I’ve been hiking with my daughter for over ten years. At first, we would take short walks around Pelton Pond in Fahnestock State Park. At a distance of 1.5 miles, she would run ahead and explore every inch of the trail and the woods around her. As she grew up, the distance and difficulty of the hikes increased and she would hike ahead not to explore, but because I was to slow!
One of the things that I was able to do over the years was give her the knowledge on how to be a “good” hiker. From simple acts such as reading trail markers and maps to first aid and what to do if you are lost, she knows it all.
My daughter is now 16 and yesterday asked to go on a hike with a friend. She has never gone on a hike before without any type adult supervision and I will admit I was nervous. Why was I nervous? I really have no idea. I know how prepared she is, but that didn’t help alleviate my anxiety. So for the next couple of hours I peppered her with questions and scenarios about things that could never possibly happen. You would have that she was headed up K2.
When I dropped the both of them at the trailhead, I came to another unpleasant realization. My little girl is growing up. Between this and her getting her learners permit, I’m sure what to do. She doesn’t need me to point her in the right direction anymore. She doesn’t need me to harp on her about having enough water or a first aid kit. She knows this and is well prepared for any adventure.
As sad as I am about this, I am also proud of the young woman that she has become. Full of confidence, she now has the ability to do what she wants to do. I know it may seem trivial that I am using hiking as an example, but I think I was more surprised at my apprehension when she asked to go hiking with her friend. Just to clarify-I know some adults that I wouldn’t trust out in the woods alone!
So I guess that this will be the same as with my son. I have to resign myself to the fact that she doesn’t need me as much as she used to. I have to let her get out and about without being right on top of her. This, too, has been a tough pill to swallow.