This has been a very special summer for me. My oldest (Noah) is now 7, and he’s turning into quite the outdoors enthusiast. We’ve done a bunch of day trips, but this was the first summer that I took him up to our place in the Daks for a weekend without his mom coming along as well. When he was 5, our whole family went for the week, and Noah and I did the Kilburn/Monument slide. Then in 2015 I stuck with local day trips. But 2016 was our summer for the Daks.
Our first trip was Chapel Pond Slab. We took his uncle, to provide me with a belay, and I allotted all day. We got an early start to miss the chance of afternoon storms, but I didn’t need to worry – Noah literally ran up the slab and we were back at the car by 10am.
Huh, maybe he’s ready for the Dike? The
next day we hit Eagle Cave in Chimney Mountain, and he ran all the way back to
the car… yeah, he’s ready.
So, this time, a couple months later, it was just the two of us. Again, we got an early start, since I figured we might need a lot of rest stops given that the 12-13 mile round trip would be by far his biggest day in the mountains. He was chilly when we started (32 degrees!), so we jogged the initial descent from the Loj to warm up, and kept moving to Avy Pass.
We were staring up at the dike in under 2 hours from the Loj. Usually I allot 2 hours for a quick hiker just to get to Avy Pass from the Loj, so this was an auspicious start!
The bushwhack around the lake went quickly, and we headed up the dike around 9:30. I harnessed him up (and we both put on helmets – loose rock is probably the biggest hazard when it’s dry) but let him solo the first crux, since it was dry and the stances were good, so I could climb behind him.
I belayed him up the second crux:
Then, we coiled the rope and romped up the dike together.
We took a quick break to talk about the geology of the dike, and Noah collected some crystals for his rock collection.
For the slab, I short-roped him up, and he make short work
of the interminable grind. All in all, it took 1:30 to summit from the lake,
including lots of messing around with the rope and a couple quick breathers.
The only time he was nervous about exposure was the summit shot on the balanced
The 6-mile trudge out has some great scenery, and popping out at Lake Arnold, Avy Camp, and Marcy Dam breaks it up nicely. He was getting a little tired so we stopped a few times, but on the way down to Avy Camp he started asking when the trail would smooth out so he could run. Soon enough it did, and he starting jogging all the flats and smooth downs, showing me his
half-pipe moves off the more eroded sections of trail. We popped back out at the Loj in 6:40, with half the day left ahead of us. I let him pick our afternoon activities: he chose ice cream and a nap – despite his exuberance on the trail, he was whooped, and slept until dinner!
The next morning we woke up early, so we headed over to Baxter for a quick hike and a chilly sunrise.