“It’s a Family Thing” on Cascade & Porter

February 18th

“We are family….get up everyone and sing!”

It was time to join forces for a winter hike!  My daughter Nina and I.  Mallory, Parker and his girlfriend, Emily.  When we have each other, we have everything.  Cascade and Porter would be Nina and Em’s first high peaks!  Mallory needed them for her first 46er round and I needed them for my winter round.  So this choice was a no-brainer!  Words cannot begin to describe how incredible it was to bring my 16 year old daughter on her first high peaks hike.  In winter no less! #raiseherstrong

I wasn’t sure if she would love it, but she is always willing to try something once. Like when I took her horseback riding.  Not her favorite. But she did it! (I love horses so it was the best!) So far, she had hiked Buck and Bald Mountains.  This hike would be just a tad bit more challenging 😉

There is something surreal when you have the opportunity to share your heart with your children.  These mountains have my heart and soul.  The fact that my daughter walked beside me, experiencing the beauty, the challenges, the peace, the love…incredibly transcending.  Even now, as I type this, long, deep exhales.

Ok. So, that being said…hiking with a teenager is all about negotiating.  “You’ll be fine.” “Nah, it’s really not that cold out.” “You’ll warm up fast once you start climbing.” “Just wait until you see the views!” “It’s not that far…you’ve run further.” “Look on the bright side…there’s no mud in winter!”

Yup.  It was just like that. Haha.  My girl. She’s the best.  Deep down, I knew this experience would only make her stronger.  Foster growth in her self-confidence.  I also knew that she wouldn’t buy any of that during the hike!  However, I sure would try.

I admit, it was a welcomed change to have a late-start hike.  We arrived at the trailhead at 10 a.m. and proceeded down the road a bit to the trail register. The sky loomed an overcast vibe and the chilly air filled our lungs.  Everyone was in good spirits though!

Well…almost everyone. She’s a riot, giving me the death stare.  “You’ll have fun, Bunny. I promise!” I smiled back at her.

Here we go!

Still not quite sure how she feels about this whole “winter hiking is fun!” thing.

These two were perfect hiking partners! Chatty, chatty chatty about life and all that is.  I’m guessing I may have been the punchline in a few of their conversations too.

Haha!  I can be a little tough to take sometimes, I know.

Parker and Emily zipped ahead with their peppiness and positive attitudes!

My girl…toughing it out!

Someday I’ll master having a steady hand…until then, the occasional blurry picture happens.  The girls!

Miss Mallory. This beautiful lady.  There is no better person to have in your corner.  I mean, one minute she’s telling me I raised phenomenal humans….the next, I’m her punchline! Haha..the sign of a true friend.

It appears my daughter is also a stealth photographer, like her new partner in crime. The enchantment among the woods was something to behold.

“Yoo-hoo! Big summer blowout!”

Trying to make the little girl laugh. The Frozen quotes were endless. There were many “Are we there yets?”

The clouds remained thick as marshmallows and the hopes for views was dwindling. But it sure was magical.


Climb, climb, climb…


Yes! Almost there!!  I think she gets the ninja look from me. 🙂

Making our way up to the summit…holy wind!

At 12:20 p.m., victory!! Nina’s first high peak…and in winter, no less! BOOM!! Such a trooper!

Frozen hair. Frozen faces.  Frozen in general.

My whole entire heart, she is.  I was so worried about her on the summit though. The clouds engulfed us and the visibility went to zero in a matter of seconds! My only concern was to get her down off the summit safely.


So we quickly and carefully made our way back into the treeline.

Hiker Mom reporting from the break spot:

Parker refueling and keeping it real, while I get Bunny bundled up.  Always a mom, before anything else.


Then it was time to go get Porter.  The Blackburns and company strolled ahead while the negotiations continued with Nina. It would be one step forward, two steps back all the way to Porter.


My heart was enthralled with the marvelous winter scene. The trail to Porter was encased in the fluffy magic! It was incredible!  Nina was not as impressed.  I promised chocolate…I promised to take her shopping…I promised her a crepe at the 46 sandwich shop!  Her ankles were breaking down.  Life of a tap dancer.  I understood where her pain was coming from, so I could empathize.  The other side of me wanted her to push through…to fight through the ailments and struggles. I knew what glory and victory felt like. She needed to experience that feeling, much to her chagrin.  “I love you, bunny…I know you can do this! It’s not that far…just a quick jaunt!”  (enter a teenager’s eye rolling here.)

Honestly, I was prepared to give her a piggyback ride up to Porter! In hindsight, that would have been much more fun!

And then…at 1:15 p.m., Nina reached her second high peak! Happiness once again!! Yoga on Porter…she’s the best!

Yay Mom too! Porter Mountain was my 23rd winter high peak!! Halfway there! Mallory racked up another peak for her 46 as well!  Big HUGE hugs for my girl! Now she knows she has a fighter’s heart, even if she never climbs another high peak again.  So proud of her!

Views from Porter.  Those trees though!

We didn’t linger and cruised back to the junction. Then…typical! The sun comes out when we reached the junction!  Hmmmm…definitely have to go back up Cascade now, I pondered to myself.


Refueling break! Debating whether or not the sun was out to stay…do we run back up Cascade in hopes of a view??

