If you are one of the few people who have visited this space more than a year (or two, or three), this post may seem a bit redundant.
I'm not an eloquent writer, one who can really describe the vast feelings that are experienced in a trip such as this, and to be honest, pictures don't even come near to capturing the absolute beauty of this place.
Every year I fall more and more in love with Kennedy Meadows. To see my family do the same is one of the most rewarding and fulfilling experiences.
The water was murky muddy, due to a mudslide at one of the feeding lakes, but it was kind of fun to have a different feel to the scenery.
While the previous years have all shared the same thread of good friendships, active children, and all the outdoor activities involved with high country camping, this year was a little bit different. Set apart.
As the children get older (which may seem humorous as there is still a fair share of infants and toddlers), the opportunities grow larger.
This year, the older children were able to fish on their own. Because of the low water level and their strengthened swimming/ survival skills from this summer, we were able to let them leave the grounds without supervision. This was such a great experience for them, and us, as we were able to witness their first year of complete independence.
(they gutted and cooked their caught fish as well!)
The highlight of the trip, though, came unexpectedly and was a taste of the promise I've held on to for our family and friends in the years to come.
Kennedy Meadows is on the outskirts of the Emigrant Wilderness. The Emigrant is everything as majestic as Yosemite, but without the people and tourism.
I was showing Carter a map of the wilderness, the different lakes and places to hike to and camp at and he strongly suggested we take the hike to the nearest lake.
While my heart wanted to jump in and say "YES!", I was so hesitant as the shortest hike was 4 miles in. He promised me he wouldn't complain. Everett joined in and begged to come.
I couldn't say no. Then friends joined in, which made the experience even more memorable.
I wasn't prepared for the level of pride and joy that would come of such a trip.
As we made our way from landmark to landmark, I was shocked to see the rate at which we were walking, uphill at that! The hike is not an easy one. It hosts plenty of switch backs and rocky terrain.
The kids were amazing every step of the way.
I didn't have to remind them to look around and take things in. They were in awe.
I would catch Everett screaming from various summits, "I LOVE NATUUUURE!".
Not one complaint.
Just joy and excitement.
At one point, we came to a fork and we didn't know which direction to take.
The kids gathered around in a circle and prayed for someone to pass by.
Lo and behold, a woman hiker walked by just minutes later informing us we were on the right track.
It's little moments such as that where their faith and understanding is confirmed in their God who created THIS. For THEM.
Carter was precious. He held my hand all the way home (which wasn't needed), he just wanted to experience this together. He was so grateful.
Their first peek of Relief Reservoir:
The lake was breathtaking. Sitting on a slab of granite, the water was bright blue, like Caribbean waters! Mountains of granite with scattered trees surrounded us. We ate the small lunch we packed and headed back home.
The entire 8-mile hike took us 3 hours.
They were so proud.
The moms were so proud.
And we're already planning next year's 20-mile hike!
The weather was much cooler than it has been years past. It was such a nice break to not be changing clothes multiple times a day. Morning jogs, walks, and a lot of campfire hangs.
We even had a quick thunderstorm one night. It was so exciting and of course the fresh smell of wet pine trees and weathered wood was an added bonus.
The babies did great (How long can I call them "the babies" for?). The first morning we woke there, we heard them have this conversation (at 5:30am, mind you): "Gussy, look, we woke up in Kennedy Meadows"..."Lili, we are in the bathroom, that's silly!!"..."Gussy it's not light outside yet"..."No, Lili, but we're in Kennedy Meadows!". Adorable. But more adorable that they went back to sleep.
And then there is this...goodness you two.
We will not pass up this tradition. Ever. (even when it's dark outside and the kids are filthy!).
Again, words can't quite capture the feelings and images can't capture the beauty, but their faces say enough!