this month was a little crazy. well, they are all a bit crazy, but this one seemed crazier than most. there are a couple of days that stick out in my mind though, and to be the focus on this month’s letter to you. . .
for the past four years, we have taken a couple of days each summer to hike to a hut in the white mountains. this year, we hiked to the oldest hut in the united states, madison spring hut, which was originally built in 1888. it’s a pretty tough hike to get there for anyone, never mind your little 7 year-old legs. we started the day off in the sun, smiling at the warning signs that the area is the worst weather in america. as we made our way up the mountain, you swayed in between being energetic and continually asking when we would get there. about halfway to the hut, the skies opened up and it began to rain. and thunder. and lightning. and HAIL. i started to question whether we were safer to turn around, rather than push on the rest of the way. we decided to continue up to the hut. and after a few hours of yucky weather, slippery rocks, lots of snacks, some tears, and steady elevation gain, we see the top of madison. you scream in delight. i breathe a huge sigh of relief.
when we walk in the hut, it is packed with people. in wet, stinky hiking clothes. most of the beds are taken already. but i find a little loft area with two beds, for you and cousin morgan to sleep. you are beyond excited, it’s like your own little girls slumber party up there. you get to work on your junior naturalist workbook and snack on sugary treats. we eat our yummy dinner, served by the energetic hut crew, and hang out a little more before calling it a night. the next morning, we awake to a foggy morning. after a hot breakfast, we pack up our soggy gear and put on our wet clothes. i am nervous about the trek down, since you are complaining a bit about your boots. but the only way down is. . . to walk down. so, we’re off. the weather turned out to be much nicer than the day before, and your spirits are good. all in all, the hike down took as long as the hike up, but there weren’t tears, just more snack breaks. towards the very end, you are REALLY READY to be done. and you and i have a conversation that will stay with me forever.
i explain to you why i bring you hiking. i tell you that i think that there are a lot of life lessons that can be learned on the trail, that can translate to real life. as in life, hiking teaches us to be prepared. it teaches us about perseverance, weathering through storms, and overcoming challenges in our way. hiking teaches us to work together, to effectively communicate, to be mindful of our personal well-being as well as those around us. it teaches us to appreciate nature, respect the earth, and pay homage to mother nature. as we talk about these lessons learned on the trail, you nod in complete understanding. yes, my little love, hiking teaches us how to live fully, to revel in the beauty all around us, and to find and explore the beauty within ourselves.
as summer comes to a close, i remember this trip, and this conversation, so fondly. i don’t know if you’ll enjoy hiking as you get older and it really doesn’t matter. what matters is that we always remember the life lessons we discovered on the trail.