“There are many things from which I might have derived good, by which I have not profited, I dare say,’ returned the nephew. ‘Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and willdo me good; and I say, God bless it!”
Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

This is not what I wanted to be doing this week.

It’s one of the few WEEKS of the year that I have my kids all to myself and what am I doing? Hanging out at home. Working on the bathroom remodel. Working on my business(es). Shopping. Too much shopping.

If I had the whole world, or at least several hundred more dollars, I would sweep these kids away to somewhere warm and fun where we could wear shorts and swim…explore…adventure…

You know…do what we love!

But alas, my life has not reached the point of total disposable income. I did not marry a doctor nor become a doctor nor have a doctor boyfriend.

And that is more than okay. I am extremely happy! I am very grateful for all that I have, truly.

Because I live here, in the Grand Valley.

Where I can walk out my door on a beautiful Christmas Eve in and a few short minutes be parked at a trailhead with a number of my favorite trails ready to be accessed.

I think when we decided to go out for a hike that Devil’s Kitchen was the consensus. Tim was certainly thrilled that the selection was made of a shorter excursion.

But, again, alas for Tim, when we got on the trail, Trinity said, “Let’s do Echo Canyon!”

Needless to say, we all agreed.

Except for Tim.

And I can’t say I blame him. Many a time I had something already in mind, only to be conflicted with a phone call from a friend saying, “How about you meet me to do _______ instead.” And I have to decide: go with what I had planned, or go with a friend.

Please understand that 2016 was the year of discovery for me. I was able to clearly observe changes within myself, as I was able to clearly define my ‘issues’.

I always knew they were there, hiding, to be brought out unbidden! Yet, until recently I can’t say I’ve had a lot of desire or know-how to deal with them in the most healthy way.

So- long story short: Tim was emotional about the sudden change of plans. I recognized this as a feeling that I have…frequently.

He is my son.

We set off toward Echo Canyon, Trin and Connor leading the way, followed by Matt [trying to convince Tim to turn that frown upside down], and me, hanging with my little bro [who, again, was struggling with an issue I recognize in myself and therefore understand and cannot judge but just help using the mental tricks that I have heretofore invented for myself to deal with situations thusly].

Once we descended the slick-with-snow-slickrock [Kayenta formation], and entered the lower canyon, Tim started to perk up a little. Slipping and catching yourself over and over again will help you to re-focus like few other things can.

By the time we were climbing out of the lower canyon [to bypass the waterfall], I had him thinking of solutions to a brain teaser I gave him. Though each of his answers were not the one the teaser was looking for, he happily created several other solutions…and was very cheerfully hiking along!

Oh, how I love my children!

They leave nothing un-observed.

The ice was not as thick as last year’s journey [as was our experience with the Mica Mine], but it was fun nonetheless.

Once we reached the canyon alcove, Tim climbed up to the hole in the wall…just to test his climbing skills. Trinity and Connor had fun exploring holes in the ice, and Matt made a time-lapse video. It truly was a hike worthy of the destination.

The return trip held only little surprises- like writing in the snow we had left on the way out that was now gone, melted. And we cheerfully returned home to hot cocoa and preparations for a Christmas Eve Dinner with Matt’s lovely parents.

The sunlight as we looked up No Thoroughfare was impressive to say the least!

Tim was despondent. But I’m his mommy, so I helped him out.

Tim ended up having a lot of fun climbing.

Connor: the quintessential awesome

I asked Trin to smile for a picture. This, apparently, was the best she could do.

My beloved Matt, exploring a side-canyon.

Pano looking down toward Echo Canyon.