Sarah Simpson column: Scaling a mountain and life lessons

Sarah Simpson column: Scaling a mountain and life lessons

“When was the last time we went up Old Baldy?”

We climbed a mountain to end August.

I’m not even kidding you!

The other weekend I got up and, like many moms (and even dads) do, I had a super productive morning while my family was either still asleep or slowly easing into the day. I went to the transfer station, I put gas in the car, I prepped our dinner and planned the week’s worth of dinners. I did some laundry… you get the idea.

So by 10 a.m. I was running out of chores. Lucky me. But my family was still in their PJs, watching cartoons and generally lazing around.

Oh no. Not today, I thought to myself. We are not going to sit around all day and be cranky with each other again. That happens in our family and I have no doubt that it happens in other families too. It’s exhausting doing nothing.

So, I figured, if we are going to be tired and cranky, we’re going to earn it!

“We’re climbing a mountain today,” I declared.

My husband looked at my quizzically.

“When was the last time we went up Old Baldy?” I asked.

Given we take photos of everything, we looked it up. Jan. 5, 2019. The kids were two (almost three) and four and a half.

They were so small. I suppose that’s why we only made it to the tower/first lookout.

This time I figure our goal was to beat that. The kids are older, stronger, and I’d like to think they’re brave too.

So after the grumbles got out of the way, we set out to climb the mountain.

We started up Old Baldy Mountain from Strathcona Heights Road. In a flash, my son was gone.

He scrambled up the first steep incline, turned left and kept going up the next.

My husband — my poor husband — kept pace and up they bolted together, leaving me, the de facto athlete of the family, to walk turtle slow with my daughter.

It was OK. I didn’t mind. We held hands and talked as we made our ascent.

I like hiking with my kids because it gives me a chance to explain to them how much control they have over their minds and bodies. Our bodies can do much more than our minds believe, I tell them.

“Strong mind, strong body, strong heart,” I say.

“But my legs are tired,” they say.

“That’s just what your brain thinks,” I reply.

I always remind them to tell their brains their legs are strong and powerful and that their body isn’t as tired as their brain thinks it is. Sometimes they soldier on, other times it’s too much and they just sit down and whine. I never worry I push them too hard because they always tell me when they’ve had enough.


Anyway, we scaled that mountain, had a short cookie break at the tower and then set out to the rock-climbing portion of the trial. It was new and exciting and such a delight to see my kids scramble up the rocks with such confidence.

To be honest, I didn’t see too much of my son and husband, because they just kept on climbing, and meeting us at every plateau.

I think I’m terrible at a lot of parenting things, but I was so proud to see my four-year-old daughter muttering quietly to herself as she climbed, saying things like “strong legs, I’ve got this, girls can do anything.” I hope she can maintain that positive inner dialogue as she grows. She sounded so composed, so mature, so grown up.

It wasn’t until coming down that I was reminded how little she still really was. While my son raced ahead, forcing my poor husband to keep up with him, I walked down the mountain with my daughter, this time at a snail’s pace, but chatting happily all the way.

We stopped just once because she had an itchy foot and quite naturally that meant taking her shoe and her sock off to scratch it.

It was after that the questions only a small child would ask began. You know, the ones from way out in left field. Those are what I wanted to share with you in this column:

“How do birds growl at each other, Mom?” she asked.

Earlier in the day I told her I saw two ravens fighting at Bings Creek Transfer station. What’s a fight without growling, I guess? I think we decided birds don’t actually growl but they sure do squawk.

The questions kept on coming.

“How long have chipmunks lived on Earth, Mom?”

Hell if I know, I thought. We just climbed a mountain and this is what you’re thinking about?

I’d been thinking about cold treats if I’m honest, but I wasn’t going to tell her that.

“Oh, that’s a good one to ask your dad,” was my chipper chipmunk reply.

We walked a little while longer, her little hand grabbing mine whenever the rocky path underneath us got too unstable. I loved that part.

“Are all hands handy, Mom?”

What does that even mean? I thought to myself.

“Well, I suppose by definition, they must be,” I replied. “And in practical terms, yes, life’s much handier with hands.”

That seemed to appease her for a bit. It got quiet after that, I figured it was because she was realizing how tired she was. It wasn’t. She’d just been thinking.

“How do body parts stick to your body?” she asked.

Unfortunately I didn’t have my copy of Gray’s Anatomy with me but I had to reply…

“So,” I said. “Do you want ice cream or a Slurpee after this?”

ColumnistComedy and Humour

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Residents of the Cowichan Valley decorated more than 55 vehicles with anti-racist slogans for a car rally in support of Cowichan Tribes on Saturday, January 24. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Dozens join anti-racism car rally and virtual panel in Cowichan Valley

Provincial ministry and BC Green caucus issue joint statement detailing concerns

Island Health is expected to begin public consultations soon on its controversial plans to open a new wellness and recovery centre at 5878 York Road. (File photo)
Public consultations on Duncan wellness and recovery centre coming in February

Controversial facility on York Road scheduled to open in June

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Providence Health Care has teamed up with partners, including Island Health, to launch the first remote cochlear implant (CI) mapping program for adults in British Columbia. Duncan’s Alan Holt was one of the first to test it out. (Submitted)
Remote cochlear clinic offers shorter commute for patients like Duncan’s Alan Holt

Duncan man one of the first to test virtual mapping program

Larry Fiege, right, from Fiege’s Farm shows a rapt audience the old-fashioned way to tap a Bigleaf Maple during the Maple Syrup Festival at the BC Forest Discovery Centre Feb. 1 and 2, 2020. (Andrea Rondeau/Citizen)
Maple Syrup Festival in Duncan cancelled

The annual syrup festival is a popular event at the BC Forest Discovery Centre

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant, 31, is wanted by the RCMP after failing to appear in provincial court in Nanaimo in December. Police warn Savidant should be considered violent. (Photo Submitted)
Warrant out for man accused of stolen property offences across Vancouver Island

Jesse Savidant did not appear for court date in Nanaimo last month, say RCMP

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
2nd COVID vaccine doses on hold as B.C. delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

Most Read