One Tough Kid
“Hmmm?” I stirred, initially not certain of my whereabouts. Then I felt it, a sharp intrusive stabbing pain into my side, taking my breath away. The sudden jab jolted me to full consciousness, and I sat upright with a yelp. My nine year old son Tyler, in full slumber, managed to remove his elbow from his sleeping bag and land it between two of my ribs.
It was cold outside, as it often is at higher altitudes in the middle of the night. The fire died hours ago, and I guessed it was around 2:00 a.m. I might have turned over and gone back to sleep, but the urge was there, and not to be denied. I felt around the tent for the headlamp, so I could find my shoes, and eventually out into the cold forest. Thanks again, son. He stirred slightly, then began to snore.
Tyler began hiking and camping with me at the age of two. He and I were a natural together, he enjoyed exploring and playing in the dirt, which fit perfectly with my love for the mountains. It was fine, it’s always okay to be outside.
As my son grew older, I urged him to try larger peaks, and he has always met the challenge. I cannot definitively say he made it up the larger local peaks without help. After spending more energy pleading with the child to keep hiking, I would eventually give up. Thus defeated, I put my daypack on my son’s shoulders, then hoisted him onto my shoulders. Talk about a leg workout! After being carried awhile, his highness decided his strength had returned to him, and allowed his mule a break.
I soon learned copious amounts of sugary bribes worked wonders. While I restrict the cookies and candies at home, on the trail is a different story. I’ve been known to pack an entire package of Oreos in my daypack, specifically to get the boy to the next outcropping, or up the next ridge. Admittedly a few of those Oreos made it into my own mouth. Alright, more than a few.
Each bigger peak was followed by yet another challenge and by age eight Tyler had bagged a lot of the prominent peaks in Redrock Canyon, the Spring Mountains and other local mountains. My son enjoys the rock scrambling of Fortification Hill near Lake Mead, and hands on climbing Redrock Canyon affords. Tyler was impressing a lot of people, none more than I, particularly when he made the summit of Bridge Mountain with a small group of hiking friends.
http://kvbc.com/Global/story.asp?S=4778552&nav=15MWA368 It took every ounce of energy he had, but he completed the fifteen mile White Mountain Peak, his first fourteener. I think he was sleepwalking on the descent.
I’ve seen my son growing, not just physically, but with the overall confidence hiking and climbing provides. It gives one pause to remember when you first amazed yourself when a difficult peak was attained for the first time. The intrigue of the mountains beckons, mountains show you what you can do, and allow one’s mind to run the possibilities of what can be done in the future. It is an honor to see the pride of accomplishment in my own son, and I couldn’t be more proud.
Tyler stirred as I unzipped the tent to get back inside. I shook off the cold, got back into my sleeping bag, and finally started warming up again. After a seemingly long time, I finally began to drift back to sleep.
“Mommmm, I gotta go to the bathroom...”