The sky was dark and low as we drove north out of Madrid on our way to San Sebastian where we would enjoy our final two weeks in Spain before returning home. Scott had planned a low elevation hike somewhere along the route because it was cold and rainy. We would stay out of the higher elevations and cold and wind and instead see the last of the fall colors and take an easy but long hike on our way to our yet to be determined overnight destination before continuing on to San Sebastian.
It was raining on us as we drove up a mountain pass and then all of a sudden the rain turned to snow and you would have thought that we had just given the kids a puppy and a kitten. They were so excited as they looked out the car’s windows and exclaimed over and over again, “It’s snowing!” Ashley said that she could only remember seeing the snow fall one other time in her life. It reminded me of my cousins that grew up in California. We were all about the same age, I grew up in Colorado and they would visit most years. I always marveled at the fact that although they had been in the snow and skied, they had never seen snow falling and now my kids, both born in California, were enthralled with the white flakes falling relentlessly from the sky. While I enjoyed their wonder, I also worried about the soon to be slick roads and the fact that our rental car did not have chains in the back and what about our hike?
The kids wanted to be in the snow, not just watch it fall. So, we pulled over (which is never as easy as it sounds) and they just ran around in the snow, catching flakes with their tongues in an abandoned lot by a gas station. Talk about kids playing with the cardboard box that the toy came packaged in. They got cold and got back in the car but now they had an idea, we should abandon our preplanned hike and find a snow hike instead! We continued over the summit of the pass, impressed by the snow plows hovering in readiness at intervals along the road. It must really snow in the winter or maybe it snows a little but like us, no one has chains. We exited at a nature park sign and looked for trail signs. The snow lightened and dissolved into rain as our elevation decreased. We did a u-turn and got back on the highway until to we saw a sign for a ski area. That might work. We found the ski area and the snow was falling again. Scott got out of the car and talked to a woman in the parking lot. She said that there were trails all over but we should just hike up the ski runs. We donned every warm item we had packed and began our adventure.
The snow was beginning to stick to the ground as we started our hike but it didn’t feel too cold.
My family does not like to pose for pictures; really doesn’t like it. I try and limit the number of times I ask them to stop, look at me and let me snap a photo to maybe five times an outing depending on their moods. The rest of time I just pretend that I am on a safari and they are the wild animals that I am trying to photograph. I take a lot of candid pictures and hope for a few good ones. I realized on this adventure that their happiness and enthusiasm for the activity is positively correlated with their willingness to pose for pictures, especially my three year old. This hike was so much fun that I can’t wait to get them all back into the snow somewhere.
The other thing I realized is that the happier Ashley is (and the other two to a lesser degree)the more she sings. Let me tell you, this was a hike was a photo shoot set to music,
You can see the lodge below.
The snow just kept falling harder and harder as we hiked up the run.
Ashley drew pictures.
Grant made a snowball thrower which he used on his dad over and over again.
As we climbed higher the wind picked up and the visibility decreased.
We found the snack shop and sadly it was closed but the picnic tables had icicles which were another exciting bonus and just as good as any snack.
It took us over an hour to hike to the snack shop and we were probably half way up the mountain. It was cold and windy and very snowy and Scott wanted to continue on or at the very least take a different way back down. I really didn’t want to add getting lost in a snowstorm to our adventure and so we took the unexciting path and retraced our steps down the mountain. In life and on mountains, sometimes it is important to just go with the safe and known path, even if it is not as high achieving or even interesting.
The kids were still having a great time as we started back down the mountain.
They were like little puppies. Grant continued to pelt Scott with snowballs. Scott told me he didn’t want to have cold hands for the hike but he would get snowball revenge on the children before the day was over.
Happy hikers pose for pictures!
We found our way back to the bottom of the mountain.
Scott got his revenge.
And we had to drag the kids away whining and they don’t whine. It was like they were toddlers again and they had to leave their favorite park. It was such a fun afternoon and again a reminder of the joys of adventure and the surprise gifts that are waiting along the path of life.