Category Archives: Reconnect

Old Friends in New Places

 

It was a great morning. Fluffy omelets, multiple refills of rich dark coffee, and a chance to reconnect with old friends under tropical skies. I’d been on the road for the last few months before finally landing in Maui. Meeting a couple of other displaced mountain dwellers for breakfast got me thinking about the oddly comforting experience of meeting old friends in new places. I’d been feeling cast adrift lately and it felt good to find an anchor, a familiar connection to the known, in a place of so many unknowns.

Breakfast was over, and I felt sad to leave my friends. But it was time to head out onto the trail… Makawao Forest Reserve on the east face of the volcano. Climbing ever higher on an unvarying slope, a tunnel of indecipherable tropical greenery looms around me… It’s beautiful, but it all seems so hard to connect with, so alien.

Vibrant red mud squooshes out from underneath my soles as I plod ever upward, somewhat unsure if I want to continue. Before I can turn around, the canopy opens up above me, the slope evens out slightly and a meadow appears out of nowhere. At my feet a small plant with serrated bright green leaves catches my eye. Suddenly, I realize that I am looking at an old friend… Blackberries! There’s a whole ripe hedge here!

After a quick flash of warm recognition, (and wolfing down quite a few berries) I start to look around me and realize that a decent percentage of the incomprehensible ‘wall of green’ I had been wandering through are really just old friends…

Fiddlehead ferns, taller than any we have in the high country, dominate the meadow, just unfurling their broad spans from tightly curled bundles on the tops of stalks. Pines tower on the edges of the clearing (planted on Maui to serve as ship’s masts), Blueberry’s close cousin the Nene berry is sprouting up all around, and the sharp sweet smell of eucalyptus leaves rises from the forest floor. With a sudden grin of renewed confidence I have all the energy I need continue my exploration. The recognition of familiar plant friends has somehow made the challenge of connecting with new ones far less daunting.
Looking back, I have to laugh at myself- I realize that I had been given the same lesson in two different ways.

Feeling so adrift, I had forgotten that there is always a seed of the familiar in everything -if we care to look past the obvious differences.

Reaching out and finding a way to connect with your old friends, the knowns, the commonalities, helps you create a bridge to the unknown. Looking for ways to connect with “old friends” (human, plant, or informational, etc) can help you find a foothold in new territory, make things more comprehensible and give you the confidence to explore an entirely new world. This works not only when traveling or on trail, but applies in just about every disorientingly new experience we have in life.

Kids activities: Nature’s Soundscape

I was recently hiking a rugged mountain trail when I realized that a man was approaching from behind me. I realized this when he was still over half a mile away, since the individual in question had obviously taken the advice to use his “outdoor voice” far too literally. I prefer to think that he was not completely inconsiderate, but instead a person who had never had the chance to get more ‘in tune’ with nature and see himself (and his voice) as part of her natural soundscape.

Much as the bright lights of the city obscure the flickering glow of stars, so too our modern sounds drown into oblivion the delicious lilt of nature’s own subtler soundtrack… Double paned windows, while keeping us warm, isolate us from the sounds of nature. Leaf blowers, cars, jets and other engines of their ilk confound our ears and not so subtly assault our souls. So we compensate, by becoming ever louder ourselves, and listening ever less to our surroundings.

The dance of sound through the wilderness tells a story millions of years old- the insistent mating calls of songbirds, the yip-yowling midnight rave of a coyote pack, a rolling wave of wind sweeping through the pines… Each of these sounds has a context, a ‘backstory’ that, long ago, we used to know how to read….

Luckily these stories haven’t been lost! Listening to nature is a skill that can be regained. Here’s some play centered suggestions to help get you (and any little ones you have in your life) back ‘in tune’ with your natural soundtrack:

1. Take a Bird (Sound)bath… Ever have trouble telling the difference between a raven and a crow? Listen to their individual calls and there’ll be no doubt!

Do a little research and find out who the common local birds are. The local ranger station usually can point you to some good birding resources. Recordings of bird calls are generally available on Internet birding sites (or even in your smartphone App Store).  Choose several for you (and any little tagalongs) to identify. Then take a walk and have at it!

2. Silence is a Soundscape. Vegetation softens sound- millions of little pine needles disperse sound waves in a jumble of directions, softening the edges of close sounds and deadening them over a distance. Hard, flatter surfaces like rock will reflect the sound back more uniformly, keeping it crisper and more intact. (Anybody ever heard rock climbers on Half Dome yelling to each other – all the way in the valley below?!) Knowing this, ask your little hiking tribe what is the quietest space(s) they think you can find on the trail? What would be the loudest?

