I stumbled off the trail and lost my breakfast behind a tree. This was a
disaster! I wasn’t even a third of the way into the hike with my family,
and I was a pathetic mess.
Just days before, I had called my Uncle John. I begged, “May I please go on
the hike this year? I know I’m old enough to handle it.”
“I’ll have to discuss it with the others,” he answered.
“Don’t worry, I already did and they said it was okay!” I told him. Well,
to be honest, I’m not sure it was much of a discussion… it sounded more
like an attack from a whiny little girl…
“Pleeeeeease let me go with you! It isn’t fair that only the three of you
get to go.”
“But this is our special trip, it’s always been just us and our uncles,” my
brother, Jake, scoffed.
I appealed to my Dad next, “Pleeeeease may I go on the hiking trip this
year? Jake is being super mean and it’s totally not fair!”
I used the same tactic on my cousins as well. Morgan finally gave in,
saying, “Just let her come, maybe she can help us pack up our stuff.”
Well, there I was, barely carrying anything and I wasn’t sure if I could
make it another step! My hurting feet felt like barbells, getting heavier
by the second.
Every summer for years, two of my uncles had taken my brother and older
cousins for a camping trip at Patterson Lake. They always came home with
stories galore about all the fun they had. Like the time they planted rocks
in one uncle’s pack and he didn’t discover them until he was at the top.
“This is some heavy peanut butter!” Uncle Paul had thought the entire seven
mile ascent. All of those memories had created a special camaraderie
between the five of them and now I was infringing on it. I was really
making a mess of things and, now, I was even crying; blubbering, actually,
as I shuffled along the trail. “I knew we never should’ve brought her.” My
brother rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, what a killjoy,” Josh agreed, giving me a dirty look. I felt even
I followed Uncle John, blowing my nose and leaking out all sorts of
tortured noises. I could see the tension building in his neck. It was
turning colors and the veins were getting bigger. All of my stuff that he
had to carry for me was surely growing more burdensome with each of my
“Yeesh, what a whiny baby!” I heard Morgan say.
“She is ruining our trip!” Jake said, “Maybe she can walk down and go home
with Uncle Paul when he comes.”
This is it, I’m ruining their trip. Uncle John had believed in me and
now I was letting him down. I’m such a failure.
I thought of my Dad’s words, “Don’t provoke your brother to anger.” He had
said that one day after I had made Jake really mad. I did that often;
whining until Jake exploded in anger. I had done it again by begging to go
on this trip, knowing Jake didn’t want me to go. I felt so selfish. I was
working up to an apology, between sobs, when Uncle John pivoted abruptly
and faced me, “I’ll just take you home.”
Before I could reply, he took my hand and started back down the trail. “The
rest of you make your way to our normal resting spot and wait until I get
back!” He gave the order to the others with such confidence. He could trust
them. I looked back and saw him set his pack behind a tree. He unstrapped
the bag with my stuff and then started down toward me with long strides.
I was full of shame as I quickly stumbled my way back down the trail. This
was a big deal. Not only would we have to hike down, but Uncle John would
have an hour drive each way, and then he would have to hike back up! They’re all going to hate me forever! I felt more tears welling
The trip home started out really quiet. My blubbering had stopped, as I was
feeling some relief mixed with in with the disappointment. Uncle John was
doing his best to make me feel better. “Well, at least you’ll never have to
worry about camping with those bullies again! They would’ve made you do all
the dishes anyway.”
I gave him a weak smile and then stared out the window. We were descending
the curvy pass, so I turned to look back toward the peak one last time. A
massive, dark, ominous cloud was moving in over it. “Uncle John, look at
His look turned serious when he saw what I was pointing at. He sped up and
tried to explain, “It looks like a freak summer storm!”
When we got to my house my dad met us at the door with a panicked look. “I
just saw that there’s a blizzard on the mountain.”
We quickly explained the situation and I felt like such a loser. My brother
and cousins were stranded on a mountain alone, in a blizzard, because of
“I’d better call my brother,” Uncle John said.
I could hear my other uncle’s voice booming through the telephone, “And you
left them up there alone?” Now poor Uncle John was getting blamed for it.
My other aunt and uncle showed up and all the adults were talking about
what to do. I just wanted to crawl into bed and pull the blanket over my
head. Would I ever be able to show my face again?
A blizzard in July was going to make the record books and it was a serious
situation. They thought about calling Search and Rescue but they figured
Uncle John could make it back up quicker. He was an avid outdoorsmen and in
After he left, the adults sat around grim faced and I thought I could see
blame in their eyes.
“I am so sorry… ” I managed to squeak before scampering to my room. I cried
into my pillow and said a prayer for them. I wondered if my brothers and
cousins would ever speak to me again. They would probably ban me from all
their adventures forever…
The next thing I knew, I heard the door swing open downstairs. “I found
them, Pete!” Uncle John called inside to get everyone’s attention. I began
to exit my room to hear the details of what had happened.
“It was great, Dad!” Jake exclaimed. “I got to use all of my survivor’s
skills that I have been reading up on!”
“We set up a tent, made a fire and had hot chocolate!” My cousin Morgan
“Where’s Kate?” Jake asked.
“Here,” everyone quieted down as I emerged from my room.
“Just think,” Jake said, as he slung his arm around me, “If you hadn’t
wimped out we wouldn’t have had such an adventure!”
“Yeah, thanks!” Morgan added, giving nudging me in the ribs.
Wow, they sure know how to make a person feel better.
I rolled my eyes, but I knew they really were grateful.
I had resolved not to whine for my own way again. I could have fun with my
family, but they needed time to do things for them. I decided that I would
find ways to spend time with them that meant something to me. It’s still
really neat that even out of a bad situation, something fun can emerge. I
knew the same thing could happen with my relationships with my family.