Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Parenting: Part 2 - hiking, falcons & deer

     Hiking and the mountains, much like the beach, have become caught between parenting and caregiving since our daughter’s earliest years. We’ve tried to include Patti in all such family type activities, but the physical nature of these activities increasingly have made them father daughter time. While MS symptoms progressed our daughter was simultaneously growing up.

     We just carved out (as we try each summer) a couple days for hiking in the Shenandoah National Park. This pictured gnarly tree stands in front of the lodge at Big Meadows which has always been our home base. There are pictures when Megan is so young she can barely touch the branch with her arm extended up. <grin> In fact there is old 8mm footage of me barely tall enough to touch the branch, as my parents always came her for family hiking.

     Hiking to the top of Stoney Man Mountain has always been a key tradition. In the mid 90’s Megan and I reached the summit to witness the first successful fledging of peregrine falcons from a nest in the Shenandoah since they had been wiped out due to DDT over 30 years earlier. It was the most beautiful and savage display of raptor artistry you could imagine.


(Whether in a Pokemon t-shirt or a rock band hat, your child’s smile through the years can dwarf the natural majesty of a summit.)

     A piece of me has always held that day of the falcons as an omen on the need for parenting to find a way regardless of the obstacles. Our visits are also timed with the peak season when fawns begin to step out into the world around them, again more of the timeless passage of experience through interaction.


     The National Park Service deserves repeated applause for their accessibility efforts. Not far from Big Meadows Lodge is the Limberlost Trail, a beautiful and completely accessible hiking/rolling trail. Their tireless efforts enabled us to extend Patti’s involvement, in past years, far longer than we could have hoped and enable so many people and families to enjoy our American treasures.

     Megan was in charge of deer photography and with a soon to be college student’s sense of art, we leave you with this charming invasion of deer privacy.



  1. oh my gosh, what a great ending picture! Did Megan have to wait long for that shot or was it just luck that she was right there at the right time?? Loved the pictures; Megan's smile is precious through the years


  2. I love Queen!  Oh, and the pictures were wonderful!!  LOL  Thanks for sharing!!

  3. LOL, you just couldn't resist invading the privacy of that poor deer.  :-)  Shame on you.  


  4. ....such precious memories....

  5. I love the bambi's, I think of them as skittish so well done Megan in getting a pic.  Favourite places hold many memories and you've certainly stored up a few brilliant ones.  Rache

  6. The fawns on the Appalachian trail are amazingly unafraid of humans. I came nearly close enough to touch one back when we were hiking in the mountains. It seemed to stay a few fee in front of me as it walked away, but wouldn't let me get any closer. I didn't have a digital camera back then. darn! Your daughter is beautiful. Love her sense of artistic humor. Bea


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