The Hike

Today I almost died.

Tornado E is a Boy Scout. For the hiking merit badge, he has to hike 5 10-mile hikes. So we need to start conditioning.

Today I took the boys up the mountain to hike in the forest on a modest trail of 3.4 miles. They are liars. According to my FitBit, we walked 5 miles.

Within the first 4,000 steps uphill, I thought I was going to die. Holy Crap, am I out of shape! I walk at least 11,000 steps every day. I’ve started working out a few times a week. But, nope. I was not ready for that hike.

The boys faired better. They wanted to turn back after the first mile and a half, but I insisted it was just a little further. Just a little further. Just a little further. Just a little further.

Tornado A was point, leading the way. Tornado E followed him, jobless because Tornado S called medic in the car. Tornado S does have his first aid pin from Webelos. He was medic because that’s how I convinced him to do his mandatory Webelo hike a few months ago. (Remind me to tell you that story.) I made Tornado E my second in command, but apparently that wasn’t cool enough. I was the leader and took rear guard.

The hikers we passed thought we were cute. The boys with their camo full-brim hiking hats and their backpacks with water. We passed two rangers, who stopped to talk to me, thanking me for equipping my children properly.

When I wasn’t focusing on dear-god-how-is-this-so-hard-and-exhausting, I mourned the forest that had not fully recovered from a devastating fire fifteen years ago. In my childhood, the forest was thick and full. Now we walked quite a bit in treeless landscape, under the warm open sky. We could glimpse down the mountain at our city, something I never could do when I was a child.

But the moments in the forest were magical. I pointed out different trees, having the boys listen to the different sounds the trees made in the wind. I pointed out the plants I knew and where raspberries would be ripe in a few months. The boys were giddy over the green. We had a picnic midway down the trail.

In the end, we made it. Exhausted. The boys were covered in sap and dirt. But we made it. I made them go swimming once we were home, so they were clean for when their father picked them up.

Little do they know, we’re going hiking again.

My brother, Face, wants to take Tornado E and I on a 6-mile hike. No way am I going until I am able to get through it without needing an oxygen mask.

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An Explorer

While camping, we took the boys on a short kid-friendly hike. If you don’t know, Cub Scouts is very parent hands-on. So all parents were there, and some of the fathers decided to keep going and find other trails. Since we were desert camping (God, I hate desert camping so much), it was easy to track all the kids, those who were hiking with their adventurous dads and those who were climbing on their own.

I watched my ungraceful, uncoordinated middle child, scale a rock, one that I would’ve assumed he was too nervous to try.

Tornado E: (from behind me, yards away) Mama! Mama! Tornado A’s scaring me.

As the years go by, Tornado E has become extremely cautious and averse to risk of any kind. I blame it on the divorce. I’m sure that Tornado A was testing Tornado E’s limits, not his own.

Another mom: (from just behind me) Um, that’s your son, right?

I turned to see Tornado A balancing precariously on a rock outcrop. Damn.

Me: (Sigh) Yup. He belongs to me.

I walk over to where Tornado E was pleading for his brother to sit down. I put my hand on his shoulder, making him turn and look at me. I smiled.

Me: Thank you, Tornado E. But I’ll take over from here. It’s my job to protect and watch over you. Go explore.

Tornado E: (Looked over at his brother and then back at me) Ok. Mama.

He ran off.

Me: Ok, little man. Time to get down. You’re making everyone nervous.

He rocked and caught his balance. On my side, it would be a bit of a fall. On the other side, the side he rocked to, it would be a very bad fall.

Tornado A: No, Mama. I’m an explorer. I take risks.

Uh-huh. I pulled out my phone.

Me: Ok, Explorer. Why don’t I take your picture and then you get down?

Tornado A: Ok!

He moved out further on the ledge and rocked. I snapped a few quick shots. I slid my phone in my pocket. I walked down the hill next to the outcrop. I took his hand.

Me: Time to come down.

I planned just to walk him back.

Tornado A: Ok, Mama.

He jumped into my arms. I caught him.

Me: You know. Explorers take calculated risks. They measure the risk to survival and reward and do only the risks where they have minimal consequences like less chances of getting hurt.

Tornado A: I’m an explorer! I take risks!

Me: Well, from now on, Explorer, you’ll take calculated risks.

Tornado A: I take risks!

Right.

I’m going to have to watch over you more.