You never know how people are going to travel together until you hit the road with them, which is why I felt nervous about my husband’s first family vacation with my mom and brother to Yosemite National Park this spring. Although I had traveled with them individually, I was unsure if everyone’s travel styles would mesh well.
On the Mist Trail hike up to Vernal and Nevada falls, it became clear how their traveling preferences differed. Jeremiah is focused when hiking and likely to choose 12-mile trails going uphill the whole way. My mom and brother like to amble along shorter trails so they can stop to rest and examine less noticeable things like rock lichen.
One clue the hike felt overly taxing to my mother was when she nicknamed the 300 steps up to Vernal Falls as “the stone stairs of death.” After hearing this, I moved ahead and matched Jeremiah’s quick pace to check on him.
“We’re making good time. I think we can make it to the top of the Nevada Falls,” said Jeremiah, although we had previously agreed to only hike to the falls’ base.
“OK. How high of an elevation gain is that?,” I asked.
“Another 1,900 feet.”
“Right, so twice as high as we just walked?”
“Yeah, but we can walk up it quickly.”
Worried about how my mother would feel about this change in plans, I slowed down to see how she felt.
“I can’t feel my feet. It’s weird,” said Mom. “I can feel my legs, but they are really mad at me, so I wish I couldn’t.”
After these two varying accounts, I wasn’t sure what to suggest. How do you keep everyone happy when traveling? It is a trick group leaders have had to learn through years of experience. Group leaders have to master the art of meeting everyone’s travel expectations even though those can differ among people.
Fortunately for me, when Jeremiah learned my mom was tiring, he volunteered to only go to the base of the falls as agreed. He compromised as my mom and brother compromised to hike farther than they might have on their own. But once we got to the base of the magnificent Nevada Falls, everyone was satisfied. That’s the power of travel: Even when both sides concede things, one impressive view can make everyone 100 percent happy.