I have this thing with always trying to make every trip as epic as possible. I need to go all the places, do all the things, and end up stressed about not doing enough… Having a 2-year-old is a great reminder to just slow it down. On a recent Mommy and Me trip so southern California we took the toddler pace and had a blast! With one big trek up a snow covered San Jacinto Peak and a lot of tiny hikes on tiny legs we had a great time connecting with each other and taking things slow.
Posts Tagged With: Hiking with Kids
While I believe there are many assholes of the mountain, I am only going to focus on a few. I don’t have time to write a book… maybe I should write a book?
I preach the gospel of spending time in nature. I am the for most advocate of getting your kids outside and having epic adventures with them. But, let’s be smart people.
In the heart of Phoenix we have Camelback Mountain. Per Strava, it is 2.2 miles round trip with 1,877 feet of gain. Yes, it is a beast! And while my training is calling for 10,000 feet of climbing or more per week, it is my new best friend. With this friendship has come a lot of stress on my patience, sanity, and overall tested my ability to not push people off the mountain… (seriously I would never do that… but some people make it hard not to…)
So stupid people who come to the mountains (any and all not just camelback) for your selfies and bragging rights without real knowledge of etiquette or concern for nature- I call you out.
To the people with music blaring- You suck. I do NOT want to hear your crappy music and as a matter fact I would really like to listen for snakes. Thanks.
When a trail says “extremely difficult” there really is no need to ask the Ranger how difficult it “really” is. If you can’t look at the sign and say “eh?” and keep moving with confidence, get the fuck off the mountain and find something within your wheel house.
Up hill has the right of way. I actually heard someone tell his kid to move out-of-the-way of downhill hikes, um, nope. People going uphill should not be made to stop their momentum for downhill goers. Even when I’m runningdownhill, if it’s single track I will stop my run and pull off to the side, because it polite and my Strava isn’t that important.
Say hi! If you do not look at me and say hello I assume you are a serial killer. Now, if you look totally exhausted and like saying hello may take all your extra energy and you’ll die, I give you a pass. Otherwise, at least give a polite head nod and keep rolling.
To the parents/ relatives / friends with children- do not bring kids up anything that you can not do easily. If your ass can’t carry a kid down if something bad happens, you should not be there with kids. Listening to grumpy adults who are struggling themselves pressure tired children to keep going infuriates me. When it’s a summit hike and there are kids that clearly aren’t going to make it I get frustrated. Please take children to mountains, teach children about nature and caring for it. But, taking a child to something they are going to fail on does not instill a love for nature, it makes them hate it. Set them up for success.
Heat- you’re stupid. Look, I will be out running in the heat, so will my friends, but this is what we do! A novice hiker does not need to be out in 100 degree heat. AND—-
Kids in the heat??? This is child endangerment. Even I, me, this lady that does crazy shit with her kids, will not take my kids out in the heat. Over 95 degrees and the older ones could put in some miles, but the little ones will not be on the trails. And over 100? NO WAY will any of my kids be on the trail. I love my kids and value their lives… the risk is not worth any reward.
Please keep getting out into the mountains. Protect our public lands- protect our wild places- teach kids to love nature so they will do the same- but at least be smart about it.
It’s that time of year again! My kids and I head out on some awesome Mommy and kid adventures: me smiling from ear to ear with pride, them skipping their way up mountains all day. I mean, that is what my social media shows after all! And for some reason that was what I was expecting…
I have two tweens, and they happen to be two of my most opinionated children I own. Apparently they thought going to Silverton Colorado this year was going to be a lot of walking around town, hanging out at the library, and eating candy. Ummm?? Have they met their Mom??
My oldest is out-of-town so it was just the youngest 5 and I in a tent. Every single hike I suggested was met with whinnying and complaints. The tweens wanted no part of it. They picked apart every hike trying to decide which would take the least amount of time. They wanted to get hikes done quickly then go to town…not my idea of living in the mountains.
I was mad. I was hurt. I was legitimently wondering where I went wrong… We have spent countless summers in the mountains. We have spent days hiking together happily… What was different?
Then I had an epiphany-
A happy Mom is a caffeinated Mom. So, more caffeine for me…and headphones!
Look, I knew in my heart they would be happy once they go out there. Every runner that has been out for a while knows how hard it is to get that motivation back. I knew a couple of miles in they would find their groove and be those mountain loving kids again. But it was ME that was the real problem. I was getting hurt by their refusal, I just had to figure out how to get myself out there and “out there” in a positive mood!
So that’s what I did. I shoved my headphones into my pack and over caffeinated myself. I was ready for whatever foul mood they wanted to pull. And guess what? They had fun!
So Mom hack #207- Caffeine, caffeine, and more caffeine! Plus some headphones! (which I never ended up having to use!)
