We try to get outdoors as often as we can as a family. With all of the work, school, life, and errands, this can be a real challenge. As part of the yearly goal setting, hiking a certain mountain where we live was on the list for 2012.
Labor day weekend seemed like the logical choice for us, and this hike was on one of the oldest daughter’s “bucket list” for college.
What a perfect way to cross off a goal on a few lists while spending some quality time with the girls. Our backpacks were full of snacks, water, supplies, band aids, eye drops, extra allergy medicine, bug spray and a few random things like headphones and a few toys.
The route was selected based on a consensus of research. The route was a bit longer but a less steep path since this mountain is bigger than our casual small hikes of the past. Walking sticks in hand, our small tribe’s adventure began. The day was perfect, mid 70’s with a cool breeze and good spirits all around. We were entertained by a series of jokes at the expense of a small dam.
“Looks like we are on the dam trail.”
“Hey, I am walking on the dam footbridge.”
” Welcome to the dam, I will be your dam tour guide, and I will be here to answer all of your dam questions.”
“Hey, is that the damn dam over there?” (It got a little out of hand, and we had to redirect the conversation.)
After about an hour, our middle daughter mentions that the tread on the tip of her boot is coming loose. We stop, and a small bungee like cord from a backpack wrapped around the toe seems to solve our problem. We hike on. After a short while, she mentions her boots again.
“Ummm, Dad, I think you need to see this.”
“Did the bungee come loose?”
“Nope, but this did.”
She was holding the entire boot tread in her hand. It had come completely separated from the boot and we are miles from the starting point, and not quite halfway to the summit. We spring into action, searching for every kind of solution we can in our bags. Now it had been a while since we did serious hiking and we packed pretty well with one exception. There was no tape. Not even that white medical tape you typically find in first aid kits. What we would have given for a roll of duct tape!
Luckily a friend of ours had given us a few paracord survival bracelets (small woven bracelets made from parachute cords), and the kids remembered to wear them. We separated the cords and tied up the shoe. The hike continued. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but we had a mountain to climb. Another 20 minutes went by.
“Ummm, Dad, it is happening again.”
Her second boot suffered a similar fate. The tread had completely separated itself from the boot. We stopped in a little clearing to eat lunch and assess our situation. After additional attempts to tie the treads on, a few tears, lunch, and asking every passing hiker if they had any tape, it was clear that the summit was not a reality.
The hike down was not easy, and included continual evaluation and readjusting the cords and the addition of a few hair elastics. Eventually some medical tape was provided by a sympathetic passerby.
Towards the end, one of the treads came completely off again. Instead of stopping, or even missing a step, my daughter simply held it up high above her head and marched on. Her strong defiant stand against the day’s difficulty was signaling that she was not giving up, and she was going to make it. And she did. We all did.
Later while in the car, we were discussing the high points of the hike, and what each of us remembered. Besides another round of jokes about the “dam footbridge” by our youngest, we talked about working together to solve the boot issue, and what we liked best about the day and what we were thankful for.
“Remember when my boots fell apart, I was kinda scared, but we worked it out and made it back safe. Now it is pretty funny.”
We all laughed about the boots. Once safely in the car the fears or even tears became a distant memory. We never made it to the summit. The adventure that we planned was not the adventure that we had. But isn’t that the way life is sometimes? The unexpected challenges or obstacles bring both hardship and excitement to our adventure.