3. All sounds have their place. Record the sound of your feet on the trail in different (unique) spots for segments of 10-20 seconds. Play them back: walking on gravel has a distinctly different sound than sandy soil, rock or pine duff… Who in your little tribe can guess where you were at for each recording?

4. Can you be as quiet as a deer?  There are a lot of ways to train children that their “outdoor voices” (and movements) shouldn’t necessarily be loud ones. One fun game:  Using a decibel meter (available at music stores or for free on your smartphone App Store) try moving through the terrain and measuring the sounds you make.

Who in your group can talk the most quietly and still be understood? Who can move the most quietly?  How fast or slow do you have to move? Are you louder in hard soled boots, soft shoes or even barefoot?

This exercise helps kids (and adults) truly get why choosing each step carefully is a natural part of a wild animal’s life! Turn it into a game and reward points for the quietest traverse of a particular terrain.

So next time you’re outdoors stop for a moment to sit on a rock and stretch your ears out to hear… Nature’s soundscape is a richly textured story, if only you care to listen.

Winter Senses Meditation

It’s so easy to let the winter season bottle you up in your house in an odd mix of hibernation mode and cabin fever. But you don’t have to let winter hem you in.

Take some time to go outdoors and re-expand your world. After all, there are only so many board games you can play. Time outdoors has been shown over and over to be vital to our physical and mental health in ways we can’t yet understand and are only beginng to be able to measure.  

Winter is a great time for natural meditation (or just gathering your thoughts). To get back in touch with the rhythm of the seasons, I like to explore the world, focusing individually on each of my senses.

Each season has a unique set of impressions it leaves lingering on your skin, burned behind your eyelids, a faint trace of scent, a taste on your tongue. Each sense you have is a gift, so take the time to truly appreciate each one of them.

Listen

You say you can’t manage a woodland hike in this cold weather? You can barely make it out the door? Then walk just outside your front step tomorrow morning and take 30 seconds to do nothing but listen.

What do you hear? The crunch of your boots on snow. A bird call oddly muffled by the white blanket covering the landscape. The pattering drip of water melting off the trees? Take a deep breath. Take it all in.

Look

Take a walk through the pines. Leave your camera at home so you can see through your own eyes. What do you see?

The dapple of sunlight dancing its way through the branches? Early morning steam rising off the meadow where sun meets frost? Stillness interwoven with movement as birds dart their way between their refuges? Or maybe the clear bright stars of a winter night? Take a deep breath. Take it all in.

Taste

Every season has its own taste. The fresh young pine needles of the summer inevitably give way to winter’s sharp, dry tannins. Autumn’s fruity rose hips dry into tart little berries, just begging to be made into tea.

The world is there to be experienced — and there’s no experience quite like the crisp, clean taste of a new snowflake melting on your tongue.

Smell

My favorite reward of a hike in the mountains is the moment I take a deep breath and become aware of the fresh scent of pine and wet earth. Slowing down to enjoy the scents of the trail, my lungs seem somehow clearer, my mind brighter.

They say scents have the most direct connection to the emotional center of the brain — I guess that means that if you want to brighten your day, you should take the time to open up your nose first.

Feel

Winter definitely has its own feel. Stepping out into the wild, what will you feel?

The feathery brush of a snowflake against your cheek. The slippery lurch of ice underneath your feet. The crisp, pinching bite on the tip of your nose on a bitter cold night. The warmth of the fire embracing your body as you walk through the door.

Take a deep breath … and take it all in with a smile. Time in nature is time spent healing. 

So when winter comes, instead of complaining about the cold, go out and consciously revel in its crispness, its beauty, its sensations.

Passageways

Passageways are magical. 

Passageways call your attention to a shift, a transition, a ‘passage’ from one way of thinking, seeing, being to the next. 

We are continually flowing through these shifts every second of our days, but often it takes the physical symbol of a passage to bring it home, to make it real to us: like a real life tarot reading that tells us what we should already be aware of, but have chosen to overlook with our conscious mind. 

