Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Hiking with Kids

With fall in the air, the girls and I got out for our first hike of the season. In fact, it was Julia's first mountain hike. Last year, we went on walks on flat terrain since we were beyond the backpack but still in "carry me" mode.

On Monday morning, we were invited to join other families for a hike as many of the preschools hadn't started yet and many kindergarteners were off on that day. Kids are always motivated by other kids, so I figured this was a good day to break in Julia.

Well, there were more kids than I had anticipated -- 12 in all, I think, and six grown-ups. The kids weren't off and running because there were too many rocks and roots, but they moved along. There were rock cairns to check out and the kids added their own rocks to the high piles. A tee pee was a great attraction. The boys tried to keep the girls out, but weren't successful as shown here.

The group naturally spread out with older kids cruising along and younger kids needing encouragement to keep on. I was going to leave Julia and the group of younger, slower kids to go check on the older kids, but Julia didn't like the idea, saying "I want to come, momma." She got a spring in her step and we steadily climbed a series of rock stairs to a scenic vista where the lead groups were waiting and snacking. That was our turnaround point for the day, a little shy of the summit, but we didn't care. We had a great view and we knew we still had to get back down. 

On the descent, Julia complained of tired feet and legs and wanted to be carried, of course. So I pulled out a Startburst candy that I had saved for this occasion. If I had thrown the wrappers down, I would have made a trail of pink, and orange, and yellow. I did get frustrated when she stopped to pick the candy out of her teeth -- as if we weren't going slowly enough -- but I remembered that this is part of the experience. You stop and go a lot with kids.

We were the last in the pack so we didn't have to share our candy. Another time, I would pack some kind of snack that I could share as you tend to have a group of kids right near you. Also, I had Ava's snacks and she was up with other kids and parents so I'll have her wear her own little pack now. I admit that my family was a little bit out of hiking practice. Walks and hikes are not the same in terms of the preparation and motivation needed. We're definitely eager to hit the trails again, especially on a day that Daddy can join us.

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