I’m in Arizona with my boys and my parents for part of Christmas Break. We have one tradition we seem to do every year: hike a granite summit called Pinnacle Peak. This mountain rises to an elevation of 3,169 feet, but hikers follow a rocky 1.75 mile trail (3.5 miles, or 5.6 km round trip) to reach an elevation of 2,889 feet (881 metres). The trail opens up to stunning scenic desert views, and all along the route, we trek through the flora and fauna native to the Sonoran Desert. We often see people running the entire trail while others walk at a more leisurely pace with hiking poles at their sides. We’ve taken the kids every year, but every year they complain about how tired they are and ask, “Are we there yet?” every few feet.
But this year was different. Josh and I hiked with my dad to the mid-way point of the trail. My dad turned around to check on my mom and older son Ari, who were progressing at a slower pace.
“Josh, do you want to keep on going?” I asked my five-year-old.
“Ya,” he said.
Hand in hand, we walked on enjoying the trail and the weather and the chance to have some one-on-one time. We chatted about school and looked at the different types of cactus plants along the route. I explained that we have to look down at our feet, and not off in the distance, so that we don’t trip and fall. I made sure he walked on the inside of the path that hugged the mountain, while I took the outside lane, closest to the steep drop off. I showed him the places that were more likely to be slippery, and I pulled him up when he tripped over rocks along the way.
“Josh, should we turn around now? It’s going to be a long way back,” I said on a brief water break.
“No, let’s keep going,” he said.
Before I knew it, we were nearly at the end and by that point we had no choice but to touch the “End of Pinnacle Peak” sign. I wanted Josh to have that feeling of accomplishment, to experience the glory of being one of the few—and perhaps only kid in SK—to ever complete the trail. It wouldn’t be good enough to say, “We almost made it.” I wanted Josh to be able to say, “We did it.” I didn’t have a cell phone on me, and asked a nice mother-son pair of hikers to snap our picture and email it to me when we reached the end of the trail.
We then began the long hike back.
“Josh, when Zaida sees us he’s going to be mad at me for taking you all the way to the end, so no complaining, ok, or I will be in more trouble.”
Sure enough, when my dad reached us on the way back, I got the “are you an idiot” lecture, but Josh seemed to understand what was at stake and we trekked on. Eventually, my dad perked up, praising Josh for this historic feat of endurance and stamina.
“Josh, you are the only five-year-old to hike Pinnacle Peak,” he said happily. I don’t think he believed Josh would make it. I myself was afraid I’d end up having to carry him back, but Josh trudged on.
When we finally reached the beginning of the trail again, hand in hand, and found my mom and Ari, I knew there was a lesson in all of this. Perhaps there were many. This hike proves what you can do when you put your mind to something. It doesn’t matter how big or small you are, how strong or how weak. It shows how sometimes you just need a little encouragement — a hand to hold — to achieve goals you didn’t even know you had. It shows that big things can happen to little people and that success is always in reach.
I am proud of my son’s accomplishment and was excited to plan our trek for next year.
“Josh, now that you did it once, you can do it every year,” I told him.
“Nah,” he said. “I don’t ever want to do this again.”
He was pretty exhausted by the end of the hike. He is only five after all!