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Gearing up for hiking with my Dad.

2004-02-04 - 12:20 p.m.

I had lunch with my father yesterday and we’re starting to rev up on plans to hike this summer. This year we’re talking about hiking in the Sierras. To be honest, these hikes are my father’s initiative. He has some ideas of where he’d like to hike that he’s never had the chance to before and he enlists… uh, I mean invites, me to go along.

We don’t ever go out to the local hills and ramble around. Rather, we choose epic hikes with difficult slopes and thus have bigger senses of accomplishment at the end. Forget the Gatineau hills or Algonquin Park, if my family felt like hiking while I was growing up, we packed the car and headed for Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. A few years ago Dad decided it was time to hike the Chilkoot Trail in Alaska. He’d been wanting to do it for "donkey’s" and figured it was then or never.

I think he originally asked me because I was the only person available to go with him on that trip. I happened to be *ahem* between jobs that summer, my brothers were both too small at that point to meet the demands of the trail, my stepmother, in addition to the fact that someone would have to watch the boys while Dad was hiking, just isn’t into trekking and my sister would have found it awkward to manage the trail in her habitual high heels. By that I mean that she’s very much a city slicker and, not only is hiking not really her thing, she’s afraid of heights and, since Dad’s favourite hikes involve lofty peaks that are well above the timberline, it’s not her cup of tea. Since that first time though, Dad has proposed hikes annually and, though I’ve had work commitments some years, we’ve gotten to Mt. Katahdin in Maine and Mt. Washington again.

This year Dad seems utterly tickled that I’ve said I have some extra vacation time and can accompany him again. When I mentioned that I’d told J that the trip was a father-daughter thing that I’d agreed to go on partly because I have one week more vacation than him per year (and I wanted to save J’s time for the two of us to do stuff as a couple) and that my brothers hadn’t been invited along either, despite maybe being old and large enough to handle it, Dad seemed a little caught out. Clearly thinking I might be asking for an explanation for leaving my hubby out, he started to make halting runs at explaining:

"Well, gee, it hadn’t occurred to me to bring the boys... you said that you had more vacation time than J so this would be a good use of it and I took that to mean that he wasn’t available... and... well I mean... this is what we do. We’ve been doing it since before he came along and..."

I assured him that both J and I were fine with me going off hiking with my father for a week.

Truth be known, I think Dad has picked up on my broad hints that J and I are thinking of starting a family soon and he realizes that this might be the last year for a good while that I can just up and take off for a week to go hiking with him, just as I might not be able to do the 10k next year, depending on how successful those starting-family-plans are. And I’m getting a real kick out of how excited he is by the prospect of going away with me. He thinks that we may be flying in and out of San Francisco and has even proposed spending a few days touristing around before or after the hike. Alcatraz, here we come.

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