Stamina Fail, Parenting Win

Background: I've hiked the summit of Mt. Timpanogas half a dozen times, and done another half-dozen hikes to the Timpanogas basin. These were all when I was forty pounds lighter and eighteen years younger. My son got his Arrow of Light from Cub Scouts on Wednesday, joined the Boy Scout Troop on the same night, and today, Saturday the 27th, was the troop's big Timpanogas hike. It's a twelve mile round-trip, with four thousand feet of elevation change making it feel more like a twenty-miler. That's a lot for an eleven-year-old boy, especially one who has never done a five-miler. I opted to join him. It was not convenient. I'm supposed to be re-stocking the buffer and signing books. Two factors entered into my decision to not only go with him, but to bring my 13-year-old daughter along as well (the Scoutmaster actually suggested it, and invited everybody's families to join the troop on the jaunt.) ("Jaunt." HA! I kid.) Where was I? Two factors. Right. 1) The point of the book signing and the buffer-stocking is so that I can be a Dad who spends more time with his kids. If cartooning ever gets the best of the family, cartooning will find itself maimed or dead. Family is far more important to me. 2) If I wait for the easy and convenient opportunities to spend time with my kids, I'll never do the fun stuff, and I'll probably end up resenting them for being difficult and inconvienent.  Which they are, but then again, so are most of the very best things in life. I wont give you a full trip report. I will however give you a map. Timpanogas Hike from Timpooneke campground The green is the part we hiked, both ways. It's drawn from memory, but I studied the topo-map before AND after the trip, and I'm pretty sure I counted the switch-backs right. Also, "Scout Falls" (sounds like a Scoutmaster's nightmare of a newspaper headline) was a "wrong turn" (well... wrong don't-turn) at the end of a switchback, so I've got a good landmark. The red is the part we missed out on. In terms of elevation and trail distance, we made it about half way. In terms of spectatular view, we missed roughly 70% of the trip. I know. I've seen it before. The green "X" is where my asthma and my weight ganged up on me. We were hiking up this long, steep shot through some rock tailings (rocks ranging from gravel to boulders that have broken off of cliff-faces above over the last jumblety-rockillion years) and suddenly I was short of breath. And gasping. And trying not to panic, because that's JUST what every eleven-year-old boy needs to see. I took an inhaler hit, and couldn't breathe deeply enough to get it in. Second try, same result. Third hit was true... my lungs opened a bit, my vision cleared, and I was still short of breath. So we stopped for breakfast. Kiki, Link, and I (names have been changed, obviously) ate MREs, and even used the water-powered heating envelopes. Mine was labeled "Chicken and Chunky Salsa," and was the worst of the three. Link enjoyed (that word is not a lie, I swear) "Beef Enchiladas" and Kiki devoured "Beef in Barbecue Sauce." Then she devoured the rest of Link's "these-aren't-enchiladas-but-I'm-really-hungry." And throughout our forty minute breakfast break I took inventory: Number of times my vision fuzzed out while bending over to make breakfast? Three. Number of times I felt like all I needed was some food and rest and I'd be fine? Zero. Number of additional inhaler hits I took? Four. Number of times I evaluated my children's performance thus far, and suspected they were at the far edge of their own endurance limits? Two. Number of times I suspected said evaluation was colored by my own condition? Six. After a short spot of deliberation me and mine turned around. The rest of the group still had their two-deep adult leadership, strong older boys, and about four miles and two thousand feet of elevation ahead of them. I convinced Kiki and Link that we had to turn around because of ME. They were doing fine. Fortunately for my ego, by the time we got back to the car they were both completely wiped out. No way would they have finished the hike without exhaustion, tears, turned ankles, and possibly some "carry me?" I apologized to them for not being able to take them all the way up. Kiki said "It's okay, Dad. We got to spend time with you, and that's what's important." Stamina fail. Parenting win. Also, it's 3:41pm, I've had a two-hour nap, and I'm not still on that soul-crushing-though-awe-inspiring mountain. Oh, and I'm not dead, too. Next week I shall flaunt my superior stamina by drawing pictures in the remaining seven hundred and four Teraport Wars sketch editions.