Mineral Ridge

Water bottles filled with ice and water. Hoodies on. Back into the steel beast. Two-thirds of our pride choose seats — our oldest daughter takes shotgun — and the beast's engine roars to life. Reverse. Steering wheel rotates. Brake. Forward motion. Right. We make our way through the neighborhood; houses decorated with American flags flapping in the spring breeze. 55°F.

Clouds adorn a blue sky. Digital music spins. Following the graying, pavement street, we approach a four-way STOP. Cars take turns and we continue. Soon, our entrance comes to view. On-ramps lie opposite each other. One east, the other, west.


An amber glow turns green well before we cross the intersection. Descending ramp. Speedometer needle bends as acceleration climbs. We pass exits and follow the freeway, solving a concrete block labyrinth of road work debris. Higgin's Point. Veteran's Memorial Bridge. Lake Coeur d'Alene.

Exiting the same, familiar, off-ramp and continuing along the blue-green water's edge; the road winds while coniferous trees grow out of the side of the steep craggy cliff.

A paved parking lot quickly comes as the snaking street continually curves; left to right. Steering the beast into a spot to slumber, the keyed ignition turns off and quiets the strong engine. We unload and fill a backpack with bottles.

First stop: bathrooms. Our youngest, laden with the backpack, is ready to hike as we take our first steps of the 3.3 mile hike that rises in elevation to 2875 feet. "Do you want me to take that?" I inquire, referring to the backpack. "No," he responds, "I have it."

"OK”, I answer back, "let me know if it gets too heavy."

"OK," he smiles while replying.

The dirt path etched in the side of the mountain lazily moves upward. We talk, joke, and laugh. Soon, I am handed the backpack. Giant trees reach for spring stars, hidden by Sol, fall short and scrape a sapphire sky, cut the clouds, allowing blue to bleed though the wounded expanse above. White flowers grow between pine needles carelessly littered on nature's ground. Downed decaying timber rots as new life springs forth; saplings cannibalize corrupt corpses: death turns to life. Roots trench across the path, exposed veins in earth's flesh; tree stumps mark history. Flotsam. Jetsam.

The trail switchbacks and we continue; park benches allow rest for weary travelers, but we are not they. We follow the root refuse as the trail climbs in elevation.

We escape the thick canopy and crest the peak's edge; Sol's light warms our skin. "The sun feels good," our oldest son opines. The trail pushes on towards a spectacular view of Lake Coeur d'Alene. Lingering, we gaze at the view.

Following the path on its downward slope, our exodus is quick. Arriving at the parking lot, our beast is awakened as I slide the key into the ignition and turn. Reverse. Steering wheel rotates. Brake. Forward motion. Right. Back onto the road; the craggy cliff on the passenger side as the lake rides next to us.

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