I imagine you would have done the same thing – dropped everything and headed for the trail. After all, it’s not everyday you get an invitation like this.
I adore my kids, and I’ve come to realize they are incredibly unpredictable. Just when I think I have them all figured out, they do something that completely baffles me.
When it happens, I imagine I look as silly as a dog that just heard a strange noise; my head cocked to one side and a blank look on my face.
You know how it is being a busy parent. We have to prioritize our time. We can’t fulfill every request. But there are some invitations you can’t ignore. Not because you feel obligated – because it’s the right thing to do. Damn the priorities.
So, when my oldest son asked me to go hiking with him, I put on my shoes, grabbed my day pack and headed out the door.
We used to hike a lot together, but, like most kids, the older he got the busier he got. And, there’s always the possibility that hiking with Dad isn’t as “cool” as it used to be.
I don’t push it, but I’m happy when he wants to go.
Since he’s never been to the top of Silers Bald, I thought it would be the perfect hike for him. It’s challenging enough to hold his interest, but not too hard to make him want to turn around.
And, thankfully, the hike couldn’t have started off on a better foot. There was a car load of University of Michigan students on spring break putting on packs as we got to the trailhead. They were friendly and excited to be there.
There were three couples and a single young woman. She was the friendliest of the bunch and more than interested in chatting up my son. I could see in his face backpacking was getting cooler by the minute.
All the way up the trail we kept running into other hikers; section hikers and thru-hikers. Every one of them was the same age or slightly older than my son. This must have been new for him.
He’s accustomed to seeing only hikers my age.
The coup d’état of his perception of hikers came at the summit of Silers Bald. We bumped into two northbound thru-hikers, Caribou and Dovetail; a couple of young men from Pennsylvania, taking a year off after graduating before they start college. (Wish I did that.)
My son was very impressed by them. He was impressed they would take on such a journey at their age – his age. I don’t know if it was their independence, their courage or their freedom that most inspired him – it doesn’t really matter. What matters is it opened up a new world of possibility for him.
Hiking suddenly looked like the coolest thing in the world.
I don’t know if it will get him out on the trail more often. I hope it does. Only time will tell. I’m just thrilled he came with me today. I’m tickled that everyone we ran into was his age. And I know hiking has gotten much cooler than it was before the trip.
He asked if we could do it again soon.
You never know, do you! There I go again, looking like a dog who just heard a strange noise.
See ya’ on the trail,