Decided to take Mr. Tag down to Havasupai Falls because, why not?
Packing for all day adventures is soooo simple with a baby… Note to self, babies’ need way too much stuff…
He did well for most of the hike in, nursing and sleeping like a baby does.
Per usual he was very uninterested in the awesome views…
At some points he was awake and even got to enjoy a little of the falls. Though is was a little cold for such a little guy.
What I learned on the way out is 11 1/2 hours of my shannaingans is all he is willing to tolerate.
While singing dancing and overall being crazy would keep him happy for a moment, he was unwilling to calm down totally until he was out of the carrier. -Sigh- Nothing like carrying a baby in your arms at the end of a 12 hour day on the CLIMB out….
But we made it. It was fun, and I learned I am terrible at taking care of my calories. With nursing him all day and hiking I need to figure out just how many calories I need so I don’t feel awful the next day. FOOOOOD! A work in progress!
The biggest question I get asked if how I get my kids to hike as far as I do.
Yes my kids love nature, yes my kids like hiking, but even they hit a point where bribery is the only option. Even my kids need that carrot to keep them moving at times….
Well not a carrot. A carrot would not even work for my crazy vegan kids. It’s chocolate, gummy snacks, or treats of any sort.
Sometimes it is a playground at the end of the hike! By far my favorite hike to take “newby” hiking kids on, that is also close to Phoenix, is in Cave Creek Regional Park.
“Let’s go hike kids!”
“waaahhh I don’t wanna”
“We can play on the playground after”
Starting at the Go John trail head you have the one big climb of the hike, we call it the ant hill. Once you reach the saddle you have the best stop for a snack and take some pictures spot. Do not spend too long hanging out here, when kids get to thinking how tired they are its hard to get them moving again! When you come to a junction take a left on Overton. You will meander around the mountain for some more awesome views and some fun little downhill sections.
Eventually you will spot the nature center which is a great little stop to see some critters. You will also spot the playground which is a great end of hike motivator for the Little ones! It’s funny how moments ago they were “so tired” after 3 (ish) miles but when they hit that playground they have all the energy in the world!
For a hike this length my Little People don’t have that many snacks, but if yours is new to this sort of distance plan on a little something at the saddle and maybe a couple more along the way. I tend to try and give them something “healthy” in the beginning, fruit of veggies, and use the sugary snack as a motivator to keep moving as the miles drag on. I usually plan on something they love (for us its chips) at the park as an added “yay you made it” bonus!
The best part about Cave Creek Regional Park is once your kids have mastered the short hike there are many options to add on miles and still have the playground as motivation! And for us parents, the views are all beautiful!
Teach your kids trail etiquette before you go. My rule for my Little People is the almost always move off the trail and let adults go by. It’s just easier that way.
Have snacks. Delicious ones. Probably chocolate.
Let your kids carry their own stuff. Camelback has the best kids packs on the market currently. Buy your kid one, go outside and use it!
Take time to hunt for lizards, watch a bug cross the trail or stare at the hawk flying by.
Buy good shoes. It’s important. Velcro is BAD for kids hiking (ask Tru, he lost 2 toenails last summer)
Use motivators when needed. Talk, play games, run, smile, give snacks. Have fun yourself so your kids can have fun too!
Give snacks every time they ask. Always give a “snack point”. “When we get to the saddle we will have -blank-“. If they start getting what they want by whining I promise you will regret it later in the hike!
Carry their pack. Yes they will get tired. Yes their pack is heavy. Do not let them get away with being lazy! Let them feel strong and capable.
Commiserate. Instead of complaining when they do, talk about how happy you are that your legs hurt because of how strong they are becoming. If you complain they complain and that is no fun at all!
So get out with your Little People and have fun!
I get the “it takes a village” mentality, but leave my kid alone!
I am very clear with my children that they do not have to feel obligated to talk to or listen to adults if they are uncomfortable. I am also very clear that they need to do things on their own when it comes to climbing, jumping, swinging. If you get yourself into a situation you better be able to get yourself out.
We hiked to Seven Falls in Tucson yesterday. The hike was uneventful and all around easy, nothing much to say about that. When we got to the falls the older ones got to playing and I sat with the baby paying little attention to what they were doing. Frogs were caught, rocks were climbed, people got wet. The usual.
Now Tenny is strong and a fairly talented gymnast. She loves boulder and got herself on this rock-
And got down many times.
But at one point she was up there alone and two older gentlemen took notice of her trying to get down and offered help.
“No thank you” Said Tennyson
She sat back on top of the rock waiting. When I say I pay “little” attention to what is going on that’s not completely true, I knew exactly what was going on but did not intervene.
Tenny continued to sit on the rock looking at the men out of the corner of her eye for a couple more minutes then went to go down again.
At this point one of the men jumped up offering her help again.
