the true stories
When my sons were small, I used to take my family hiking often. My youngest son enjoyed it but was drawn to other activities. He was outnumbered three to one and I am sure he endured a few trips when he would have much rather have been playing Morrowind. As time went on, he became more vocal in stating his opposition to these excursions. As he became more vocal, he became more inventive as well.
In due time, I figured the lads were ready to climb a mountain. I took both sons up the Stawamus Chief. This is a giant basalt cliff near Squamish British Columbia. We went up the back way along a creek and all day long son number two kvetched and complained. I was taken to task for bringing such horrible food items as Jaegermeister smoked sausage and worst of all, EEEEW, dried currants!
Miggy, was a very well read boy and waxed eloquent in his condemnation of our tucker bag.
“I mean, come on Pop, raisins I could understand. Everyone eats raisins. I like 'em, you like 'em, Dan likes 'em. But no, you go and bring frikkin currants. EEEEEW! OK, the chocolate chips were a good idea but the sausage is tough as shoe-leather. Still, I could put up with it, but GAWD, frikkin currants?! What are you, English? Why didn't you bring buttered crumpets and quince jam? You should have let Mom pack our food. I'm dying.”
Daniel, my eldest, usually wandered several meters ahead during these energy wasting precious moments on the trail. I could only bide my time.
When we reached the summit, it was time to gobble our food. I cracked open all the bags and began chewing a sausage and throwing back mouthfuls of cashews and chocolate chips. I placed the offending bag of currents on the sun-warmed rock and Daniel opened it up carefully as if to show solidarity. He tried a few and made a face. I gobbled a few handfuls and had a drink of water and rolled a smoke.
I walked around a bit and decided to unpack the camera to preserve the moment. I took the image above of Miggy clutching the bag of currants and devouring said dried fruits several yards away from all competition. He nearly polished the bag. His animal guide is the raccoon. Wouldn't hurt a soul but not to be trifled with, especially when eating.
We learned on that trip that honest work is the best appetizer, good company is the best spice and an empty stomach may not always agree with the imagined prejudices when presented with the menu.
Another time, I took Miggy alone to climb a proper mountain peak, as the Chief was more like a mesa on top. I had chosen Coliseum Mountain in the Lynn Watershed. Miggy was not over-thrilled at the prospect but he knew that it was important to me so he came along. I even let him choose his own foodstuffs.
The day dawned fair at the start but I knew it could change in a matter of moments. I had a lesson I wished to impart to the boy. I had discovered that a mind once stretched, never reverted to its former size and that for this reason, it behooves one to try to push beyond old perceived limitations.
I knew my son well enough to be prepared for aborting the climb at any time. Lessons cannot be forced on people. I prayed we would succeed. Within thirty minutes, Miggy parked himself down on the trail and threw off his pack. I stopped and walked back.
“Do you need a rest, son?”
“You are killing me, Pop.”
“Take a rest. Have a sip of water.”
“I cannot do this thing.”
“Son, can you see that tree there? Just walk to it. You can do that, eh? Then pick another one. I'll do the route-finding, you needn't worry. Take it in little bites that you know you can do. That's the secret.”
“Screw the secret. I got your secret right here. I don't want to do it, plus I cannot do it. This is a big frikkin mountain. Pop, you're torturing me. I'm dying here.”
“Miggy, you are upset. Look, I'm going to have a smoke and then when I'm done let's walk to that tree. Just try. Anytime you really cannot take another step, we will turn around and go home.”
When I finished the smoke and asked my son to get up and try, he balked. Then he put his foot down. The main point of his argument was that on top of not wanting to climb the mountain, he physically could not possibly do it. That became a burr under my saddle. I had an idea. It was a shot in the dark, a last-ditch attempt to resurrect the day.
“Mig, you win. We will go home. Before we do, I have to ask you something and I want an honest answer.”
“Son, Do you really believe that you cannot climb this mountain?”
“Could you do it if I gave you twenty dollars?”
“No,” he answered as he shouldered his pack.
"Could you do it if I gave you thirty dollars?”
I was ready to head home but I am as curious as I am stubborn.
“Miguelito, could you climb Coliseum Mountain for forty dollars?”
“Can we stop at the bank machine on the way home?”
“We sure could.”
“What are you waiting for Pop, we got a mountain to climb?”
We made the summit in very good time and I was trailing the young buck all the way up. Two Aussies who were already on top snapped our photo which I have inset into the picture above. We ran down that mountain and went straight to the bank. I learned as much as my son that day. He learned about ability and I learned about motivation.
Copyright © 2019 by Michael A. Hawes. All Rights Reserved.
Michael Hawes was born in Texas, raised in Louisiana and lives in British Columbia.