The Red Dot Trail

Hiking down the final hill by Houghton’s Pond, I watched a cluster of our youth scramble and giggle their way back to the parking lot. Energy that seemed depleted in the midst of their uphill climb had miraculously returned. Even the more leisurely hikers, who had kept me company at the back of the group, now raced ahead towards the playground that awaited them at the bottom of the hill.

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 Today’s outing was a challenge compared to our previous hikes at the Blue Hills Reservation. Rather than a quick afternoon adventure, the kids had completed a day-long hike with several ascents. They found their endurance tested, as they seemed to be climbing up a new hill as soon as they got to the bottom of the previous one. As we climbed up the last of the major ascents, a participant, Paige, asked if she could stop hiking for the day. She was, in her words, “hot and really just ready to be done” We stopped and had some water, resting as I prepared to rally her to the top. But my calls to action went unheard as we instead listened to her peers at the top exclaim about the city views below them. 

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“I can see the skyline!” 

 “I think that’s where my Dad works, over there!”

 “Can I please take my phone out just to take a picture to show my Grandma?” 

Hearing the excitement of her peers, Paige was reinvigorated. While maybe not thrilled that she was still quite far from the parking lot, she was not going to miss out on what sounded like a pretty impressive view. We made our way up the final stretch of uphill terrain to meet the rest of the group who were spread out across the lookout, taking in the view of their home down below. Complaints of tiredness were replaced with comments of appreciation for the view they had earned. We took in the city skyline one last time, and began our trek down, counting the small ground frogs as we went. Having proudly finished their hike, our youth clamored over to the playground, and spoke excitedly of jumping in the pool at the Boys and Girls Club. Leaving the muggy July air to get back into the cool air conditioning of the Elevate Youth van, the kids were a little sweaty, a little dirty, but mostly proud, accomplished, and ready to cool off in the pool.

by Kate Lietz, Elevate Youth Summer Intern 

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Annie Hayes