“No Im ok” she said. She climbed back to the top again and sat uncomfortable for another few minutes before hightailing it down and over to me.
“hey honey, did that bother you?”
“Yes. They didn’t listen to me.”
Now you see, the “helpfulness” was really not listening to my daughters words. Yes she is only 6, but she said she was fine and the men, adults, wouldn’t hear her. How scary is that when you are little? She went back up the rock multiple times not because she wanted to, but in hopes that these men would leave her alone so she could get down. I understand wanting to help children if they look like they are in trouble but she was not. Maybe she could have fallen, but so what?
Tenny and I talked about the way she felt. We talked about how adults should listen to children’s words and if they don’t that’s scary. We also talked about how these men may have just been trying to help but we also don’t know and some people use “helping” as a way to trick children.
PLEASE hear my children. If you aren’t trusting a child’s judgment DO NOT push. Give a simple “can I go get your Mom/Dad for you” but do not invade their space or comfort zone. Adults need to respect a child’s words. Maybe you aren’t the “bad guy” but what happens when my daughter takes help from that person because she doesn’t want to upset the person offering help? Children should not feel an obligation to accept help from an adult AND if they have already said no thank you, essentially telling the adult to back off, and the adult does not listen they should be wary of that person.
Tenny did what she was suppose to do and though I am sad she lost out on some fun playtime while she sat figuring out how to handle the situation, I’m glad I got to see her use her internal safety button and make the choice she thought was best. Strong looks good on Little Ladies…
Living outside with the kids for a week has been pretty epic. There is no “down time” when you live outside (and have a pretty intense phobia of bears coming into your tent like I do). While spending some time in Flagstaff we hiked Humphrey’s and little Tru rocked it! Little Man hiked just about 5 miles (its 10 in total) and napped on my back some as well. This guy can be stubborn (and super loud!) but really just wants to be one of the big kids. From the hike he ended up with BOTH his big toenails purple and a blister under one of them. This guy can be quite the trooper! Currently we are kicking it around Colorado and having some smaller adventures. Soon we will head up some 14ers and see how tired we can make this Momma!
Thought I would mix things up and actually show you how our adventures go! A last minute decision to head north and hike a little. Five hours on our feet for this short one with some creek time mixed in, five Littles and 2 dogs in tow. I’m dying with the lack of good kids packs, we are trying to make something work but it’s turning into Tajh and Tea both wearing adult packs. I wore the Anton Vest by Ultimate Direction so I could wear Tru when he needed it. It worked out alright but it not the fix I’m going to need so this summer, I need to be able to carry my own water and wear Tru… Working on it….
I don’t like to compare my kids to other peoples, I get it, they are all unique and special in their own way… But mine are pretty badass!
Tenny is 4. She is adorable, funny, a pain in the ass, and full of energy. She loves running but gymnastics is definitely her thing. This tiny little body is packed with muscle…. but she is only 4…
Most of the time when we hike she gets worn, because wearing two babies is apparently my thing
Spending time in colorado she spent a lot of time on her feet. The largest hike being nearly 4 miles with just under 3,000 of elevation gain (Island Lake). After hiking up, she slept on my back majority of the way down. Although she is clearly tough, the idea of taking a 4-year-old on an all day hike (oh yeah and 4 other children) alone is somewhat frightening. Apparently I like watching my life flash before my eyes…
When +1 said he had work to do in Flagstaff I said “great we will join you! I want to take the kids up Humphreys myself”. I’m pretty sure to anyone that just sounds stupid. 5 kids, age 11-3, almost 5 miles and over 3,000 feet of climbing, sound like a good time?
Getting ready for an all day trek with everyone is stressful in itself. We rolled up the the parking lot and they all ran off to play. I did my best to round them up for sunscreen and to throw some packs on the big ones. Tenny was stoked to hike and took off in a sprint, which resulted in a potty break before we could even hit the trees “I have to pee now Mommy!” She almost got off the trail…
The first half hour she ran, a lot. Girl was excited to be on her own two feet. By an hour in it was snack time, eat and hike peeps we gotta keep moving.
*Note- I do not have a lot of pictures. My phone is super ghetto and the battery does not last long anymore. Even on airplane mode trying to save the battery for as long as possibly, I was nervous I wouldn’t be able to get a picture at the top if I wasn’t careful. Sorry…
So we snacked every half an hour or so and they kept moving. They love to play together while hiking and their was some sort of Pokemon/horse game going on. I was happy they didn’t need me at this point as Tru was in the worst mood ever! My Little hiking buddy needed a nap and was not having it for some reason.. ugh… there may have been threats of bear attacks if he continued to scream which did cause them to subside enough for him to fall asleep for a while. Pokemon/horse continued on.
