Due to the fact that my husband’s job revolves around the wild land fire season, days off as a family are a little bit harder to come by than we would like. A dry summer obviously means plenty of people depending on fire fighters to keep them safe (especially this summer!)
So, we take the days when we can get them. And we head into the mountains, the woods, or out to the trails simply because that is where we connect best as a family. Conversations run smoother, stories are told, questions (numbering in the thousands thanks to our three-year-old) are answered and laughter comes easy. I treasure those times on the trail more than anything else, and I miss them deeply when they span longer than a couple of weeks. It is our family rejuvenation time.
Now that our oldest son is able to hike further, we tend to use these days for “toddler hikes” where he can at least hike part of it. The adults keep our nagging motivating words to a minimum and just let him enjoy discovering the trail. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly use pieces of fruit and chocolate along with a promise of throwing rocks in the river at the end to keep him going, but we try hard to foster a love of hiking. We look forward to backpacking as a family when they are older (and can carry their own gear!) We want to be sure they want to do that later, and so we let our ambitious goals go for now and discover the small things on the trail (however slow of a pace that may require.)
This day we hiked the mile and a half as a family to the falls, spent a good hour exploring, eating snacks and throwing the promised rocks (sticks, leaves, dirt, etc.) in the water and just enjoyed those moments. Pine Creek Trail continues (so I am told) to some beautiful lakes that someday I want to see for myself. Today just wasn’t the day.
For the way home, both boys rode in backpacks and we sang every song we could think of while enjoying being able to let loose and travel a little faster. These are the memories we want to build with our children, to remember 20 years down the road (or trail!)