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April 09, 2008

As a child my parents would haul my siblings and I out for the Sunday afternoon hike. Into the station wagon we would pile with Dad at the wheel and drive north across the Golden Gate Bridge towards Mt. Tamalpias or Point Reyes National Monument. Once we arrived at the trailhead, we would bolt off in all directions as our parents closed up the car and readied a pack with the days’ lunch in it.

The trail signified the beginning of the wild. Sure, it was well maintained and visited by thousands of like-minded people annually, yet to me as a little kid, it was full of wonderment and the unknown. I would race along, imagining myself to be Daniel Boone or some other larger than life explorer. The towering and magnificent trees were a source of great mystery. A mountain lion could be lurking behind one, ready to pounce on my tender body. I had to be aware! My brother and I would find a pile of twigs and build miniature forts on the side of the trail, small houses for beetles and similar insects.

Eventually we would find a place to set up a picnic. Our adventures had led to an appetite, one Mom was most happy to satiate. A sandwich, an apple and a cup of juice were a far cry from the fare of Lewis and Clark, yet to the mind of a seven-year-old, surrounded by trees, insects and birds, with no sign of human incursion, it was wild. Big and daunting wild.

I realize now that the effort my parents took to introduce the wilderness were key in shaping who I am now. When my wife Jenni and I take our boys out to the woods we have a chance to connect with the kids in an unobstructed manner. There is nothing to buy, no rides to ride, just family and the woods.

And these are the best moments. Both now and 40 years ago.

– Conrad

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