I’ve never been much of an outdoorsman. I’d much rather lounge by the pool than picnic in the park. Perhaps it was getting bitten by a tick at Horse Camp in the sixth grade. Or maybe it was being eaten alive by mosquitoes during a raucous camping trip to Bass Lake in college. Or recently having my nose sunburn during a 9am walk on a cloudy morning in January. All I know for sure is that the outdoors and I don’t really see eye to eye.
So how I gave birth to a child that would pick a hike or a bike ride over anything else in this world is a real mystery to me. Rather than force my son on Saturday shopping trips, I figure it’s better for me to be the miserable one. Last weekend, I found out that our outdoor adventures don’t have to be torturous when my spouse suggested that we explore Quicksilver Park in San Jose.
Not only did we get gorgeous views of San Jose, we also had a lesson in local history.
Quicksilver is filled with mines (no longer operating and closed to the public) that supplied almost all the mercury to gold rush diggers. It’s also infamous for the environmental impact it made on the Bay and Northern California fisheries. Even 150 years later, our water is leaden with mercury from miners that proceeded to dump most of it directly into the waterways. The sites gave us the opportunity to talk to our son about protecting the environment in ways that were real and concrete for him.
I do wish the trail exhibits and signs were a little more developed. Our planned 1-hour, 1.5-mile hike with a picnic lunch turned into a 3.5-hour, 6-mile hike after we made a wrong turn and got onto a longer, more advanced trail. Thank goodness we started early or we’d have to call for search and rescue. The next time we go, we’re printing out a park map first. By the end of our hiking adventure, I felt connected to my community – I’ve never seen more shiny happy people walking on trails before. All of the friendly hellos and how are yous made the journey more rewarding. And after hiking with a fourteen pound baby strapped on the front of me for six miles, I’ve never had a better night’s sleep in all my life.
Perhaps I’ll become an outdoorsman after all.