On a cloudless Colorado afternoon a few weeks ago, I stood about 30 yards from the summit of Mount Baldy and watched as my son scrambled the final distance to the top. It had been a grueling four-hour hike to get there, and Patrick raised his arms in celebration and relief. I huffed and puffed to join him a few minutes later.
Baldy is hardly Mount Everest, but conquering that mountain was a remarkable feat nonetheless — for this reason. Patrick and I did it together. My 24-year-old son, out of college and busy making his own life, had decided that he wanted to spend a week alone with his old man, hiking and golfing and talking and playing guitar and listening to me snore in the sleeping bag next to him.
That alone puts me in the category of the most fortunate of fathers.
So, Patrick melted his running shoes by putting them too close to the campfire the first night, and we chased golf balls on a beautiful mountain course, and we hiked to a place called Scarp’s Ridge. We found a lovely park in the town of Crested Butte and — barefoot in the lush cool grass — played catch with a baseball and football for the first time since he was a teenager.
He shared his favorite music with me, some of which I liked. One song, a tune called “68” by the Turnpike Troubadours, we learned together on guitar and then sang loudly around the campfire, thus discouraging the curiosity of any nearby bears.
With that much time together, I figured important conversations would come naturally. And they did. Many of them. Not between father and son then, so much, as between man and man, searching guys who shared such a beautiful history of family. In those talks, I was as vulnerable as he.
And we climbed a mountain together, literally, and looked down from the summit of Mount Baldy at a majestic alpine world that seemed that much more magical because we were viewing it with the same eyes. What a gift that moment, that week, was from my son.