Last month, my son Nate and I accomplished our 4 day, 70 mile PCT hike, which feels great, now that my blisters have healed. We weren’t home more than a few hours, however, before he was planning his next stint along Oregon’s 450 mile section, this time with a friend.
Should I let him go? It wasn’t an easy decision.
I’m not one to hold my kids back. When they were younger, I was the parent letting them climb ‘too high’ on the play structure at the park, inviting the wrath of the overprotective types. As they grew, I was the first mom on the block to say ‘yes’ to longer bike rides, wider neighborhood boundaries, and wilder tree-climbing. Hiking the PCT alongside my firstborn was never meant to be a dead-end adventure. Even as we planned that hike, I knew it would be the beginning of something much bigger.
He’s 16, and I want him to be adventurous, confident, and competent as a young adult. Quite possibly, at this time in his life, the best path to get him there may be the PCT. He’s learning by doing, and with each accomplishment on the trail, he’s growing into a smarter, stronger, and yes, safer young man.
So I let him take the trek. (And proceeded to not sleep well for the three nights he camped out in the wilderness.) He and his buddies had a grand adventure, and he’s crossed another 30 miles off his PCT map. Only 350 to go.