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The Hiking Song

03/31/2009 05:00PM ● Published by Super Admin

One of my favorite songs is “The Hiking Song.” It’s not on my iPod and you can’t download it from iTunes. You’ve probably never heard of it, but you may have sung it.
I learned “The Hiking Song” several years ago from my daughter. We were hiking up Horsetail Falls off Highway 50. The trail wasn’t too difficult for me, but my five-year-old daughter struggled with the climb. Eventually she started singing. We called it “singing” anyway. Actually it was more of a sigh. With every other step she let out a gentle, high-to-low-pitched audible exhale. She didn’t complain. She just sighed. Every other step: “Huhhhh. Huhhhh. Huhhhh.”
We called it “The Hiking Song.” It is our family’s way of reorienting a challenge. While our kids were growing up we camped once or twice each summer. One year we camped at Sugar Pine Point at Lake Tahoe where we found a beautiful campsite toward the back of the State Park. We pitched our tent in a nice, smooth place where prior campers had obviously pitched theirs. It was follow-the-leader camping of sorts.
Then it started raining. It rained all afternoon and right through dinner. In fact, it rained so much that we skipped the campfire and camped out at McDonald’s. (Can you say Noah?) After Big Macs, we arrived back at the campsite in a driving thunderstorm. We made a dash from the minivan to the tent. As five wet bodies dived through the zipper-door, we noticed the floor of the tent felt strangely like a waterbed mattress. Yes indeed, it was floating on about three inches of water. That “nice, smooth” campsite was the bed of a flashflood river.
That’s when we remembered “The Hiking Song.” We needed some way to laugh about our circumstances. Rain is not the worst thing in the world. None of us is the Wicked Witch of the West. We weren’t melting, but we had to reorient ourselves to the challenge. “The Hiking Song.” Huhhhh. Huhhhh. Huhhhh.
Years later my wife and I, and our youngest daughter – the original singer-songwriter of “The Hiking Song” – planned a motorcycle tour of the Sierras. We laid out the route, including stops in Yosemite and Markleeville. We locked up the house, packed the gear, put on our helmets and jackets, and started the bikes. Actually, only one bike started. The other sat in the driveway and refused to turn over. Huhhhh. Huhhhh. Huhhhh. We never did get that bike started. Eventually we just took the car, but the trip was a blast.
I think every family needs a “Hiking Song.” How else do you meet the challenges of life – the rain on your vacation or a dead battery or a mountain too steep – in a positive, creative way? How do you turn around the disaster and make it a memory worth saving, an adventure to savor?
We still sing “The Hiking Song” in our family. Whenever something is a little too steep or a little too much trouble, we sing the song. We adjust our perspective and find a new way to do what we originally planned. It’s kind of funny: “The Hiking Song” shows up in most of our family’s best memories. It’s one of my favorite songs.

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