Sunday, October 01, 2006

hiking the appalachian trail

julie and trixie are sleeping on the appalachian trail tonight, having started their first big backpacking adventure yesterday around noon. julie's done a lot of backpacking, especially with kids, but this is trixie's first time hiking with a pack and camping on the trail. we hike a lot around the park near our house, and yesterday when they called me (they're up on a mountain ridge almost the whole way, near harrisburg, and having no trouble getting a signal) trixie swore "i'll never complain about hiking in the wissahickon again!" she sounded content and pleased with herself though. they had hiked about 6.5 miles, the first mile or so straight up the mountain, and they made it to a trail shelter before the rain started last night.

i had to quell a lot of far-fetched fears about rattle snakes and copper heads and various other sorts of calamaties that only i could imagine in order to let this happen, and i'm awfully glad i did. trixie is not a sporting sort of girl, but my hope is that she doesn't wait until she's 35 to find the athlete in herself. i told her this on our drive to the trail (we went up in two cars, leaving one at the end of their hike and then taking them on to the beginning before micah and i headed home). i told her how very much i understand her antipathy for team sports -- one of the many personality traits trixie and i share.

"i'm not going to try to convince you," i said, "that you might some day come to appreciate team sports. maybe you will, but i certainly never have."

"i HATE team sports!" she said with a sort of dramatic conviction that isn't entirely artless. "i hate the way you always feel like you're letting everyone down. and when you mess up, there's all these 'oh mans!' and people grumbling under their breath."

i nodded in total agreement. but i was about to launch into what felt like an obligatory treatise on how what really matters is that you do your best, when she cut me off before i could even get started:

"and what i REALLY hate is when they tell you 'it's okay, at least you tried! that was a great effort!' yeah, RIGHT," and she rolled her eyes.

"yeah," i had to agree, "that's the worst."

but i assured her that there are plenty of ways to be an athlete that don't involve team sports. i pointed out that the vast majority of runners have never run a marathon, and i have. me! the one who hates team sports with an abiding passion because i'm so entirely lacking in any sort of skill or confidence.

trixie seems to have inherited a double dose of my personality -- i *so* get her, whereas julie is often just left scratching her head. but physically trixie is practically a little clone of julie. julie's orthopedist has suggested that we *try* to get her to 50 before replacing her knees. she's 41 now, and we have our doubts she'll make it that long. so i doubt running will be trixie's sport -- i'm waiting for micah to get a little older, although i'm sure he'll be outpacing me (which isn't hard -- i didn't say i ran that marathon fast!) by the time he's six. but i think maybe hiking could be. it's certainly something we all love to do, and in just a couple of years, micah will be ready too. we have dreams of taking a sabbatical sometime when the kids are older and hiking the appalachian trail, taking the kids out of school and setting off on a six month adventure.

in the meantime, i'm thinking about finding someplace warm where we could do some hiking over christmas. i was thinking of hiking a little ways in somewhere, setting up a camp, and doing a couple of day hikes before hiking out -- i think micah could handle a six or seven mile hike if he didn't have a pack and we paced ourselves over a whole day.

any backpackers out there with ideas of where we should go? we will probably get enough christmas money from relatives to cover plane tickets just about anywhere, so the only requirements are warm, beautiful, and relatively easy hiking.


At October 02, 2006 9:20 PM, Blogger Lilian said...

I've always hated team sports too!! I'm really not skilled with a ball, on the contrary. I never liked running, though, I was an ashtmatic child... I'm so impressed that you ran a marathon!! My SIL is a runner and her husband (my husband's brother) has ran a marathon too...

The only two sports I practiced for a little while (2 semesters of university classes for each) were gymnastics (when 19-20 years old) and figure skating (when 27-8). Oh, I should talk about that in my blog, shouldn't I? :)


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