect from my 4 year old. How will she do? How far will she go? How long will she last? All those questions quickly passed as I saw her face gleeming with anticipation. Since Millcreek is friendly to dogs, we also brought our little dog Stitch with us.
Big Water Trail towards Dog Lake
The morning air was crisp and fresh. With poles in hand, we made the gradual ascent towards Dog Lake. The hike is approximatly 2 miles that is gradual and covered nearly all the way by towering pines and quakies. Aleah got a kick out of the chipmunks throwing pine cones off the side of the trees and Stitch chasing those squirrels reminder her of the move "UP" when the Doug the Dog would abruptly stop and say "SQUIRREL". Along the trail there are little creeks that are passed by small bridges which added a great element to the hike, especially for a little kid. This was a great time to share some of infinite fatherly knowledge to my little girl of trees, shrubs, seasons, bugs, rocks that are really roots of trees, dogs, sky, clouds, princesses...wait...yes, we had to talk about princesses.
There are several trail junctions that go off into other areas so read the signs and know where you want to go. Fortunately I knew I wanted to to get to Dog Lake to start our ascent up to Reynolds Peak. Hiking through this trail, we came across many other hikers and their dogs. A LOT OF DOGS. So if you're not a dog person, best to take the hike up Big Cottonwood Canyon. About a 100 yards or so from Dog Lake, you'll come to a Junction. To the left (East) is Dog Lake, and to the right (West) is the Mt Olympus Wilderness Area. I don't know for sure, but I think the Mt Olumpus wilderness area winds its way towards Reynolds Peak, but I'm not sure. We went left towards Dog Lake where we were greeted by hikers and dogs all enjoying the lake.
It was a nice place to take a breather. As customary to my peak-bagging, I save lunch for the summit. I told my daughter about our prize at the top being lunch, so when I asked her if she wanted to rest at the lake, I shouldn't have been surprised when her response was "I want to get to the top so we can have lunch" :) (A proudful tear may or may not have rolled down my cheek)
Onto Reynolds Peak
We took a little walk up to the lake and I really didn't know where the trail started for Reynolds Peak. I had my GPS with me and I knew where the ridge was, but to get there, we had to bush-wack a little. So we went directly west up a small incline.
This is the fun stuff. We eventually found a faint trail. Turns out, we were on track. We followed the trail around and south. Be careful, because this trail doesn't seem to get much use and it was very faint until you get to the false summit. The climb was quite a bit steeper than the hike up to the lake.
There were patches of snow over fallen leaves making it for a slippery hike up. This is where Aleah learned that it is perfectly ok to get dirty on a hike. She had a few face plants. I eventually held her hand and we made it up the steep FS. Once at the top of the false summit, you can see the ridge to Reynolds Peak. It's a bit daunting with a 4 year old, but she did GREAT! We took it slow and at her pace.
Finally, we made it. SHE MADE IT!! I was so proud of her accomplishment. Even more-so when at the top, she took a minuet to actually take in the view and appreciated it for the beauty she was part of and her great accomplishment. At the top we took some pictures, I point out some peaks like Gobblers Knob, Mt Raymod, Broads Fork Twin Peaks...took some video and had the greatest lunch together with mini high-fives, hugs and kisses for a job well done. Of coarse Stitch got his treat too. It made it all worth it when she said to me "this is fun...pretty view, hike with my Daddy...and go potty in the woods"