Wonderland Trail, Day 5: Real Talk- Babies, Stinky Feet, & Yelling

Wonderland Trail, Day 5: Real Talk- Babies, Stinky Feet, & Yelling // jessconnell.com

{NOTE: For those readers who don’t know our family, we’re the Connells. Doug’s my husband and I’m Jess. At the time of this trip, we had 7 kids (Ethan-14, Baxter-12, MeiMei-10, Silas-8, Moses-6, Theo-3.5, Luke-18 months), and I was 6 months pregnant with our 8th child. I’m publishing journal entries, pictures, & memories from our 12-day family adventure on the Wonderland Trail, one day at a time: Day 1Day 2Day 3Day 4, and now… Day 5.}

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lining up to cross a bridge

 

Wonderland Trail, Mt. Rainier
Thursday, 8/18/2016: White River to Summerland (6.7 miles)
Elevation changes: -1100, +2100

JOURNAL ENTRY:

Everyone’s still asleep. Best night of sleep so far! 9 people in a 4-man tent really can work, once we all got adjusted to it.

It seems like the kids are starting to enjoy the benefits of this trip– learning about bears, camping, seeing amazing views (Skyscraper Pass blew us all away, and then Berkeley Park just around the corner were both particularly stunning).

Animals we’ve seen:

  • fuzzy-headed gray birds I’ve never seen before
  • rock marmots
  • chipmunks
  • pikas (and their “EEP” electronic sound!)
  • mountain goats
  • deer
  • mohawked blue jays so blue all the other blue jays look pale in comparison

*** We think there’s a chance we’ll see elk. Frank & Sharon said lately, there have been 100+ elk grazing at the Panhandle Gap area each morning– and we should be going through there Fri. morning, so we’ll see.

Michael L. said he might come up today and stay tonight, so we’ll see what this day brings… today we’ve got approximately 6.7 miles– about 2/2.5 miles down and 4 miles up up up. This climb is gentle, though, so hopefully we can get there in good time (mid-afternoon?).

——

HOW TO GET A BABY TO FALL ASLEEP IN A TENT: {haha, yes, I really wrote it just like this}

It’s misery to everyone to hear a baby crying & losing it in a tent– misery for mom, misery for baby, misery for everyone listening in.

So, the way to get a baby asleep in a tent is to let them fall asleep anywhere but the tent– watching camp be packed/cleaned up, going for a walk, whatever– and then carefully slip them into the tent, asleep.

You’re welcome.

——-

Thoughts on Bodies:

  • feet stink.
  • people toot, snore, honk, get bloody noses, need to poop.
  • some people sleep erratically, some soundly
  • older joints ache
  • younger people whine cause they can’t yet identify what’s hurting
  • God knew all this and yet gave us funky, stinky, achy bodies.
  • Maybe we shouldn’t take ourselves so seriously but maybe it shouldn’t be the most hilarious thing either.
  • Maybe we Americans take external cleanliness too seriously. Morning #5 and I just opened our tube of toothpaste for the 1st time. And we’re all still alive & happy.
  • Yes we wash our feet, and do hygiene of “pits and bits” BUT… this is not the focus of life.
  • Maybe we make too much of # baths/week, etc.
  • Life is stinkier and messier than we try to make it.

——-

Thursday night, at Summerland:

Today was harder than we thought it would be. 6.7 miles, mostly uphill… the last bit in full afternoon sun. (but in a beautiful meadow!) But we got up here to the top, and there is a beautiful, glacier-fed (freezing cold!) stream (which, incidentally, has claimed 1 sock, 1 bottle lid, and maybe? one bandana)… and a neat shelter where the big 5 kids are sleeping in open air– one carving on the ceiling was from 1908!

[We did not add our own graffiti but it seems from other people’s reactions to our family that perhaps we should have received a special permit to add our own names to the log ceiling.]

The kids saw a HUGE rock marmot here.

At this point, we have done 6.7 + 6.4 + 8.9 + 3.7 + 6.7 miles… [32.4 miles] more than 1/3.

Tomorrow is what we think will be our hardest day (11.1? 11.4? miles)… so I probably won’t write. I’m thankful for this cozy tent, shared w/ just Doug, Theo, Luke & I. Maybe we’ll have some special time together once Luke & Theo are “out”– but then it’s up by 5/5:30 to start our crazy long day.

I wonder…

  • … if we can do it?
  • … if we’ll see elk at Panhandle Gap?
  • … if Michael L. will end up joining us?
  • … how Theo will do?
  • … if I can go a whole day w/out yelling at Ethan?
  • … if we bit off too much?
  • … if we’ll get through the whole thing & have embittered children who did not enjoy the trip?

What remedies are there for my yelling?

