I want to wish all you mothers, mothers-to-be, hoping to be a mother and mothering in non-traditional ways a Happy Mother’s Day!
This is a day about taking care of mom. Giving her a break. Letting her sleep in. Taking her to breakfast. Letting her kick back and be pampered.
Oh? I wish I’d known.
When my beloved son, Eric, asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day in 2015, I said I wanted time with him. My husband suggested we go away overnight somewhere on a hike. Eric and I both love hiking and it sounded perfect. Eric jumped at the idea and with great enthusiasm decided it would be good for me to climb Mt. Osceola. It’s a double peaked mountain. The east peak is 4, 157 feet high. The main summit is 4,314 feet. “It will be a great challenge for you, Mom!”
I have done about half the 4,000 footers in New Hampshire. But that was back in my thirties. I had just turned fifty-five in April. I hadn’t climbed in nearly twenty years! Was I up for the challenge?
I did prepare. Somewhat. I walked every day after work. Two-three miles. Roadside. Minimal incline. By May 9th, 2015, I was ready. I hoped.
We stayed overnight at a lodge in Lincoln, had a great burger and had a couple of brews for supper and chatted through the evening, though not too late. We had an early start in the morning.
The first mile of the 6.8 miles (round trip) hike to the main peak is flat walking. It was a beautiful, sunny, warm day. The brook crossing was easy. Snapping photos of the lovely spring wildflowers was delightful. I was thinking how glad I was we did this. How glad I was that I got into shape. This was going to be a cake walk.
At the 1.2 mile mark, you turn off Greeley Pond Trail onto the Osceola Trail. All semblance of flat, easy walking disappears. The work begins. There is a tight scramble up The Chimney. That was kind of fun. Then we came to a granite slab that turned my veins to the same ice that covered the slab. Springtime in the White Mountains comes in stages. The lovely wildflowers and flowing brooks down below don’t quite reach the higher elevations and snow and ice sometimes last into June. Oh, and did I forget to mention that I have a fear of heights?
Anything that remotely looks like I could slide to my untimely death leads eventually to a panic attack.
But I had my son, the hike master, with me. He wouldn’t purposely try to kill me. Would he? If I fell, he’d save me. Right? And this wasn’t really a heart attack coming on. Was it?
After some struggle, and no heart attack, I made it across. Then we hit snow. The trail became narrow, though well packed, and the climb got serious. I became my son’s worst nightmare. To his credit, he was nothing but patient with my snail’s pace and need to stop every few feet to breath and stave off the heart attack I was sure was coming.
How was he going to get me out of here when my heart stopped? Was the AMC rescue squad going to have to come and get me. How embarrassing. I was not going to let that happen. Keep going. One foot in front of the other.
At 2.8 miles and after a supreme effort on my part, we hit the east peak which some guides say has no views. That is not so. There were really great views across to the ridge and another great view of the main peak a mile away. But the east peak was over 4,000 feet and that was my goal. There was no way I was going to trek another mile in snow up another 300 feet. I was going to sit right here, have a drink and a snack, and wait for Eric to zip over to the main peak and back.
It was a beautiful day. I chatted with a couple of hikers, took pictures and counted my blessings. Eric returned and had a snack and we took a few more pictures, including the one with this blog.
Heading down would be easy. Yup. Easy.
For a while, it was. Then we came back to the granite slab. Oh, I’d forgotten about that. It was no less scary a crossing, but I made it and thought I was golden!
Somewhere, in a relatively non-descript portion of the trail, the unthinkable happened!
I fell. Really fell, landing squarely on my knee. Not about to wimp out over it, I got up and kept going. My knee hurt, though I knew nothing was broken. I could feel a wet spot in the vicinity of my knee, but I did not even want to look. Still had a couple of miles to get off the trail. Just. Keep. Going.
Finally made it back to the Greeley Pond Trail and an easy mile hike out to the trailhead where I did look at my knee and discovered a nasty, bloody gash, but nothing that needed stitches. However, it left me a memento of the day. To this day, if I press on the right side of my knee, I feel a nerve twitch on the upper left side of the knee. Weird, huh?
You would think that by the time I made it back to the car, I would be half dead and swearing never to do it again. Nope. I was tired, but happy to have met the challenge. Next stop- Lincoln, and a Guinness to celebrate success.
I guess I’m not the kind of mom who wants to be pampered. I enjoyed the challenge of the 4,000-footer, though at times I’m sure it didn’t seem so to Eric. Would I do it again? I absolutely love spending time with my son. I’m so proud of what he has accomplished with his passion. I might, though, just hit the ponds and not the peaks. That said, this was simply the best Mother’s Day ever!