I missed a turn. I know I suck. So we scrambled up. Teagan continued to question me and all I responded was “up”. We trudged on with Tajh behind Tenny to keep her from sliding down. Eventually we found the trail, hit the saddle, and into the rocks larger then Tenny.
“Tajh just push her butt up” I commanded after watching him try and have her step on his hand, which took forever. “This is awkward…” because he is 11 and everything is awkward. At no point have we rested at all, I knew we didn’t have time in the day for that. We did though move off the trail if anyone was coming toward us. One of these times Tenny took the opportunity to lay down on a large rock “I just want to go to bed Mommy”, “Yes hunny, me too, lets go”.
On we went. If was windy and cold up top and holding hands was necessary to help the Little Lady up the steps larger then she. No one was complaining, other then about being cold. I sent the Bigs ahead as soon as we saw the summit, and not gonna lie, I got pretty darn excited hiking up with Tenny.
5 hours and 5 minutes after starting Tenny summited Humphreys Peak.
We sat and she ate her peanut butter cup (yup just one). The Big’s and I discussed letting her take a nap, but at this point it was pretty late. After a 30 minute rest we started down the mountain again. They discussed how heading straight down the scree would be much fast “see mommy then we just head through the trees to the car”. Sigh… That’s a no.
Having left without our sandwiches we had only snacks all day, everyone was starving. We daydreamed about pizza, all of us, and hiked. The horse game came back (no pokemon this time) and Tenny fell, “That was (insert horses name)’s fault. I’m ok”. Although none of them ever had imaginary friends, they really commit when playing in the mountains.
We finished with only pizza on our minds, 4 1/2 hours after leaving the summit (down is hard when you are super short). Tenny was asleep within 2 minutes of driving but woke in time to eat. They probably all passed right out at bedtime you assume? Of course not! They would not go to sleep! Does anything exhaust my Littles? I’ve yet to find it! When asked what he favorite part of the day was Tenny responded “seeing the top”, yup, that’s my girl. All my Littles continue to amazing me. I’m one proud Momma.
All 5 kids took in 3,850 calories over the nearly 10 hour day.
Did someone say epic? Oh yeah, that’s how we roll. A journey with 5 kids into the unknown? Yes please. Even better, let someone tell me there is “lots of snow up there” and apparently I decide it’s an even better idea. With +1 at the lead I strapped Tru on my back and headed to Island Lake.
Now we have done part of this journey before. Last year we drove to the parking lot at the end of South Mineral campground and headed up Ice Lake trail. To head to Island Lake you take a turn at some point, that’s all I knew. Last year I was in shape, this year I haven’t done anything in a nearly a month, I knew this was going to hurt, at least a little.
Now let’s remember, little Tenny is 4. I had NO clue how long this hike was going to be, but I knew from the start she was going to make it on her own 2 feet.
The first hour was a nice hike. Upness was there, but everyone was moving pretty well with Tenny moving at “4-year-old who randomly gets boosts of energy to catch her siblings” pace. River crossings were met with helping hands from siblings, and Tru took his first nap of the day. I’m pretty sure this kid only likes hiking for the naps!
I figured snack after an hour and then maybe another within the next half hour, they had other plans. These kids were hungry! So they ate and hiked and Little Miss Tenny got a second wind, even if it only lasted a little while.
Now about snow, I don’t like it. I am not a fan of being cold. So we hit some snow fields, and some more, and some sketchier ones. I spent a lot of time asking the kids to watch their feet and asking (re-asking) +1 if it was safe.
Tenny does not like having cold and which did lead to some freak outs EVERY time she fell…which was a lot. Luckily +1 did help her through some of the extra crazy spots. And then we saw it:
The amazing blue of the water could been seen through the ice layer, which the kids promptly began throwing rocks at. What kid doesn’t want to watch ice break? We had lunch, threw more rocks, and laid our shoes and socks out to dry. And then got attacked by marmots-
I can confidently say the best playground for children is a giant frozen lake over 12,000 feet in the sky. The only way to live.
Time to leave.
The snow fields on the way drown were beyond sketchy. Sadly my phone died (then came back to life further down the mountain) so I wasn’t able to get any of the epic shots on +1 skiing on his feet down crazy snow fields at 12,000 feet or my Littles getting cold butts as they sledding (sans sled) down. We will have to head back and make it happen.
Tenny napped on my back (girl deserved the break!) , Tru on +1’s (so thankful to have another adult for this trek) and we all made is safely back down. In case you are keeping track, My 4-YEAR-OLD hiked for 3 1/2 hours over 4 miles up with nearly 3,000 elevation gain. Yup, she is bad ass. All in all it was nearly an 8 hour day and so worth it! If only for the marmot eating Tay’s pee off the ground story…
And let me say, my Little people who have been fighting and struggling to be friends the last few months were AMAZING the entire 8 hours. Helpful to one another and kinder then I could ever ask for. Thank you nature!