My daughter, Grace, turned 10 in December. The turn of her first decade. To mark the occasion, we went for a hike with just the two of us to give her a chance to test her limits and learn some new skills.
We had to wait for the dust…er, snow, to settle from Christmas, but on Saturday the 28th, we made our way to the Craig Mountain Wildlife Management Area for some serious snowshoeing. Grace’s adventure started the night before as she learned how to select clothing she could layer, helped to prepare food, and learned how to organize her pack. She even took care of Sassy’s saddlebags.
In the morning, I made her my special trail breakfast of oatmeal, dried fruit, peanut butter, and honey. She added a dash of cinnamon. Soon, we loaded up the dogs and we were off.
We can see Craig Mountain from our kitchen window, but it still took us over an hour to get into the Management Area and make our way down Zaza Road to our trailhead. At a certain point, winter maintenance stops and you continue on at your own risk. We made do following in the tracks of those who had gone before us.
Our trail began near a collapsed cabin that Grace was quick to explore, but on her way back to the trail she found herself tripping over her snowshoes and struggling to stand up again. She frustrated herself to the point of tears and wanted to give up.
But this is exactly why we were here.
I told her we were going to keep going and encouraged her to find a way through the barrier of emotions overwhelming her. I assured her that she had all the support she needed, but that ultimately, she was the only one who can get herself through this moment. Then I turned and began walking up the trail, slowly.
I encouraged her from one resting point to the next to keep going. And she did, pushing through, until finally, I heard her shout out, “I’m not giving up! Giving up is not an option for me anymore!”
I smiled and turned to cheer her on, only to find her knee-deep in the snow on the hillside next to our trail. She was trying to climb it! And she didn’t give up until she made it past the steep part and made her way to the top of that hill like she owned the place. Sassy was hot on her heels.
She named it Meriwether Hill, after the explorer, Meriwether Lewis.
I wish I could say that Grace broke through her frustration early on and was enthusiastic and positive for the rest of the hike, but true to life experience, she battled through her frustrations multiple times on our hike. She learned how to walk with her feet spread further apart to accommodate the snowshoes. She learned how to turn using her outside foot first so she didn’t cross her shoes. She learned how to control her body heat by removing inner layers, and when to wear her hat and gloves. But most importantly, she learned that new limits are set by pushing through old ones.
Grace learned how to cook on an MSR Whisperlight stove. She learned how to step over logs with her snowshoes on, and how to climb under them. When our trail became obscure, she followed me up and over a large hill and discovered she was capable of much more than she knew.
And to be a part of it all was a rich blessing for me.
Proverbs 20:5 says, “The purpose in a man’s heart is like deep water, but a man of understanding will draw it out.”
This is what mentoring is to me, drawing out the potential in someone like deep waters. Walking with them on their journey, sharing and teaching what I have learned along the way.
And this is what Seeking the Clearwater means to me. Nature draws out the deep, clear waters within me. The challenges I overcome on the trail redefine my limits. The deeper into the woods I go, the higher up the mountain I climb, the more I believe is possible. And I’ve always come away with some new insight, understanding, or perspective when I hike with other people.
This is what draws me to Seek the Clearwater, and I look forward to answering that call in 2020! What draws you to Seek the Clearwater?
Happy New Year, my friends!
*Seek the Clearwater