  • Put on Christ. Consider what His reactions and interactions would look like, and follow in His ways.
  • Pray for the Spirit to help deeply convict me of this sin.
  • Stop expecting my kids to choose rightly and wisely on their own.
  • Choose to be silent rather than to vent.
  • Let God, Doug, time, or later conversations address it in less hurt/emotional, more effective ways.

Random thought–

Sometimes, when you’re in the toughest part of caring for your large family, you don’t have much “extra” to give to strangers– especially if you’re doing an uphill climb. That’s OK. They might want to chitchat and you might not have extra to give– for your kids safety, or for reasons they don’t see or understand. That’s OK, too. Not every person you pass in life– or on the trail– will understand your journey, your responses, or your goals. That’s OK.”

 

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diaper changes on the trail

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Luke, mesmerized by berries

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snacking over a deep canyon

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When I blinded my children with the flash before bedtime :)

MEMORIES:

  1. Trail runners passed us at almost the first moments of our hike that day. This was such a good reminder for me of life in general– when you’re traveling with a family, sometimes you can’t go as fast as other people… and that’s OK. That’s NORMAL. Stop expecting to be able to run at their pace and accept the pace you can go at. It’s true for the trail, and it’s true for life. Accept YOUR pace.
  2. We saw more deer. 
  3. When we got up to the meadow, full of flowers, I almost couldn’t enjoy it because I was so tired. We did FORCE ourselves to notice the flowers, take in the view, etc. But that, too, was a lesson for me… sometimes when you’re in the thick of hard work, you don’t get to “stop and smell the roses” as you might if you were just lolly-gagging. And that’s OK. There’s a season for everything.
  4. I had no patience for strangers on this day. The climb was up-up-up, and the sun was too intense (Ranger Caroline had warned us that it was a heat advisory day). I realized that this is sometimes how life is in general, as a mom of many. Sometimes, in an average week, if I’m working hard with my family, helping us do what we need to do to get through the day, I just don’t have leftovers to give to anyone else. There’s no more of mom to go around. This can be particularly hard as a ministry wife, but I think it’s probably hard for every Christian woman who WANTS to be available to people, to feel like she has nothing to give. But God made us as humans with limits. Like on the trail, we pace ourselves and do the best we can.
  5. The view from the top of Summerland– especially from our group site– was INCREDIBLE. It looked out over the glacial stream in the valley below.
  6. Our friend showed up, literally, just as Doug kissed me for the first time in the tent. Yup.
  7. Around 2am, a stiff breeze blew through that really caused our kids to hunker down in their sleeping bags. 
  8. It was a full moon and the whole night was bright and glorious. When I got up to go potty in the middle of the night (the curse of the pregnant lady, whether camping or not!), I couldn’t help but walk over to the cliff’s edge and take a few extra minutes to breathe in the beauty of that valley.
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goodnight, Mt. Rainier!

 

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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8 Responses

  1. Kami Crawford says:

    This:

    “I had no patience for strangers on this day. The climb was up-up-up, and the sun was too intense (Ranger Caroline had warned us that it was a heat advisory day). I realized that this is sometimes how life is in general, as a mom of many. Sometimes, in an average week, if I’m working hard with my family, helping us do what we need to do to get through the day, I just don’t have leftovers to give to anyone else. There’s no more of mom to go around. This can be particularly hard as a ministry wife, but I think it’s probably hard for every Christian woman who WANTS to be available to people, to feel like she has nothing to give. But God made us as humans with limits. Like on the trail, we pace ourselves and do the best we can.”

    I needed to hear this. I still feel guilty when I don’t want to talk or hang out with people and I don’t think I should.

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yeah, I realized after one of the encounters… “those ladies were being really sweet. They were just curious about our family.” But I just couldn’t. I was out of breath. I couldn’t find words to adequately explain that MeiMei’s bag wasn’t as heavy as it looked, “how we do” xyz that they had questions about, etc. I just didn’t have it in me to answer them in any way at that moment. I felt guilty, like I’d been a jerk.

      But there was no reason for guilt. I was tired doing what I was supposed to be doing. Same as your last comment.

  2. Diana says:

    Your journey is seriously inspiring me. Thank you for taking the time to write out your days for us (as well as GOING on this amazing trip in the first place).

    We haven’t been on a serious hike in years, mainly because of our special-needs child, who doesn’t walk – carrying a seven-year-old has seemed a bit intimidating. But you are encouraging me to think outside the box and make things happen! :)

    Diana

    • Jess Connell says:

      Diana,
      Thank you for sharing this!

      Sometimes it can feel like I’m just putting it “out there” into the ether and it flies away into nothingness. Thank you for stopping to share the way that you’re enjoying it and how it’s impacting you.

  3. Karla says:

    “Maybe we shouldn’t take ourselves to seriously, but maybe it shouldn’t be the most hilarious thing either” haha cracked up over that one. Loved the picture of you blinding your kids with a flashlight right before bed. Great post. Great insight.

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