There is something about the trees that just seem magical!
We moved to the Pacific Northwest ten years ago and from the minute we arrived on that blustery Halloween night, we loved the beautiful, tree-filled spaces. Way back when, our weekends were filled with short strolls down paved trails designed for strollers and fresh-faced toddlers. As the kids grew, our hiking stamina developed. We tackled great Seattle trails at Discovery Park, Twin Falls and St. Edward State Park. When all the kids were able, we climbed Rattlesnake Ledge, Little Si, Mt. Si and Poo-Poo Point. As of the last few years, whenever we would suggest a hike, my daughter would moan and declare that hiking made her sad.
What? Hiking made her sad?
We couldn’t believe what we were hearing, and tried to convince her that it couldn’t be true. How could hiking make someone sad? Article after article stated that hiking relieved stress and was the perfect fit for a healthy mind, body and spirit. Maybe she was just trying to get out of it? Some battles ensued, and we continued to hike the beautiful trails in our area with a somewhat unhappy companion.
In the middle of August, we took our family to Newfoundland, the eastern-most province in Canada and home to thousands of whales, puffins and moose. When we arrived at our destination, I sat everyone down and explained what activities we would be doing in each town day by day.
The itinerary was filled with hiking and I mentally braced myself for a battle with my 13-year old.
My lovely daughter huffed and puffed and rolled her eyes wildly in her head, but she didn’t have anything to say at the time.
Our first hike was in a national park and it was a tree lined path to a beach. It was shady and cool along the way and then the trail opened up to a gorgeous rocky beach. We played football and skipped stones and had a very fun afternoon. Perhaps she forgot that hiking made her sad? I didn’t say anything to upset the delicate balance! She played along and posed for pictures and everything seemed alright.
Our next hike was along a more rugged coastline, and there wasn’t a tree to be found. It was hot and dusty and we had to scramble over rocks and ledges to a green meadow, which led us to more rocks and boulders. It was unlike any other hike we had ever done and I was waiting for her to blast out how much she hated hiking. Instead, she came alive! She bounced around the rocks, singing and spinning when it was flat and green, smiling and skipping along. When we stopped at the end of our hike, I tenderly asked her if she thought this hike made her sad. Again, her overworked teenage eyes rolled furiously in her head and she scoffed at me.
“No mom, this hike is amazing! I can see so much sky and so much ground and there is no shade making it dark and damp and depressing,” she said like I should have known. “If all hikes were like this, I would hike every day!” she declared triumphantly.
Immediately, it clicked. It wasn’t that hiking made her sad, but the shady trails we picked to keep them cool were too dark and damp, unlike this wide open glorious trail in Newfoundland. I looked at my husband and we both shook our heads because neither of us asked enough questions to find out what part of hiking made her sad.
Perhaps it is because her zodiac sign is fire and her ruler is the sun, or perhaps in Seattle we crave sun more than most since it is often a fleeting treat, but whatever the reason, she wanted to hike under the heat and glow of the big sky. We filled the next nine days with glorious hike after hike and because of the harsh climate in this part of Canada, there were few trees to be found! If it weren’t for Newfoundland’s rugged coast, we would have always been wrong about our daughter’s declaration against hiking.
Now we know better, we will do better!
Tree-less hikes, here we come!