This evening we hiked the Y again, this time with the kids along. We planned to leave the moment Dean got home from work, but lost about 15 or 20 minutes searching for Mabel’s tennis shoes since I wouldn’t let her hike in her black patent church shoes. I finally found a different pair of her shoes under my bed–not the tennies, but some casual brown Mary Janes, and decided they’d have to do. (She did wear her patent ones to school today, and was the 2nd-to-last person out in 3-ball dodge-ball with the last person being a big 6th grade boy, and she also got the ball away from some 6th grade boys several times playing soccer. She said, “I had a pretty good athletic day.” I’ll say–I try not to act too surprised that my flesh and blood can treat a ball with anything other than dismay. I did NOT suggest that her church shoes made her lucky in sports.)
We finally got out the door, and when we got to the trailhead, I discovered that Rose, who had been wearing her tennies a few minutes before we’d left (I had checked) had changed into sandals some time after that. I’m not even sure the sandals still fit her–she insists they do, but she also said her feet hurt some. Her sandals were slick and she slipped several times, falling hard on her behind once (while running, right after Dean had told her not to run).
The hike had been my idea because I’m trying to reclaim my ability to move. But I was feeling weak today, and for the first third of the way up, every step was painful and difficult. Then after a while I warmed up enough that every step was just difficult, but not painful. I was the slowest person on the trail and had to stop often to catch my breath. I sent Dean on ahead with our nimble kids, but a minute later Rose came back and said she’d stay with me. I told her I might not make it to the Y, and she wouldn’t get to see it, but she said that no matter what, she would stay with me. I told her that was very kind of her and that it made me happy, and she said she felt good in her heart because, “My teacher said that when we do good things, we feel good in our hearts, but when we do bad things we feel bad in our hearts. So I feel good.” She pretended we’d been sent on a special mission by a king and that when we got to the Y, we’d get a badge. Having her little hand in mine kept me moving along when I otherwise probably would have given up.
The last time Dean and I hiked, we had stopped at the bottom of the Y, but tonight Rose wanted to take the last switchback so we could meet the rest of the family at the top. We got to what I’d thought was the top, but it turned out there was yet one more little switchback, and I just really didn’t feel like I could do it. I told Rose to go on ahead without me, and she said, “No, I’ll stay with you.” I thought that after all she’d done for me, I owed it to her. So I did that last little stretch, one mechanical step at a time, while she pranced ahead of me. Dean said my face was a vivid red. But there was a fabulous breeze by then, and the lights were all coming on in the valley. Another family shared their Oreos and Chips Ahoy with us. (Henry got chocolate all over his face, and when we were coming down a woman asked him if he’d been eating dirt. I gave Hazel a cookie to eat in her baby backpack, and she was still clutching the last chocolate chip in her fist when we got down.)
When I got to the top it was 8 PM, and we still hadn’t had dinner, and Dean had had to carry Henry for parts of the hike up. Halfway down, Henry started saying he wanted to go home and sleep. His ears were cold and he was trying to walk with his hands over them. I managed to partly distract him by singing his favorite “Follow the Prophet” with him–thank goodness it has so many verses. We stopped at Taco Time on the way home and ate our dinner in the car, and the kids were partly thrilled and partly scandalized to be up so late on a school night. It was almost 10 by the time we finally got them in their beds.
And it was fun. I made it even farther than last time–1100 vertical feet in all. My knees did buckle trying to walk upstairs a few minutes ago. But it was worth it.