Passageways are that magical set of places where the conscious and subconscious intermingle, merge, and if you allow yourself to hover there (physically, spiritually, mentally) then you might just bathe yourself in the natural upwelling of inspiration and comprehension, the understanding of your purpose and place in the natural world beyond the domesticated role of “consumer”…

 

Just sayin’

Rewilding 101

 

In our every day lives of texting, Twitter, Instagram and Angry Birds, we often don’t take the time to peel our eyes away from our iPhones and notice the amazing natural world around us.

The modern media tends to over-dramatize being a part of your natural environment as a major effort. While mother nature can have a harsh side, you don’t have to run around naked eating bugs to help reconnect yourself to your wild side (unless you really want to!).  Start with some of these easy steps and I pretty much guarantee that you’ll find yourself thirsting for more of the great outdoors.

  1. Stargazing– long ago, the patterns of nature used to be the source of our stories- and our nightly entertainment. From Orion, the giant huntsman whom Zeus placed among the stars, to the Casseopia, the queen of the night sky, their sagas have been slowly replaced by “Breaking Bad” and “Keeping Up with the Kardashians”.

Take a night to return to your roots. Get a hold of a book to help you identify the constellations. Then head out with a pile of comfy blankets and pillows to the back yard. Lay back and let your eyes wander amongst the stories of the heroes and villans of old, or challenge your family to come up with their own constellations, along with their unique sagas. (Although, from experience, this can get silly fast!)

  1. Firelit night. Use only candle or firelight after dark and give yourself the dual gift of a digital detox and a uniquely bonding experience with your loved ones. There’s nothing like gathering around the warm glow of a fire with your tribe of friends and loved ones.  As the warmth pulls you in closer, coversations flow more freely around a flickering flame, stories grow more meaningful and life seems somehow more real. (No, you are not weird for not having the TV buring bright holes in your retina like all your neighbors.) The campfire has been the most popular “Late Show” in human existence! (And, as a nerdy bonus, the red spectrum light from a fire doesn’t interfere with your production of the sleep hormone melatonin like bright electric light and mess with your stress, blood sugar and other hormone levels throughout the next day.)
  1. Gardening, Hunting and Gathering. Age old skills like fishing, hunting, wild food gathering and gardening are at the heart of what has made us human.

Which skill would you rather pass on to the next generation- stalking the gleaming grocery aisle and heating up the perfect package of Hamburger Helper, or knowing where and how to look for the fish in a river, or when to plant, how to nourish and harvest the perfectly ripened tomato or head of corn? Yoir kids should recognize what an actual potato plant looks like and know that trout doesn’t swim in prepackaged in plastic. Just because your parents didnt teach you doesn’t mean that you can’t learn and pass it on.

Don’t know where to start? As part of the rewilding rennaisance there are a bevy of amazing courses, meetups, clubs and gatherings that focus on helping you gain or improve traditional “primitive” and survival skills. This can be a good way to help yourself gain confidence in and reconnect with your natural skills.  Somewhat ironically, you can find most of these resources by doing a quick online search for that particular skill.

There are thousands more ways to reconnect with nature at home- we’ve barely scratched the surface. Take a moment to wake yourself from your digital daze and appreciate the natural world that surrounds you every day.  Not only will you come closer to your natural roots, but along the way you may discover a deeper connection with the loved ones and friends you share these experiences with.

Guided By Nature

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Finding your way in the woods without a map or compass can be a daunting task, yet our ancestors travelled their wild world, sometimes hundreds of miles on foot, without a breaking a sweat… How the heck did they do it??

Being guided by nature is based in reading the subtle patterns in nature that modern domesticated humans normally ignore. The directions of the world are worn into the very rocks, reflected in the undergrowth leaves reaching towards the sun and in the gnarled branches of trees twisting their way to the sky. Our ancestors could read these natural patterns as easily as you read a street sign, guiding them to their destinations and back again.

So how do we (re)train ourselves in this ancient human skill? There is no one fail safe, true in every location “trick” to natural navigation. Finding your way naturally relies on understanding of the larger natural patterns of the area you live in- the amount and direction of light, prevailing wind(s), level of moisture… These cumulative forces cause subtle asymmetries that you can learn to interpret. In short, you must spend time out in nature, observing and interacting.

Here are some handful of rough directional patterns to get you started:

1. “Into the light”. In an effect known as Heliotropism many plants orient themselves towards the greatest source of light. In our forest one of the more sensitive (and obvious) Heliotropic flora would be our lovely fiddlehead ferns. Ferns in direct sun will tend to orient much of their growth southwards to catch the most light. Note: make sure to look for obstacles to light that can change the fern’s orientation. Under heavy tree cover, heliotropic plants will orient towards the nearest bright opening in the canopy, no matter what direction it is. Open meadows may be your best bet.

