Now, before we went to sleep the night before, I had talked to her about the next morning. While we certainly could have a late morning, I reminded her that the sooner we got moving in the morning, the sooner we’d be back into cell service range. She agreed to try and leave camp by 9 in the morning. 

That worked for me. I was up around 7, even without an alarm to wake me, and I started by making up some hot tea for us, and then breakfast. Turns out, she doesn’t like the protein bars that I had for breakfast, nor the Spam, so we had to improvise a bit with her breakfast, with her trying a couple different bars and rejecting them. I guess next time I should provide the menu and have her cross off stuff she won’t eat. 

But we did manage to get going and headed out of camp by 9:16 am. I was happy with that departure. We would be hiking in much cooler weather than the day before, and get a lot more shade. Unfortunately for her, the river had not miraculously gone down overnight, so it was back to the high road for us. By taking it nice and slow, we were able to make it up to the high point without too much difficulty and it was mostly downhill from there. I was proud of her for making it up the hard climb, especially considering that she normally lives at 500 feet above sea level, and here she’s hiking at around 5800 feet. And we encountered a snake in torpor draped across the trail, which we delicately stepped over. The snake flicked its tongue at us but didn’t move. She liked it!

After we got down from the high road, we passed a group heading to the hot springs. One man had a child carrier pack, complete with sleeping toddler, so she got to see how some people take their littles out on hikes. Some of the people we passed were dressed differently than we were, with tank tops and shorts, but I’m a big believer in wearing synthetics, long sleeved and long panted, for protection out there. It can get hot, but I like the protection afforded, both from the sun and from random branches and brambles trying to scratch me up. I think my niece would have liked to wear something a bit more fashionable, but I’m all about function when it comes to backpacking clothes. 

After the hill, the going was pretty easy. Some ups and downs, but nothing that we couldn’t handle with ease. I was happy that she had made it through the night, and I believe she was happy to get closer to cell service so she could get back in touch with her friends. When we got to close to the campsite, she asked if we could go over to where we had left our art rocks the day before and see if they were still there. Since no one else had claimed the campsite, we hiked on through it to find that our little art gallery remained undisturbed overnight. 

Then it was time to pack up the car and drive off. Now, when Ambrose first brought me out to Skillern for my first backpacking trip, he didn’t tell me about the roadside hot spring on the way home. It was a complete and total surprise to me. For my niece, I felt like a little advance warning was in order, so she’d know why I wasn’t going to change into cleaner clothes right when we got to the car – and why she shouldn’t either. So she knew we were coming up on a hot spring bath, but I think she was still surprised to actually see it. It’s a neat little hot spring. You pull over on the side of the road, then walk about 15 feet on a path and poof! There’s a hot spring, just big enough for 2 if you’re okay with being cozy. She wasn’t sure she wanted to get in at first, so I went first and got myself all rinsed off. The day was warm by then, so I wasn’t inclined to stay long in the hot water. After I got out, she took a quick turn and we both got cleaner clothes on for the remainder of the drive home. 

We stopped in Fairfield to get milkshakes and onion rings. And by that time, we had cell service again, though not very many bars. Not enough bars to stream music, but enough bars to get her back in touch with her friends, which was good. We listened to another musical she had downloaded, 36 Questions, which I am now in love with. Then we listened to one of my albums, Ben Folds’ Way to Normal. And, once we got closer to Mountain Home, she got enough signal to stream and we started listening to the Heathers musical. I’d heard they were making Heathers into a musical, but I hadn’t been really interested in listening to it. I’m really glad she shared it with me, because it was quite fun, mostly following the plot of the movie, which is one I enjoy. 

Back in Boise, I got us checked in to our new hotel, much closer to downtown and much nicer. We spent some time at the hotel pool, even though it was just a kiddie pool and a hot tub. Then it was time to figure out some dinner, and I wanted to show her Freak Alley. When we got in the elevator to go to Freak Alley and find food, I noticed a Boise events flyer hanging up. It advertised the musical Dear Evan Hansen, which was another one she likes a lot. In fact, she loves that musical, but hadn’t had a chance to see the show because she didn’t get into it until after the Chicago run had ended. And now, here was her chance! I told her to look up tickets and we’ll see, but I was honestly feeling a bit cranky. Or perhaps hangry. So we walked to Freak Alley, which she thought was very cool, and then picked a place to eat. 

She had found $6 tickets for decent seats in the mezzanine, and, after some trials and tribulations figuring out how this particular ticket vendor worked, we got them. The total for both of us was less than $20, and all we had to do was get over to the Morrison Center before the 6:30 showtime – the final show of the run! Needless to say, we were a bit impatient at the restaurant, but we got some food in us and were able to make it to the show. I had read reviews of the Dear Evan Hansen movie and I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it. But my niece was correct in saying the show was a cry-fest and wonderful. 

And while that was definitely a high note of the trip, we also had a low note. The airline had moved her flight. I specifically got her an afternoon flight when I bought the tickets months ago. I knew I didn’t want to have to get a teenager up early to catch a flight, so 3:40 seemed ideal. Yeah, no. They changed her departure to 10:30 AM. I was not happy, and I apologized, but the fact of the matter was we needed to get up around 7 in the morning. Bah! 

While it was difficult for her, she was a trooper and we got to the airport in plenty of time to figure out how to get me a pass to escort her to the gate AND to visit the arcade past security. When we were waiting for her flight to board, she spotted a cat in a carrier. The woman escorting the cat thought we were looking at her because we wanted to sit. We did want to sit, but we were more interested in the kitty. The kitty’s name was Garbanzo, and he was a sphynx cat being flown out to his new home. She let us pet him, too. I thought hairless cats would feel weird, but, as she said, he felt like a warm peach. If I’m ever in the market for a hairless cat, I’ll definitely be reaching out to this lady. 

Then, before too long, it was time for her to board. I saw her through the gate and then hustled upstairs so I could get a picture of her boarding. At the Boise airport, some gates have outdoor ramps for boarding and this was one of them. So I got one last picture of her and then waited until the plane was in the air before taking myself home to my husband. Next year, it’s her sister’s turn. 

A birdie pooped on our tent!


Steamy hot springs in the morning cool.

Making our way back.

Gotta climb that high road again!

Slow and steady does the trick, with plenty of rest breaks.

Hello snek!

Views like this are a good reason to take the high road.

Plus we saw this chipmunk hanging out on a rock.

Crossing Poison Creek.

Back on to the flats, what a relief!

Getting close to the trailhead.

I can see the pit toilet!

Our art gallery survived the night.

Ready for Dear Evan Hansen to start.

There goes her plane, headed off to Chicago.

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