It was a Thursday, and the weather was perfect. I had both kids with me, Kevin and Sarah, and we were headed for Pawtuckaway State Park in southern New Hampshire. About 20 miles east of Manchester, the park had everything we wanted; hiking, picnicking and swimming. We were going hiking first, to the summit of South Mountain.
It was a fairly easy trail at first, with the kids leading the way. I was feeling good but it was hard to keep up with these two strapping teenagers. We stopped to rest and sip some water, seeing very few other hikers on this gorgeous day. The trail got hard, steeper, and we stopped more often.
Soon we reached the summit – an area of exposed rock and a few trees. Off in the distance we saw the fire tower.
The views were incredible. We could see 50 miles in all directions; lakes, highways, woods. The breeze was like a tonic, it dried our sweaty clothes and made my hair stand up straight.
We came back down the tower and took some photos. Then we started the long (2.4 miles) walk back.
If I was lagging slightly before, now I felt really old. The kids seemed to race ahead of me by about 50 feet, while I was going at full capacity. Eventually, out of sympathy for the old man, they stopped and waited for me every so often.
We found our car and drove to the swimming and picnic area. It was mobbed. As we carried our lunch and changes of clothes with us, we passed hundreds of other people who had the same idea we did. The roped-off swimming area of the lake was full of kids and their parents keeping cool on a sunny but not too hot day.
A table in the shade solved our lunch problem, and we quickly put away the PB&J sandwiches and other treats I brought along. Then we changed into our suits at a nearby building, and got into the water.
It was cold and bracing, and when we got out a half hour later, the wind felt even colder. We dried off under the sun and then went to change again, taking our stuff with us.
The drive back home was peaceful, since both kids snoozed as I drove. Once back, Sarah went off to see her friend and Kevin stayed with me. The two of us had plans to see his cousins’ play that night.
Our trip to Pawtuckaway was a success. Lots of fun, companionship, a shared goal, nice lunch and pleasant, if chilly, swim in a clean blue lake.