We needed to get out of the house. It was time for life to move on.
After a tragic month spent mourning the loss of our son William, we needed to get back outdoors again, to breathe some fresh air, to get some exercise...to move on.
Since I was still recovering from surgery, I couldn't hike anything too strenuous, nor could I hike great distances. With that in mind, John suggested that we return to the Hell's Canyon Wilderness Area, to hike the Spring Valley Trail. It was a trail that we had hiked nearly three years ago, when Mary was five months old. It was an easy trail, meaning that I wouldn't have a problem hiking it in my condition, and it was not too far from home.
We started out around 8:00 a.m. that morning. To get to the Castle Creek Trailhead, we took SR 74 to Lake Pleasant and turned off onto the Park Access Road. From there, we continued past the Lake Pleasant turnoff and kept going on the dirt road until we reached the cattle guard directly across the wash from the trailhead.
The trailhead was marked with a yellow sign, indicating the wilderness boundary, and a trail registry. After crossing the wash, John signed us in, while Mary and I wandered about at the trailhead. That was when I discovered some old ruins nearby. I had not seen them during our first trip into Hell's Canyon, so it was fun to make a new discovery there.
Once John was ready to go, we started hiking along the Spring Valley Trail. It started out with a very short climb that gained about fifty feet in elevation over about an eighth of a mile. Then, it leveled out and began winding through the beautiful desert that makes up the wilderness area.
The three of us hiked about three-quarters of a mile across the easy desert trail. Mary was hiking, too, like the little trooper that she is. We had been trying to get her to hike a little bit longer every time, without having to be carried so much. At three and a half, her top distance was only about one or two miles, and she needed frequent breaks in order to keep up that pace. On top of that, she could not hike any faster than about one mile an hour, so that slowed us down considerably.
We took two breaks during our hike that morning. During the first break, we sat down under the shade of a mesquite tree and ate snacks. Mary was still quite happy at that point, so we decided to continue for a little while.
Our next break, however, took place immediately after Mary took a nasty tumble. We were hiking down the trail into a wash, when she slipped on loose dirt and fell down. Although she wasn't hurt, there were a lot of tears shed, and so John decided that we should sit down to rest a bit.
While Mary and I rested, John continued hiking. He wanted to get some extra activity in by climbing up a nearby hill to see the view from up there. He was able to see all the way to Lake Pleasant, so he took some pictures of it before hiking back to where we were sitting.
It was obvious to us, at that point, that Mary was done hiking for the day. That fall had taken all of the energy out of her, and we knew that we were not going to get any more distance out of her. John suggested that we start back for the Jeep. He even carried Mary on his shoulders for a while, just because he knew that she was zapped.
So, a half an hour later, we were back at the Jeep again, ready to go home. As soon as we drove away, Mary fell asleep in her car seat and slept for most of the drive home.
True, we only managed a short hike that morning, but after what we had been through, we were grateful just to get out of the house, even if it was just for a few hours. For us, it was just the beginning of finding our way again...
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