I mentioned we might hike, we might hike this area called Pinnacle Peak. I said it casually, as we were packing for a
weekend trip to Phoenix to see JD. “Remember to bring some good shoes for hiking, and shorts and a hoodie,” I said to my 15-year old daughter. I think she was planning a weekend of eating and shopping. She already had a list of all of the restaurants we had back in Chicago that we could no longer find in Los Angeles. She packed “cute” meaning she was expecting lots of photos, knowing that when JD and I got together in the past, it mostly involved shopping, seeing cool stuff and after we launched WGW, taking photos of well, everything.
My daughter has not really seen me hike. When we went to Sequoia and King’s Canyon our hiking was limited to
basic trails, although we conquered a lot of miles, it was on the mostly flat ground. There have been a few hikes she has joined in when we went hiking at Big Bear or Lake Arrowhead, but she has always opted out while I hiked with my husband or my oldest daughter instead.
She also knows I have a fear of heights.
So when JD had driven to a point where we could see Pinnacle Peak in the distance, JD pointed to it and said “that’s it, that’s where we are hiking.” Daughter shrugged whatever. I then said “to the top,” watching her for her reaction. She actually took the earbuds out of her ears and her eyes got wide. “To the top of THAT?” she looked at me like I was crazy, then like I was kidding, then I could see the wheels spinning in her head of how to try to get out of this.
She was still not entirely believing us as we parked the car and started unloading gear. JD insisted she takes not one, but two water bottles. “Mom,” she whispered, “since when do you and JD hike mountains?” (for more on this, read the article JD Discovers a Love of Hiking). I explained this actually a moderate trail, it’s only going up about 3,000 feet (none of this was reassuring to her). JD’s sister pulled up alongside us to join the hike and we set off.
In the beginning, Daughter had this look on her face like…she hated this, she hated hiking, she hated me, possibly all of the above.
When we got to the first spot where we could start to get some views, you could tell her mood softened. She raised her eyebrows as she peered over the edge and I could the “oh wow” expression on her face. She now set off with a little bit quicker pace in her step. But the climb here began to get steeper, and it was mid-morning in Arizona and sweat started to trickle down our back. There was a strong thunderstorm the night before, and the trail was broken, split down the middle and uneven. It was starting to get crowded and trying to navigate narrow passageways made her annoyed. “Do we really have to go all the way to the top?” She asked. I’m tired. I’m hungry. My feet hurt. I’m hungry. I’m hungry. (I heard that about every 50 feet). “Yes,” I said. “You have to go all the way to the top.” “Why?” she whined. “Because,” (typical mom answer) “You will be proud of yourself and glad you did it when you reach the top.” She just rolled her eyes at me.
We continued climbing. JD’s sister telling the story of when she also moved out here from Illinois and finding a whole new life in submersing herself in hiking and nature. How she started hiking Lost Dog trail (which JD and I hiked on my previous trip) to Pinnacle Peak and how she just hiked Camelback Mountain, by herself, and the four-hour trek it took. She pointed to it off in the distance. I could see Daughter looking at her with a new respect. The three of us, us women, continued our hike, talking about hiking and finding ourselves, just finding out who we are; how far we can push ourselves, the fact that we push each other…and we reached the ViewPoint Overlook.
Daughter was so excited. Great! We did it! She slugged some water and took some photos and texted all of her friends the pics talking about how she climbed a mountain, and how it was in the desert and going on and on…until we tapped her on the shoulder and told her this wasn’t the top yet. “SERIOUSLY?” eyes wide. And off we went.
When we did reach the highest hikable point, and she looked out over the side to see the amazing views, I could see the pride in her shoulders and her smile. Her eyes were lit up, and well, the rest of her was just sweaty. She saw me standing there, watching her and came over and said to me (hold on, I have to put this in bold)
“Mom, you were right. I’m glad you made me do this.”
We finished our hike, but it was the idea that she “hiked to the very top of a mountain” which was something that both never occurred to her, or had any inclination to ever do anyway, was now an achievement to show her what she could do. Watching us three moms from a suburban town (no mountains, all midwestern flatland) do it spurred her on to do it too.
I value this-having an opportunity to have her see me challenge myself and my fears, to see me surround myself with other strong women to encourage and support each other.
We came down after the hike, and as we went back to the car, I heard her calling her friend “that’s right, on the Mountain. To the Top. With my Mom”. And she texted her the photo of us at the top. Daughter laughed, turned to me and said “She said that this photo right there, that’s mother-daughter goals right there”.
How true that is.
After reading this article, Daughter asked to add her own note:
From Daughter: My mom has always been my biggest inspiration. She has taught me to never back down no matter how hard the challenge is. Climbing up to Pinnacle Peak is now one of my favorite memories with her. It was such a surreal experience to be able to accomplish something so extreme – with my mom. I will always be forever grateful for her pushing me to do things outside of my comfort zone. Now I know – anything is possible. Thank you muma. I love you more than you know.
Life Lesson: No matter how hard, no matter how challenging, it never hurts to try.