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Risk Taking As A Parent

 

Recently there has been a lot of discussion going around the blogosphere about adventuring and taking risks as a parent. Quite a few parents have been sharing stories about what risk takers they were pre-child and how their risk taking has toned way down or become null since they’ve become parents. I wrote about this a couple years ago when I talked about how my adventurous ways have changed.

It hasn’t been until recently that I was confronted with some risk taking that I have done multiple times in the past, before J-Man was born.

Bedge and I went on our first hike without J-Man. EVER! Yeah, in 4 years every hike that we have taken together has been with J-Man. It was about time we cut loose and did some hiking on our own. Right?

We decided about a week ago that while J-Man was in school we would summit the highest peak in the La Sal Mountains here in Moab. Mt. Peale is at an elevation of 12,726 feet. Not very high if you’ve already summited 14,000+ feet mountains before.

There are no trail guides, maps or concrete directions for this hike. You can Google various route descriptions and piece them all together but in the end you’re pretty much on your own to find your way up. With all the puzzle pieces we knew we needed to make our way to the bottom of a gulley that begins the climb up a talus slope, once at the top of the slope there would be a well worn path to the summit. Sounds pretty easy, right? Well, talus slopes aren’t something to take lightly. They are actually pretty dangerous. You are walking/climbing on bits of rock ranging in size from little pebbles to gigantic boulders. Most rocks move or slide once you place your foot on them and the chance of a rock slide is fairly high. You have to move slow and with caution.

I have to say that as I was getting higher up on the talus slope I was getting more and more uncomfortable. I was clearly aware of the danger and I knew I was testing my odds. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve climbed up a talus slope or traversed a scree area without hesitation. I’ve always enjoyed the adventure and the heightened awareness it creates. This time though, I was very uneasy.

Hiker on talus slopephoto courtesy of Bret Edge

I kept thinking to myself as I was climbing…

Why am I so uncomfortable?

What’s making me so nervous?

Is it because I’m a bit rusty with my scrambling abilities?

Is it because I haven’t taken risks or had an adrenaline rush in so long?

Is it because my legs are a bit tired from the strenuous hike the previous day?

I’m sure it was a little bit of all of that but mostly I know that my nervousness and uneasiness came from the fact that I’m a mom. All I kept thinking about was J-Man and the ‘what if’s’ if something happened to me, Bedge or the both of us.

Once we arrived at the top of the talus slope and were on solid ground the uneasiness subsided and I wanted to press on. We made it to the saddle between Mt. Peale and Mt. Tukanukavitz. The view was absolutely stunning.

Here we were standing in an alpine setting looking out over the mountains and into the desert. It was a breath taking view for sure.

Hiker Enjoying View of Castle Valley from La Sal Mountains-Editphoto courtesy of Bret Edge

The next portion of the hike was to traverse the Razor Fang, a very rocky ridge with no trail. It requires class three and class four scrambling.

The Razor Fang of Mt. Peale

We started our approach and noticed storm clouds quickly building. We scoped out the Razor Fang to see the route and realized that we would not have enough time to traverse it, make it to the summit and back down before the storm was right overhead. No way, no how do you want to be on the summit of a mountain during a thunderstorm. Apparently numerous people have been struck by lightning and there’s been one death from someone falling up there. (We found out after we got back home.) We decided to turn around and head back down.

With a bit of disappointment we made it safely back to the car.

Dissapointed hikers

I have to say after looking back on that hike and the uneasiness I felt I’m not sure I would attempt the summit again.

Are my risk taking days over? I’m not sure. I think right now I will take one adventure at a time and if the uneasiness rises with each adventure I will turn around and call it good until the next adventure tests me again.

 

 

Do you take risks more or less now that you’re a parent? What’s the biggest risk you’ve taken as a parent?

 

Comments

  1. I am so with you on the risk taking now that I’m a Mom. I feel like I’ve turned into such a wimp lately…definitely worry more, and unfortunately less spontaneous & will to throw caution to the wind.

    Love how you two got to do a “date hike” though! That’s great.

  2. The older I get, the more I take scree and talus seriously. For me, it’s about the rocks that get knocked down by people above. On my last scramble a person who was on the verge of panic while descending some tricky scree on slab knocked a huge rock down that almost took another person’s head off. No climbing helmet in the world would have been tough enough to save her. These days I feel safer mountaineering than scrambling, but I admit that I’m able to put thoughts of my kids out of my mind whenever I’m on the mountain. I need a clear head to get down safely and come home to them. At the end of the day I’ve accepted that hauling my butt up to the top of a mountain is a selfish pass time when looked at from the outside, regardless of the fact that it makes me a much better dad when I get back down.

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