2. Look for a tree’s “Heavy Side”. Lone Trees tend to be “heavier” with more leaves and branches to the south side (in our northern hemisphere) in order to catch more of the life giving sun. Take the time to walk around the tree and view it from multiple angles. Note: this effect can be muted or overridden in a grouping of trees as their shadows interact with each other.

3. Branching out. Sunlight also directs the growth of individual branches. Southern branches tend to grow more horizontally (towards the sun), while the shaded northern branches tend to grow more vertically in their quest for more sunlight. This can be most easily seen when observing the tree from East/West. Once again, individual trees are easier to read than groves.

4. Moss and moisture. Isn’t moss supposed to grow on the north side of trees? Yes, but… for the record, moss does not always grow just on the north side of trees. Where moss grows depends mainly on the level of moisture, and this is not always on the north side. Also, disregard growth in the first 2 feet up from the ground around the trunk – which tends to be influenced by the evaporating ground moisture.

Interested in exploring this further? For an engaging guide to these skills look for Tristan Gooley’s book “The Natural Navigator”. There are hundreds (possibly thousands) of more tips to explore and many more of your own to discover as you go out and start looking for your own patterns in nature.

(NOTE: This does not give you an excuse to go out into unfamiliar territory without a map!)

Happy navigating!

A Wall of Green

If you’re like most of the populace, many of your trips into nature are characterized by toiling up a dusty path through an unidentifiable and somehow vaguely unsettling corridor of green.

Sadly, most domesticated humans have an appalling lack of understanding of their vegetal surroundings and may even feel threatened by their leafy neighbors. (“Is that thing poisonous???”) Even worse, we often pass down this ignorance (and fear) to our kids.

Want to end this environmental ignorance and help your little ones learn to relate to our photosynthesizing friends in an entirely new way? Well then, it’s time for you to get to know your wild green neighbors!
well informed nature walk can be one of the best ways to help your kids (and yourself) get to know the residents of your natural neighborhood. Here are some tips to help you make the most of your trip.
 
1. Knowledge is power! Take the time before you go to learn about your green neighbors. There are an amazing amount of resources out there- from Wikipedia, to books on local flora (check the library or Amazon), to meetup groups and outdoor schools with naturalist and wild foods walks.
 
2. Ask the right questions. With so much information out there it can seem overwhelming to boil it down.  Here are some good questions to get you started in understanding a plants’ place in his ecosystem:
-Where does your plant like to live? (And why?)
-Who are his usual neighbors?
-Who likes to eat or use him?
-(How) does he defend himself?
-How does he change throughout the year? (Flowers, fruiting, growth, deciduous…?)
-How have we humans interacted with (and depended upon) him over the millennia? (medicinal uses, food prep, as building or clothing materials…)
-What are his key identifying characteristics?
3. People remember (and respect) people. When working with young kids I’d recommend initially skipping the Latin names and instead focus on helping them to see the plants as separate people with different abilities, complex personalities (not all good or bad), and likes/dislikes.
Talking with my 4 year old niece might sound a little like this: “Miss Blackberry can be really prickly -if you move too fast around her she’ll scratch you with her thorns.  She likes to live with her feet in the water and take deep drinks so that she can make extra juicy berries.” 
 
4.  Respect plants’ boundaries (and protect yourself). Make sure your kids learn not to touch or taste without knowing “who” the plant is and what his temperament is.  Most plants have defenses to be aware of.
“Mr. Stinging Nettle’s hypodermic hairs sting invaders with painful, itchy toxins to keep animals (and you) from eating too much of his really nutritious leaves.”
Help your kids to understand that plant defenses are part of the natural environment -these plants are not “bad” for defending themselves, they’re just trying to take care of themselves.
5. Avoid black and white views. Describing a plant as all “good” or “bad”gets in the way of understanding the plant’s role in its neighborhood (ecosystem).  These “difficult” plants often also have a bounty of benefits- for you and for their green neighbors.
“Mr. Nettle can provide a whole bunch of nutrients- collect his newest leaves carefully with gloves, and cook them long enough to deactivate his sting- and you will get a really yummy green.”
So get out there and explore! Understanding a plants’ complex role in its natural neighborhood, and our relationship to it- helps your child begin to see themselves as a part of their natural world, not separate from their green neighbors.

