"I'm surprised I'm still alive!"
Exactly the type of words every mother wants to hear. All sorts of emotions tumbled through me in the split second afterwards: shock, fear, terror, relief, joy.
I don't think it ever gets easier.
Anyway, the reason for the comment is that Lauren went hiking with a friend today, up near Toowoomba on the Darling Downs. There's a mountain in the valley that has a flat , treeless top (from a distance. Up close it's rocky) and is a favourite for local hikers - Tabletop Mountain. I've climbed it once. The road in is difficult to find and often more suitable for 4WDs than normal cars. Then finding the trail becomes the problem. Of course, that's nothing to keeping to the trail. It disappears after a while and you're left with a choice of scrambling over loose gravel at a 60 degree angle or climbing a rock face.
Guess which one Lauren and her friend chose? That's right - the rock face - without ropes or climbing equipment and only a very general indication to me of where she would be today.
I know I've had conversations with her about hiking safety but when I think about it, most of them were when she was a teenager - and what parent knows anything to a teenager? At least she did have enough sense to let me know where they were going and to take enough water and food to last overnight if needed. Of course her friend didn't have much water so they ended up sharing Lauren's, and Lauren forgot about the need to wear jeans as some protection against snakes or a fall, or take a jacket just in case they did end up stranded over night.
And Lauren has lots of stories about how she made her little Toyota Echo behave like a 4WD on the steep gravelly slopes! We giggled for ages, even though I knew some of those slipping experiences could have ended badly - the roads around there have very steep drops over the sides.
Luckily it all ended well. They got up the mountain and back down again with little more than a few scrapes and some sore muscles, and I have an idea for a birthday present for Lauren - a book about easy hikes around South-east Queensland!
(Image from: www.flickr.com/photos/85581601@N00/3142934162/)