For an adventurous guy, The Husband is strangely resistant to travel. As an example, when the kids were babies, I planned a week-long backcountry trip for Spring Break. The trip had been on the books for months, but, as usual, a huge work crunch emerged for him in the days leading up to the trip. He worked furiously, staying up nights. His consequent moodiness told me that he had zero bandwidth to help with anything like shopping, packing, or planning. On the day of the trip, I – being me – was ready to go at sunrise. The Husband – being him – had stayed up till two and gotten up again at five to try to cram in the last few graphs or sentences or footnotes into whatever it was that he was writing. I was seething. After a certain point, a yoyo was thrown with considerable force into the kids’ room. It made a divot in the wall that was spackled and painted over some years later without comment.
I have since tried to anticipate and plan around The Husband’s resistance to leaving home for extended periods of time. This trip has been no exception; The Husband’s discovery that he has diverticulosis (a condition in which the large intestine becomes inflamed) has thrown him for a loop. Besides being a painful reminder of the fact that his body is aging, the diverticulosis means that the hip strap of a heavy pack, especially in combination with the backcountry’s typically low-fiber diet, might cause an inflammation (diverticulitis) that would interfere with his ability to carry weight or even to hike at all. He’s talked to doctors, a chiropractor, and Backpack Guy at REI, and consequently has some strategies to deal with it (psyllium, magnesium, staying ultra-hydrated, being alert for first symptoms).
Until the second REI supply trip, The Husband would ominously bring up the diverticulosis as his reason de jure that the hike was a bad idea. Hardened by the longstanding nature of this marital conflict, I was ready to dig in. Moreover, since I had recently planned and executed a backcountry trip in Joshua Tree without him, I was becoming more comfortable with the idea of hiking husband-free. So when he glowered and asked what we’d do if he couldn’t hike, I threatened to do it without him. Of course, I was bluffing, as far as this particular hike was concerned. Given my physical capacity, I’d be mad to hike 170 or 190 pass-jammed alpine miles as the sole adult responsible for two kids and with no one else to shoulder the tent, the food, the white gas, the stove, and other heavy common gear. So I reasoned with him: why wait? The hike will not be any easier or less scary next summer. What’s more, if we’d abstained from hikes because we were worried something might go wrong, we’d never have spent a day in the backcountry.
For whatever reason, the second REI trip cheered The Husband up, and now he’s excited. The flowers and birds crowd our yard and the mornings shine with springtime sun. It feels like time to be in the mountains.
As for the kids, Son the Younger has been keen on the trip for at least a year, asking unprompted on several occasions when we’d get to cross Glen Pass again. Son the Elder, testing out his teenager sullenness, has been voicing displeasure at “wasting” seventeen days of his summer in the backcountry. Luckily, they both still do what I tell them to do, and I know from experience that Son the Elder just needs to get one or two miles of trail behind him to remind him how much he likes to hike.