What’s Eating You?

  Every day spent hiking out in our forest brings more mysteries to be answered. This week let’s explore some partially “parasitic” partnerships that have always fascinated me out on trail.

 

INSECT GALL:

Ever see a round woody ball growing out of a tree branch? Often it’ll have a random pattern of little holes dotting it’s smooth surface. You are looking at a bona-fide insect larvae condo! An “Insect Gall” is a custom construction project of living plant tissue with the resident insect playing lead contractor. In order to hijack plant growth to form galls, the insect must seize a time when plant cell division occurs quickly: in our part of the world, that means Spring!

The insect (and/or it’s larvae) feeds on the rapidly growing plant tissue while injecting chemicals to encourage further growth. Quickly growing (meristenatic) tissues like buds, bark, and leaves are most vulnerable to these little guys.

After the gall is formed, the insect larvae develop inside until fully grown. Galls provide the industrious little larvae with not only a 4-course buffet, but their own impenetrable fortress, protecting them from predators as they grow. When they are ready, they bore out an exit hole and venture out into the wide world.

Galls, especially those located In the woody portions of plants) also tend to be a rich source of concentrated tannins, which makes them a great medicinal resource as strong astringents. 

Although insect galls get bad raps for their role as “unsightly” tumors on plants, they are completely harmless. The insects are usually excellent caretakers and make sure that their construction projects do not threaten their hosts. Most species even provide an overall benefit for their host or local environment including quite helpful pollination services for the plants, and food sources for our beautiful birds and bats!

As a healthy bonus for those of us with a tendency for wildcraftin, the galls of many plants contain a high concentration of immune stimulating substances. but before you go out collecting, make sure that you have checked on the safety of the plant in question and thoroughly checked it for any unwanted denizens or harmful fungus, etc.

MISTLETOE:

Particularly noticeable in winter as an oddly green bushy clump high up in the barren branches of trees, Mistletoe is a (in)famous parasite that attaches itself to trees and shrubs, pirating water and nutrients from it’s host.

American mistletoe’s scientific name, Phoradendron, means “thief of the tree” in Greek. However, Mistletoe’s common definition as a tree-killing pest may be too simplistic a view. Mistletoe may take from the tree for its own survival, but it pays back to the local ecology in several unexpected ways.

Despite it’s nasty reputation, studies reveal that an abundance of mistletoe in a forest means that many more kinds and numbers of birds and critters can thrive there. An amazing variety of critters rely on mistletoe for their food, especially in winter. Animals from birds to squirrels, chipmunks, porcupines and even deer eat the leaves, tender young shoots and juicy berries, leaving behind mistletoe seeds in their droppings.

These seeds will again grow into mistletoe’s medusa-like masses of branching stems, providing excellent shelter and nesting sites for many animals. The northern spotted owl is always on the lookout for a nice mistletoe to settle down in. The caterpillar stage of several beautiful butterfly species also use mistletoe greenery as their shelter, and as their only food. Even better, Mistletoe flowers often provide the very first pollen available in the spring for extremely hungry honeybees and native bees.

Thus, although it can shorten the life of some trees, mistletoe can also have a very positive effect on on our forest, providing high quality nutrition and homes for a broad range of critters. So next time you get a chance, take another look at these “bad guys”.

“The mountains are calling…” and I am distracted.

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“The mountains are calling and I must go.” ~Quote, John Muir

Now, good old John Muir didn’t say “the mountains are calling, but I just have to finish this TV marathon of Frasier first.”

Nope.

He clearly focused his priorities to fulfill his purpose, to do what he needed to follow his joy. He certainly wasn’t going to let any minor distractions clutter up his path!

The Seductive Power of Distraction

I’ve been combating a tendency towards distraction lately, trying to manage my online presence …“Hey people I’m over here!”, while still trying to live a balanced life. A life that lets me walk through the woods, prepare nutritious meals, talk with, hug and snuggle those I love, and get in a bit of work and very important play into every day.

That can be a pretty tall order when confronted with the “terrible twins” of distraction:

1. Mindless Distraction: What about that last half hour you spent obsessively pinning things to Pinterest? Neurotically checking for Facebook notifications? It’s soooo easy to get lost in your devices, to push on past your stopping point for “Just 15 more minutes”... (oh really?)

