FALL is a favorite time of hikers: Woods and mountains undulate with long files of people as autumn's tang crispens the air. For the hiker the rewards are many: visual splendors, renewal with nature, the enveloping serenity of woods -- and spending time, however briefly, with people. Not only with those in one's own hiking party, but others along the trail.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Like the white-haired couple nimbly descending from a peak with a smile and quiet encouragement for those on their way up. Or the veteran walker who patiently answers a neophyte's questions, from climbing technique to hiking boots. Or the strapping young man who keeps careful watch over a solitary climber clambering down a tricky passage.
For many a father or mother there's a special benefit: a trailside cementing of closeness between parent and child. They may be talking about the thrill of the mountainous conquest -- or the hunger for lunch. But what they're experiencing is an indispensable element of successful family life: the mutual sharing of time, in the annual autumnal expedition -- a tradition running from yesteryear's Indian villages to today's suburban encampments.