Owls like this guy dot some of the trail systems around North Cowichan, making for a fun game of search and find. Just remember they aren’t yours to keep! (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Owls like this guy dot some of the trail systems around North Cowichan, making for a fun game of search and find. Just remember they aren’t yours to keep! (Sarah Simpson/Citizen)

Sarah Simpson column: The (no) Skittles hike

“We really had an adventure!”

We were sitting at dinner Saturday night and because the kitten seems to be the boss of this house lately, his cat tree is at one of the heads of the table. (It’s actually there because it’s close to the window but that doesn’t make for as good a story.)

Anyway, as we were eating dinner and the cat was on his perch snoozing, the children kept whispering “treats” and laughing maniacally when the cat would inevitably lift his sleepy head up hoping for some treats. The kids were effectively taunting their pet and I didn’t like it.

“How would you like it if Mom and Dad kept telling you we were going for ice cream and then we decided that nah, we were just kidding? That’d be such a bummer, right?”

They had to agree. Even so, they carried on a couple times, teasing their kitten before they gave up and our conversation turned to Dog Man books and other super important things.

The following day, while putting groceries away, my son found a bag of Skittles and thought it’d be a good idea to open them right then and there without parental authorization. Karma got him, though, because when he yanked it open Skittles went flying to all corners of the room.

He picked most of them up on his own and only a couple made it to his mouth before his dad shut him down.

“Maybe we’ll bring some on our hike,” I mumbled while I was trying to fish them out from under the couch.

Fast forward to our hike an hour or so later.

We were at the trail head when my son said he needed to run back to the car to get the Skittles.

“Oh!” I said. “Sorry, guy, they’re at home! I didn’t even think to bring them.”

“But you said we could bring them!” he protested.

That sounds too calm. He was actually livid.

In the back of my head I could hear he and his sister whispering “Treats kitty!” across the dinner table.

I kept my thoughts to myself.

The hike was miserable. My son threw pinecones and sticks while actively voicing his displeasure so relentlessly that when we came across a friendly hiker coming the other way, I offered him a child for free — just as long as I got to choose which child.

My son ran down a steep hill and of course fell over and skinned his knee, further sending him into a frenzy but we plowed ahead despite his misery. He wasn’t ruining my hike, darnit!

We continued for another 15 minutes before we passed the same hiker again.

“The offer stands!” I said cheerily.

Roughly 30 minutes into the hike we came to a fork in the trail.

We hadn’t really been paying attention due to Mr. Cranky pants’s antics so we weren’t sure what direction to go. We took a poll and it was two against two.

“Let’s split up and see who gets back to the car first!” suggested my son, with a sudden glint of cheer in his eyes.

My husband, no doubt happy to get away from Negative Nester for a bit, took the left trail with our daughter.

My son and I took the right.

Now in a competition, my son cheered right up and we had the best time getting lost in the woods together. It took us roughly 25 minutes to find the car, but only with the help of the compass and geocaching app on my phone.

We were so sure we’d lose the race that we started to dream up wild excuses like being trapped in a cave by wolves and snakes.

When we finally got back to the car, the other two were nowhere to be found.

Well, she is smaller and slower than us, we reasoned.

Ten minutes passed. Then 15. Then 20. I texted my husband. No response. I phoned my husband. No response. Roughly 25 minutes later, I really started to worry. I stood at the trail head and yelled.

No answer.

Just over a half an hour in, I texted my sister and a friend and was about to devise a plan to go find them when I heard yelling.

I turned to look down the road to see my cheerful five-year-old on the tops of her father’s shoulders, with the biggest smile on her face and below, her tired dad, grinning just the same.

Evidently, they’d gotten just as turned around as we did and because, as it turned out, my husband had left his phone at home, he figured the safest thing to do was to take the closest exit out of the trail system and walked back to our car on the road.

They must have walked an additional three kilometres I figure.

“We really had an adventure!” boasted my youngest as she climbed down from atop her dad.

The worry dissipated and we all climbed in the car, smiling and chatting about the cool new sights we’d seen on our separate routes.

The Skittles meltdown was long gone, replaced for all of us with a happy exhaustion and the desire for a cold drink. Even so, I couldn’t help but say:

“So…anyone wanna go home for some Skittles?”


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ColumnistComedy and Humour