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I Can’t Do This Dad

November 17, 2011 1 comment

I wish I had $1 for every time that I heard one of my kids tell me that.

Idaho Dad and Son backpacking in 2011

For the last two years, I’ve been going on a backpacking trip with my Dad and Son. I do this with my son in large part because my Dad did this for me. When I was younger, my Dad would take me backpacking each Summer. And I’m not talking about going “camping” either where you drive to a place and take the bicycles for the kids and the cooler of beer for the adults in the back of the truck. I’m talking backpacking where any items and all that you bring need to fit in your pack frame or it isn’t making the trip.

We would hike into an area with enough food, clothes and other provisions that we would need for the 4-5 days we would spend in the back country. While in the back country with my Dad, he would teach me about survival and how to get by with what you have…and don’t have.┬áIt’s become a great tradition in our family and I’ve loved passing this down to my son.

Idaho Dad at the summit of WCP-9 in 2010

In July of 2011, my Dad, Son and I backpacked into the Frank Church River Of No Return Wilderness. We went to the Soldier Lakes region near the Seafoam Region of the Wilderness. In July of 2010, we backpacked into the White Clouds region and Big Boulder Chain Lakes. On both of these hikes, my son LITERALLY told me that I was killing him.

Truth be told, in 2010, the 7 mile White Clouds hike from the Livingston Mill to our base camp at Walker Lake was really hard. Damn hard. My Dad to this day still fondly refers to that first day’s hike as the “White Clouds Death March.” The first two miles were nice and the last 5 miles were a killer. H E double hockey sticks. It quite possibly was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And that hike was my Son’s initiation into backpacking with me. Of course, I picked the hardest hike ever for my kid’s first trip. I’m awesome like that.

But he made it. And he even carried his 12 pound backpack the entire way out…but not quite all the way in. My Dad and I took turns carrying his pack along with ours…because he literally couldn’t do it. But he made it.

Idaho Dad and Son backpacking in 2011

In the 2011 trip, my Son and I took a short side hike to see an abandoned forest service fire lookout tower. When I say “short” side trip, please note that “short side trip” is loosely defined in 2011. Our side hike was 13.5 miles. We weren’t carrying our packs on that trip, so it wasn’t quite as bad, but when the water ran out and the trail mix was gone, and the sun was beating down on us, it became very difficult. The last two miles were all uphill. My Son assured me that he was dying. I reassured him that he wasn’t. And at the end of the day, we made it back to camp…safely AN D alive.

I think it is important for young children to learn VERY EARLY in their lives that their body is very resilient. I asked my Son several times during the hikes how much further he could go. To those questions, he always told me he couldn’t go any further. But he always did. And yes…I was pushing him, but is there really any other way to learn where your body’s limits DO NOT end?

“There is no such thing as a fine line between what you think you can’t do and what you can actually do. The gap is enormous, Son.” My Son looked at me like I was crazy. “You can do so much more than what you think because your body is that amazing, Son!” Crickets chirping was all I heard. “Push your body until you THINK you can’t go any further, and watch what happens, Son.” Practically in tears and dramatically enhanced scream: “Dad! I can’t go any further!”

But he did go further. And he didn’t die like he swore was happening. And he appreciates it now more than ever.

There’s nothing quite so rewarding when raising children and seeing them experience the ah-ha moment. Or having them thank you later for making them do something they didn’t want to do…because now they see the value in it. We all remember those times, and our kids will too.

Especially if they didn’t die in the process.

Thanks for traveling with me. Be sure to subscribe to the Blog on your right and share this with your friends…especially those that will comment and add feedback…that’s really why I’m doing this…I want to hear from you all.

Best,


Idaho Dad

PS: No children were harmed or subjected to cruel and unusual backpacking conditions during this story.

For more pictures from our backpacking trips:

Soldier Lakes in 2011
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1857930407630.2091456.1221962271&type=1&l=fedc13bb3a

White Clouds in 2010
http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.1345190429451.2044163.1221962271&type=1&l=c8b6bba773

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