April 20, 2006
Here is a recent photo of Ella and me atop the Natural Chimneys in Mt. Solon, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley. The view is west and the weather was perfect - clear, cool, and crisp. It has been a great delight to discover in my daughter a new hiking buddy. She absolutely loves riding high on my back, perched snuggly in our Shermani toddler pack. Her latest word is "duck," so on this hike, everything that moved and had breath along the trail was a duck. Having backpacked for almost twenty years, in recent years lugging as much as fifty pounds of supplies along the ups and downs of central Virginia, it is a delight to portage Ella's easy 28 pounds along with me down the trail. There is nothing quite like interactive gear of this sort. Hiking has a always been a respite for me: time to think, to breathe, to soak in the slowness and solemnity of the woods. I am enjoying sharing this gift with my daughter, hoping that she, too, will come to love the good creation all around us much as I do.
Written by Ralph W. Hawkins