Monday, August 24, 2009

Father, Son and Wilderness

Recently, our son Matt and I spent a memorable 5 days in the Pecos Wilderness of New Mexico. The trip was a few weeks in advance of Matt setting off on the adventure of pursuing a doctoral degree at the University of Georgia. His pending move is what sent us to that dusty trailhead northeast of Santa Fe - looking for adventure and memories together before he moved.

The Pecos Wilderness is a prisine and beautiful Wilderness area that contains 13,000 foot peaks, trout streams, incredible wildflower displays and miles of amazing trail. One of the crowns of this Wilderness is the Truchas peaks - which were our goal for this trip. We hiked in, climbing steadily past Pecos Baldy Lake, across the incredible Trail Riders Wall, and then into the basin below the towering Truchas Peaks.

Over the next few days, we had some unforgettable adventures climbing peaks, camping out, fly fishing and hiking trails. On one memorable day, we attempted to climb Truchas Peak. We climbed up off the trail and reorganized into a single pack. Over the next couple of hours, we ascended a sub-peak of Truchas and decided that was high enough for that day. The time we spent on the peak soaking in the views was amazing. As we sat behind a rock on the edge of the peak sharing a powerbar, an Osprey rocketed by at mach speed. We both took this bird as a good omen for the future and headed back down the mountain.

That night we spent at Beatty's Flats after hiking through head-high wildflowers all afternoon. Later I got to watch Matt catch his first native brown trout on a fly rod near our campsite as the sun dropped out of the sky. The next day brought more fly fishing at Beatty's flats and then on the Pecos River. We waded in our hiking shoes - letting them dry out on the trail as we walked. All too soon we found ourselves back at the trailhead sign and our trip was over.
I've been thinking a lot about our trip during the month that has passed since we stood together at the trailhead in New Mexico. I've struggled to put my finger on what it meant to spend those days with my son in the wilderness. Life is changing for both of us. Matt and his wife are on to a new huge adventure in Georgia. Becky and I are even more like empty nesters than we were before. None of us know what the future holds. The thing I do know is that I am so thankful for the time I was able to spend with Matt before they moved on.

One thing that occurs to me in all of this is that the Wilderness is one of the threads that ties our family together. Wilderness serves as a backdrop for us to be together, enjoy each other and build memories for the future. It allows us to accomplish something that we can be proud of and remember. Wilderness cuts through the clutter of life - no work stress, no cell phone, no email.

Nothing to do but to experience life together. And what would be a better way to send a son off to new adventures than to have one with him?