Hunting and hiking with a son

Our boys usually come to hunt at the

same time but this year, Tug, our oldest, had

to come a week later. He’s a quiet guy with

dry humor and a slow smile and I’ve always

said he was born older and more grown up

than me. He’d readily agree if we asked

him, so we won’t.

I’d come down with a head cold and

wasn’t feeling topnotch but since Tug was

here, I decided I’d go with him to look for

an elk. I texted Gar, “I’ve rearranged my

schedule and I’m going with Tug tomorrow.”

I could almost feel Gar hesitating,

fingers hovering over his phone. Finally,

his ominous reply, “He’s gonna be walking.”

I frowned; I knew that. I figured Gar’s

concern was that Tug is a muscled 6-foot,

1-inch and I’m a dumpy 5-foot, 1-inch so to

the casual observer we’d look like a dachshund

and a greyhound.

That night I put my backpack by the

door, made my lunch for the next day and

texted our daughter, the mountain climber.

“I’m hunting with your brother tomorrow.”

She replied, “Will you be able to keep up –

no offense.” Then added a laughing emoji.

What a disrespectful lowlife.

Gar got out his LL Bean walking sticks

and adjusted them to my size, short and

wide. As I kissed him goodnight, he gave

me a wan smile and being semi-serious,

whispered, “I’d use your cold as an excuse

not to go.” First the daughter and now

him? I ignored the complete lack of faith in

me and crawling under the covers, put my

chilly bum on his side of the bed. That’ll

teach him.

Next morning Tug and I were at the

destination before daylight but I could

tell even in the semi-darkness that the

mountain was straight up. I must have

hesitated because I heard Tug say, “Ya,

this will be the worst part.” My stomach

tightened a little, it can only tighten

a little – stretch marks. For a moment, I

cringed at the 45-degree angle, then as an

afterthought Tug quietly voiced, “And we

have to cross a creek.” My eyebrows shot

up to my hair roots and I meant to say,

“What?” But I think I said something else.

Tug calmly crossed and here is where you

might be thinking he’d be helpful. No, my

children’s motto is, “If she dies, she dies.”

Thankfully I’d just waterproofed my

boots so after a bit of lip biting, and Tug

mentioning, “It’s probably only an inch

deep,” I forded the stream masterfully.

However, hiking up the hill was about as

close to a near-death experience as I’d

want to encounter. I’m pretty sure me and

that mountain were never meant to meet,

yet here we were. I climbed then paused

and climbed again, praying for deliverance

when I felt fairly certain it was my last

breath this side of heaven. I’ll admit it was

not my finest moment, but I ordered God

to, “Rapture me!” I’d have yelled, “Give me

oxygen or give me death” but the latter was

already in progress. Then I looked above

me and felt instant, joyous, gladsome relief

upon realizing Tug was also gasping for air.

I was practically giddy as I clawed the rest

of the way up.

To make a long story short, we hunted till

1 p.m., trudging quietly, and only once when

I accidentally snapped a twig, did Mr. Stoic

give me the “look.” I grimaced, shrugged

an apology, and put one gloved finger up a

nostril. He rolled his eyes, shook his head

and forged forward, pretending to be slogging

solo. We made our way over deadfall,

examined scat and tracks and ate lunch on a

log, talking softly, while watching the snow

come down. My phone tracked us walking

6 miles, 12,000 steps and 36 floors. Did we

get an elk? No. Was I sad we didn’t get an

elk? No. Would I have had to help pack it

out? I’m guessing.

Later, Gar told me TO MY FACE he was

amazed I did it. Exasperated, I responded,

“Upon returning home, I did laundry,

scrubbed bathrooms, balanced the checkbook

and cooked dinner!”

That evening we took a ride to a waterhole

where Tug and Gar sat and watched.

I sat and dozed; my Supergirl cape was

wilting. I texted a few friends about my

day and my smart-alecky accountant texted

back, “I’m impressed with your hike up the

mountain but even more impressed with the

fact that you balanced your checkbook.” I

get no respect.

Trena Eiden can be reached at [email protected]


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