She can see clouds in the distance, feel the electric promise of rain in the air despite the sunshine warming their backs. They start out anyways -- four miles roundtrip. She is nervous that the two boys won’t make it, and she will end up carrying the bigger one in the carrier that is supposed to be for the baby who refuses to get in it and insists on being carried instead. Right now, he wants to walk, his small stride slow and tedious. She doesn’t have the patience, and neither does the older one. He pulls at her arm, whines about walking, about his legs hurting already, about his shoes being too tight. She pulls a snack out of the backpack her father brought to distract him. It’s not the kind of granola bar he wants, and he throws it on the ground and pouts. She hands one to the younger one who drops his in the dirt and starts crying. She brushes it off and hands it back to him, but now it’s broken and he doesn’t want it. She breathes in the cool air as they both whine. It smells like pine and rain. Her mother offers to walk with the younger one and let him touch every tree. She agrees and grabs her older one, his hand in hers as they make their way uphill.
The climb is steady, and slowly the woods around them quiet as they move deeper into the trees. They are building a second ski lodge where the trail begins and a road further up the mountain. There is construction everywhere and it breaks her heart to see the metal jaws of the excavators rip trees from the ground and toss them into giant piles of refuse, their roots still full of dirt. Her older one is thrilled of course. He loves the giant machines and the ease with which they cut through dirt and rock. He wants to stop and watch but she hurries him away, explaining how sad it made her to see the trees upended. She finds herself saying things that remind her of her own mother. Her older one is a fast hiker and they move quickly, hopping over tree roots and giant rocks that have fallen. He trips and she rights him, dusting the dirt off of his knees and the plastic T-rex figurine that he has brought with him. Tears run down his cheeks, but she makes a game out of avoiding the debris and before long he’s laughing, and pulling her up the path.
As they hike, the sky grows darker, turns a deeper gray. The air cools, and she wishes she brought their raincoats. She left them in the trunk of her parents' car. A bird hops in front of them, flies low across the bushes like he is their tour guide. They reach a clearing full of giant boulders coated in bright green moss. They feel droplets on their shoulders, against their cheeks. They move quicker, determined to reach the end of the trail where it dead ends into a lake. The rain turns into hail that pelts their arms and bounces off the tree roots around them. Her son is in awe as he holds the solid rain in his palms. They climb one last hill and the lake stretches out below them, a gash of slate nestled in between mountain tops. They hike down and touch the cool water, her son’s eyes shining with pride.