At our presentations, Janelle and I always look for kids or young adults in the audience.
When Tough Cookie fell in love with the mountains, she was barely more than a baby, but she chose faith over fear. This isn’t religious faith I’m talking about, but faith in her own capacity as a human being to be empowered, to step into a new world and embrace the challenge and not be afraid of the natural world. And now, when we see the looks in kids’ eyes when they hear about that faith, it makes this whole amazing trip worth the sweat and tears and laughter.
One of those kids is Sam (trail name, Rebel) whose family has become friends with our little misfit tribe and has begun to hike with us. He’s new to New Hampshire and new to hiking, so we started with Mt. Sunapee. Though only about 2,700 feet high, we picked a path that was a challenge, and a hard rain the night before made the trail slick and wet.
Janelle threw everything she had at Sam on this wild, muddy, amazing hike (and Tough Cookie has a considerable arsenal) but the boy kept coming. Sam ended the day wet, dirty, banged up and sore, but I’m certain he’ll be back for more. (And Sam’s mom is no hiking slouch either!)
Is there any greater day in the mountains then to be able to hear the gasps of new hikers as they take in a glorious view? Is there any greater personal challenge then to pull yourself up out of the mud, brush the dirt off your face and say, “I’m good, let’s keep going!”
Tough Cookie and I love being on the trail together, the two of us, now old friends, understanding each others’ pace and strengths. But taking someone new – wide-eyed and giving it all they have – well, that’s a real treat.
Some days now, it feels like Buffalo and Tough Cookie have begun a new chapter in our journey. Janelle rarely sweats now when we hike together. I can count on her understanding the woods enough to give her some space, to allow her some unfettered time alone with the hills. There’s little more precious than that. She’s beginning to recognize the mountains, like visiting the comfortable home of a friend. So bringing Sam up was new, and a little chaotic, and wonderful.
A big thanks to Sam and his mom, Elsa, for giving us a little bit of new wonder. We cannot wait to go again!