One year, it was fairly warm at the bottom where we parked the car--warm for the end of October anyway--but by the time we got to the summit, there was two or three feet of snow, and it was quite a bit colder. We passed another family with a teenage daughter on the narrow path that led along the ridge. The daughter, dressed in fashionable sweatpants and a pair of pink sneakers, was sitting on a rock by the side of the trail. She was crying and sniffling and refusing to go on. She looked miserable. Her father was trying to reason with her. "You can't just stay here," he argued. But she wouldn't move. When her father suggested they turn around and go back down, she said, "No, I'm not going." When her father suggested that they continue in the direction they were going, she wailed, "No, I'm not going." Her father was clearly getting frustrated with the situation, and the girl, blaming her father for her own misery and the perceived ills of the natural world, decided she would make everyone around her as miserable as she was. She wanted another choice--one that didn't entail walking anywhere in the cold for the next few hours. The funny part--if there was anything funny about being on the top of a snow-covered mountain in the late afternoon with the only option being a four-hour hike in either direction with someone clearly not dressed for it--was how simple the situation appeared from the outside. They couldn't stay there for long, so the only choice--and they were both really the same--was which way to go down. Whether they went forward or back, it was about the same distance. It wasn't really a Hobson's Choice, but it seemed almost as simple.
We left them there, so I don't know what eventually happened to them. We continued on, but it wasn't quite the hike we had planned. The wind picked up and it started to snow. The rocky path along the ridge got more and more treacherous. However, we knew the trail, having hiked it many times before, and we knew that it would be a lot easier once we made it down to the tree line, and chances were there wouldn't be any snow down there. But up on the top, the path could be slippery, and it was no place to fall and get seriously hurt. Of course, we always tell our kids not to fall or "Be careful; don't slip," as if you had any say in the matter.
|Without a strong root, the tree falls.|