It was just a short hike, no more than an hour round trip.
We meet at the trailhead and he says, right off the bat, “Is it OK if I come with you?” Well, this is silly; I invited him. I say, “Of course,” and we head out.
We’ve gone about 15 feet and he says, “What an amazing blue that sky is! How would you describe it?”
“Where have you seen that color before?”
“We were in Glacier Park and it was early in the morning.”
“What made that memorable?”
“We’d arrived at the park late the night before, about 11 pm, got the tents up and had a really late supper. My kids were experts at getting the camp set up by the time we got to Glacier and it took only 15 min to get the tents up, the sleeping bags unrolled, the fire started, the ‘kitchen’ set up and the water collected from the pump. I don’t remember what we ate that night, but the next morning we had a big breakfast. It would have been about 6 AM. The sun rose about 5.”
“How did that feel?”
“Cold, but peaceful. It seemed like everything was right with the world.”
“How was this feeling more memorable than earlier in the trip?”
“We were traveling without my husband. He had to work and didn’t have paid time off. It was just me and the five kids, and it was a bit stressful. I was trying to instill in them the feeling of adventure I used to get when I went on vacation with my parents. Growing up, that was a special time for me. It took a while to feel like a united group with my youngest being 5 and the oldest being 17. But that night, without prompting, without complaining, the camp had gotten set up and the fire started in record time, and I got the feeling that we were starting to gel into a working organism.” I smiled at the memory.
We walked along for about 30 seconds in silence. Then he said, “What’s that over there?”
“By that structure over there?”
“Brambles. I never go there.”
“What keeps you from going there?”
“The brambles? They poke and they scrape and get caught on your clothes.”
“What’s in the shelter?”
“I don’t know because I never go there…Brambles remember?”
“If you could find a way around the brambles, would you explore it?”
“I guess. I might, I might not.”
“Let’s go look around the brambles.”
“Oh, all right.”
“When was the last time you were at the brambles?”
“I wasn’t very old. It was late in the day and when I got home, I was dirty and disheveled and crying. I remember my mom trying to pull all the thorns out and comb them out of my hair. It seemed like it took forever!”
“Yes, and I’d never seen brambles like that before. I hadn’t planned on going there, but my curiosity pulled me. I didn’t get very far and they scratched and poked and caught in my hair and tore my clothes and I couldn’t find my way out. I was by myself so I was scared.”
“How do these compare to the ones you saw when you were little?”
“OH! They’re raspberries! I didn’t know that before! They seem smaller. I can see over the top. The thing about raspberries, you bite them and the seeds get stuck between your teeth. But if you don’t bite down all the way, you can squish them with your tongue.”
“How did you learn that?”
“I don’t exactly remember, it could have been that girl scout trip I went on…”
“How did you find the door to the building?”
“I didn’t. I couldn’t see over the top so I just went straight in.”
“There wasn’t a path?”
“There might have been. I wasn’t looking for one.”
“What would have been different if you’d found a path into the structure?”
“I suppose it might have led to a door, a way through the brambles. Somebody living in the building would have had to have a way to get past the brambles to get to the door, I suppose.”
“Where would we find a path?”
“We could circle the building and see if we can see a door, and the path would be leading away from the door.”
“What do you want to do if you find the path?”
“See if someone lives there?”
We walk around the building and find the door and sure enough, there’s a path and a fence with a gate. It isn’t locked so we go in. We knock on the door and a big burly guy answers the door. He looks like he could star in a western. He greets us with a big smile and a “Howdy!” It smells glorious in the cabin. Something is cooking. He has a wood stove in the middle of the room, a dining table near the wall, and handmade chairs. There are fresh flowers in the window well. He grabs a towel and pulls out a pie. He says he was out hunting this morning and saw us come into the tourist area. He had canned some raspberries and just threw them into a pie.
Now, this is weird, we’ve only been hiking for about 10 min…oh, hmm. We’ve already been hiking for an hour? Where did the time go? It must be subjective on this hike! In a blink, the pie is cut up and put on metal plates like you’d get in a camping set. Our host tells us about the area and some stories, and then he puts some raspberries and blackberries in a box so they won’t squish when we carry them.
I decide that I want to head back to the trailhead and so we head back up to where the cabin path meets the main trail. Every few steps, Christian is asking, “What’s under that rock?” and we have to look! Sometimes it’s worms, sometimes it’s roly-polies, we found an arrowhead under one and discovered that one of the rocks was a corn grinder. Then he’d say, “Is that water I hear?” and we’d have to go see the waterfall and the cute little stream.
So, we didn’t get even a quarter of the way to the end of the hike, and yet uncovered so much fascinating and beautiful and curious stuff. The distance we traveled in 1 hour should have taken no more than 10 minutes, and instead of finishing the hike, we took two hours to discover the area. But I had been on this path countless times and had never seen any of this stuff. This trail was just a way to get from the trailhead to the destination where we’d look and say, “Now ain’t that pretty!” take some pictures and then turn around and come back. I had missed all these interesting things, and I’d never met the guy in the cabin.
The purpose of the hike is not to ARRIVE somewhere, but to enjoy the journey. The journey is part of a process, and when you stop (because you never finish!) you have become more. More aware, more conscious, more curious, more adventurous, and more brave.
If you have a coach, you are giving the grand tour of your inner world, taking a hike with someone who’s never seen it before. If you have a really good coach, he asks you about everything, including some things you have never explored. You learn things about yourself; you clarify your thoughts and feelings; you keep what you like and discard what doesn’t suit you. You explore like a child and you grow into a much better person.
I would take Christian Simpson on any hike again!
1 thought on “Taking Christian Simpson on a Hike”
Good point about letting someone who is willing to ask questions explore your inner world with you.