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Hikes with Kids: The Chief! (2nd Peak)

Shannon Falls view 

On Labor Day, Stefan and I had planned to take the kids up to Squamish. Originally we'd planned a day up there with friends, but with schedules, timing, and weather it hadn't worked out. I wanted to get up there before the rains came, and before our upcoming trip, and since we had 3 days off together, I knew we'd be able to spend 1 of those up in Squamish. Stefan looked up hikes, I packed enough food for a lunch and a decent snack, got the kids ready in exercise clothing, bathroom breaks, and something to do in the car, and we took off relatively early. The traffic was excellent (holiday) and we got to Squamish in an hour from our house, which is unreal. So far, so good.

The walk up to Shannon Falls was...not a hike. Since I had no preparation for what we were doing, I was a little disappointed when there were a hundred tourists just looking at a waterfall that was relatively far away, but oh no...we had not even begun! 

the top of 2nd peak, see small people to the bottom left for scale!

Stefan took us on an easy forest path and I expected it to be more of the same of what we've been doing with the kids--easy 5K nature path walks with a few inclines. Oh boy, was I in for a treat. Stefan and I had decided the kids were good and ready for more challenging hikes because they were coming away from those 5K ones with plenty of energy leftover, enough for us to grumble about it and plan ahead a little better! Stefan had found this hike and it said intermediate on the website, so he thought it would be fun to try out. Lucky for me, I consider these my main form of exercise for the day, and I got nearly 4 hours of hardcore exercise with this trail!

This hike was straight. UP. and it was intense. It was essentially rock stairs for an hour before coming to a bald rock face where everyone was stopping for a food break. I thought this was one of the peaks, but we hadn't even hit the fork in the road to get to the peaks yet! I was quite sweaty at this point and Lukka was nearly in tears that it wasn't the top. The incline was pretty challenging for him, though as usual, Ani found it enjoyable and kept up pace with Stefan!

those tiny people at the top (on the left) are my KIDS!

After we had a snack with them, Stefan overheard a woman saying that to get to 1st peak and 2nd peak is the same distance, and 2nd peak has a much better view at the top, so we decided to go that way. From the bald rock we had about an hour of uphill hiking left to go, complete with chains anchored into the rock ledge, a metal ladder assisting with a vertical climb, and a steep incline on the bald rock to get to the summit of 2nd peak. Holy cow it was a hard hike! The amazing thing is my kids made it before I did. Stefan was with them, assisting them with the technical stuff, and sitting with them at the very top to have a snack (those teeny tiny bodies up top are my kids!) and making sure they were clear of the edge. 

The kids loved using the chains and ladder system, and the people hiking up to the top (nary a child to be found!) were giving them high fives and were really excited to see kids up there, which was fun for them. I think that gave them a huge boost of confidence, especially as Ani was frightened just a bit on the way down the ladder (it sounds worse than it was). The way down had the three of them practically running the last 90 minutes, I, on the other hand, struggled with the decline, and my brain was really foggy. 

view of 1st peak from up on 2nd peak

On the ascent I struggled with a pounding headache, and it worsened on the way down because of 'choice overload'. Where to place my foot with each step down became overwhelming for me, and I often had to stop because I felt faint. I did not pack hardly any food for myself, though thankfully I had enough water. When I realized that my situation was because I had worked off a lot of calories and had not re-fueled with anything but water, I felt a little stupid. Of course we gave all our extra food to the kids, but if it was a warmer day out, I could have been in trouble. 

The views were spectacular. My pictures, of course, can't show even remotely what I saw up at the top of that mountain. It was gorgeous, and the views were so dizzyingly expansive, it almost makes me weak-kneed to think about it (and to remember that my KIDS were up there!). My biggest takeaway is be overly prepared with food and water, and potentially pain-killers, and stretch when at the bottom. I think my headache was, oddly enough, from altitude sickness, and we were really rocking. The info online says this hike takes 6 hours, but we did it in just under 4. We were hauling, and we really worked hard. I didn't stretch, and my muscles seized up on the car-ride home, taking about 3 days to recover fully from the strain! Food. Water. Stretch. DUH, Sarah!

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