It is 10 o'clock. That is 2 hours past Hiker Midnight. I would not classify myself as exhausted, but my body is definitely asking what's up.
Backpacking is all about routines, and due to the nature of The Barracuda, we are even more strict than many. The boy is very Type A and watns things very specific. Pushing the usual 8 pm bedtime isn't going over very well with my pineal gland. But we are zeroing tomorrow and there are blog posts to be written! My pineal gland can suck it up!
During the day at home, I will frequently jot down notes when I go about my day. Out here, I talk to myself in my head as I walk since note jotting isn't going to happen. More often than not, the ideas tend to revolve around realizations about the character of our intrepid son.
The Barracuda always walks in front of me. Originally this was so that I could monitor his pace, his water consumption, his walking (for blisters, pack burns, and other such issues), and all that other mom stuff. However, it has now turned into me following him because he is significantly faster than I am. The boy has found his 2.5 mile an hour pace and is quickly working on gaining a 3 mile an hour pace. Hiking has given him a sense of personal actualization which seems to be taking off. This goal is one which can be made or lost all by himself and there haven't been too many of those instances in his life previously outside of his schoolwork.
More than anything I am struck by his desire to continue into unknown territory quite boldly. At first I took this to be a level of naive childishness. However, now that he has experienced dehydration and calorie loss, the desire to forge on seems only more secure. It is a level of confidence which seems so foreign to me. Each night we discuss the coming miles; each day he presses on through heat and tired trudging. As we enter the Mohave desert (where water is quite questionable all the time and temerpatures reach somewhere between 120 and 140 regularly) he takes a deep breath, sets his shoulders, and heads out in the morning.
|Hanging out on top of Mt. Baden-Powel. Yep, that's snow in the background. The pine trees are completely frosted solid and with the windchill it got down into the teens the night before. You'd never know we were in the desert!|
Somewhere along the line, he has gained the prespective that this too shall pass. He has come to see that there are many things which we cannot control, but those he can, he will. He can control his mindset. He can control his pace. He can control how hard he tries. He can control that each day he leaves it all out there on the trail in the pursuit of tomorrow.
I would love to declare that I have taught him this - that somewhere my incredible parenting is shining through the grit, grime, and stentch of a stressful trail - but I cannot. On the contrary. Many days it is he who is teaching me.
"Am I willing to give up what I have in order to be what I am not yet? Am I able to follow the spirit of love into the desert? It is a frightening and sacred moment. There is no return. One's life is charged forever. It is the fire that gives us our shape."