Every August a change comes over Ed. There is a new glint in his eye, a spring in his step. He wakes early to go stair-stepping at the gym. He goes for late night runs. Phone calls with his brother Preston last for hours and Colorado topo maps line every surface in the office. Hunting season is coming. And Ed's in training.
One condition of living on the east coast is that every October Ed returns to Colorado to go elk hunting with his Dad, brothers, and the rest of their hunting crew. I grew up in Fairfax; I don't get it. But I don't have to. After eight years of marriage I know this is something he lives for and loves, and I can support something that makes him so happy. And turns him into a rugged mountain man for a week (grrr)...on the condition that he doesn't shave that red beard off until after he gets home.So to support the training regimen, we went for a family hike yesterday near Great Falls, about a half hour away. Donning bug spray and sun hats, we embarked on a fairly flat but in some places rocky trail that offered such thrilling discoveries as streams, boulders, wild mushrooms, blue butterflies, mud puddles, acorns and pebbles galore. The girls could have spent all day filling their pockets with pebbles. When we came near the river bank we took a break to throw them all in the water (the pebbles, not the girls), and Ed gave a brief lesson on skipping stones. Then it was onward and upward until we stopped for lunch and binocular training.Though fairly simple, the hike was still an excellent training simulation for our optimistic hunter. On the way in, he packed about 27 pounds of "gear" (Ginger.) And on the way out, he continued to carry that gear, but added 45 pounds of "meat" (Hazel.) Because this year, he says, is going to be different. This year, he says, they'll actually get an elk and have something to show for it. That remains to be seen. But in the meantime, we're all in training.