Jan 23, 2011 at 12:29 pm #1268114
Setting forth into a sea of golden grasses, the sun getting low, extending shadows, a breeze beginning to stir. We pass a few quail hunters and wish them well, talking quarry and who’s seen what, where, when. My son stands on the periphery, a boy amongst men in conversation; he has nothing to contribute, yet looking up to us, he’s obviously interested in the tone his father strikes with the two other men. He’s learning without knowing he’s learning, soaking in life. I will likely have a more profound effect on him than he or I will ever know. Nearly 20 years after I lost my father, I’m still discovering the subtle ways in which he helped shape me.
This trip is for the two of us, to talk, to walk together, to share a sunset and a fire, coffee and tea in the morning. I can still hold his hand, though I’m sensing it’s not for much longer; he pulls away a little faster than he used to. It’s not that he doesn’t want to hold my hand, it’s that he no longer needs to, at least not as often. And the sadness dawns on me once again that our time spent holding hands is limited, that there will be fewer and fewer fires at which he curls up in my lap and starts to nod off. He doesn’t know this yet, he feels no sadness for the inevitable shift that will come in our relationship as we age.
So I have to take this time we have, make time for us to have, to make it count, to make it something we will not forget. I’ll bear the discomfort of a 70 pound boy on my lap at dinner beside a fire for the fleeting opportunity to feel him there a little longer; soon it will be another man sitting across from me. It will not be bad, but it will certainly be different.
We stay up late into the night, winds picking up in the pines, temperature dropping sharply. It still makes him a little nervous when I leave into the dark for firewood but he does a good job of playing it off. Eventually retreating to the tent, we couple our bags as best as we can and he uses my arm for a pillow. A long, black, restless night for the both of us, the wind flapping the tent too loudly to let us settle in. My thermometer reads 27 degrees, by 4 AM I’m thankful for his warmth. Tired of waiting, we agree get up in the dark to get an early start. I slither from my bag to boil the water; we share our drinks while looking out the door at the sunrise.
And we’re back home before we know it, back to chores and video games and the various distractions of daily life. But we’ve managed to carve out just a little time for each other again, good time, slow time, time spent purely together. The type of time that we’ll remember when it counts.
Los Padres National Forest, 1/22-1/23. Trekking for an easy overnight out of Lockwood Valley to Pine Springs Campground.Jan 23, 2011 at 1:09 pm #1687384
@kat_pLocale: Pacific Coast
Nice report! Beautiful boy indeed. And lucky boy. And lucky dad. Yes, things will change, little shrugs when you hug them, but not always. The rewards change but they are still there.
I do miss the days when her little body just molded onto mine, but I knew then that it was special.Jan 23, 2011 at 1:10 pm #1687385
@jmathesLocale: Southeast US
most awesome!Jan 23, 2011 at 1:23 pm #1687386
@tomclarkLocale: East Coast
No mention of miles hikes, elevation gained, gear, or pack weight. Little talk of flora or fauna. Just a few off-kilter and out of focus photos. Nonetheless…the best trip report I've read in a long, long time.
It's hard to realize how little time we have with our kids at those ages…partially because there are so many distractions in life and partially because it's a tough thing to face. Thanks for sharing.Jan 23, 2011 at 2:08 pm #1687404
Craig, thanks for sharing. Memories are a very cool thing, both as we're making them and later, as we recall them. It seems you'll have many wonderful ones, and so will your son.Jan 23, 2011 at 2:23 pm #1687410
Hey, in one photo it's the MSR dromedary you gave me Douglas….thanks again!Jan 23, 2011 at 3:19 pm #1687421
@puffdcLocale: Republic of Boulder
beautiful. thank you.Jan 23, 2011 at 4:17 pm #1687444
Craig – Simply beautiful. Your love for your son in the few words you have written is palpable. Perhaps only those who share that same love for their own children can "feel" it. I've shared similar moments with my children and they are unforgettable.
A photo of one of the proudest moments I've had as a father
His first summit bid
Risk and danger overcome
Everlasting bondJan 23, 2011 at 4:20 pm #1687446
little boys arent they greatJan 23, 2011 at 4:40 pm #1687460
@kennyhel77Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
I had a love/hate relationship with my father. Backpacking was pure hell for a 5 year old kid in Yosemite for me. I did not backpack again until 2000 or so and took to it like fly on glue. In a strange way this was a way to connect with nature and to gain some perspective with my long deceased father. Craig, my dad did not have patience with me when I was little kid, exposing me on hikes way out of a little boys comfort zone. Nice to see that you are not doing that. Your son will cherish the memories and learn from these trips. Better yet, you will have a fun hiking partner if keeps interest in this for years to come. I don't have any children and see how my friends who I used to backpack with incorporate the outdoors with raising their children. It is something special. Good for you in making the trip fun for your son, you can tell by his smile that he is stoked. Right on!Jan 23, 2011 at 6:12 pm #1687502
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Looks like a great weekend for both of you. Keep doing them as often as you can. They grow-up and leave in the blink of any eye.Jan 23, 2011 at 6:43 pm #1687520
@lopezLocale: San Gabriel Valley
So so good. I think about this constantly now as my girls get older. I have three girls, and some day they too will want to hang out with their friends instead of with their dad, just as I did. I wonder how we would change if we could just realize how little time we have together. If you ever wished you could stop time for a bit, just take them out there. Forget about time, distance, weight. All children have a beautiful way of just living in the moment, if we shut up and listen long enough we too can learn this. And somehow days seem just a little bit longer.
Beautiful boy, Craig. Love the photo, Kat.Jan 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm #1687528
@ikeLocale: Central Michigan
Great Craig, thanks.
My best day as a dadJan 23, 2011 at 9:32 pm #1687630
@eugeneiusLocale: Nuevo Mexico
This trip is for the two of us, to talk, to walk together, to share a sunset and a fire, coffee and tea in the morning. I can still hold his hand, though I’m sensing it’s not for much longer; he pulls away a little faster than he used to.
Great words Craig. I appreciate you sharing some insight into your fatherhood and the quality time spent with your little dude. This trip report has a wealth of substance and I'm glad I didn't miss this one.Jan 23, 2011 at 10:28 pm #1687652
Great report; I also see the tale of the tape, as a young boy becomes a young man. These trips are really special times in all of our lives…Jan 24, 2011 at 4:51 pm #1687993
@fuzzLocale: Sunny San Diego
Thank you for sharing that. I used to think I'd bang about in the woods like a wild man hunting and fishing…. till I met my love, and 6 kids later, it only gets better. To see it through my own eyes is experience, to see it through their eyes is true joy……. Keep it up.
EdJan 25, 2011 at 3:45 pm #1688333
@drongobirdLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
Craig – nice story. Thanks for posting.Jan 26, 2011 at 2:18 pm #1688731
@hikin_jimLocale: Orange County, CA, USA
Very cool post! I like that its theme is a bit different and the photography slightly unconventional. Excellent photography by the way.
Getting back to the conventional, lol may I ask what route you took? I'm in S. Calif. and might like to try it out with a little certain someone that I know.
–Hikin' Jim (and Hikin' Joyce!)Jan 26, 2011 at 6:00 pm #1688807
@rbeardLocale: ATL, Southern Appalachia
excellent reflective writing. i have a 7 month old daughter and am already looking forward to her first trip. great to read this now. it is my hope and desire to create as many of those moments as I can.
sorry, couldn't resistJan 28, 2011 at 1:32 pm #1689466
@benwoodLocale: flatlands of MO
quite possibly the best trip report i have ever read.
anything i could say could only detract from those words.
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