Posts Tagged ‘musings’

Over the last 15 years I’ve come across this scene unfolding on ski hills, rock climbs, hiking trails, kayak trips, and just about anywhere guys and girls recreate in the mountains. A boyfriend or husband is pushing their significant other to do something they are not quite happy about. “It’s an easy black diamond”, “It’s only 5.10 just use your feet”, “We don’t need to bring any drinking water”. I would see how little she was enjoying herself and how his ego was blind to this, then I would smirk and think about how I was smarter than that.

I grew up in the mountains. Crossing rivers, scrambling up trails, skiing steep icy runs on Cannon,  and sleeping in the woods all come naturally to me. Although my wife works for a mountain top weather station, she grew up in Staten Island. A fact that I need to be reminded of from time to time when planning family excursions. This past Sunday was one of those times.

The Winniweta Falls Trail is only .9 miles long. It is a pleasant gentle uphill hike that I did years ago with Bear and remembered how picturesque the actual falls were, despite being modest in size. I thought this would be a great short hike for Mom, Dad, and Baby to pull off. The weather was perfect, a continuation of the high pressure that had reigned through-out the “Seek The Peak” weekend, and I was pretty giddy as I hoisted Alex onto my back at the Route 16 trailhead.

A grandfather and grandson (I assumed) were just off the road returning from their attempt on the trail. We said hello and the grandfather stated “You know there’s a river up ahead?”

Of course I knew there was a river. I’d hiked this trail before, it’s mentioned in the guidebook, on the map, and it’s the Ellis River. It parallels Route 16 for miles… I thanked him for the heads up.

“I just took a header in it”. He added. He seemed unhurt, so I said thanks again, and we continued. My wife’s question conveyed her quickly growing concern. “Are we going to be OK?”

“Of course”. I knew we had to cross the river as soon as we left the road. But the crossing is shallow, only calf deep at most, and the water is not fast here. However… the rocks below it are quite slick. We get to the crossing only a minute from leaving the car. I do a quick scan up and down river for a potential dry crossing, and as I remembered didn’t see one.

“No problem” I say as I take off my shoes and socks.

“I don’t like this” my wife says, as she looks on with obvious apprehension.

With my shoes and socks in hand I cross the river, with Alex on my back. It’s slick, but as I mentioned only calf deep at most, and within a minute I’m on the other side. I set my shoes and socks down and then set Alex down.

“What are you doing?” my wife asks.

“Coming back to get you.”

“You’re leaving Alex there?” her apprehension is more noticeable, yet I somehow ignore it.

Alex watches on with little concern as I recross the river to mommy. Mommy has not taken her eyes off of Alex.

“I don’t like this David. I don’t like that you’ve left Alex on the other side of the river.”

“He’s fine. He’s only 50 feet away and happy as can be”.

“What am I supposed to do now? Take my boots off?”

“Yes, I’ll help you across then we can continue”.

“I don’t like this David. This is not fun. I HATE this.”

A smarter man would have turned this hike around 10 minutes ago, before even crossing the river. Instead, I started getting annoyed.

“It’s only calf deep”. “You’re over-reacting” (Really not the right thing to say in this situation).

I had become the egotistical albeit well meaning typical male pushing his significant other way outside her comfort zone. We made it 5 feet across the river before the panic in her voice woke me up to how wrong I was to push so hard. I brought her back, then returned to Alex, put my trail shoes on, and waded (almost effortlessly with shoes on) back across the river. We returned to the car and drove home in silence.

As I had time to reflect I thought about how I had failed her on what was meant to be a fun relaxing family stroll. I wasn’t considering her comfort level, just what I thought she would be able to do. It was a humbling experience to go through, and I will look on other guys making this error with a bit more pity and less righteousness in the future.

Later that afternoon I built up the courage to ask if she still wanted to go for a hike. She said she did, so we headed to Falls Pond, and although it crosses the Swift River, it does so on a wide railed sturdy foot bridge. About a half mile from the car we held hands.

So what experiences do you have with this common occurrence? Any advice for us guys forging ahead in spite of our companions?


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