The lesson of the day: Even on vacation, it’s better to wear a sports bra and trail shoes than underwire and Keens. A trail running Momma should always be prepared.
I would have been comfortable running down slick rock trying to find my lost child on the 1.5-mile trail to Delicate Arch if it wasn’t for the damn underwire digging into my chest. My grippy new Montrails would have been awesome too. And a rubber band for my hair. But I digress.
Connor, my energetic 9-year-old, ran ahead of Sophie and me just as we started up the slick rock section of the trail. Sophie stopped to drink water and mess with her shoe… or was she taking a picture? I can’t remember. It doesn’t matter. The point is that Connor got ahead of us and we didn’t see him again until we were reunited in the parking lot.
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My daughter and I climbed past the cairns and saw a little sign on the left side of the rock that said “Trail” with an arrow pointed to the right. We weren’t supposed to go PAST the sign; it was clearly telling us to continue up the trail.
At the top of the trail stood Delicate Arch, magnificent in its beauty. I scanned every head, t-shirt and kid that loitered in the area for my blond son with the blue-and-white tie-dye hat. After unloading the camera from my neck and telling my daughter to sit down and not move an inch, I circled the premises. It became obvious in a few moments that he hadn’t been here yet. Which meant that he went off trail somewhere and was lost.
Sophie and I started back down the trail without taking a single picture of the arch. She offered to carry the camera and told me to GO… she knew how to follow the trail and I would be faster without her.
I took off running. Jumping from rock to rock and skidding around family groups my mind replayed each section of the trail after I last saw him. He had obviously taken a wrong turn… the question was WHERE and how far had he gotten? My hat bounced on my long, streaming hair and the underwire dug into my ribcage… I pulled the hat off and would have chucked the damn bra if I could have gotten it off while running.
I made it about half a mile before a man stopped me. “Are you looking for a little boy that’s lost?”
“YES!” I shouted with relief.
“We found him, my wife is with him and they’re walking back to the parking lot. He was running down the trail as fast as he could, crying, I think he was going to break a world record for going down the trail. He’s calmed down now, I told him I would come back up and find you. I figured it would be pretty easy; you’re the only Mom that had that look of sheer panic.”
We stopped and waited for Sophie to catch up and tried in vain to get cell phone coverage to tell his wife that the Mom had been located. We power hiked the rest of the way down; I didn’t realize I was setting such a fast pace until my long-legged daughter panted with exertion; she was getting left behind.
200 yards from the parking lot my 9-year-old came running back to greet me and flew into my outstretched arms. We hugged and kissed and both kids cried. After snacks in the car and water and more hugs and promises that we would come back another day to try again, we drove down the road in search of another pretty place to photograph in Arches National Park.