The Quest for Whitney, Part 2

Back to Whitney? What am I thinking?!

Next month, I am embarking on a second hike across the Sierra Nevada mountains to the top of Mt. Whitney, the highest peak in the contiguous United States. I did this hike once before back in 2010 with my oldest son, Caleb. He was 12 at the time. Now, Jacob is “of age” and it’s his turn. It’s hard to believe he’s 11 already.

The good thing about having been on this hike before is that I know what to expect. The bad thing… is that I know what to expect.

It will be grueling. I’m 6 years older. It will also be hard to watch Jacob experience this. He can be a little “soft” sometimes. And yet, I’m constantly amazed at all the things he does and has accomplished in his first 12 years. And he has tremendous stamina as a result of his hard work and training in soccer.

Another interesting dynamic will be hiking with Caleb again. A slot opened up for him at the last minute, so both he and Jacob will be with me. As I reflect on that, I remember his excitement the first time back in April and May of 2010 as we prepared ourselves with information and gear. But shortly before the hike, he started to get anxious and worried and wanted to back out. This time, I realize I’ve been witness to the same pattern as before. Earlier this Spring, he was excited about doing the hike again to the point that it was almost all he talked about. He even sold the trip on a couple of his buddies and got them interested in going. Initially, his buddies were denied and he was offered a spot on the “alumni” trip, which is taking place as I write this. There wasn’t any room for “extras” in the group that Jacob and I were going to be in. But he didn’t want to go on that trip as he really didn’t know anyone. (I didn’t push too much, but in hindsight, it probably would have been good for him.) And then a slot opened up on our trip and he accepted. Now, he’s moaning about not wanting to go–again. And just like I told him six years ago, I’ve told him it’s too late to back out now.

Jacob is having the same fears and doubts. All year long, his teacher (and our trail guide) has been talking about this trip. How amazing it is, but also how hard it is. And his teacher makes it the focus of the whole year and uses it as an incentive for the kids to “earn” the choice to go on this trip. So Jacob has been excited, but the closer we get to the reality of this happening, the colder his feet have been getting.

In spite of my doom and gloom, I know it will be a good trip, just like last time. Granted, I don’t like being cold at night in my bag or in the morning getting up and packed and back on the trail. The pack will be heavy. The trail will be challenging, especially with the wet, wet winter we had! (That translates to deeper water crossings and snow on parts of the trail. And I especially don’t like using a hole in the ground as a toilet!

But the scenery is amazing. Being in the middle of God’s creation, away from technology and the rat race, is amazing. And getting to experience it with BOTH of my boys is — priceless!

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