It would hard-pressed to convince the little…


More promises! Raspberry crepes, raspberry crepes, shopping, shopping, shopping. We would only go to the first lookout…and so thankful we did!! The clouds lifted just enough to view the Great Range!


Wondrous winter views!


One more quick video:

Ok…now it was time to fly!  Let the buttsliding commence!

After the buttsliding antics concluded, it was speed-hiking time! We needed to get to that sandwich shop before they closed!


3:00 p.m., the Buttsled Crew signed us out of this winter hike!

Look who is a happy girl now!

She did it! We did it together! Now it was time for:

Raspberry Crepes!! I always make good on my promises! YUMMY!


After that, we headed back to our place.  Snickers Award Ceremony was next:

YES!! Finally able to pass the “Know It-All” torch! (Phew…haha!) Of course, the teenager wins 2 awards!



In all seriousness, nothing fills a mom’s heart more than seeing her kids succeed.  I knew it would be a battle of the minds.  At one point, on the way to Porter, she said “just leave me here and go get your mountain.” I was not about to do that.  I let her know that we could turn around and head back, if that’s what she wanted. But she continued to put one foot in front of the other, uncovering the grit she possessed deep down.  Growth only happens when you push yourself outside your comfort zone.  Nina found that.  I knew she had the will power, but it was her journey to decide.

Truth be told though, I will admit (because I know those of you who know me are giving me the smirks right now.) that I did get tough with her at times.  Tough love.  The stubborn fighter in me spewed out, and I may have been a little rough a few times. “We don’t give up. In this family, we fight. You can do this!” “The faster you go, the sooner you can get off this mountain, now cmon’!” Ya know, things like that. Haha.

Parenting is a delicate balance of empathy and tough love. That being said, she may NEVER hike with me again! Ha! (sigh) I just wasn’t about to give up on her…even when she wanted to give up on herself.  Still, I questioned myself, as always, wondering if I did the right thing.

A few days later, however…my little fighter sent me this text:

Well.  There you have it. This girl. I don’t know where she came from…but every day I thank God he allowed me to be her mama.  My heart is full. Like I’ve said before, there’s something to be said coming out on the other side whole.  To experience personal challenges that uncover another layer of strength within.  At 16 years old, my daughter did just that.  Hiking isn’t her thing.  Winter is even more NOT her thing. But she came…for me. She tried something that pushed her higher and because of that, her self-confidence grew stronger.

Parker and Emily, thank you for sharing your positive spirits with us, and for giving Nina extra love all along the hike!

Mallory, you are an amazing soul.  Thank you for showing Nina the ropes and bonding with my little girl.  She loves you more than you know.

Bunny, your mama is SO SO proud of you! You never cease to amaze me. Your strength and fortitude continue to reveal just how extraordinary you are. Thank you for putting up with me. I know I’m not easy to take sometimes. I love you warrior girl! Well done!

We are family…

Praying there’s a next time ;),



3 thoughts on ““It’s a Family Thing” on Cascade & Porter

  1. This post made me so happy… I love hiking with my kid! Cascade was his first high peak, too. We didn’t take him over to Porter, partially because we wanted the first one to not be too hard (he was 5 years old at the time) but mainly because my husband didn’t want to bother. A first ascent in winter is super impressive!! So glad the clouds lifted to give your daughter a taste of the views. Congratulations to both of you!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much!! I agree! Hiking with kids is fun, most of the time. 😉
      She was such a trooper!
      And kudos to your son for hiking HPs at such a young age! I didn’t hike my first 46er until I was 40.


  2. Hi Jenny. I saw you made a comment on Karen Hickcox’s photo she took at the ‘46 er banquet! Well let’s just say it’s a small world. I’m always interested in who knows who so I “ stalked” you on Facebook and came across this blog.
    I have yet to meet Mike and Karen but have “talked” with her a lot over the bast months. She is a friend of someone I met and hiked with through the Adk Backcountry hiking site ( Amy Novack) .. Karen and Mike have hiked with her too. I’m planning on meeting them on my way to Allen next week
    I see you are from Spencerport and know Parker. I’ve met him a few times through my son who is also an Monroe County Sherrif deputy. Parker’s girlfriend’s father was a year or two behind me in school. I worked in the grounds department at Spencerport schools from 2000-2014 and in may of 2014 took the head groundsman job at Hilton schools.
    I had never been to the Adk until my daughter and son in law took my wife and I up Cascade and Porter in August 2011. They live just outside Schenectady. After that I was hooked but never thought I would come close to being a 46’er. But I started knocking off peaks, a few a year and the more I got the more I wanted. I knocked off 11 last year, 4 this year so far and currently stand at 37. I hope to finish this year by October, as I want to finish the 46 while I’m still 64. I’m doing Allen on June 5 I’ve got some nasty ones to go. Cliff, Redfield, Marshal, Seymour, LWJ, Iroquois and finish on Ester and Whiteface. My wife went no further than Cascade and Porter They best her up pretty bad so she said forget it. She will drive to the top of Whiteface to “ finish” with me. I see your working on your winter 46. I’ve done 6 in the winter but have no desire to do all 46 in the winter. Good luck on your future hiking adventures and maybe we can met sometime as welll.


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