Laurel Victoria Conover:

(By the way, we'd picked out a climber/caver/hiker color code (green-white-green, representing the mountain laurel colors) long before we decided on a middle name. Not sure what that means, except that we had a hard time deciding on a middle name, but many find it amusing for some strange reason.)

Page 1:  the first few hours in the neonatal ICU and day 1

Page 2: 10 and 17 days old.

Page 3: Laurel three and four weeks old

Page 4: Laurel up to 4 months old

Page 5: Laurel 4 months - 12 months

Current pictures: Hiking in Utah and Caving in West Virginia.

(Click on the thumbnail pictures for bigger pictures)

In August 2000, Keith was to attend the Annual Meeting of the Wilderness Medical Society in Park City, Utah. So Laurel and Betty decided to go along.  While Keith was busy at the meeting, Laurel and Betty did a number of short walks around Park City.  (And Laurel helped Betty change diapers, feed the baby, entertain the baby, do laundry, go shopping for food, change diapers, feed the baby, entertain the baby, do laundry . . .  you get the picture.)  And when Keith finished the conference the entire crew headed off for the mountains for some short dayhikes. 

The guide for the area, Hiking the Wasatch, and a companion waterproof map, are available from local bookstores, and are excellent. 

To see on the map what you see in the pictures, click on this thumbnail:

 Utah Lakes.jpg (224209 bytes)

First stop, Silver Lake, near Brighton Ski area, east of Salt Lake, in the Wasatch Mountains.

There was a sun/rain shield on the Kelty pack we carried, but Laurel always hung her still-nearly-bald head out.  We got her a sun hat, but the only way to get her to wear it was to sew some parachute cord onto it and tie it onto her head -- and wait until her crying and fighting to get it off left off into a grumbling coma.  And after her nap, she was used to it and usually we could get her to keep it on without screaming.

We had lunch on the far side of the lake, and were visited by some pikas (local rodents -- similar ecological niche to squirrels and chipmunks).  Laurel was fascinated.

In places, the trail was hot and dusty.

But Laurel had a defense for such difficult times:

The view from atop the hill was fantastic, though.  We hiked up to a pass above the Twin Lakes reservoir.

The next day, we hiked from Brighton up to Dog Lake, Lake Mary, Lake Martha, and Lake Catherine, and then up to Catherine Pass at 10,000 feet.  The trail was enjoyable.

We ate lunch at Dog Lake

and Laurel amused herself by throwing rocks

but then we got her to try her first rock climb (she can't walk yet, so it was a pretty easy boulder!) -- and along the way she stopped to investigate some plants.

But she managed to get to the top --

with only a little help.

After lunch, on around the corner to Lake Mary, a reservoir posted as "no swimming"

But of course some of the local kids, who you can see on the far side of the lake if you look closely, were high-diving off the rock.

Lake Martha was clearly the beauty queen of the local lakes

But the higher country around Lake Catherine and up to Catherine Pass were pretty in their own semi-arid way.

Laurel particularly liked the opportunities to play with Betty's camera.

The last day, we didn't have the morning free, so we drove up the Mirror Lake road into the high Uintas, and along the way we did some short walks off the road, such as to Provo Falls

where Laurel insisted on splashing in the water, of course,

and finally up to the top of the pass, just as a thunderstorm was coming in

and just before the thunderstorm arrived, we all had a chance to go for a walk (crawl) on some ledges with some nice views from the Uintas back west toward the Wasatch Mountains where we'd been the previous two days.

At the Old Timer's Reunion (a big caver's get-together in West Virginia every Labor Day weekend) this year (2000) we tried to take Laurel (N.S.S. 49440) caving.  We got her an REI rainsuit that would do as a caving suit, with infant Capilene underneath. We got a bike helmet and put in the extra padding to get it to fit, put a Petzl Duo on it -- and finally got her to agree to wear it.

We took her in New Trout cave, near Franklin, WV.  She liked the hike to and from the cave, and when we took her into the cave, she liked looking at and feeling the popcorn on the cave walls. 

However, whenever she tried to get down and crawl, the helmet would fall down over her eyes, and so after a brief time in the cave, we gave up.  (The strained look on Betty's face gives mute testimony to the screaming that accompanied this.)

More later as Laurel grows up.

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