I've mentioned this before, but we truly enjoy having guests in Tahoe and showing them around, taking them out on memorable adventures. This adventure was among the most rewarding, but not because of my physical feat; because my aunt accomplished what she thought she couldn't.
When I learned that my aunt and uncle from Minnesota would be stopping in Tahoe on their road trip, I was thrilled. Truth be told, this was their second time to visit us here. The first was during the fall when we took them to see the salmon run at Taylor Creek down in South Lake, where they got to see a bear feasting. That close encounter with wildlife can be hard to top. So, what do we take them to see this time around?
How about feeding the chickadees at Chickadee Ridge? Now we've just got to convince these Minnesota natives that snowshoes are fun and, although it's winter, the weather is mild. You see, when you grow up in Minnesota (or in my case, Wisconsin), it's easy to despise winter. It's absolutely freezing cold outside (it's not uncommon for temperatures to sit below zero for days or weeks), it's gray and dreary, and it seems never-ending. No matter how warm you dress, you're almost always still cold.
So, we approach them with our idea. They tell us they've never snowshoed before. We tell them it's easy and we have extra snowshoes they can use. We tell them it won't be that cold. And with any luck, we'll find some chickadees to feed at the top. My uncle is game for the adventure. My aunt is showing a bit more trepidation. We tell her that we can just go as far as she feels comfortable and if we don't make it to the top, that's okay.
We load up the gear and head up to Tahoe Meadows. When we arrive, we help everyone get their snowshoes on, we give them their poles, and we set out towards Chickadee Ridge. My poor uncle only has on his sneakers, but he's a good sport.
And... we're off!
The weather is pleasant. Sun is out, skies are blue. We probably get halfway to our (hopeful) destination and my aunt stops and asks how much farther and we point in the direction we're headed and tell her it's not that much farther. She questions whether she can make it. We assure her she can.
We take a bit of a break and then start out again, but at a more relaxed pace. Soon we're approaching the bottom of the ridge where the climb to the top starts. My aunt stops, looks up, and lets out a sigh.
"We're going all the way up there?! I don't think I can keep going all the way to the top."
We are so close.
We rest for a bit. I tell her I think she can do it. We tell her that she can go as slow as she needs to. We tell her she can take as many breaks as she needs to. We're not in a hurry.
She considers all this and musters up the stamina to continue. And before she knows it, she's reached the top. She's filled with sheer happiness (and probably relief).
We congratulate her and celebrate a little bit. She's in complete and utter disbelief that she did it. What she thought she couldn't do, she did. I was so happy for her and proud of her for not giving up, even though she wanted to. And now she gets to relish in her accomplishment.
I got out my phone and dialed up my mom (her sister) on a video call, knowing that she and all of my aunt and uncle's kids were currently together, attending a birthday party for my grandma.
What better way to celebrate my aunt's accomplishment than to have all of her kids see her up on this ridge in real-time. When we told them, they could not believe we got their mom, who is not outdoorsy at all, on snowshoes and out hiking in the mountains.
"My mom did WHAT?!"
"...MOM did THAT?!"
My aunt (and uncle), bird food in hand, were rewarded for their effort with plenty of hungry chickadees.
Before we got back to the car, I stopped to make a snow angel and encouraged my aunt to join me. I felt the snow folly was appropriate after the fear or lack of belief in herself that she overcame that day. Sometimes, it's worth going outside of your comfort zone.