This weekend we have our first Stroller Hike to Yosemite. Hoorah!
Melanie and her family enjoyed so many of our Backpacking Bambinos trips this year (overnight backpack camping with toddlers and preschoolers) that she volunteered her family’s Yosemite cabin this weekend and opened it up to Stroller Hikes. We’re packing every room of that house with families, and prepping for a spaghetti dinner, lots of hiking, some top roping for the kids, and more.
I was reminiscing with my husband about our status as DINKs long ago. DINK stands for Double Income No Kids, a blessed time way back when, when we could take off to San Francisco or impromptu camping at the drop of a hat, stay out all night with friends, work late at the office, and sleep in. We were big climbers back then, making the hour drive to San Francisco at least two nights per week for climbing at Mission Cliffs, then taking off for Lover’s Leap near Tahoe or Yosemite every other weekend from the beginning of Spring until late Fall.
As so many of you know, we have amazing climbing here in California, made better by the mild weather, and even better when placed in gorgeous landscapes like those of Yosemite. I learned to crack climb in Yosemite, tape providing synthetic skin to afford me a little more friction and save my fingers as my weight hung off of my hands, with my feet often just smearing the wall. I climbed my first chimney in Yosemite, too – an off width that gradually narrowed until I felt as claustrophobic as a chimney sweep fallen the wrong direction down a chimney. Because of my small size, I climbed differently than others, and could stay in chimneys and cracks longer than other folks, whose size forced them to traverse away from these rocky features. I remember laughing (as I fretted) for being stuck in Uncle Fanny’s chimney, as climbers passed my husband to ogle at my predicament and comment at how difficult my route looked.
This weekend, we venture out with toddlers and Kindergarteners, and hope our predicament is no worse. As parents, we have our own obstacles to overcome regularly, our physical and mental faculties regularly tried. We’re banking on what usually works for our kids, though – lots of exercise and fresh air, social play with new and old friends, and the excitement of a new adventure. It works every week for us – why we’ve been Stroller Hiking for the last five years.
We’ll bring a crash pad, some rope, and some gear and set up a top rope for the kids, so they can try climbing in one of the most famous climbing meccas in the world, this weekend. Andrew and I used to carry our racks of gear past tourist crowds, to climb all day in this valley. It cracked me up to be asked by strangers to be photographed, particularly when I knew a famous climber was probably only a quarter mile up the path. This weekend, our little climbers will be the subject of photos, I am sure, and we’ll ogle at the sweet moves our little celebrities have, as only parents do.
My very favorite part of climbing in Yosemite was that at one moment, you’d be in the busy, noisy Valley, then within a 150 feet, you were in a place that only a very small number of people had ever been. The ants and lichen on a ledge might never have encountered a person before, just as few, if any people had ever pondered the life there. I felt like the air was crisp, the nature untarnished, the vantage truly unique, and anything was possible.
Today, we stay pretty close to the ground. But watching my kids as they climb, explore, and venture into the wilderness, I cannot help but want to provide them the same amazing experiences I have had. Thanks for all of the Stroller Hikes volunteer staff for providing these opportunities with every free hike, run, Toddler Trek, or other activity. And thanks in advance to Melanie for getting us out to Yosemite.
-Debbie, Max, and little Holly
p.s. I wrote this week’s essay before Friday, when we left for this Yosemite Trip, but then ran out of time to send out the newsletter. We had a great trip! All kids slept a full night last night, testament to the amount of fresh air, exercise, and stimulus they had on our adventure. Two adults and 4 kids rock climbed for the first time on Swan Slab at Yosemite, and everyone marveled at the majesty of Yosemite. Photos top to bottom: Lucas and Nico enjoying tossing oak leaves, Sasha and Max scrambling near Vernal Falls, Max climbing his first rock climb (with ropes), the group hiking to Vernal Falls. At top left, the lower falls below Vernal Falls at Yosemite.