Turning around to walk back in the direction of the car, I saw a road. A ROAD! Seriously?! After plunging boots first over an icy cliff and sliding through a gauntlet of trees and thorns to wind up on somebody’s second story deck on the way down, I was a little chagrined to see that, had I gone just a block or two further past the park, I would have been able to drive right down the far side of the hill on a ROAD! But oh well, like my friend Elsa says, the past was in the past. At least we had an easy trip back up to the car.
Or did we?
As we walked along the road, we passed the spot directly under where the car was parked. I could see the railing of the parking area sticking out of the snow 60 feet above us. I also saw a set of footprints leading right up from the road to that little parking area. Now I had come down diagonally earlier, trying to decrease the steep angle at which I was planning on plummeting, but this was a straight line up to the car, and there were trees and rocks perfectly spaced for holding on to, all the way to the top. Suddenly, I had another one of my patented terriblific ideas.
It would be a lot longer of a walk to hike up that road, all the way around the hill, and then back to the car, I argued. But here we had a clear path, that had been previously tested, that led, as my friend Olaf would say, exactly where we wanted to go. My wife, clearly exhausted and delusional from jumping in the frozen lake, decided that I had finally come up with a good idea. She led the way, and we started our quick jaunt up the snowy hill.
The first thing that we realized was that this path was very, very steep. Also, and you will hardly believe me when I tell you this, snow and ice are very, very slippery. It was okay for my wife and I, most of the time, because we could reach the various trees and handholds along the way, but our children were born with shorter arms and legs than your average adult. Don’t worry, the doctors say that this will resolve itself over time. But for now, their teeny little arms and legs were not doing the job of reaching the things they needed to reach.
For every few steps they went, they would slide back on their faces several more feet. And actually, the more they slid up and down the path, the slipperier it became. Now we found ourselves trying to climb a solid sheet of sheer ice at an 80 degree angle, so that went about as well as you might expect it to. I got underneath Edward and pushed his little four-year-old self up in front of me as his feet scrambled about on the ice trying to find traction. “Grab Mommy’s hand!” I yelled, as I gave him a big shove up the cliff, hoping that his little hand would not slip out of his mitten, sending his gigantic four-year-old self careening back into me and knocking all of us back down to the bottom. And so, inch by inch, tree by tree, we made our way slowly up towards the car.
Ruby insisted on making her own paths to the side of where the rest of us were going, possibly because it was less slippery, and Edward was being half dragged, half pushed up the cliff between parents. Finally, I stopped. This wasn’t working. In my effort to save time, I had delayed us even further. We were hungry, cold, tired, and covered in snow. “Why don’t we just slide back down and go up the road,” I suggested to my wife, who was clutching the tree across the way for dear life.
“We’re halfway there!” she called back to me. “I’m not turning around now!” Well, okay. We decided to press on.
The very top part of the hill was the steepest and slickest, with no trees to grab, but only some large rocks. Rocks, if you are not aware, are not as good for grabbing on to as trees. For one thing, they are far more smooth. For another, rocks are shaped oddly and do not necessarily have good handholds on them. Oh, and finally, sometimes rocks move and roll down the cliff while you are trying to hang on to them. I have no idea how we all managed to get up that hill, but we did. I also have no idea how whoever took that path before us managed to do it and leave a trail of normal looking footprints. When we were done with that path it looked as though an avalanche of walruses had been pushed over the edge of it and had tried to save themselves to no avail using their tusks and blubbery flippers.
It is very fortunate for me indeed that I have married a woman who loves a good adventure. Sure, most of mine are more misadventure, but still the dull moments are few and far between. As we sat there panting at the top, my wife just looked at me and said “Well, that was really hard, but actually I had a good time. It was kind of fun.” And if that isn’t the best way to look at life, I don’t know what is. Sorry fellas, she’s married. To me.