The Hike

I faced a dilemma when the kids surprised me with a birthday weekend proposal of hiking at Lutsen Resort in northern Minnesota. Should I bring Barry or not?

At this point last October, life was getting tough with Barry. His constant swearing at me was taking its toll. Most of my friends said, “Don’t bring Barry; you need a break!” But I decided he should come. First, there would be no one to keep an eye on him while we were all gone. And, of course, Barry is part of this family so it didn’t seem right to leave him at home. I also had to think about my kids’ feelings — Barry is their father and they love him!

Because I had a few hikes of my own to complete on the way up, Barry rode with our sons Pat and Mike. Kelly, Brian, Charlotte and dog Finley drove separately, and we all met at the condo the kids rented for the weekend. Friday morning I got up early, packed things for Barry and told him to wait for the boys to pick him up. I headed up north for some solo hiking along the way.

Jay Cooke State Park.

I was really excited to hike there because the park had been closed since floods a couple of years ago took out the famous walk bridge over the St Louis River. When I pulled in, I saw the new bridge, but it was not due to open for a few more weeks. Oh well! I hiked for a few hours on trails that ran along the river and on one up into the forest. It was a beautiful fall day.

Long ago, perfect day with kids

After that I headed to Gooseberry Falls State Park for another hike. Most Minnesotans have trekked up to Gooseberry Falls. I have early childhood memories of hiking around the falls. I also camped there many times while in college, but my fondest memory of Gooseberry was one late summer day when my kids were very young. This was a day I hope I never forget.

When the kids were little, we owned a beautiful cabin in northern Wisconsin that Barry helped design. I had decided to head up for a few weeks alone with the kids at the end of the summer. Each day, the kids and I did crafts, fished, read and made funny signs to post on trees along our road. To get in my run every day, I played a movie for the kids to watch while I ran up and down the driveway, checking on them every 10 minutes!

Daredevil son Pat

One day I decided to take the kids to Gooseberry Falls, just a two-hour drive from the cabin. After a stop at Betty’s Pies for lunch, we headed to the falls. The afternoon was magical. We looked for agates on the Lake Superior beach and napped in the warm afternoon sun. There was only one problem. Every time I took Mike, who was in the midst of being potty-trained, to the bathroom, Pat would scale a cliff over-looking the lake. It was unnerving to run back to the beach to see your almost 6-year-old son high above Lake Superior. Kelly was the easy one. She just sat on the beach, choosing among rocks that all looked the same. It was a day that I hold in my heart forever as one of my best!

How would it go with Barry along?
I realized on that day that there is nothing more wonderful than spending time with your children. And now many, many years later, I was about to do the same for a weekend– hang out with my kids in northern Minnesota!

In the meantime, I hiked with the crowds at Gooseberry Falls, trying to find the exact cliff that had tempted Pat years ago – but now seems like just yesterday!

On the trail back to the car, I came across a porcupine that was not the least bit worried about my presence. I, on the other hand, was pretty worried about what the weekend would bring with Barry coming along!

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6 comments on “HIKE NUMBER TWENTY
  1. terri says:

    thank yuou for sharing. I am sure it was a day will never forget as well.

  2. Jean Spielman Housh says:

    Oh no…..it just ended. Or I don’t know where to go to finish the story about Barry on the hike at Lutsen with the kids.
    Nancy, help me find the ending to this post. Thanks, Jean Housh

  3. joe Nathan says:

    You are not only an incredible artist – you also are a fine writer. Fine writers among other things, make their readers want more. I’m eager to hear the rest of this story.

  4. Amy M, Johnson says:

    You can’t just stop there! How did the weekend go?

  5. Mary Wattson Kupper says:

    Oh, Nancy. I love that area also. I too am intrigued to hear the rest of the story. You are an amazing person and I knew that back in high school. Soooo, I’m ready for the next chapter…

  6. Luanne Lescarbeau says:

    I really enjoyed reading this, and hope that everything turned out all right. I know you were comfortable with including Barry, and I like to think that was the best decision. When we are not sure of how to proceed, I always think it feels better to choose the upper road. I never have any regrets if I believe I have erred on the side of kindness. Happy Birthday!

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