The view from the false summit of Catamount

Knowing When to Stop

This weekend on a hike up Catamount with the usual pack of young teens I was reminded of an important lesson that I have learned, sometimes forgotten, and relearned: Know when to stop.

This weekend on a hike up Catamount with the usual pack of young teens I was reminded of an important lesson that I have learned, sometimes forgotten, and relearned: Know when to stop.

Or in the outdoor world, know when to quit and turn back.

No, this is not a Hillary Step situation with the consequence being death on Everest, although it is true that all the traffic up and down Catamount funnels through the climb’s famous near vertical chimney.

The Catamount Chimney, a narrow and steep passage where all the summit traffic funnels through. Here we are on the way down.
The Catamount Chimney, a narrow and steep passage where all the summit traffic funnels through. Here we are on the way down.

This is usually a dad issue.

Is dad paying attention to the emotions of the trip? Has he noticed that someone already slipped and scratched up a knee? Did he hear the kids saying that their legs felt like jelly? Did he notice that, at well past 1, we hadn’t eaten lunch yet?

Lunch time on Catamount at the false summit, where we turned around for the day. Catamount is a challenging family day hike near Black Brook.
Lunch time on Catamount at the false summit, where we turned around for the day. Catamount is a challenging family day hike near Black Brook. See Whiteface on the horizon.

Luckily, yes I had. This time. Catamount’s false summit was the perfect spot for a lunch break and a turn around. Maybe a couple of kids wanted to push on, but thinking about what could happen in a rush over that last half-mile of poorly marked ledge, I’m so glad we quit.

And maybe the point wasn’t the hike. Maybe it was that lesson.

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