Discovering Overnight Hiking with My 17-year-old Son
I’d never been on an overnight hiking trip before Alex, my 17-year-old son, invited me to go to Wednesday Lake with him on Labour Day weekend. “Sure,” I said, thinking what a great opportunity it would be to spend some one-on-one time with my son.
I imagined myself skipping up hills, jumping over logs and barely breaking a bead. After all, I am a jogger. I can trot the 8½ kilometer circle route from Willingdon Beach to the complex and back. I felt fairly confident as I packed.
To backtrack a bit, I was Alex’s last choice as a hiking partner. Everyone else he’d asked was either working, away or didn’t want to do an overnight hike. But Alex was bound and determined to go. He had a new Whisperlite stove, a Thermarest and a water filtration system he wanted to try out.
So we set off on a sunny September afternoon. The hike to Manzanita Bluffs is challenging. Before long I was drenched and puffing. There are a lot of uphill climbs on gnarly, rooty paths, over rocks and logs. Not flat trails covered in crushed gravel like I’m used to. The muscles in my butt screamed in agony: “Why are you doing this?” “Because I can,” I replied.
More uphills, more beautiful scenery. And the moss! I’d never seen such beautiful moss in so many colours. It carpeted the forest floor and hung eerily from branches of trees, creating a magical, mystical space somewhere between today, tomorrow and yesterday where anything is possible.
But I was tired. This was harder, way harder, than I figured it would be. Alex handed me a stick, which helped a lot, but there wasn’t much gas left in my tank by the time we reached our destination.
It truly was one of those magical September days. A nice lazy swim after a good workout was just what we needed. I lay in the sun while Alex set up the tent. It’s nice to do nothing but sit and watch the leaves flutter in the breeze and listen to the sounds of the woods. Life is too busy, I thought as I drifted off to sleep.
It was a challenge for sure, but I did it, and best of all, got to spend some time with my youngest son.
By Isabelle Southcott