Shared memories of family vacations

The beauty of the Colorado landscape is a lasting memory from a family vacation. The agony of the hike is another. Photo by RJ Johnson

Vacation is a great time to create family memories. This year we decided to take a hiking vacation in Granby, Colorado. Each day had its own hiking adventure. Because I grew up in Colorado, I knew how to vary our hikes so every hike had its own unique flavor.

The first couple of days consisted of short, relatively flat hikes while our bodies became acclimated to the thinner air at high altitude. The third day was the forced march.

The hike started at a trailhead at about 8,300 feet above sea level. The guidebooks all said the first mile was challenging. Over the first mile we gained 1,000 feet of elevation. This would be like getting on a treadmill and setting it at the highest incline, then putting rocks on the belt at random intervals. To complete the experience you would need to pump air out of the room, and continue pumping the air out as you ascended. Challenging might have been an understatement. “Lung burner” would have been a better description.

Needless to say, it was not long before comments like, “I don't like this hike,” started. Family vacations are a good way to create family memories. They are also a good way to unite the children against you.

When my sister heard that we were going hiking for our summer vacation, she said, “Sounds like the summer Mom took us all over the Tetons.”

That summer, we grumbled up and down more trails than I can remember. We also loved it when we reached our goal. When we get together, my sister and I still talk about that summer. We talk about the forced marches, and the fun we had.

When we were about four and a half miles into the forced march to Lake Watanga, the boy said, “I've gone as far as I can.”

“You can go a little further,” I replied.

“How do you know?” he said. “You don't know how I'm feeling.”

“You're still breathing,” I said. He did not find that amusing.

We did all make it the last half mile to to the lake at an elevation of just over 11,000 feet. Everyone was smiling. We had accomplished our goal, and found a lake that most people will never get to see.

Hopefully, someday my children will have children, and one of them will decide to take them on a hiking vacation. Then the other can say, “Remember that summer when Mom and Dad made us hike all over the Rockies?" They will both smile. They will remember the sense of accomplishment, and it will be something they can share for a lifetime.

RJ Johnson

I have been a priest for 16 years.  I spent the first four years in Minnesota and Wisconsin, six years on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, before becoming the pastor at Advent Episcopal Church in Westlake in 2010.  If anyone would find it interesting I have a son and daughter, which I refer to as a matched set, a wife, a dog, and a cat.

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Volume 7, Issue 16, Posted 9:37 AM, 08.18.2015