The best adventures require some discomfort…
Our last night in Big Bend National Park we wanted to go to the Hot Springs one more time, this time hiking the almost 3 mile trail instead of driving. The trailhead was about a 1/2 mile from our campground.
Nate wanted the boys to have an adventure so he decided to let the boys have a 15 minute head start. I agreed (what was I thinking?). So we set the timer and then set out after the boys, biking to the trailhead.
I started to realize what I had agreed to, as we made our way up the rocky hillside at about 3:45 in the afternoon. The trail was up and down rocks, and in and out of small canyons through the desert, with cactus on either side, and if you were not paying attention there were some places where you had to guess at which way the trail continued. As I started to realize this two things were warring within me, the sheer beauty of our surroundings.. and imagining any number of scenarios happening to the boys. The bad scenarios were winning. As I huffed hurriedly along, pulling Maggie, I told Nate that when I knew the boys were safe I would enjoy this hike retrospectively. I can admit now that I knew in my heart this adventure WAS good for the boys, it was more of what other people would think of me as a parent if something DID happen.
Well, the boys were obediently sitting by the Hot Springs when we arrived and I had a brief respite from worry. We enjoyed our last soak as the sun was starting to dip, chatting with a young, bearded park worker. But realizing that we had a 3 mile trek home and that we had one lantern between the 6 of us, we didn’t tarry long. We bid the Mexicans across the river one more “Buenas Noches” and started out.
It wasn’t to matter anyway. Before we were halfway home it was quite dark. I had been verbally pushing the kids with no small amount of vigor, Cade in the lead, shivering Jack next. I was third, with Maggie’s hand an extension of my stiff arm supporting her over the rocky ground. Nate, with Charlotte in the backpack, brought up the rear. Cade led for awhile as it was getting dark and then it was really dark and Maggie and I took the lead with the lantern. At that point it was too dark to hurry so I slowed and decided it couldn’t get any worse and we might as well have some fun. So we sang silly made up songs as more and more stars came out and the breeze kicked up. I am sure a swinging light and six crazy singing people kept any critters far away. It ended up being magical. As we finally reached the trailhead and our bikes, we were windblown, exuberant and I was exhilarated. Maggie’s bike tire was flat so we finished up the thrill with Charlotte still on Nate’s back in the backpack and Maggie riding the trailer bike behind Nate. I led our procession with the lantern.
Very soon we collapsed into our warm trailer where warm soup awaited in the crockpot and reveled in our late precariousness.
This is where I invite your comments. What would you do? Would you let your two boys hike 3 miles through the desert without you, on a previously unknown trail, in a country inhabited by mountain lions, cactus, and tarantulas? Is all adventure accompanied by discomfort and is that what makes it all the more thrilling?