27 February 2012

The Big Boy Hike

For years I have wanted to go hiking with my kids. I wandered the Berkeley hills in Tilden Regional Park when I was young, and I loved it. I wanted to share this place with my own children.

Spending eight years hobbling around in my slippers, using shopping carts like walkers pretty much meant hiking was not an option. Now that I am healthy enough to take on the great outdoors, I have a few pretty resistant customers, most likely because it is completely foreign to them. Hiking can be hard work...and you might get dirty. My big boy is especially known for shying away from activities that involve those two things...working hard and getting dirty. 

Imagine my surprise when he excitedly agreed to join me in climbing a mountain this past weekend. I'm pretty sure it was a combo of getting time away from his humungous history project on which he has been majorly procrastinating and spending a little one-on-one time with me :)

I packed some lunch and some water, put on some real hiking boots, and off we set. I'd done this hike several times decades ago; I knew it was something he could handle. I have no idea how many miles it is, and I'm too lazy to do the math using the park's trail map. Start to finish, it took us 2 hours...and we were really leisurely. 

Me and my big boy getting ready to head out.

We opted for the road less traveled...
the one to the right, in case you couldn't tell.

Some images lend themselves to hugeness...
...and here's a close-up of the branch obstructing the trail...
...because the blistery, black fungus we had to climb over reminded me
vividly of that poor prairie dog we saw on our trip to the SF Zoo.
We were careful to not touch it in the event it is interphylum contagious.

This one also needs to be seen really, really big...
Yes, my son is a tree-hugger. 
But he does have discriminating taste...
this is quite possibly the biggest California Bay Laurel
in the world!
Well...it's the biggest one I've ever seen, anyway.

We skipped through dried-up meadows...

...climbed down steep ravines...

...crossed cute little creeks with fluffy ferns growing next to them...

...spotted hot babes...
...texted dad to let him know we'd had no Sasquatch sightings and were safe...

This was hard work.
We were climbing a freaking mountain!

That's the trail sign...
That hump thing is the mountain...and we went to the top.
This is about 3/4 of the way up.

Ever upward...up, up, UP!
The final stretch toward the summit...
at a whopping 1250 feet above sea level.
I started to get worried because we had neglected to pack our oxygen tanks.

The glorious day from atop Wildcat Peak.

Once we finished our lunch, we started down...

Through trees...
...short and droopy...

...tall and straight...

And we skipped through more meadows...
...not sure why this meadow is so much greener than that first meadow...

...and we followed the road more traveled back to the car.

As we followed this road around the corner past where you can see, 
we saw something very special. Right before we reached the car, 
a hawk swooped and snatched up some prey about 10 feet from us.
Both of us were awe-struck as we watched its strong, powerful flight between the trees, 
rodent dangling from its talons...

Not once had he complained. Not once had he whined. Big G spent the remainder of the afternoon and on into the evening thanking me for taking him on this hike. He'd walk up to me and stand there, and when I'd turn to him, he'd throw himself into my arms and bury his head into my shoulder and say how cool it was and how much fun he had and how he wanted to do it again sometime...and thank you. It really did move me to tears.


  1. Not saying Big G needs to be a runner, but we have a cool father up here that takes his son up to lassen every summer and they just do a lot of hiking to get a good base in (among other reasons) for the fall season. The timed mile, hiking, good genes, UO track scholarship here we come!!

  2. I love hiking with my teen and he... likes it too. And then there are all these talks we have on out hikes, the kind of talks that would be so much more difficult anywhere else.
    Loved, loved you pictures. Our hills in South Bay are gray too. ;(
    I have to venture into East Bay more often. I haven't hiked there in ages.

  3. Absolutely beautiful...the photos and the experience!

  4. Oh how awesome!! What a sweetheart! And how great for you.

  5. I used to hike with my son all the time. Now that he's away in college, I really miss it. How wonderful you got to spend this time with your son! Nice photos too! (Maybe all my hiking posts from last summer have been rubbing off.... :)

  6. So pretty. I love hiking. Weird about that meadow... usually by no everything around here is all green, but we haven't had much rain this winter. Which = crappy wildflower season. Boo.

    I love that he loved it :D.

  7. Amazing pictures.
    Now I want to take my kids on one... maybe I'll wait until the snow melts though. I don't like being cold... I live in the wrong state...

  8. We got our kids into hiking when they were little (hello, I live in Colorado :)) and I think that's what has made them into the outdoor enthusiasts they are today (well, not my daughter...but that's another story :)). Spending the day with you kiddo on a trail like that... know yow lucky you are, right? What a fantastic day!

  9. Loving this!!! I seriously hope I will be able to have moments like these with my kids. So glad you both were able to have such a memorable experience!

  10. I am so excited for you! So much fun to hike with the kids. I love all the beautiful pictures and am so glad you could share this experience with G:) I wish the weather was nice here like it is there!

  11. Moved me to tears too! It sounded like you were writing a childrens book "short and droopy, straight and tall". Thanks for sharing!

  12. ok the hug...and the thanks...if my kid did that I would be straight up bawling! I hope my kids want to hike with me when they get older...

    beautiful pix!

  13. Oh wow! Sounds like a really special time...I would have cried for sure :)

  14. Very nice. I am actively training my 2 and 3 year old now so they can eventually join me on wonderful adventures like this.

  15. Beautiful! My dad used to take me hiking as a kid and I loved it then and I still love it now! What we learn when we are young really makes an impact when we are older!

    PS I love Tilden!

  16. first, the lesson in this post is that you are a great mom.

    I hope my sons will want to do this with me in a few years.

    the pictures are beyond beautiful.
    what a great place/

    I am happy for you and for him. He will remember this when he is a parent you can bet on it.

  17. Love this post! I am so glad you got to go hike with Big G and it was such a great experience!!

  18. Brings tears to my eyes! I took Zack for a hike a month ago, when he didn't have any school. He wasn't as thrilled, but I still hold hope for a moment like yours....

  19. The boy's got a cyclist's build. Just sayin'

  20. Beautiful hike! My husband and I love hiking and we always hike a different mountain (or mountains) when we visit my parents in Maine!

  21. that's so awesome you had such a great hike with your boy. how sweet. and wow, what a beautiful view at the top, amazing!

  22. Normally I assume it is your gifted photographer husband that takes all the great shots, but I can see you have the artist's eye as well. These are lovely pictures and I can't wait to bring my family out someday for this kind of awesome fun! I think our boys would get along famously! And the hug at the end nearly brought a tear to my eye. Wonderful!


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