After spending Saturday in Lincoln visiting the Ice Castles and doing some sledding at the Kanc Ski area Sunday morning it was time to head home, but not without a hike first. As we were heading out of Lincoln, we had asked Aubrey if she wanted to go hiking, she said “No, I want to go home. I want to see Brady.” At first, I accepted this as her answer and I didn’t want to push it on her since I want her to enjoy hiking and not feel forced. However, as we were driving south I was feeling that we really should go hiking and that it has been quite some time since we have been on a hike and her behavior lately has been less than desirable, and I can’t help but think its due to the lack of hiking. However it was later in the day than I like to start hiking especially for winter months, I kept talking myself in and out of going on a hike. We had discussed earlier that we should head up West Rattlesnake in Holderness. It is a small mountain, with amazing views. It is only a mile to the top so it wouldn’t require much time, and we could manage to get up and back before the sun started to set. I had asked Aubrey a couple more times if she wanted to go for a hike and again her answer was no. Then she announced she needed to use the bathroom, well the next exit was the same exit we would take to go out to West Rattlesnake, so I decided to pull the Mommy Rules card and made the decision that we would go up Rattlesnake after stopping to use the bathroom.
I didn’t tell Aubrey my plans until we got to the trailhead, and now her response was a bit more positive, especially after I promised her Hot Chocolate at the top. I fired up my JetBoil in the parking lot and began boiling water as we got the rest of our gear in place, before heading up the trail. Aubrey still wasn’t fully on board with hiking today, and most of the way up she complained that her legs hurt and begged to be carried. Short breaks helped, as did the motivation of Hot Chocolate. Soon Daddy and Aubrey made up a hiking song about getting to the top and drinking Hot Chocolate, and that seemed to help keep her going.
The trail was well packed and very easy going since we all had our microspikes. There were some sections of hard ice that helped give Aubrey some experience on how to place her feet so her spikes would grip in for the most traction. She did well making her way up the icy sections and we made it to the top in under an hour.
There were a few other groups enjoying the day, I am surprised it wasn’t busier than it was. The weather was fairly mild, it was slightly overcast, calm winds and temps in the high 40s. I hiked up the entire way with just a hoodie but was glad I had my packable down jacket in my bag for our break at the top. I mixed up our Hot Chocolate treat, but I should have let the water boil for just a bit longer since it was lukewarm by the time we got to drink it. It still did the trick though. After about 15 minutes, Aubrey announced she was getting cold, so that meant it was time to head back down.
On the way down Aubrey was much peppier and back to her old hiking self, stopping to chat with other hikers, or should I say calling out other hikers. She stopped multiple people to show off her spikes, and ask them why they didn’t have any. She even stopped a solo lady and asked where her friends were. I told Aubrey, you don’t need to always have friends to hike with and hiking alone (once you’re an old enough) is ok. I did bite my tongue a bit when the lady said she was being safe. She didn’t have a pack, so that meant she was most definitely not carrying essential items for hiking. I often struggle when I see other hikers who are not prepared on if I should mention something or not, but maybe now I will just let my 4-year old do the teaching. I am sure having a little kid call you out on hiking safety will make you think more before the next hike than an adult who might come across as elitist or arrogant.
We arrived back at the car just before 3pm and stripped out of our layers and got settled in for the 2-hour drive home. West Rattlesnake was the perfect first winter mountain, especially on a day that felt more like spring. Now that the first is done, I look forward to getting a few more small mountains in this winter. I am happy I decided to make Aubrey hike, I had a gut feeling that if I listened to her and my own doubts for the time of day, I would get home and regret passing up the opportunity.