12 Years, 6288 Feet
Late in the summer of 2001 I climbed Mt. Washington (the highest peak in the Northeast, famous for its high winds and severe weather) with a group of friends. I knew some in the group well, others I was just meeting for the first time. One of them was a guy, named Mark who I thought was kind of cute. We ended up hiking together and over the two hours up the mountain got to know each other. Fast forward two years and that cute guy asked me to marry him and I said yes.
Every year since 2001, Mark and I hike the same 6,288 feet to the summit as an anniversary of when we met. When we were young and newly married we talked about the day we would bring our kids up. "We'll get one of those hiking packs," we said. "And then one day they'll be able to do it on their own." It was all far in the future, or so it seemed. Because now that time is here.
For the past four years we've done it with kids. In 2009 I hiked five months pregnant with Sophia, in 2010 she made her second summit at 9 months old, last year at 18 months and this year with Sophia at 2 and 1/2 and with me six months pregnant we made our fourth summit with kids.
When we hike we bring up old memories: Do you remember what we talked about here? What was your impression of me then? Remember that year it rained? Remember after we hiked with Max and Alyssa we found the Flatbread Co. and started that tradition? Remember...Remember.
Our hope is that one day our kids can say the same kind of things; that their minds will be filled with memories of the hike; that our tradition will become their tradition: a family tradition.
We still talk about the future when we hike: Next year will be so hard, Sophia will be too big for the carrier. There will be a day when we have to drive up. Can you imagine doing this with three kids? When we're too old to hike, we'll have to meet our kids at the top. Will they even want to keep hiking it?
And we say things like: If anything every happens to me you have to do it one more time, even if I'm not there.
We'll keep hiking Mt. Washington in the years to come as best we can. One foot in front of the other, all 6,288 of them.