Our Version of Acceptable Risk

One part of becoming a committed couple is reconciling differing opinions about all kinds of things. Adventure Guy and I did this without much trouble throughout our relationship…or maybe our opinions about the major things didn’t differ enough to cause problems.

Adding a child to the mix makes this reconciling even more interesting – and important. We have to figure out a name we can both be happy with (yeah, still not there), figure out our philosophies on discipline, sleep, whether she must be 30 or 40 before she can start dating, etc. Being the outdoorsy people we are, one of the biggest issues we have to deal with is risk.

Tolerance for risk has never been a huge issue for us. We both like to get out and have fun but neither of us are big on taking unnecessary risks.  Hell, I’m the one who has been known to bail out on purpose half way down a nasty hill on cross country skis, figuring a controlled fall is better than an uncontrolled one. Long before we met, Adventure Guy had a very mild adventure turn very bad, very quickly. He knows how the best laid plans can go wrong and what the consequences of that might be.

So, two things happened this weekend.  For one, Adventure Guy read a post from Women’s Adventure Magazine titled “Taking Risks as a Parent” and wanted to talk about it today. We decided we basically agree with Cragmama, who says

My husband and I made a pact that if either of us were ever in a situation where our risk level got higher than what we were comfortable with, we would bail as quickly and as safely as possible, regardless of how many thousands of dollars of gear we had to leave behind, or how close we were to the summit.

That’s pretty much always been us too, though we never really vocalized it until today. So we agreed – if either of us ever feels uncomfortable when we’re out as a family, we’ll stop. If one of us ever wants to do something alone – climbing Rainier is high on the list of Things I Want To Do – but the other thinks it’s too risky, we’re out. This was a pretty easy decision for both of us, I think, in part because we’ve been together 8 years now (Holy….) and in that time we each have developed a pretty good idea of what the other can tolerate. And as I said, we’re not exactly going out on really long, thin limbs over here.

I’ve struggled a lot thinking about risk during this pregnancy. Moving to altitude was going to be a big change, pregnant or not. Moving above 7000 feet at 5 weeks pregnant was a trip, to say the least. I am fully convinced that exercise during pregnancy is a good thing – maybe that’ll be the topic of another blog post. However, I did not know exactly how I should proceed with exercise upon arriving in our new town, so early in the first trimester. Nor could I really find any good information about it (and my OB was no help at all in the area). Since then and with a lot of reading, soul-searching, and an email to the good folks at the Institute for Altitude Medicine in Telluride, CO, I’ve decided to listen to my body and exercise at a level at which I feel good…up to 10,000 feet. So I passed up on this year’s goal of climbing a 12,000 foot peak (which would have been my first).

What I still have not decided is whether I will cross-country ski this winter. The brand new skate skis I didn’t get to use last year due to a complete lack of snow will remain unused this winter, but I’m still considering getting out on my classic skis. I just don’t know. If any readers want to weigh in, I’m all ears! Adventure Guy doesn’t seem to be leaning heavily one way or the other and seems to think we can hang out on easier trails – which we have hiked and checked out – but I don’t know.

Seeing as how we’re still without snow, I’m not sure it matters right now. I will, however, snowshoe this year…that’s for sure. And maybe I can be happy with just that. I do have to admit, though, that the thought of missing another entire ski season after last year’s total bust makes my heart hurt a little.

Anyway, where was I? Yes, the second thing.

We went hiking on a favorite trail of mine. The lower parking is closed for the winter, so we had to park out by the road and hike in further than we normally do. This added some distance to the hike, maybe half to three-quarters of a mile each way, but most of that was on very pretty trail we hadn’t explored before. Trail Dog was especially energetic today since we haven’t gotten out as much lately, and she was even more bold than her usual rock-climbing self. Most of the snow we’ve had so far is gone but we still have stretches of it here and there. Despite some serious wind and lots of recently-felled trees, it was a really nice hike.

Normally I like to take this trail when I hike alone (well, alone but with Trail Dog) because it’s a pretty clear loop, I know the length, and it’s fairly heavily traveled. There were many cars in the parking lot today, but we only met two other groups (of 2-3) out on the trail. Today we chose this trail because we didn’t have a ton of time before sunset and we knew we could get it done in the time we had. The extra distance stretched our time a little, but we were still fine with a little more than 4 miles for the day.

We chattered about whatever came to mind as we hiked along. Trail Dog did her sniffing and her climbing, and when we did occasionally come upon an icy spot, Adventure Guy went ahead to test out the footing and find a good route for preggo over here. Not two minutes after I took the picture below, Adventure Guy enacted the Acceptable Risk Clause.

Oh yeah, so it is actually November at 8400 ft.

This trail has been declared closed, to us, for the season. What you can’t see in that picture is the big drop-off to the left, just beyond the big trees on the left side of the trail.  It’s a big drop to the left, tall rocks to the right, and icy rocks underfoot.  As he was declaring this to be our last trip on the trail for the season, I slipped. Fortunately the rock to my right provided enough stability and all I came away with was a scratched finger.

So we’ll avoid the big bad cliffs until spring..or maybe summer. And by then we’ll be hiking with Adventure Baby and we’ll have a whole new set of boundaries to define. But I’m confident that really, we’ll see eye-to-eye when it comes to how much risk we’re willing to take – for ourselves, or with precious cargo in tow.

I’ll leave you with another quote I love from the Women’s Adventure article – this one from The Brave Ski Mom

Controlled independence equals learned responsibility. One of the reasons we believe in granting our children independence is so that they can learn to take care of themselves. We don’t want them to grow up fearful or timid, nor do we want them to be foolhardy. By limiting some experiences and structuring others for success early on, we hope that they’ve learned that they can do most anything – if they’re prepared and have the proper experience.

Sounds pretty good to me.

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One Response to Our Version of Acceptable Risk

  1. Pingback: Sitio Madlum: Another Bed of Adventures at the North | Stories of My Wandering Feet (& Mind)

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