Friday, July 13, 2007

A Coming of Age Story, Part One

I’m on such a writing kick this week, late nights, early mornings, every chance I get. I’m seeing the world as a narrative. Yesterday, everything was coming to me in rhyme. The three poems I posted took less than an hour to crank out--not that they are anything super significant, but that’s just how my brain was working. Last night, as I was watching the deer, I was already crafting a post about them in my mind as I walked along. It seems everything that I see or do goes scrolling through my mind in written form, even as it happens. This phenomenon is common for me, but it has been even more prominent than usual this week.

So, when the guys returned home yesterday around dinner time and began to unload their story on us, I knew I’d be writing it down soon, to preserve it for years to come. It was the great coming of age story, perfectly crafted with its flawed characters, unlikely heroes, great adventures, dangers, weaknesses, courage, and in the end, triumph.

They set out Tuesday morning with their packs and unbridled confidence and enthusiasm. I kept my reservations to myself, but they were many.

The boy, a slender ten-year old more accustomed to great books and ideas than great feats of strength and endurance, had never hiked more than three to four miles, and only then on relatively smooth, easy trails with mild grades—and never with a pack on his back. This pack weighed more than twenty pounds.

His father hadn’t backpacked since he was a teenager and was terribly out of shape. He was still favoring the ankle he broke a year and a half ago, which hadn’t healed quite right and caused him enough discomfort to make him limp slightly if he was active on it for any length of time. He had also struggled with a lingering sciatica pain in his right hip, so neither his left nor his right side was particularly reliable. His pack weighed nearly fifty pounds.

The trail was an unknown to them, recommended by a book at a sporting goods store. It was listed as “moderate” in the hiking guide. Whatever that means.

Neither father nor son had done any hiking yet this season at all, either with a pack or without. No training, no conditioning. None.

But with great optimism, they grinned for the camera on an already warm Tuesday morning, loaded their packs into the back of the pickup truck and drove off to find the trailhead.

This initial task was not as straightforward as they’d hoped. The road to the trailhead, well-marked and well-used at first, dwindled to almost nothing—with a fork in the road and no sign to tell them that they were even going in the right direction. They decided to take a chance, parked the truck, strapped on their packs and began to hike tentatively up the meager road in the direction they thought the trail should head. After a quarter mile, they came to the official trailhead, with a small parking area and a sign. Their truck would be fine where it was. They were just relieved to know for certain that they were on the right path.

Having hiked only that quarter of a mile to the trailhead, though, the boy was already tired, unaccustomed to carrying such weight, and begged to take a rest. The father cringed inwardly to think they hadn’t even really begun yet. It was already eleven o’clock in the morning and nearing ninety degrees. Their destination lay five “moderate” miles away, through a canyon and up a mountainside. A small seed of doubt was planted in his mind, but armed with their enthusiasm and optimism, they began the long march, single file, into the woods.

6 comments:

paul said...

Having considered father-child adventures of this nature, I'm riveted to your storyline...when might I expect part 2?

AmberJ said...

Great story. I can't wait to hear the rest!

alison said...

I love this. I love the picture and your reservations.

I have a bulletin just for grownups, so keep this under your hat: Paul and I are contemplating a Western Voyage next summer. We need to make a plan...maybe you could assist us in that.

Is there room in the Inn/Loft/Homestead? Where might you be next June?

Sherry C said...

Paul and Amber,

Part Two will be composed soon.

Alison,

Do you have any specific dates that you can or can't make the voyage?

We haven't set our 2008 camp dates yet and could work around your needs.

We would be thrilled to have you, of course. And yes, there is always room at the inn.

alison said...

Sherry, we have just begun to talk about it, but don't have a plan.

Eagle-eye Di said...

I enjoyed reading your first part a few days ago.