Ah, Summer

We did it! We survived the end of the school year, and the first week of summer.

My brother asked me today about summer. “Are summers challenging?” he texted. “What does one do with two little adults?”

Well, at the Trent home, we try different things. And this last weekend, we tried a hike. I had heard about a new trail in Boulder from a friend. It sounded like the sort of trail unicorns would frolic about lazily. Super easy. Completely paved. One-hundred percent shaded, and of most interest to me, flat.

You see, a popular “easy” hike in Boulder are loops around the flatirons at Chautauqua park. The first half mile or so of the hike is all uphill and in the sun. I’ve done some of my finest work as a parent surviving that hike with my youngest. I’m not about to try anything close to those hikes again.

But this gentle hike with a trail that winds its way along a shady mountain creek, yes please. Let’s do that. Because that’s what summer is about, right? Being outdoors. Enjoying what nature has to offer while snacking on seasonal delights.

If any of y’all were out on the Anne U. White trail this last Sunday, we were the ones making all the noise. I am both sorry for disturbing your communion with nature and happy that we were able to provide such quality entertainment.

The trail was only 25 percent shaded, unpaved, and gently uphill–except for the parts of the hike that were completely uphill. This definitely made the hike moderately difficult for our family. And there were some very strong opinions about this.

It _was_ gorgeous scenery. My daughter, a ballerina who is not only at the studio twice a week but does a strength training class for pointe, loved the hike. Didn’t even break a sweat. We crisscrossed the mountain creek several times, making use of the trail stepping stones. Wildflowers were blooming in yellows, oranges, blues, purples, and pinks. It was the stuff of childhood dreams. At least in the beginning.

The charm quickly wore off for my son, who currently has the shortest legs in the family, and dedicates elite athlete levels of time to couch spudding when left to his own devices.

It should be noted that a four mile out-and-back hike, is definitely not the same as a one mile loop. It should also be noted that I should really check durations of hikes when I plan weekend activities. We had snacks and water, but no clue how long the hike was. I practiced my social skills on the trail, and learned from our fellow hikers that the trail ended in a waterfall and a pool that people could swim in.

Oh boy! That’s worth trudging up the trail to see. I used all my tools–storytelling, redirection, games, cheerleading– to help my son keep going. He wanted to turn around, but I wanted to finish. Finishing stuff is so much fun and so rare in my life. I am great at starting books, projects, classes, goals, you name it. Not so great on finishing. And ordinarily that is okay, but this was an achievable finish. I was determined to make it happen.

But then when we got to the end of the trail and discovered that the waterfall was only three feet high, and the pool for swimming was at best 10 inches deep and only about 8 feet wide, there were words that amounted to an epic one star review.

“I hiked all the way up this mountain for that? That’s the smallest water fall I’ve ever seen. And that pool isn’t big enough to splash in, let alone swim in. You said this was an easy hike, but it was definitely intermediate! I can’t believe I have to walk all the way back down. There are too many rocks on this trail. My feet hurt. I want to go home!”

The one star review continued all the way down the trail.

Summer can be challenging, but it can also be epic. Like our hike, it is a bit of a mixed bag. Because while it was amazing to hop across stepping stones and see the dappled sunlight filtered through all the pretty forest leaves, it was epic in a different way to hear my youngest’s erm… commentary all the way down the trail.

So yeah, mixed bag. But I’m beginning to think these are the only bags there are in life. What mixed bag experiences does summer bring for you and yours?

what do you think?

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