Monday, October 26, 2015

Learning to Hike with the Littles

Can you believe October is almost over!?  I know I do this every month, but WOW!  We have just been enjoying every moment to the max and I think that makes time move at a quicker clip.  One of the highlights of this week was doing an apple u-pick across the road and getting a TON more apples!  Such a great time made even better by sharing the experience with friends (a few more photos on my Instagram growwildmychild).  I bring this up to let you know I’ve added (and will likely soon add more) recipes to my apple round up post from earlier this season including apple scones and apple sauce!

Our second great adventure happened this week when my beloved got an extra day off work and took us to the mountains!!!  Oh man, the mountains are my place.  Do you have somewhere that, just by being there, you can literally feel yourself recharging and being inspired!  I think it’s different for everyone, but for me it comes from the majesty of the mountains. 

And I think this little one and I are like minded
I think it’s important to get to these places as often as possible (maybe through mental imagery if not physically?) and that we need these moments of getting away to refocus and remember the Almighty Creator.  He knew we would need these wild spaces to discover!  I love how several times in the Bible (Matthew 5:8, 14:23, 15:29, 17:1) it mentions how even Jesus took time to go out into the wilderness alone or just with his closest friends.  Of all the things Jesus exemplified to us, I don’t think this seemingly small act should be overlooked.  Nature proclaims the glory of God!

Now, hiking with little wildlings may not always be such a rejuvenating experience.  What I’m about to write is mostly my learned-the-hard-way lessons!   But when we started having children, I began to wonder if our bush-whacking, mountain climbing, woods-wandering days were on hold until they were much older.  And to be honest, we did cut back for a bit (partially because of the Alaskan winters), but I’ve learned some ways to get out with the little ones in ways that everyone can have a wonderful time, do some exploring, soak up the grandeur, learn so many new things that we might not at home, and make memories together.

1.       Getting there:  before I had children, I just thought that all little ones would just fall asleep in the car.  Boy, was I wrong!  Both our children HATED car rides and would often scream. The.  Entire.  Drive…  Needless to say, this is quite stressful and does not make for  a refreshing day for anyone.  Honestly, we did everything to keep our car rides to a minimum those first years (life got better with forward facing car seats).  So, I’m just going to be real and let you know that we tried to find things that were as close as possible and went just because we knew we needed to!   There are many great resources to keep little ones entertained in the car (several in this list), but I think a CD of silly songs we put together was the best remedy for our babies.  And any snacks or drinks possible, especially if you’re doing any elevation change and ear-popping needs to happen.  I kept thinking they must get car sick and now I wonder if there’s any way to diffuse peppermint or something that might help with that?  Hm, just a thought.

2.       Tiny Legs:  we’ve been trying to keep to the trails that are pretty short (less than 3 miles) partially for their little legs trying to keep up and also just knowing ahead of time that we’re probably going to be carrying them for portions, depending on their ages.  If you go in expecting that, you can be better prepared.  Think about what shoes they wear, if they can ride in a back pack or carrier or just your arms?


3.       Realistic Hikes: you know your kids and what they’re going to be capable of.  Or if you’re not sure, start with shorter paths and work your way up.  Trail heads should all have a sign that the start that will give you an idea of the trail’s length and difficulty.  Or check out  It lists all the trails in your area and gives these details as well. 

4.       Permit Rests:  Depending on the age of your little ones, frequent rest (or just distraction) breaks should be expected.  When hiking alone, I tend to want to see the sights on the way, but basically keep moving and get to where I’m going.  I think this is where it is beneficial to have children with you because they make you stop and notice things differently.  Give yourself permission to take breaks with them and really observe things that they find interesting.  This is where so much spontaneous education can occur!  We found a bouncing branch and a tree root slide that never would have caught our attention had we been walking alone! =)

5.       Bare necessities: exploring can be hard work, especially if your legs are barely a foot long!  Don’t forget to pack a few snacks (for sustenance and incentive!) and plenty of water.  Dress in (or pack in) layers.  Even if it feels fine at the trailhead, some areas can be windy or cooler (near flowing water or ice?)  And a couple band-aids (yeah, wish I had brought those!)

6.       If cries happen, it’s okay.  It keeps the bears away.  We ended up reaching our first hike right about nap time and our little one had about 15 minutes of bellowing.  I figured she’d either fall asleep or get over it (it was one  of those cries) and she decided to keep on trucking and see one more waterfall!

Then just soak it all in and enjoy your time together!  Actually, on our way home, the kids were crashed in the back seat as the sun was setting and we came upon a waterfall just off the road.  Josh and I took turns running down the hill to experience it while the other waited with the tuckered tykes.  For all the joys of hiking with the littles, I must say, if you get a moment to yourself among a sight like this, TAKE IT!   There’s something powerful and calming about being alone in nature, even just for a minute.  Then go back to enjoying those with you and treasure the moments in your heart!

“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.”  Isaiah 55:12

Happy adventuring!
Happy Hiker!

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