This week, for our Toddler Trek and Backbacking Bambinos events, no one showed, and it was glorious!
Max and I have been leading hikes for five years, and we’ve seen as many as about 25 people on a hike. He has taken to leading the group, pointing out cool finds, and warning everyone about prickly briars and poison oak. I try to monitor the needs and limitations of the group, and try my best to facilitate forward progress while keeping it interesting for all ages.
When no one shows up, anything goes, which means that we can change the route or type of our hike.
On Thursday at Fremont Older, we had planned to do a Toddler Trek, with the kids (even Holly now) walking quite a bit. This time, with Max already tired from school and Holly wrist-deep in some Pirate’s Booty popcorn, I made it into a hardcore hill workout. It was wonderful to break a sweat within a minute of pushing both kids in my double jogger up the steep hills, having mountain bikers and hikers applaud my efforts as they came down the other way. We took a nice break under a shady Walnut Tree, then continued our loop, counting lizards (so many that we lost count) and ending our trip by watching a baby rattlesnake (about 8 inches long) cross the trail.
On Friday at Rancho San Antonio, we had planned for Backpacking Bambinos to hike a rugged trail into the hills, then down to the farm. This time, Max was eager to ride his bike, and it was a bit warm. We opted to roll up a couple little hills, then down to the creek. Both kids enjoyed the cool, shallow water, flowers and bugs (dragonflies, water skippers, butterflies), and plenty of rocks to toss. After the trip, we gobbled up popsicles at home.
We know the heat kept many folks away, and a lot of people’s summertime obligations have them busy at camp, on vacation, or at special schools. Even in the heat, however, there is plenty to do, and Stroller Hikes leaders will often modify for the group. On Tuesday for our Stroller Run, tired out from camping the weekend before, Max and I lingered with our little bug boxes, collecting snails – we counted 42 in the little 8 foot by 30 foot landscaped patch at Creekside Park. Still a little tuckered out, when Ellen and Karen arrived with their kids, we opted for a race walk (with a mighty pace!) rather than a run. Everyone got a great workout and the kids had fun, finishing off with romps around the playground, as usual.
My mom sent me a newspaper article from my hometown paper this week, citing Oregon’s Children’s Outdoor Bill of Rights. It’s a short list of things all kids should have an opportunity to do, and a good reminder of all the natural world has to offer. It states that all kids should be able to (1) Follow a trail, (2) Go boating, (3) Camp out under the stars, (4) Learn to swim, (5) Walk barefoot on the beach, (6) Climb a tree, (7) Observe animals in their habitat, (8) Catch a fish, (9) Play in a nearby park, and (10) Celebrate local culture and history.
This is a great reminder of so many simple things that are timeless and free, that can be done in nature. I’d add (11) Taste something edible growing outside, which can be done informally, or is gaining popularity as a formal event – see Full Circle Farm’s Full Harvest Feast, below. A final one I’d add is (12) Make or do something in nature, with limited rules or structure. This might mean digging, drawing with sticks, piling up rocks, building a fort… kids need chances to invent and work without constraints.
I am taking out my new work team for a hike at Coal Mine Ridge / Windy Hill next Wednesday. It will be a nice opportunity to reintroduce some of them, and introduce some of them for the first time, to play in nature. You’re never too old to be a kid again.
-Debbie, Max, little Holly (not “wee” anymore, because she is walking!)
p.s. We love leading hikes, because it forces us to build this exercise and nature time into our busy schedules. If you’d also like to lead events (hikes, runs, bike rides, or something else that is family-friendly), please let Stroller Hikes know by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.