Sunday, July 22, 2012

Hiking With Kids

My friend Marcie asked this:

Thinking more about the epic hiking you've posted, do you have complaining children along the way? How much do you end up carrying the toddlers?

I couldn't answer her question without turning it into a blog post --I had too much to say!

We've been taking our kids hiking for a long time. I think we started doing it more often when we were living in California. Our oldest has never complained much, but she's always been a bit older. All of our kids have complained at one time or another, though. One of our favorite phrases was from our daughter (now 9) who, at 5, kept whining "my feet are sweaty!" Most of the kids go through pretty whiny stages around 4 and 5 years old. This is because they are too big to be carried, but still kind of small in stature and get tired quicker.

Yes, we do carry the toddlers. I usually am the one carrying the baby in a Moby wrap, and Brandon will be carrying the 2 year old in a Beco. Brandon often will put the Beco on, but we let #5 in and out of it throughout the hike. He likes to walk on his own, but it's nice to have the Beco for him just in case.

When we hike with the kids I always make sure we have the following in place:
1. Water. Lots of it. Yesterday, we hiked to Stewart Falls (via Sundance), and we knew we'd run out of water, so Brandon brought his water purifier he uses on camp outs and backpacking trips. Fresh mountain spring water purified? Yes, please!
2. Food. You will always need snacks for kids! Granola bars, apples, plums, bread, etc. Grapes are good, too!

3. First aid kit --We ALWAYS use it. Somebody always get a scrape! I also have wet wipes/diapers/change of clothes for the baby on hand.
4. Hats/sunscreen --I forgot the kids' hats yesterday, and for part of the hike, they were really sad about it. But luckily I brought the sunscreen!
5. Long pants/hiking shoes with socks. Unless they have Chacos. Which I do (but the kids don't). Yesterday, most of them wore shorts --and somehow didn't get stinging nettle! Not sure how we got so lucky.

6. Camera! Just my iPhone. But still! Gotta document the awesomeness of nature.

Most important:
7. Time. You've gotta have time to take your time with kids. You simply can't rush them! So, plan accordingly to the length of the hike. On Friday, I took the kids to a short .3 mile hike to a fun waterfall grotto. We didn't leave until 3PM, but I knew we'd be okay because of how easy and short it was. Yesterday, we knew the hike would be long, so we left it open-ended. Good thing, too, because the people we were meeting at the falls were running a bit late. We left the house at 12:15PM and figured we'd be home around 4PM. Nope! Didn't get home until 7PM. But it was okay because we had planned for it.

Also, the best part about hiking is not always the destination. There have been hikes we've taken with the kids when there is no destination --we simply hike until we're done and then we turn around (crazy, right?!). It's fun to watch the kids discover different bugs, plants, and signs of animal life, and when we let them do that, it takes a long time! If we do have a destination (a waterfall or a cave or a spectacular view), we try to spend as much time as we can at that destination as to not feel as if the whole point is to rush there and back. Of course, we don't always have the time, but we sure try...

The best ways to get complainers to stop:
*Distract them with stories
*Give them small goals ("At the next spot of shade, we'll drink some water!")
*Have them look for something --a walking stick, a spot in the river, a bird, a color of flowers, etc.
*Remind them they can do it
*Don't give them a choice! ;) They might still complain, but they'll learn not to eventually. They always do.

It's obvious we love to hike. I'm still pretty bad at it (and maybe that's why I'm glad we have children that slow us down!), but I love it so much. There's something about trails through mountains and forests, being away from everything at home --no television, phone service, distraction. It's blissful --even with all the sweating and achy legs. :)

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
~John Muir


Mother of the Wild Boys said...

Awesome quote, and great advice. Thanks Cheryl. <3

Mormon Women: Who We Are said...

This is one of those things I just love about your family. It's not our family's thing, but I love how much it works for your family -- because you make it work, and make it worthwhile.

You make me wish we did this more. :)