It was almost five months ago that squishy and I went on his first long hike. It was my birthday, and I could think of nothing I wanted more than to spend the day exploring with my favorite three year old. We had been preparing for almost a year, going on small trails of less than a mile and close to home. I had been putting off a big hike because I just felt so unprepared.
I didn’t have the latest ultra light Ospray dayhike pack (which I am still coveting) I didn’t even have the oldest version. What I had, and still have because I seem to always get Squishy new stuff before myself, is my old, wornout Jansport. Squishy had his cute monkey backpack that I had used as a diaper bag, not so great for a long hall. Neither of them had chest or hip clips, and were terrible about distributing weight. My first aid kit was a bunch of stuff from the medicine cabinet thrown in a gallon size ziplock bag. Not exactly what the professionals use, I was sure. In fact I spent so much time researching what I “needed” that I almost talked myself out of going. I had to remind myself why I needed to go. Why my wild child NEEDED to be equipped with the skills that come from hiking and being in nature. I had to remind myself it was those skills, the ones I had learned on so many of my own adventures as a child, that would be essential. So with my bottles of frozen Costco water in the bottom of my pack, and clearance sneakers on my feet, Squishy and I headed out for our first three mile adventure.
I chose Lewis Creek trail just below Yosemite for our maiden trek. A relatively mild trail, that is well traveled and busy. The trail is so easy to follow that a child can, and did, navigate it. It also has plenty of swimming holes to stop and explore along the way up to the big waterfall.
The biggest challenge on our adventure was going at Squishy’s pace. We had to stop every ten feet or so and explore an intersecting rock, or rolly-polly (also called pill bugs I think). Every single spider web had to be examined. He wanted to know the name of every plant and if it was edible. It took us 3 1/2 hours to go a mile and a half, and we did not make the big falls before lunch.
At the base of the last hill before the fall is what Squishy calls “Giant Oakie”, where we stopped and enjoyed a rest and lunch. I had still thought at this point that we would continue on…”Silly mommy” as squishy would say.
We ended up spending two hours exploring around “Giant Oakie”, which left too little time to continue up to the falls. That is just one of the things I had to let go of. My goals for the trip were not the same as his. Though it was MY birthday, the whole adventure was much more enriching when I let go of what I thought we should be doing. I don’t know why it bothered me that my agenda was being completely ignored, but it did…A lot.
As we were exploring, I was getting more and more frustrated. So I took my own advise, took a deep breath, counted to ten, and watched my son. He was calm, he was focused, and even though he was excited it was not the nervous raw energy that usually sparks off of him. Why was I in such a hurry, when everything I had wanted from the trip was happening in front of my eyes?
It was the reminder that I needed. Really the only place I had to be, was at the car before dark. I still struggle with my patients, but I’m getting better the more we get out there. I am discovering that Squish is not the only one who needs nature adventures, and it’s (I can only hope) making me a better mom.