Loulynn sat in a heap of her own coat and gloves on the trail in the snowy forest singing and playing with the fluffy powder. I heard my Coach Mommy voice, the joy killer, say, “We have to make a choice to either go up or go down. But we can’t stop to play so much. It’s the shortest day of the year and we are racing the sun!”

It was 20-something degrees and we were perfectly dressed, but the mountain has its cold blue shadow, so why stand around with our boots in the snow letting it sink in. My dog was traipsing up trail through the snow-weighted boughs of alpine spruce, toward the warm light and crepuscular rays of the midday sun outlining every hard edge of ridge line and tree trunk in blue, silver, and gold.

After a four miles up the snow-graded mountain road (with friendly backcountry skiers stopping their swerve down to chat with us) and a decent segment of actual trail, all manner of edible motivations deployed, Loulynn made her final push up with a bit of help from my dog leash as our short rope. Through the half foot of powdery snow, she said “I never give up because I always want to see what is at the tippety top.”

One year ago, she brought me a sticker of snow-topped Mt. Fuji and announced she wants to climb it with me, sticking it to the top of my hand. And so I say now, when we head off on a trail or prepare our packs, “This is training for Mt Fuji.”

7 miles, 1300 ft elevation gain, let the record show that Solstice 2022 was her first proper winter hike to the tippety top.


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