The Early Days

We’ve been talking a lot about dreams, plans, and hopes for the future at our place lately as we try to figure out what the next “adventure” will be in the McHale household. It’s been reminding me a lot of the early days of our marriage. I thought I’d take a minute and share with you some of our back story.

We got married pretty young, I was barely 21, he was 23. A lot of people thought we were CRAZY. We weren’t crazy but we were young, in love, and naive. We couldn’t imagine doing anything in life apart from each other.

Curtis and I have always been adventure seekers. Our relationship has cycled through many adventure sports. We’ve guided backcountry canoe trips together and apart. We’ve paddled over waterfalls in our kayaks. We’ve been on kayaking trips in Mexico, hiking trips all over the mountains around here and we’ve done a ton of rock climbing too. We’re always seeking the next adventure. It’s very normal for us and we enjoy it most when we’re together.

Oh man did we have fun (and we still do).

All I can do is smile when I think about the first summer that we were married. We worked as canoe guides. We lived in a tent for the most part – we still have that tent and it still feels like home when we sleep in it.

When we weren’t in the tent we had a room off the camp office that we stayed in about two nights a week. There was no electricity, no running water, and no showers.  Our room had propane lights in it so if we were hanging out in there with the lights on we had to leave the door open. It’s true. Maybe we were a little crazy.

Here’s the thing I would do it again in a second!

When we moved west after that summer we came out for a guiding job for me. I had never had a “real” job because I had been a student my whole life and it seemed like a good paycheque. I still have no idea how we managed to pay the bills and stay afloat that first year. Maybe our naivety kept us going.

Putting our stuff into our first apartment was eye opening. The storage room was piled hip deep with outdoor gear and we had nothing else. No furniture, no bedding, no table/chairs. We slept on an air mattress for months and for YEARS our end tables and night stands were two milk crates stacked on top of each other and covered with a sheet.

I remember hosting Thanksgiving and asking our friends to bring something to share as well as their own place setting because we had NOTHING. 2 plates, 2 bowls, and 4 spoons/knives/forks etc. I remember doing our wedding registry and hardly putting anything on it because I had no idea what we needed and who wants that stuff anyway? Seriously dishes, casseroles, table cloths, towels, bleh.

Yep that was us. We would so much rather paddle a canoe, stand on a mountain top, sleep in a tent, and eat Mac “N” Cheese out of our camp pots than sleep in a house, own a whole lot of furniture and feel stuck there.

To a large extent we still feel that way. Sure our life is a little (or maybe a lot) more financially comfortable and our home is a bit more stable, but I’d still rather buy a new tent and take our kids out into the backcountry than buy new furniture.

As we’ve been talking about dreams lately and where we want to go from here we’ve been revisiting some of our dreams from our early days and realizing that now with our family they are within reach. Sure we’ll have to travel slower, Curtis and I will have to carry more, but our kids are SO able to explore the backcountry with us, and it’s exciting.

It kind of feels like we’re getting back to our roots. Since we’ve had kids our life has slowed down, but we’ve also come to have only one work schedule to work around. We’re getting out way more than we did in our years of both of us working full time jobs. The pace is slower, but the journey is still awesome and you see things from a much different perspective when you have little people around.

It’s fun to look back and talk about where we’ve come from where we are and where we want to go. I would encourage you to do it too!


Vedder Mountain – “The First Hole”

We’ve been itching to get out for a while but winter has been surprisingly busy, and add a few colds/illnesses into it and we just haven’t been able to get out much.


Last weekend we finally had a little break in the busyness of this life and made a point of getting out. E has been asking for a while if we can go up Vedder Mountain. Curtis has told her how pretty the views are from the lookouts and the top and she needed her curiosity satisfied.


E & I early in the journey

E & I early in the journey

Sunday morning we packed everything up into the car, dog included, went to church, then headed into the hills. It was raining a little but what’s a bit of rain? The kids certainly don’t care so why should we?


It’s funny because for as busy as Vedder is with mountain bikers and dirt bikers the hiking trail is very quiet. I’ve been up there a few times, and Curtis makes a fairly regular trip up and we have yet to encounter other hikers.


We knew at the outset that we wouldn’t make it too far as we had only the afternoon hours to our disposal and we wanted to be home in time for dinner, baths and the many other things that occupy a young family’s evening on a weeknight. Our goal was to make it to the first lookout, or the “first hole” as E would call it.


We’ve all taken a bit of a hiatus from our outdoor pursuits this winter, between sick kids and weekend commitments it’s been hard to fit it in, and the few times we’ve been out I’ve had a really hard time keeping L warm regardless of how I bundle her. This trip was no different except that it was dry enough for her to walk a bit, and so my baby took her inaugural hiking steps. Hopefully there will be many more to come 🙂


Baby's first hiking steps

Baby’s first hiking steps

I thought the weather was warm enough that with some layering she would stay cozy in our Osprey Poco Premium baby carrier, and while her body stayed nice and toasty her little hands and feet got quite cold. Her absolute refusal to wear mitts doesn’t help with this either.  She didn’t complain (she never does, she has blessed us hugely by always being a happy baby) but it is a constant concern to this Mama when I think my baby is cold.


Despite the rain, and worries that L was too cold the hike was lovely and did us all well.  I love this hike because although it’s not full of gorgeous mountain vistas the forest is BEAUTIFUL, and the well placed lookouts are rewarding.


The forest feels like an enchanted forest that you’d read about in a fairy tale. Lush, thick, the trees and ground are covered in rich green moss, and it feels like you should be watching fairies dance amid the trees as you trek along.


Enjoying the Enchanted Forest

Enjoying the Enchanted Forest

We reached our goal of the First Hole, enjoyed a snack and a beautiful view of the Valley that we live in and headed back down hill.

Family Snack Time! Even Roxy was in there sneaking stray cheerios and apple bits ;)

Family Snack Time! Even Roxy was in there sneaking stray cheerios and apple bits 😉

To keep our hike down interesting I spent the first bit of it running from trail marker to trail marker and completing whatever challenge E named when we got there – burpees, push ups, jumping jacks, high knees, etc. This was great fun for everyone and we all laughed quite hard at my efforts on the uneven trail. It would have been an awesome exercise all the way down if the dang trail markers weren’t about every 30 feet. I had soon completed as many challenges as I could and we were seeking alternate entertainment.


The feeling of  walking through and enchanted forest served us well the rest of the way down as the grumbles set in. We spent the remainder of the hike looking for “fairy houses” (read neat little nooks and cranny’s at the base of trees and other such places where a small little fairy might make a cozy dwelling place). This actually served as an excellent form of entertainment and put an instant end to the grumbling. I need to remember this trick for the future and use it again :).

Curtis & Kids enjoying the day

Curtis & Kids enjoying the day

All in all we had an awesome time and all came home talking about when we could go out again. I’ve broken down and ordered another bunting suit to hopefully succeed in keeping L warm on future trips this spring and our family will continue on this crazy journey of being active and outdoorsy with our kids. A true love of the outdoors is one of the most important things that I hope to teach our little ones as they grow.