Attachment ParentingTravelWorking Mama
Tuesday, 31 January 2017
Last weekend I headed off with the children to climb a notoriously changeable mountain and spend the night at our first DOC hut.
I like to do these things to myself every now and then because nothing makes me feel alive like flirting with disaster. Who wants to go to a nice safe camp site with flushing toilets, and cooking shelters, when you can walk up a mountain with starvation rations, and only airplane blankets to keep you warm?
So we went and did adventuring. And (spoilers) clearly I got back alive, so I leave this here for any parent who has wondered whether there’s room for a little bit of Captain Fantastic in their lives ... If you haven’t seen the film, that will mean nothing to you. If you have just know that I quoted from the film at least twice on this trip.
4:00 Leave home feeling confident, prepared, and excited.
6:30 Weather forecast is good. Arrive in rain.
6:45 Set up tent under the tree. Children insisted on climbing tree above tent just to give me the shits.
7:00 Children realise this is our first DOC site to allow fires. I realise every piece of wood is sodden and there is no chance of a fire starting. Try anyway and salute brave sacrifice of 2 firelighters.
8:00 Console distraught marshmallow hopeful children and decide it might be time for an early night.
8:15 Make bed for Alfie in back of car. Read girls to sleep with a John Connolly book. Realise this is not a wise choice of book when camping in a forest.
10:00 Wind picks up and the tent starts folding itself in half and stroking me on the face at random intervals. Girls sleep fine, I do not.
6:00 Wake up, realise I have lost the car key. Also have no phone signal. Catch a couple about to leave and type in a message to Keith for them to send when they reach civilisation.
6:30 Decided that we might as well push on with our adventure since we weren’t going anywhere in the car.
6:45 Start down the path to Blue Range Hut trying to convince the children to at least TRY to avoid the puddles.
7:30 Stop for snack.
7:45 Find the first signpost where the tramping track parts ways with the family friendly circular walk.
7:50 Reach start of near vertical climb.
8:17 Get phone signal and start heated debate with husband about launching rescue mission with spare car key.
8:20 Stop for snack.
8:30 Alfie screams “THIS IS THE BEST DAY EVER!” as endorphins hit. Hope he will still feel that way in 4 hours.
9:00 Struggle for breath as we slip and slide our way up the track. Realise children look like water dragons trying to climb a vivarium. Find that humorous between wheezes.
9:15 Stop for snack.
9:20 Give up asking children to avoid puddles. Hope rumours of a wood burner at the hut are true to dry shoes before return journey.
10:00 Stop for snack. Warn children about finite nature of snacks.
10:15 Start having existential conversation with self over whether forcing children into 4 hour death march up mountain will help shape the “endless complaint” or the “deep fount of resourcefulness” parts of their essence.
11:00 Stop for lunch. Reply to latest missive from husband on how to be Responsible Adult with unusual good humour.
11:30 Find sign for hut. Promise children that hut is around next corner even though this is big fat lie.
11:45 Now that we have reached the top of the mountain, children think it is the most beautiful sight they have ever seen. Offer mumbled thanks for endorphins.
12:20 Children spot bright blue of the hut through the trees and find a turn of speed so far lacking in our adventure.
12:30 The hut is even more insanely cute in person: old maps on the ceiling, a bench for cooking, four bunks with actual mattresses, and old signs from a hospital. Also a doorbell.
1:00 Build fire, and hang all clothes from the spiderweb of lines cleverly strung between rafters.
1:05 Ask Olive to please stop ringing doorbell every 5 seconds.
2:00 Welcome a pair of utterly sodden trampers who have come much further than us and are looking for a warm quiet spot for lunch. Trampers clearly feel our welcome is a little too enthusiastic and choose to eat lunch on the picnic bench outside.
2:15 Ask Olive to please stop ringing doorbell every 5 seconds.
3:00 Wave goodbye to Sodden Trampers and go on wood gathering mission. Wonder how long until the children fall into a coma so I can read more of my book.
3:20 Realise book is in the car, but find a pack of top trumps I hadn’t realised were in the bag from a previous trip.
3:25 Ask Olive to please stop ringing doorbell every 5 seconds.
4:00 Welcome Lads who have walked up for a night of beers and banter. Lads clearly feel our welcome is too enthusiastic and choose to set up camp at the picnic table outside.
4:15 Ask Olive to please stop ringing doorbell every 5 seconds.
4:20 Regretfully decline offer of beer from Lads and instead start to cook dinner on the top of the wood burner.
5:00 Welcome Family of Four who greet us in awe having heard en-route from the Sodden Trampers tales of the family-with-small-children who have walked the hill. Feel like minor trekking celebrity.
5:10 Ask Olive to please stop ringing doorbell every 5 seconds.
5:15 Offer to share the 4 available beds with other family and am instantly rewarded by the mum engaging all the children in a game of Hit the Deck. Am in awe of super organised trekking family.
5:30 Ask Olive to please stop ringing doorbell every 5 seconds. Eldest son from Family of Four offers his screwdriver to remove bell.
5:45 Have cheerful discussion with Family of Four and Lads about sleeping arrangements. Lads agree to sleep outside and depart to build a campfire for warmth.
5:50 Mass exodus of children to help with fire building.
7:55 Take moment to acknowledge how fricking awesome the children are for making it up the hill.
8:00 Stare misty eyed out of window to see Alfie showing his butt to a horrified looking Family of Four (and amused Lads).
8:05 Decide to change dynamic of group by putting smallest children to bed after long day. Realise manically over tired children are hard to herd in open spaces.
8:30 Finally get children to sit on the bed and read from an abandoned Trekking magazine in best monotone voice.
8:32 Feel smug as children fall asleep in record time.
8:35 Re-join camp fire and take Lads up on offer of victory beer.
8:45 Apologise to Family of Four that Alfie is eating them out of house and home. Lament awkwardly that children always like other people’s food better than their own.
9:00 Alfie reaches moment of evening where he turns grey and decides he needs to go to bed.
9:15 Take Alfie to bed and decide to join him. Enjoy an hour of solid sleep before Family of Four come into hut.
10:15 Spend next 8 hours listening to the sound of Other People’s Noises. Wish I had brought more blankets.
6:30 Wake up next morning feeling surprisingly human for so little sleep.
6:45 Throw on clothes and usher children out of hut ahead of Family of Four so not left with cleaning duty. Do not feel remotely guilty.
6:50 Realise we have no water left for journey. Feel like dreadful parent.
7:00 Start off down mountain. Realise down is harder than up.
7:15 Fall on arse. Watch children fall on arses. Start repeating “walk it off” at 30 second intervals, just in case.
8:00 Teach Olive to get down large steps by sitting on butt and sliding off.
8:15 Watch in awe as children turn into mountain goats before my eyes.
8:16 Instigate emergency protocol to deal with Alfie disappearing into the distance.
9:00 Watch in pride as Alfie becomes Amazing Big Brother as well as Monster Explorer.
10:30 Discuss future trips. Esme is clear that there will be no future trips.
11:45 Reach bottom of hill and burst from forest into scalding hot campsite.
11:50 Retrieve spare car key from Secret Non-Obvious Hiding Place
11:55 Throw kids in car and leave for home
12:00 Realise children will not make it far before falling asleep.
12:30 Stop at golden arches for Happy Meal treats.
12:45 Drive home in the stunning sunshine shovelling McChips in my face and when Cake’s I Will Survive comes on the stereo, feel at one with the universe.