For the summer hike along the Trail of Ten Falls the boy wore flip flops and he carried his own pack. This was a good thing. He is nine-years-old, and we must all learn to carry our own burdens. His pack was orange and in it were a water bottle, matches, a blue bandana and a plastic Pokémon figure that resembled a rough-shelled tortoise, red-eyed and sharp-toothed and fierce. The boy posed him for a photograph beside a forest of swordferns.
I carried food and warm clothes, sunscreen and insect repellent, first aid kit and knife, more water. We stopped on the creek bank and I made lunch. Upstream two women sat in another idyllic nook and I recalled the tale of two Buddhist monks who come across a young woman by a river. At her request, one carries her across and, later, the other scolds him for it. "I set her down at the riverbank," the first monk says. "You are still carrying her."
It's a lesson about carrying resentment.
From his pack the boy withdrew a book on how to make paper airplanes, paper for folding, two decks of Pokémon cards, a photo album.
"You're kidding," I said.