Friday, May 11, 2012

Your Mother Wears Hiking Boots

My mother does indeed wear hiking boots.I have never understood this to be an insult, as I think my mom is pretty bad ass. She also wore basketball shoes. She also wears the title of teacher, cancer fighter and mother. She, like most mothers, is truly an inspiration and she is one of the reasons I got into hiking.

My Mom and I at the Great Wall of China
                Back in the 80’s my mom and dad would take me hiking around the Skagit Valley. They would carry me when my little legs got tired, and would give me snacks when I started getting grouchy. They would load my sister and I in the car and drive for hours, looking for birds, animals and sweeping vistas. My dad was always the one to be gung-ho about it, but my mom brought emotion and compassion into hiking. For me, she was the one who introduced the gentleness and awesomeness of nature. She was the one who stopped me from stepping on ants and instead had me watch them.
                As a child, she was the one who told me it was ok to cry when Yellowstone was burning. Having just been there the year before, I was crushed and never imagined that the area would recover, but every year, she made sure we went back. My mom is the reason I fell in love with Yellowstone, and Yellowstone is the reason I hike.  My mom also taught me at a very young age to always pack extra gear, food and water because you never know what might happen. My mom is the reason I survived while lost in the North Cascades.

                In high school, my family went on a long hike across the Olympic Mountains and my mom was inspiration to not give up. We were tired, had little water and were roasting under the sun, yet she kept a pace that got us to camp. Trudging along, we were beat, but I saw that if my mom could handle it, I needed to as well. We still talk about this trip, and while it wasn't ideal (thanks to my grandpa thinking we needed 4 large jars of peanut butter and 3 jugs of maple syrup for a week long hike), it was time spent together. 

Hanging out with my mom at Tienanmen Square
                4 years ago, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. It devastated me to a degree she doesn’t know. I had to get out, I had to hike, and I had to connect with nature because that is how my mom and I bonded. She had surgery and so far she is doing well, but is still unable to hike or get out much. She still goes to Yellowstone almost every year. She loves watching the wolves and looking for moose. She loves nature, and passed that down to me. My mom flew out to China to visit me when I lived there, despite health issues and a multitude of other stresses. She has supported me in my good days and my bad days. 

Because of numerous new health issues, my mom may never hike again, but every time I see her, she still has a pair of hiking boots near the door, just in case she can get back out and enjoy the great outdoors again.

I love you mom, Happy Mother’s Day!

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