On Friday and Saturday, Little and I went for her first self-propelled backpacking trip in Pescadero Creek County Park. We had about 8,000 acres to ourselves, all we needed on our backs--not to mention Bluefish, the morphologically challenged Seussian tuna--and an unspecified amount of time to do unspecified stuff. Pictures first; story below.
Little giddy at the beginning of the hike.
"Look, a baby pinecone!" She was blown away that it was actually "an adult pinecone" from a redwood.
Just troopin' along.
Worley Flat. Bleak weather [challenging lighting conditions!]!
Little spent a good 5 minutes examining this stalk of grass and discussing its Mommy-tickling potential.
One of the larger banana slugs we encountered.
Little loves to pretend to sleep--even 5 feet off the ground.
We explored around until 8:30-ish before heading to sleep. Little finally found a four-leaf clover that she wanted to get a picture of for Dongy [though it was in fact a two-leaf clover with four lobes].
Our camp spot.
We waded Pescadero Creek on the way in so Little talked a lot about the need to get wet in it on the way back to the car on Saturday, despite the fifty-something degree weather.
And wet she did get.
Little talked without breath until the moment of falling asleep on friday and from the moment of waking up on saturday until spontaneously passing out in the car on the way home. Nonstop dialog. We talked ferns/bracken, the contents of horse poop, hermaphroditism, grass seed dispersal, logging, bird calls, aposematic coloration, the awesome goodness of beans with rice--and their affect on your poop, horse shoes, cranes, road builders, four-leaf clovers, how that dead wren died, mycorrhizal associations, 7+7 then 14+14 then 28+28 then 56+56 then 112+112 then 224+224 the 448+448 then 896+896 etc., whether the banana slugs were sleepy or sick, itty bitty legs of California slender salamanders--and how little their poops must be, what happens to the poop in non-flush potties, whether we would play frisbee at the party later, the dimensions and orientation of the ideal trail-crossing log for climbing over, the importance of using "double-D-decker knots" in shoelaces, why slugs seem to like to eat horse poop, how in the heck mosquitoes can drink your blood through your skin, whether plants poop, and especially--at long length--death and mortality.
We made up many verses to a new song called "Pescadero, Pescadero, Pescadero." Little never complained, never whined, never was anything but lovely, charming, smart and happy. She walked 6 miles in 20 hours, carried Bluefish, sippy cup, headlamp and jammies in her backpack, slept on command, cuddled in the morning, and enthusiastically declared the existence of each of the 374,287,169,020,911,671,299 slugs we saw on the trail--and insisted on touching each one. She noticed when the trees changed from second-growth redwood ["red woods"] to mixed oak/conifer woodlands, she saw all kinds of little treasures that I missed--a weird ball of vegetable matter with bristly hair, cute little purple flowers, a cyanide millipede, etc. She tried to find one ideal stump to stand on. She flipped logs enthusiastically even though the salamanders were scarce. She found a ton of "six-leaf clovers"--never being able to distinguish between leaf lobes and leaves. We saw a brown creeper, heard an owl, called to black-headed grosbeaks and laughed at the crazy sounds squirrels make. She decided we'd better move to Pescadero. She was an angel and it was one of the most awesome Daddy experiences I've ever had. Next time... Littler and Daddy in Butano?
When we got home, Little got ready to "host" a party that she conceived of in our courtyard. 14 of her friends and a comparably-sized bunch of parents came and brought yummy food. After weeks of talking about it, extensive planning, the creation and dissemination of invitations, plans for soccer/snake monster/frisbee and loads of anticipation, she just sat at the table and ate TREMENDOUS MOUTHFULs of food. She earned it.