Background Switcher (Hidden)

High Hills, Sore Legs

Sunday, January 15, 2006

photo by Shila Wilson

Addicted: that's what Shila and I are, to these daily hikes on rare sunny winter days. After the first one, five days ago, when we scrambled on all fours up an impossibly high hill, slipping, sliding back, struggling to get up out of the stream valley, we've just felt better in every way--more ready to take life on, triumphant, perhaps even in shape. It's empowering to tackle a two-mile hike with enormous climbs and come back with rubbery legs and a deep relaxation that you really can't get any other way. And taking the kids along is the best. They're tough and resilient, and they're becoming comfortable in the woods, straying away to play in the water or scramble like monkeys up the slopes to perch on high ledges. I have to trust that they'll pick their way carefully, and sometimes I have to look away. They find their own ways around, and I can't do it for them. Since they were old enough to walk, I've told them that I can't carry them; that I'm not strong enough, and they've believed me. Now that it's really true, I'm glad we started that old mom's tale early.

This walk has everything--caves and deep pools, tiny waterfalls, moss, beds of hepatica, ferns, redtails and woodpeckers. Today, after a night in the twenties, there were even icicles. I could hear my dad saying, "Impurities will not freeze!" as the kids caught drips on their tongues and sucked on the huge icicles. (If impurities will not freeze, then what are those blocks of blue ice that occasionally fall out of jets? I'm not going to think about it.)
Phoebe is a bit of a daredevil, and she decided to cross a gorge on a fallen log. Her confidence grew as she inched across, and Baker padded out to give her encouragement. Once she was safe, he showed off a bit, trotting out, grabbing a stick, and coming back across like a little tightrope walker. I love Shila and Phoebe's expressions in this picture. Such a ham, Baker is.

Today was a three-hour marathon, a deep plunge to the streambed, full exploration of the pools and riffles, and then a big climb up an unknown logging road onto our neighbors' land. We snuck through their fields and paths, hoping their large dogs were shut inside, and we lucked out. At last we broke out onto a beautiful sere haymeadow, and, with two miles of strenuous hiking showing on their muddy jeans, the kids amazed us by breaking into a run. They'll be hard as nails by spring if we can keep this up. How many children these days really use their energy and physical capabilities to their fullest capacity? Mind you, mine know their way around a VCR, a DVD player, and a computer, and their trigger fingers are well-practiced. But they also know what it is to be sore from exertion--that good sore that sends one into a deep sleep at night.
I can feel the difference in every muscle. It's good to be strong.


[Back to Top]