Last week, I received a great question from Monica about the banner photo on this site, and I thought I would tell you a little more about “Grandpa’s Mountain.”
This peak is in the Black Hills, outside of Custer, and is where my grandfather’s ashes are scattered. Last year, my kiddos were old enough to make the trek and I decided to tag along.
Climbing in the Hills is steep and rocky, and makes me nervous. The boulders are smooth and grey and slippery, with silver specks that glint in the sunlight. The valleys in between them are full of rust-brown pine needles and grey and pink pebbles, which can cause you to lose your footing as well. I am most comfortable hiking if there are pine trees I can hang onto. The pines are tenacious but pliable, and their roots provide a welcome anchor to steady me when I slip.
My husband and two older children climbed confidently ahead of me, but my youngest daughter and I made our way up more carefully, holding hands, with me holding onto trees with my other hand. We had to switch hands often, as trees were available, but I tried to lead the way and keep branches out of her face.
I was so surprised to be able to climb so far up the rock. In previous years, I would have stayed home and had coffee with my grandma, but last summer was the first time we visited the Hills since she passed away, so I joined my family in most of their activities, instead.
My youngest daughter is a trouper, and, like my other children, I am convinced she is part mountain goat. We climbed and climbed until I made the mistake of looking down. My head instantly started to spin, and I decided we better sit down and take a breather. I rested my back on the warm, firm rock face until my head stopped spinning. As we sat, my daughter pointed out hawks circling and soaring–below us.
My daughter wanted to hike to the top with her dad and her older siblings, but since I was the one responsible for her safety, I decided we better just sit tight and wait for everyone to come back. We spent a lovely half-hour relaxing and enjoying our ‘bird’s eye’ viewpoint.
This year, my brothers and husband and brother-in-law will make the trek again, this time to release my grandma’s ashes to join my grandpa. Even though last summer I missed coffee with my grandma, I am glad my children and I got to see the world from Grandpa’s viewpoint. When I think of my grandparents, I will think of hawks soaring, the strength of the pine trees, and the warmth of the grey cliff strengthening my back.
Rest in Peace Grandma and Grandpa.