There is a hike in town with two trail heads, or rather, one trail head and one parking lot that has a road named for the same destination and the word trail head on a sign. We have read about this hike, researched it, and attempted it three times now. Each time our kiddos tire out and we don’t make it to the top. The hike is listed as easy, one mile, and beginner friendly. And my ego felt a little crushed each time.
It was only this last time, with more detailed reading, that we realized that we weren’t hiking the correct hike at all. Our hope was to hike to Fragrance Lake, but we had been hiking Fragrance Lake Road to the trail head, thus doubling our distance and beginning with a steep ascent and road sized trail. When we (for the third time) didn’t make it to the destination, and got back to the bottom I read the map and signs more carefully and realized our mistake.
At first I was embarrassed, how had we attempted this so many times and never realized?
Then I stopped to think back on each of our adventures here. Each time we made it further than the time before. Each time we grew as hikers, adventurers, and as a little family. Each time our kids learned a bit more about hiking, learned the importance of positive thinking on a hike, and both discovered new things they like about even a cold weather trek.
We also discovered the importance of pushing past the comfortable barriers you have in your body, and feeling when and how much to grow those skills, and when to say “ok, that’s enough.” One of my number one goals, especially this season, is to fill my girls up with positive hiking experiences so that we can build on those to do some longer, harder, bigger investment hikes this coming Summer. My hope is to be camping and hiking often, but that starts with some training in the fall and winter. Right now our hikes still involve a lot of shoulder and piggyback rides, cajoling to get to the next stop for a snack spot, and games of ‘eye spy!’ along the trail. However, as the girls grow in experience, skills, and strength, they are beginning to like different things about hiking, and I can see how all this work is growing them.
For example, our oldest had a big realization on this past hike to (almost) Fragrance Lake (trail head). She doesn’t love the hiking part, but getting to stop along the way at cool destinations (in this case, a waterfall), is worth the hike. Her love of climbing and exploring, scrambling around to a view, and getting up close to amazing nature phenomena out weighs her slight dislike of walking up a hill. She realized the worth in the walk was the adventures along the way.
That feels like a lesson I am learning constantly in life. That the walk isn’t always my favorite, but the diversions, magic, views, and memories along the way make the day-to-day parts feel exceptionally worthwhile. It seems like the embodiment of that parenting quote “the days are long and the years are short”. When I look back on the past seven (!) years of parenting, I look at all the peaks and views, the adventures and scrambles, and I hardly remember the drudgery of many of those days.
We may go back to this ‘wrong trail’ next weekend, this time with the BOB (so they can take some rests, and we can trail run back down. We keep almost selling our BOB, but then finding a new way to adventure with it!), and try our hand at this longer/harder version of this hike, or we may head directly to the trail head and knock it right out. Either way, acknowledging how important each attempt has been, the amount that we’ve all grown as hikers through all these adventures, and mostly how much it’s grown us as a family.
Having a string of three ‘failed’ attempts set us up to really model to our girls how to have that great attitude about hiking. Not letting ‘not making it’ ruin the day, the hike, or our feelings about them. Encouraging them to really push their strength AND to listen deeply to their bodies when they really did feel totally done. Both pushing your body and listening to it are huge skills to have. Empowering them to learn and feel those boundaries is important to me. So, honoring them has been paramount, and reacting with love and acceptance when they call it has too. It was an exercise is controlling my ego, and knowing that modeling love, empowerment, and care for them over the experience is where I want my priorities to be.
I’m excited to attempt the trail again, this time with a new set of tools and ideas, and a better picture of how long the trek will be. But I am also endlessly thankful for all we’ve learned from the previous times we’ve put foot to ground in this space.
Here is a sweet little video of our experience, back when we thought it was the right trail, and a bit from my oldest explaining what she learned on this hike. Oh be still my heart, she’s the sweetest.
And a big special thank you to Athleta for this sweet outfit! It’s keeping me cozy, and still so capable of moving all over this trail! Also…pockets in leggings! YES.