06 Sep That’s a long shadow!
The night before I was going to climb a mountain by myself, my wife got a call from a friend who needed her to take her daughter to the emergency room. I went to sleep, and two hours later, my wife flipped on the light in the bedroom and I thought, “What the heck?” To my great surprise, the emergency room story was a ruse, and she flew my son home from West Point for the Labor Day weekend to accompany me on my climb to celebrate my 50th. I generally dislike surprises, but this was a wonderful surprise. At dinner that night, I told my wife my pack was heavier than I’d prefer, and I was missing my son. Not just because he’d carry a heavier pack, but we have the best conversations when we climb.
Four hours after he surprised me, we were in the car headed to the trailhead for Huron Peak in the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado. We started climbing just as the sun was coming up, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The trail had three sections. Steep switchbacks through the trees; a gradual climb through a meadow; and a steep section above tree line. When we hit the top of a ridge, we were met with a beautiful rising sun that cast long shadows across the rocks. As we hiked I noticed that our shadows were in synch, and my son’s shadow overshadowed mine. I said, “That’s a long shadow!” I wasn’t thinking deep thoughts per se, because I was focused on pushing because my son was literally on my heels. I started to think that at the age of 50, the best thing I could wish for is that my kids continue to overshadow me as they pursue their dreams.
It was indeed a great weekend, and a reminder that even a little adversity, like climbing, provides a perspective that would otherwise be elusive.