Sometimes it’s not about the goal
Sometimes it’s not about the goal-It’s what you take from it. This is something, my highly competitive self came face to face with this week. I had set out to hike our biggest and most challenging summit yet only to fall 700 ft or 1.3 miles from summit. It bother’s me. It really does. But, the mountain didn’t want us to complete our goal. Not that day. You have to respect the mountain and listen to it because a situation can change in a heartbeat. For us, it came in the form of rain. But, the adventure and experience that my little girl especially had, will last a lifetime.
We started the hike from the Woodland Valley Campground in upstate NY. The land of zero reception. However, my GPS still worked! We had spent the night at the campground after meeting a local girl and her daughter at a park and ride near our house. She drove us up to the campsite and we site shared. I know her from local family hiking groups on Facebook. So she wasn’t a total stranger. So that morning, we grabbed our gear I had pre-packed the night before (besides the food as it was in car-bear country), and said our goodbyes and headed to the trailhead.
The beginning of the hike we went up some stairs, did a mommy daughter bathroom relief break and hiked until we found the log book. You know it will be serious hike when you have to sign the in case of emergency book. But, it is good to sign no matter how experienced you are at hiking. Again, the mountains are unpredictable. Then we started the ascent.
It was just up, up, up and more up with the occasional, up and over a fallen tree or through some downed branches. We were averaging a mile and hour which is terrible. But, with a 2.5 year old, there is a lot of slow walking with 27 pounds plus the pack on that averaging 35 pounds total on your back. Then occasionally, she wants to get down and walk. She walks a pretty good pace. However, she still needs to be watched closely and can get distracted. Oh and the snack/potty breaks too.
So I finally make it to a small level section and was rejoicing. Then my heart sank. The trail turned to the left and just dropped. It felt like all my hard work was in the toilet. I wanted to cry. But, I pushed forward and went down a fairly steep ascent. Child on back and I’m grabbing trees and whatever else I could. I would test the ground first before stepping on it with my pole or tip of foot. This helps avoiding stepping on a loose rock that could send you sliding down the mountain. Side stepping and switch backing also help a lot. Toward the bottom, it was a ton of rock stairs that dropped into the forest bottom. Land of the black flies and then surprise, surprise, uphill again.
Some sections were stupid steep and kind of narrow. No carriage paths here. Abby did some walking after a couple of our breaks and without her on my back, it was amazing. I felt like I could run up the mountain. But, I had to try and ledge walk so she didn’t slide off of anything and at one point it became all wet rock from water coming out of mountain. She walked up to the mountain water pouring out and thought it was awesome. Then she touched some stupid, sharp leaf and started screaming. I brushed my leg against one about the same time and it burned so bad. I have no idea what it was and would love it if someone knew. It looked like an average leaf, but had jagged edges. We also got to play with a frog that peed all over me.
She eventually grew tired and I put her in my pack. As she slept, we hit the 2.3 mile marker and it began to pour. Always pack rain gear. I was dumb and forgot it at base camp. I had 1.3 miles left to go and it was raining. I walked back and forth hiding under the canopy hoping it would stop. I debated long and hard if I should hike on. But, with a 2.5 year old depending on me, a summit wasn’t in the cards today. I figured, we were over 2000 ft in elevation. The land was changing and getting sparser the higher we went. We were going to ledges. Open space with huge drops, rocks and rain don’t mix. I also figured the longer I waited, the more the water would break through the canopy making the trail too slippery to get back to camp. I was not prepared for a night on the mountain and I knew my new friend would send a search party if I didn’t appear within the next couples hours … So, angry, frustrated and feeling broken, I turned around.
To add icing to the cake, my GPS failed and I really wanted a full recording of the trip. So it messed up at least a half mile of the trip. I managed to fix it. Then Abby woke up crying which usually means she needs the potty. So we stopped huddled under the canopy, took a pee break and had some fuel. She then hiked on not in my pack. I only had to pick her up a couple times. She was navigating the descent like a pro. It was a true game of trusting each other. She even began collecting more acorns and such that she had started collecting on way up the mountain. My boobs would eventually hold a boatload of the those things in my sports bra. I felt like a squirrel storing my nuts for the winter.
Then the forest floor was there again. It was the awful part in reverse. I looked at Abby right in the eyes and explained to her that it was raining and wet. She had to be a big girl and climb solo. I would be right there. She climbed like a champ. Did the whole thing howling like a wolf and reassuring me. I’d ask her if she needed a break and she would say “no” or “Abby go.” Not once did she complain or ask to be held. Not only did she summit that section herself, she hiked over a mile back to trailhead. She actually would direct me where to step and watch mama making sure I was alright. She even would give me fluids and snack when we would stop to make sure I was eating and drinking too.
She did take some additional breaks to explore rocks and hang from a vine while making monkey noises and yelling “I’m a monkey.” We ended up finding her hat and then my pink bandanna in the trail … They were tied on and must have come off at the beginning of hike. She wanted to wear the bandanna like a cape and pretend she was super Chipmunk McGee and would wear her cape until the next morning.
My daughter is a super hero. I’m amazed at her strength on the inside and outside and her trusting, caring attitude. We may not have made the true summit, but the experiences and adventure we had will last a lifetime. I even let her “sign” the log book when we got back! Well, on to our next adventure.
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