29 Aug

Mt. Tom, Vermont (or the day that the "Precipice Trail" seemed like a great option for kids and baby)

When I went to talk to the Ranger about climbing Mount Tom, he took one look at our merry band of pirates and decided that wide paths and gentle upgrades were the way to go. As he highlighted a route to the summit, he specifically told me to stay away from the Precipice Trail. That’s a real trail, he said. Real narrow and steep. You’re best off sticking to the carriage roads.

Like a good mom, I listened to the advice of experts and we climbed the two-plus miles up to the summit, sticking to the wide carriage roads. The trail did not disappoint, and offered continually changing landscapes with lots of interest and stunning views. It was not an easy climb for the boys, but it kept their attention and it was nice that they could run ahead a bit, or fall behind to collect pinecones.

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The payoff at the top was worth it.

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While we were catching our breath and enjoying a snack, a family appeared off of one of the steeper trails that I had been told to avoid. I pounced, of course, asking about the conditions and the difficulty. They said it was steep, but doable, with a rail to hold onto most of the way. Although our hike up had been beautiful, I just wanted a little more than a return ticket on the same path.

I rallied the troops and we decided to go for it. Every adult had a child firmly gripped in hand and, believe me, we did not let go the whole way down. It was steep and rocky and difficult. And fun.

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Every year it seems that we push our own personal envelope a little bit. The boys did such an amazing job slowing down and carefully placing their feet where we were telling them to go. There wasn’t a lot of talking, until the end when we emerged back onto a carriage path and starting high-fiving the kids and celebrating what was definitely the most difficult trail they have done to date.

As parents, most of our accomplishments–promotions, anniversaries–are difficult for our kids to relate to. We spend a lot of our time cheering our children’s successes in school or sports or relationships. It was a particularly rewarding experience to celebrate a shared family accomplishment. Each one of us had done something special, at the same time, all together.

I’ll take more of that, please.

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