Shortly after Skye's 5th birthday, Skye let me know that she was eager to climb her first mountain. Bodhi had already obtained his first summit a few years prior at age 4 (with plenty of coercing on my part), so when Skye was the same age, I avoided the bribery and let her choose on her own if and when she ever desired a summit. To my surprise, just a few days after Skye's 5th birthday she said she was ready and we set out. Needless to say, I was psyched!
I wanted Skye's first mountain to be both easy and enjoyable. After all, it was going to be her first, and the last thing I wanted was to push her too hard leaving her miserable and in tears. Instead, I wanted her to be excited about it. Feel proud of herself. Want to do it again!
I chose the nearby Gaylor Peak (11,004') in Yosemite National Park. It was late November in the Yosemite high country so it was sure to be cold, but with the right layers, it would be no problem for the kids. To hike Gaylor you park at the Tioga Pass entrance of Yosemite NP and start hiking from there. For the average adult, the hike is a quick 20-30 minutes to the summit. For a 5 year old, it was maybe an hour with several short breaks.
Once we left the trail to head towards the summit, there was a little fire beneath Skye's bottom. She was off! She climbed up the craggy outcropping at the base of the peak, she managed the talus field with style and grace, and then she hit the ridge full of pride and joy. Skye was about to summit her first peak, all by herself, and she was so stoked. I cried a little as Skye reached the summit. You could clearly see the joy across her face as she told me how proud of herself she was. It was so cool to see.
Shortly thereafter Bodhi joined us on the summit. I didn't think about it at the time, but I later realized that this was Bodhi's first summit post-cancer! After everything Bodhi had been through, he too got to stand tall and proud on top of the mountain. What a HUGE and monumental accomplishment for both of them!
We ate snacks atop the windy peak, enjoyed the 5-star views and signed the summit register. It was undoubtedly a proud day in the mountains with the kids. One that I will remember forever!