“This’ll be fun,” I said.

My wife nodded, but even the nod expressed a bit of skepticism.

She may as well have said, “We’ll see.”

We were at her family’s cabin in southern New Hampshire, where we’ve spent at least a part of our summers for nearly all of our 50 years of marriage.

(Why do I always say, “her family’s cabin”? Because I’ve been written out of the will. A few years back we had our friend attorney Wes Schemenaur add a codicil to Connie’s will so that any interest in the family cabin goes directly to our daughters. I’ll be welcome as a guest, I hope. In an era of blended families and second marriages, that clarification of the will seemed to be important.)

At any rate, we were at the cabin and we were with our grandsons. Julian was about a month away from turning 11, and Gabriel will turn 8 on Christmas Eve. We’re at that point with our grandchildren when building memories seems especially important, so you start doing things you might otherwise not do.

“Let’s climb Mount Kearsarge,” I suggested.

Now, Kearsarge is a serious peak. It’s 2,937 feet high. And the hike to the summit is rated difficult and 6.4 miles.

But there’s more than one way to climb a mountain.

In the case of Mount Kearsarge, it’s possible to drive up most of the way, park and have a picnic, then hike half a mile, climbing about 335 feet to the summit.

For those of us over 70, that seemed the smarter course of action.

We’ve made that climb before, with Connie’s parents, the twins and other members of the family.

And it wasn’t so bad.


This time around was a little rougher because we were a little older.

Half a mile to the summit and half a mile back doesn’t sound too serious. But 335-plus feet up and 335-plus feet down can be another story.

If it were a building, that would translate to something like 16 stories up and 16 stories down. But it wasn’t a building, it was a mountain. And mountains don’t have stairs.

They have rocks. Jumbled, unsteady, shaky rocks. Rocks that had been recently flooded by hurricane-induced downpours.

The day of our trek, we took a picnic lunch and made the drive up the mountainside to the parking area, dodging wild turkeys along the way. The view from our picnic table was great, but we knew there were better views up ahead.

Connie and I had — wisely — taken our hiking sticks, those things that make you look a bit like a cross-country skier without the snow or the skis. We swear by them when it comes to providing an extra point of balance. There’s nothing better when it comes to crossing a stream on slippery rocks.

The boys, of course, didn’t need them.

They set off first and were quickly so far ahead that we had to warn them to slow down.

“Grandpa, look at this,” Julian would shout.

I would wheeze in return and do my best not to turn my ankle on the rocky path.

Connie followed the boys, and I followed her. (It’s been a smart course of action for 50 years, and I see no reason to abandon it now.)

As we cleared the tree line, the boys moved even faster, clambering over the granite like mountain goats. And we did our best to keep up.

Then we joined them at the top.

“Awesome,” said one of the boys.

I caught my breath and agreed. “Awesome,” I said.