I think one of the greatest moments in any dad’s life is when his child is finally old enough to start sharing and participating in some of the same hobbies and passions. Sure, to this point we’ve shared a little of that. We both love ice cream. We both love chasing each other around the house pretending to be monsters. We both love screaming each other’s secrets out the car window for the entire world to hear. But a real hobby, a real interest, a real passion… we just shared our first.
And it was AWESOME!
Every time I’ve gone hiking somewhere this year, I’ve sat down with Noah afterward and scrolled through the pictures on the computer, showing him all the neat things I’ve been able to see, telling him funny stories that happened on the trail, in general trying to get him stoked about doing it with me someday soon. I mean… I knew I had to start preparing him now because sometimes even the two block walk to Nana’s is “so long” and “forever away.”
And, sure enough, a few weeks ago he popped the big question. “Dad, can I go hiking with you?”
For some reason I wanted it to be his idea. I wanted it to be something he wanted to do with me. I didn’t want to be the dad who loves something and tries to force that on my son. Instead, I just made it a constant point to share my passion for it, and when he expressed interest I nearly jumped through the top of my shirt with excitement.
I’d heard that a hike nearby was *just* the hike for little kids. Easy. Short. Incredible waterfall at the end. So, one Monday morning, Noah and I loaded up my hiking pack with snacks and survival equipment and hit the road.
I didn’t know how he’d do. It was a two-mile hike each way, and I’ve never had him walk that far before. Not even close. I told him over and over in the days, hours, and minutes preceding that it would be a lot of walking, and if he wants to be a hiker like dad, he’s gonna have to walk the whole way! He told me over and over in the days, hours, and minutes preceding that he could definitely handle it. Then he’d give me this look like, Dad, what do you think I am? Some three-year old or something?
The hike was incredible. Noah walked the entire two miles in. And, as it turned out, this hike was not as simple as it should have been, especially the last half mile which was very steep and somewhat treacherous. Apparently there was a *different* way to get to these falls that is a lot easier, so if you’re going to Stewart Falls, find that way.
Anyway, here are the pics from the hike, mostly from me with a few from Noah mixed in!
And the best part of the whole thing was two days later when Noah asked me, “Dad, when can we go hiking again?”
This is Noah at the trailhead. Clean. Excited. Ready to take his “bazillions of pictures.”
This is Dad at the trailhead. Clean. Excited. Ready to take my gazillions of pictures. Noah took this picture all by himself! I think it’s his first picture of me that actually includes my head!
“Give me a smile!” He wouldn’t do it. He was too interested in taking his own pictures.
This was the few a couple hundred yards up the trail. The day was beautiful. We had PLENTY of time to finish this hike before my nieces’ birthday party that we had to get to.
Except that Noah wanted to stop, literally every three or four steps and take a picture of something! This lasted about half a mile. That half-mile lasted about two and a half hours.
The trail up was fairly simple at first. Lots of beautiful trees. I heart Aspens. Except for the ones in my yard. Those are more like weeds.
Eventually, and thankfully, Noah got tired of hauling his camera around so he handed it to me…
And found a stick that for some reason he felt belonged in his belt loops.
It was a false alarm. He didn’t want to give his camera up, he just wanted me to hold it while he found the perfect stick for walking and belt-loop poking.
It didn’t take long for him to realize that the camera was way cooler than the stick. I looked at my watch. Dang, we may not have had as much time as I thought.
“Ummmm, Dad, what do I do if I have to pee out here?” He was excited when I told him that he could go pretty much anywhere he wanted.
Aaaaaahhhh… more distractions. My watch wouldn’t slow the crap down.
We weren’t very far up when Noah became desperate for his first snack. Chocolate puddin’. In his defense, we had been hiking for hours at that point.
Turns out, Kool-Aid doesn’t taste so good after chocolate puddin’.
What can I say about this pic? I love that kid.
After my talk about taking “less pictures” and walking faster so that we’d make it to the birthday party, Noah wanted to take one last picture. Only this time, he used my “giant monster camera.”
Kool, buddy. Real kool.
[sigh]… Noah’s resolve to leave the camera stashed didn’t last very long. We were only about a mile and a half in to our 2-mile hike and we only had a couple hours left. We’d been hiking for four hours at this point.
Then Dad took a turn slowing down the pace. I found an awesome little Aspen sticking out of the middle of the trail and Noah and I carved our names in it. You know, so we could always come back and remember our first hike together.
“Noah, take a picture of me carving our names!” I said. He tried his darndest.
Noah was smiles almost the entire time.
Except for his increasing need to sit on every rock we came across on the trail.
This is the point when Noah stopped and asked me why we didn’t have Buddha on the hike with us. “Cause he’d die, son. He’d die.”
Then we both realized Buddha was with us in spirit. Or ink. One of the two.
“Ummm, Dad… I really have to go pee.” I looked at him and told him to just go.
“Really? I can just pee right here?” I confirmed it.
And he did. With gusto.
And then… we came around a bend and the sound of rushing water appeared. The falls…
Pretty cool from a distance. I couldn’t wait to get Noah down to them.
Suddenly Noah found a new burst of energy and started hauling butt up the trail.
Until he suddenly remembered a story about a dinosaur he wanted to tell me.
When the falls came back into view, Noah took a nice moment for himself and then whipped out his camera.
It was the most accomplished I’d seen him feel at that point. Our pace picked up even more.
And then, after a long, steep decent, we made it! The falls were gorgeous.
Noah was on cloud nine. “Dad, I love hiking!” he kept screaming at me over the sound of the falls.
That lasted about a minute and he needed a rock to sit on and the rest of his snacks.
Fast forward to the end of the hike… this was Noah, five minutes after we loaded up and headed home for the party. Apparently the hike took it out of him.
Now, you may be wondering… what about the hike back? No pictures? No nothin’?
Sorry… no nothin’.
At the falls I realized we only had an hour before the party started, and damn it, I hate being late. So I loaded my camera into my backpack, walked with Noah up the steepest part to go back, then put him on my shoulder and jogged the entire last mile and a half back to the car. There was no time for pictures!
Everybody at the party got a nice whiff of sweaty Dan though. And get this… we were only 15 minutes late.
Dan Pearce, Single Dad Laughing
PS. Sorry about the title. I just loved the picture I caught of his face when he asked it!
Would love your comments. Do you hike with your kids? Do they tend to take their time or are they good at hustling along? What was your favorite picture in the bunch?
SDL’s Quote of the Day “If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.” ~Abigail Van Buren