Five years ago, the boy and I spent a few July days and nights at Dolly Copp campground. Our “hike” that weekend took us .7 miles in to Thompson Falls. The 200-foot elevation gain had me gasping for breath; I could barely make it back up the stairs from a side trip to Glen Ellis Falls later that afternoon. The next day, we took a tour van up Mt. Washington, stopping to pose for the traditional summit picture. Hiking the mountain was out of the question; at 39, it had been added to the list of things this former runner and hiker would never do.
I kept flashing back to that day last Saturday as Luke and I stood atop the tallest peak in the Northeast, sweating and only mildly tired after making our way up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, with a short detour to Mt. Monroe.
Not to get all Harry Chapin/Cat’s in the Cradle here, but I’m glad we hiked Washington when we did. The boy graduates high school next year, so who knows what the summer of 2012 will bring.
We started camping and climbing five years ago because my son wanted to; we tried successively longer and more difficult hikes because he wanted to challenge himself and see more of the natural world. Through it all, I thought I was teaching him. Five years later, standing on the summit of Mt. Washington, I realized the had been setting the example for me all along.
I’m running again. My hikes are longer and higher (I can walk to Thompson Falls without supplemental oxygen). At 44, after about 20 years, I have an active life again.
It wouldn’t have happened without the boy.