Climb Every Mountain

Just got back from a camping trip where, among other things, we spent a couple days camping at Stone Mountain. The first morning, I cooked up a quick breakfast (camp eggs) and we set out to climb the mountain. The trail is not overly strenuous at its beginning, but it gets pretty steep. At the top, in fact, you can pretty much reach out and touch the surface that you’re about to be standing on.

Our five-year old was pretty tuckered at that point, and understandably so. The hike is about a mile straight up the mountain. Its designers, apparently, had not quite mastered the use of switchbacks.

As we faced that final push up over the crest, the little guy tugged on my hand.

“Shoulders?” he asked.

I bent down to his level. “We’re almost there,” I said. “If you finish by yourself, you’ll have done something that you can really be proud of. Not many kids your age could do this hike.”

His mom joined in. “You can do it. Finish this on your own.”

The little guy looked at each of us, then at his older brother, then at the various other people resting on the rocks. They lounged on the mountainside around us in various stages of distress. Some looked rugged and adventurous, just taking a break to look out over the countryside. Most, however, were red-faced and panting. They clutched their sides as they sat, or leaned over with their eyes closed. One boy, probably around fourteen, leaned against the rock. His body seemed to inflate as he sucked in each breath, then tremble as he released it. He tried to smile.

“Hard climb,” he said. “Really hard.”

My little guy’s jaw clenched. Still holding my hand, he led the rest of the way up the mountain.

That’s my boy!



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