Adventures, Family culture, Parenting-thing

5 Lessons From Hiking With Kids

Looking ahead to summer there are a lot of trails I would like to see, especially during our two weeks in Colorado and Utah coming up in June.

Last week I nabbed a pair of Ahnu Sugarpine hiking shoes from REI (thank you dividend!) and when they got here today we all were so excited we decided to go try them out right away. I figured it would be good to get them all outside and on a “hike,” because while they’ll play for hours on a playground getting from Point A to Point B is a whole different thing.

The big girls pulled on their hiking boots as I put on mine, and we headed to Mitch Park with a backpack, 3 water bottles, and two types of snacks for a bit of an experiment.

All went fine at first. The girls scampered, giggled, climbed rocks, pointed out flowers blooming in the grass…

You only wished you were as cool as them. I can almost hear some theme music…

That was the first 5 minutes.

It was almost 90° outside, and despite the high winds their cheeks were getting flushed and they started begging for water like they were lost in the Sahara.

We stopped in the shade and everyone chugged from the big water bottle…impatiently waiting their turn.

When Tatum was done she squatted down so I took the opportunity to point out she was in a lightning position…

 

So we all crouched in the lightning position. Yay us. And the 834 lightning-related questions that followed from my curious 6-year-old.

We chose our next route and Kenna was fascinated with the sign…and chose to show it off in style. This kid has more ‘tude and style than she knows what to do with!

A few minutes later I got my first “Up?” from Bennett and I checked my phone to see our distance… .35 of a mile 🤦🏼‍♀️We made it another third of a mile and one more water bottle down before I gave in and got her up and into the back of my backpack (finally putting those WAFA skills to use!) and we kept on cruisin’.

We spotted birds, drank more water, ate a snack, drank more water.

Lesson #1   Assume my children are part dromedary and carry three times the amount of water I think we need. Let’s just say we’re going nowhere in the mountains without a LifeStraw.

I noticed a gully with a clear cut trail across that cut out a significant part of our path. Since Tatum was exclaiming she needed to go to the bathroom, a shortcut looked like a good idea.

We started downhill when Kenna–my often too-fearless kid decided to become terrified of going down a little trail. And of bugs…all of the sudden. Kenna, who often will pick up bugs to inspect them, squeal with delight over the cuteness, and I have to warn not to touch the quarter inch stinger on the cicada killer. But there she was, having a mini meltdown in a gully about all the bugs…that I couldn’t see.

Lesson #2 Assume your kids will do a 180° on their preferences and personalities at any time.

Once we reached the bottom of the gully it actually turned out to be one of the most interesting features I’ve seen in Mitch Park–ever! And we’ve been walking there for six years!

Once at the bottom it wasn’t quite so windy, and there were trees and bushes so I gave Tatum permission to relieve herself “like a hiker.” You’d have thought she hit the jackpot–ever since she first peed next to a tree while hiking in Colorado it’s the height of outdoorsy excitement for her.

Lesson #3 Always carry toilet paper/tissues/baby wipes and plastic bags with you. Thankfully I was prepared.

With 90% of our water gone we ate a few more snacks, Kenna calmed down about the bugs, Bennett was down from the backpack and exploring, and things were looking up. I even managed to find a rock to do a group photo…this was the only place where the wind wouldn’t knock the phone over and I could prop it up.

Lesson #4 Always carry one of those mini tripods for your phone. Memories are the big things and the everyday moments.

 

We hiked up the hill–Bennett insisting on doing it herself a lot and sometimes fully face-planting in the red Oklahoma dirt but keeping on. The girls spotted some trash we gathered and threw away (made my Leave No Trace heart so proud), and by the time we were just maybe one fifth of a mile away from the car they decided they were having way too much fun to go home.

Bennett became quite desperate to show me every flower in the grass. Kenna’s eyes became quite adept at finding all the bird houses and bird feeders in the area. Tatum spun in circles. When I realized it was almost 6:00 and we needed to get home to make dinner, Bennett became the noodle child, Kenna wanted to stop and admire everything, and Tatum became the task master trying to help me drive them forward. Which leads me to my last lesson.

Lesson #5 Give yourself three times the normal amount of time to do any hike. 

Yeah, that has to be the slowest seven-tenths of a mile EVER.

BUT, it’s a starting point.

Everyone ate a BIG dinner (which isn’t always the norm).

Bennett crashed as soon as we put her in her crib.

I hardly had a moment to realize my new hiking shoes were amazingly comfortable…even carrying a 10 pound backpack and a 30 pound kid.

And the girls want to “hike” again. Tomorrow.

I’d call that a success…but glad of my lessons learned!

Adventures, Family culture

The Wind in the Pines

I’ve had a number people asking me what’s going on with our traveling plans and the truth is… It changes almost weekly.

We’ve had some family stuff going on that has put a delay in plans, and we are still hoping that when we move my parents and grandma can move with us (and maybe eventually Matt’s parents too–eh? Eh? 😉). As it is, everything is in limbo for the moment.

And in the meantime we keep moving forward with fixing the house up, replacing the porch light, fixing the toilet, and those little things we’ve been meaning to do for a while and are finally getting around to.

Thank GOODNESS Spring is finally here and the gray is giving way to GREEN again! Looking at pictures on Facebook from “On this day” years ago I can see lots of foliage in the background of pics…for some reason everything decided to leaf out late this year and honestly that got to me almost as much as the winter darkness in Seattle. This girl needs SUNSHINE and GREEN THINGS (I’m lookin’ at you evergreen forests…).

So these are a bit late but here are some pics from our quick little trip to Robbers Cave State Park.

At Van’s Pig Stand in Shawnee…Matt’s BBQ blows this out of the water…
No one makes her squeal with laughter quite like her daddy
Everything is brown and gray…
Since it was just one night, we opted to stay in a cabin instead of do the whole tent thing. The girls were VERY excited about our home for the night!
We headed down by Lake Carlton to explore a bit–we had the place to ourselves!

Honestly as soon as we got into our cabin and all was quiet for a minute I felt so relaxed. There’s something about the sound of wind through the pines. If you live by it you take it for granted most of the time. Even in Southern California where I grew up, the center loop of our neighborhood was ringed in pines, and in Seattle we definitely had no shortage of evergreens. But living where most of the trees are deciduous, during winter when the leaves are gone it’s a different sound. So too, is the sound of the wind through broad leaf trees. Call me crazy, but there’s just something relaxing about the sound of the wind through pine trees. And I drank it all in.

These girls are pretty fearless and were more than eager to set off exploring!

After a LOT of attempts with damp wood and a smokey fireplace we finally got enough flames to roast some marshmallows

Tatum is a bit of a stickler for the rules…
They were excited for cinnamon rolls for breakfast!
Even if it was just a tiny bit, bouldering was so fun and felt so good!

At the Visitors Center there were fish, snakes, and lots of hands on things for littles to explore–and we had the whole place to ourselves!
Bennett loved the snake and wanted it out…ummm…nope…

It’s a little odd to me that state parks have playgrounds, mini golf, Frisbee golf, and snow cones…but when you’ve kinda done all there is to do and have some time to kill why not?
This baby handled hiking in the carrier like a champ! Except when were were a on a high lookout and she suddenly wanted down…not happening…

It may have only been a small oasis of mountain-y wilderness surrounded by Oklahoma plains, but we drank it in!
On the way home we stopped at a couple of state parks so the girls could get their state park passport stamps…

It may have not been the most scenic place but the girls had fun and it was a good stretch of the legs.