I remember fondly the trips to Bon Echo park in Canada that were a fairly regular part of my growing up. It was the ultimate in campgrounds, with more trails than I think I ever walked in all the years of visiting and an impressive native American history.
Each time we’d go we’d visit what I called Blueberry Mountain. It was, per the name, a mountain you had to take a boat to reach from the mainland of the campground. They would have regular tours you could go on via pontoon boat with one of those guides that manages to sound interested in the 876th reiteration of the same story, but sometimes we just rented a boat and paddled over. Once you were there you had about 40 minutes of stairs, twisting and turning around nature, creating this awesome clash of industrial steel with the wild outdoors on an otherwise treacherous rock face.
Once atop the stair section we’d wind through a few more mountainous trails to an open area with all kinds of cool plants growing wild, seemingly untouched by the influence of people. Except it wasn’t of course, but the best part was the wild blueberries growing on and off everywhere. Sometimes you’d stumble on a big patch of them, and other times you’d grab a few and have to keep moving.
The funny thing about being a kid is that you can get blueberries anywhere, yet there is something special about blueberries you can pick from a mountain. It’s an adventure, something of a rite of passage, and even though one year I think we actually had store-bought blueberries in pancakes that morning the idea of bringing home my container of mountain blueberries made me giddy as I’d awake that day.
There were fantastic scenic overlooks that I’d grow to appreciate years later, landscapes stretching on as far as you could see in every direction on a clear day. I wish I’d taken more pictures now. It was the kind of million dollar view you take for granted as a kid on a family trip, one you get wistful about many years later. I smile on how it became a tradition. We didn’t visit Bon Echo every year (although it seemed like it for awhile), but it went without saying each time that visiting this odd mountain was on the itinerary.
The trip back down was arduous, as by then you’d already reached the summit and been walking around all afternoon and the feet usually hurt. And you knew exactly how many stairs back down it was.
Once we were back in the boat and could rest, though, it was hard not to reflect admiringly on the experience. In my case (and undoubtedly many others) I could bring a piece of that magic back with me. I haven’t really given much thought to these experiences in quite awhile, but I enjoyed the mental journey in delightful detail — more than I thought I would recall.