2. Overcommitted Distraction…  Maybe you’ve said yes (and yes and yes) once again to helping out again with that Charity Function, and taking over that field trip, and oh yeah, laboring at home on that office project. Whatever it is, you are petrified of saying no, of disappointing someone, of being seen as a “bad” person… and so you whip up your compromise “meal in a box” for the kids and rush out the door to make your commitment…

However you used it, that  collection of seconds, minutes and hours was unique- it was yours to spend, and you will never get it back. Did you use it on things important to you?
Will you look back from your deathbed and see that as “time well spent?”

The Power of Clarification

Ask yourself:

-What is important to you?

-What do you need to be healthy and happy? (Family time, love, travel, financial security, your dream job, physical health…?)

-How many of your daily activities help support the things most important to you?

-How many move you closer to achieving your goals, to being a happier person?

You say you’ve been too busy to even set goals? hmmmm….. Sounds like a clear case of distraction.

Make a list… and check it twice!

Sit yourself down. No distractions. No leaping up to wash the dishes. THIS IS IMPORTANT. Really take the time you need. Write up a list of your mindless activities and (over)commitments, from checking your Facebook, to always saying ‘yes’ to every charity function and event that comes your way. How many of these activities contribute to your goals and well-being?

Now that you’re clear on your priorities, which activities need a strict cutoff time? Which should be cut completely? BE RUTHLESS.

If you can, consider removing the distraction completely. Take your apps off of cellular data access- you can’t use them except for on wifi. Get rid of the video games, get rid of your cable subscription and substitute your mindless TV watching for reading a good book or playing outside with your kids.

Moving On

So, next time you find yourself mindlessly hitting the refresh button on that Instagram feed to check how many likes you got this minute, take a deep breath, put down the phone and pick up your list of goals.

Next time someone asks you to commit to something, realize that they are asking you to sacrifice a part of your life to their goal… How important is it to you? Are you willing to pass up chunks of your and your loved ones lives to be a martyr this particular cause?

 

 

Hiking with Kids

Tips for Big Hikes for Little Ones

A recent hike with my exuberant little niece made me think of how important it is to get your kids out into nature. Here are a few tips to help you addict your kids to hiking:

Make it fun:
If you want your kids to be excited to go hiking with you again, don’t get so committed to your “destination” that you forget your kid’s priorities. Bugs, acorns, tree roots and pine cones are wonderful discoveries to be examined, not trail side distractions.

Make it educational:
The Wilderness is a perfect open-air classroom
• Carry field guides (or use a phone app) to inform you on trail history and help you identify the plants, rocks, birds and animals your kids encounter along the way.
• Leave No Trace: teach your kids Leave No Trace principles to help them grow into stewards of the outdoors. Find useful and cool LNT reference cards (one with a cartoon Bigfoot!) at http://lnt.org/shop/reference-cards
• Navigation: use a fun activity like Geocaching to introduce bigger kids to the basics of map & compass, and GPS.

Make it safe:
Dress your child in bright, easy to spot colors, make sure they carry a whistle on a lanyard (teach them to stay in place and blow it if separated) and have easy access to a headlamp.

Practice:
Introduce little legs to hiking with extended walks (up to 2 hours) in a natural setting near home. The earlier in life your kids become comfortable long walks (as early as 3), the more likely they will enjoy hiking later.

Get them Involved:
Make trip planning a family affair. Ask your kids for ideas of things they’d like to see or do at your destination (or along the way). Listen to them.

Share (a little of) the weight: Kids like to feel a degree of independence. Give your kids a small pack and let them carry a few lightweight items like their favorite snacks, water, trail-side treasures, and rain gear. You can still carry the weight for your littlest kids, so they don’t get worn out and frustrated.

Bring a friend: Having a good friend or special stuffed animal to share the trail discoveries with can make a world of difference. For littler ones, make sure to tuck their teddy bear in their pack (with his head sticking out for a better view) to share in their adventures.

Be prepared : As an adult, it is your job to think ahead and always carry the “Ten Essentials” (google it!). Make sure you have enough food, water and comfortable, weather appropriate clothing for you and your kids.

Be watchful: If you have 2+ adults in your party, keep one in the lead and one following behind to serve as the “sweep”, with kids securely in the middle.

Don’t forget to have fun!
Remember- you have long legs, an adult timeframe and adult priorities- go at a kid’s pace and respect their interests. Relax, learn to marvel at the natural world with your child’s fresh eyes, and your hike will be a hit with many encore performances!