As I sit along the bank of Blackwood Lake, a mere 10km away from the end of the Dobson Trail, I watch as three ducklings follow closely behind their mother. The calm water ripples as they paddle away from the shore. I smile as I realize that this is the perfect conclusion to my trek.
Did the Dobson Trail live up to my expectations? No, not really. Do I regret it though? Absolutely not. Although this adventure started off as unfinished business, a missing notch in my belt if you will, it coincidentally became an incredible bonding experience with my son.
I initially decided that I was going to embark upon this trek a few months ago. As I began planning, I quickly realized that the only thing missing was a hiking partner! I knew my husband wasn’t an option since he’s spent years vocalizing his complete lack of interest in this hike. On a whim, I decided to casually throw the idea out to Hunter, my thirteen year old son with little-to-no hiking experience. I was flabbergasted when he unenthusiastically shrugged in agreement. Part of me felt bad knowing that he had no idea what he was getting himself into; however, the other part of me didn’t really care because I needed a hiking partner and was determined to finally complete this trail.
In anticipation, I scheduled an extra day so that we could complete this 58km hike from Riverview to Fundy National Park in four days instead of the average three. I also stuffed my bag excessively full with dehydrated camping food and goodies serving as morale boosters. My husband, who is normally our meticulous planner and ultralight advocate, shuddered as he watched me weigh my bag down with Sour Patch Kids and Nibs. It was like watching a child pack their own bag : “Nope, no need for a compass but do you think I have enough candy?”
Hunter and I set foot from Riverview on a Thursday morning … right in the middle of a rain storm. After a month of sweltering summer heat resulting in a fire ban, we ended up with an unforecasted rainy day. Argh. Regardless, we donned our ponchos and away we went…
I proudly watched as my son tapped into this deep determination that I’ve never seen before. He was given many opportunities to quit as we zigzagged through the back countries of my hometown; however, he put his head down and persevered forward. I’m telling you, the best way to get to know someone is by taking away their internet and forcing them into isolation with you for four straight days! Stepping away from the chaos of our daily lives, we were able to engaged into real conversations. We spoke about friends, family, and life. He listened as I shared stories of my past and I listened as he shared aspirations of his future.
When I used to think of the Dobson Trail, I would think about my two previously failed attempts. But now, I’ll think about the time when Hunter and I were stranded in a tent as we faced a freak hail storm in the middle of July. I’ll think about our kilometer countdowns, failed camping foods, and Crazy 8 card games. I’ll think about all of our stories and laughs, misery and boredom, and blisters and bug bites that we shared.
“Mom, tell me another story…” As I bask in the silence of the great outdoors and watch as these three little ducklings trail off behind their mother, I get a lump in my throat as I think about how fortunate I am to have my thirteen year old duckling still following so closely behind me on this unforgettable journey.