As a preteen I was the cliché of awkward adolescence personified: chunky and clumsy and had an overall combative relationship with my body. However, my awkwardness was only matched by my fear of missing out on an adventure.
So when my family decided to hike a Colorado peak I was all in!
Let me establish a little context for this expedition. My family wasn’t the most professional of hikers, meaning we launched off into a multi-mile hike at high noon with only Diet Coke cans and Wheat-thins. So after an hour or so my mother and brother rallied logic and turned back. But my dad saw a peak that must be conquered and I couldn’t bear to miss out on the experience…and even more on an adventure shared with my dad.
We hacked our way through overgrown bush, clung to jagged rocks as we traversed cliffs, and dodged wild animals to reach the top…or at least in my preteen sensibilities it seemed we had barely beat off death. But there I stood gazing at valleys and rivers thousands of feet below, right next to my dad. That day I became a hiker.
I loved the hardscrabble work of seeing beauty, and even more, I savored the bonding with my dad. And at the end of the expedition I was more tired than I ever had been—so fabulously tired.
My body hadn’t failed me. It got me to a feat and enabled me to be with my dad. That day I grew more comfortable in my preteen skin and have hiked ever since.
Hiking has become a passion, so I was thrilled that my first stop in South Africa was the Drakenberg mountain range for three days of trekking with friends.
As I shared my story of hiking with my dad, my friend Tracey recalled the glorious hikes with her father she had had on these very trails.
She too had become a hiker because of her dad. Her father passed away a few years ago, and she shared that some of her favorite memories were with him on the mountain range we were trekking.
As I write this I can’t help but think of another dear friend who also loves hiking. She too had done a considerable amount with her dad. He just passed away suddenly…I pray as she looks at the mountains she will remember her dad at the heights. He made her a hiker…just like my dad did for me.