marching your hind end up headlee pass to the ice cream

Judging from the murky soup of residual smoke via wildland fires and an unusually-late-in-the-season stubborn marine layer, I could probably argue I might’ve visited the summit of Vesper Peak on the moodiest day of 2012. On the one hand, I was a little disappointed to not witness the glorious views of Vesper on a crisp, blue-sky autumn morning. On the other hand, it was fascinating to witness the inversion-like effects of the local air and get some fairly unique pictures. The hike up Vesper (even to just Vesper Lake) is deceptively tiring. I’ve always found myself flummoxed by the exertion ratio of this trail- it just doesn’t seem like it should be all that difficult. On paper it’s quite a bit of gain in elevation (4,000 feet) but on the trail you never feel like you’re quite hitting the wall. Maybe it’s all the pesky stumbling over rocks in Wirtz Basin. Or perhaps the straight shot upwards in the infamous slot gully to Headlee Pass exerts a bigger toll than you realize. Here’s a picture of it, below. Doesn’t look that bad? Well phooey on you, then. It’s awfully steep but not really scary, except in a couple spots where the “trail” has badly eroded where the switchback switches back the other way….which is up. You’re not gonna get killed (probably) but it would be unpleasant to fall. So I suppose it’s not really fear but more anger-and-self-preservation.

I like hiking this part of the Cascades because the mountains aren’t all cuddly and cute. It looks like you could get hurt even if you didn’t try.

Here’s another example of the conditions on this morning. This is a picture looking down from Wirtz Basin (before the infamous switchbacks up to Headlee Pass). At this point, you’re still quite a long way from the top of Vesper. The starting point for the walk is far, far below where the woods are hazy and the owls are going to sleep for the day.

Oliver Fern and I were ridiculously productive yesterday cleaning and organizing and playing, so we took it a little easier today. More playing, fewer chores.

Well, tonight I changed the About section on my blog to no longer mention that I’m a stay-at-home dad. It was starting to feel like a liability (in case I ever decide it’s time for my blog to have more than three readers). I’ve been stumbling across some particularly unflattering portrayals of stay-at-home fathers, lately. From both mass media and individual persons. I’m proud (and feel privileged) of how I’ve been able to help our family by being at home with the boys, but I also often feel really self-conscious. I’ve gotten fed up with some of the stereotypes that people paint on men who take a bigger role raising their children. I hate all the posturing and plugged-ears debate between people about masculinity, gender roles and equality between men and women, how stay-at-home moms are different from stay-at-home dads. All that bullshit is important but people just can’t seem to come to grips with the fundamental guiding principle that propels those that like what they do- it’s the normal thing. I’m utterly fatigued at men who think they’re Neil Armstrong because they take care of their kids all day and do the dishes. Stay-at-home dads: Get a grip. Everyone else: Get a clue.

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