I do very little hiking considering how much I love it. I’m trying to change that. I decided to take my kids to hike a fairly easy trail in Gateway Mesa Open Space in Castle Rock. Because my kids aren’t super big fans of hiking, I let them make their own trail mix as an incentive. I’d say the mini marshmallow to peanut ratio is generally about 12:1.
I knew my youngest was not going to be able to walk 1.5 miles on her own, so for about two-thirds of the hike I carried her in the baby carrier. She is decidedly heavier than a baby and it made my back a little more sore, but it was worth it to not have to carry her on my shoulders or in my arms. Or listen to her screaming.
We made our way on the rocky trail, taking in the abundant shrubbery and basking in the shade of a tree whenever we could find one. My oldest daughter seemed to think trekking through the wilderness was some newfangled method of torture, but when I gave her my phone to listen to music she quickly forgot about all of her woes.
Whenever one of my kids would want to stop, I’d just point ahead and say something like, “Let’s just get to that big rock,” or, “we can stop after we’ve spotted three birds.” (Birds were notably absent on our hike. Maybe it was too hot for them.) We’d also sing songs together or do math problems as we walked. (Because nothing takes your mind off of fatigued legs like some stimulating subtraction!)
There were a lot of places where the trail’s surface was completely flat rock, so we got lost a few times. Towards the end I could not find the trail anywhere and was really starting to panic, but we all said a prayer and about half a minute later we were able to locate a trail marker. I was incredibly grateful. I was not prepared to camp out with only a handful marshmallows and three tired kids. Although, to be honest, I probably could have called my husband and he would have come to find us. Cell phone coverage in the semi-wilderness is a glorious thing.
We made it back to the trailhead in about two hours time, and my kids were so happy to see our trusty minivan waiting there to carry them back to the land of comfy couches and air conditioning. Sometimes it’s difficult to do things like this when my kids aren’t really into it. But I believe that you should spend time doing what your kids love as well as spending some time doing what you love. Even though I had to use bribery, distraction, a little ingenuity and a lot of faith to pull this hike off, at the end of the day I had a good time, and I think my kids did too. I think we’ll do it again sometime.
Where are your favorite places to hike with your kids?