We woke up at 6:30 and we are ready to start hiking at 7:30.  It’s not asked record per se, but we aren’t usually ready to step off so early. By 8:30, we had hiked two miles to Bromley Shelter.  We took a little water break, and I realized that there was signal, so I wrote a quick update about the 2nd and then we were off again.  

Our kids are so strong and quick.  We let them loose sometimes to just do their thing.  It is during those times that Ryan and I are able to have our only one on one conversations.  We need them, and sometimes the kids need their space too.

A short while past Bromley Shelter we summited Bromley Mountain. The last bit of the climb was actually straight up a ski run.

I know it looks kind of flat, but I promise it wasn’t.  At the top of the mountain, we arrived at a ski patrol shack.  They leave it unlocked, and there is even a hikers log their.  It was pretty cool, and a nice place to get out of the cold for a minute.

In the above picture, Stratton Mountain Ski area can be seen in the distance.  The chair lift looks so oddly out of place and lonely, when there is no snow.  

It’s National Trail Day. So I quick snapped a picture of Ryan in front of this abandoned pylon, dining the AT emblem and pointing us in the right direction.  I’ve never relied on white blazes as much as I do here in Vermont.  The trail isn’t always as obvious as it was down south, maybe because there hasn’t been as much traffic yet this year.

We made our way back down the mountain, and into a gap where we say down to eat lunch.  We were so grateful to have our bug nets, as they were out in force.  They aren’t so bad when you are moving, but as soon as you stop… They begin to feast!

They are so pretty aren’t they?

The kids played some Frisbee for a few moments, then the Frisbee got caught on a branch.  They spent a good half hour throwing a hiking pole with a strong attached to it at the Frisbee in hopes of being able to bring it down… They were finally successful.

Before seeing back out, we decided to have a little chat to see how everyone is doing.  Honestly, a couple of the kids aren’t doing great.  Here’s the thing, the hiking isn’t the issue.  It is the space to be together as a family to regroup, to talk openly, to process things that are bigger.  We listened to one of our sons, who told us that he knew we were better than a couple of days ago, but he wished we could just spend sometime alone, all of us, to really work through some stuff.  I love that the most about my kids.  They want to talk!  It shows that bitterness hasn’t overtaken them, and they trust that they will be heard.  This is a huge gift.  Coming from the one who wants to finish every single mile, leaving no blaze unseen, his request to go home is not at all about quitting, but about finishing strong.  We contemplated this for a bit.  Even if we decided not to hike many miles and spend the majority of the day sitting around a fire talking (which had been awesome in the past) we are fighting these bugs and it is forecasted to rain non stop of the next several days.  Two tents and more rain does not allow for those long, open conversations.  So we decided to call home and have Grammie come pick us up.

We still had to walk almost 5 miles… One we are on the main road we put our thumbs up.  Look at these crazy kids!

A really nice lady, in a Prius, stopped to pick us up.  She fit all five kids, their poles and their packs into her car!  She dropped them off at the Bromley Market, and came back for me, Ryan, and Belle!  (If you are reading this, thank you again!)

Not too much later, Carol arrived.  We stuffed our packs in the trunk and headed for home.  

Though we are home, we are not spending time with anyone but eachother.  We are looking at it like a free hotel, with a common area.  The purpose of this journey is to grow, heal, purge, be heard, come back together, forgive, be forgiven, dream… Find purpose!  If the conditions on the trail hinder that, then we need to hop off.  The trail will always be there, but our kids’ willingness to talk might not.

After eating pizza, taking showers, and putting on clean clothes… We went to bed!  

In a little bit, I’ll make breakfast, we’ll gather around the table, and we’ll start to talk… 

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