“Mom, I’m so glad we came out here,” my eldest said from the backseat of our truck. We had just wrapped up a snowshoe trek on our favorite trail and we were loading up to head back home. I leaned in with a forehead kiss as I buckled in her little brother and whispered, “Me too, love.” I wish I could say I anticipated this takeaway, but hours earlier this same, sweet child was resisting, heavily, our plans to hit the trails. Oh the excuses ranged from it’s too cold, she’s too tired, why do we have to drive for such a long time, but now those minutes of exasperated pleas to reconsider her stance were but a distant memory. We had a wonderful time, we disconnected from our everyday life and we soaked up the warmer temperature as we made our way around the fluffy, freshly fallen blanket of white.
Raising our kids to appreciate and love the outdoors has been our goal since their arrival in 2011 and 2014. Over the years we have learned to shorten our stride for the tiny legs that would follow us as we maneuvered over fallen trees and trampled on the dusty, dirt paths. Snack breaks are a much needed necessity and even approach 30 seconds since our departure from the car, but that’s okay. No rush. No worry. It’s about spending this time together, outside and no schedule but the setting of the sun rushes us through our trek.
As they have grown so has their curiosity, along with their pace. What once was the norm for us waiting for a wobbling two year old has us now chasing after a rambunctious four year old to a dilapidated cabin on one of our well-loved trails. Memories of our first hike to this particular spot are woven throughout the tree-lined path. Really it’s not much of a path. If you don’t know what you are looking for you would unknowingly walk past this hidden gem as the cabin is only being held up by an old tree and blends in with the bark of its sturdy companion. Yet my son knows exactly where it is and races to it with such fervor and a precise approach. I smile. This is what I had wished for when I had kids. To raise them to love the mountains, the dirt, the fresh air as much as I do. To look back on a childhood filled with adventurous dreams and life lessons learned under the setting of the sun.
I wish I could say we have raised our kids to have this profound adoration for the great outdoors with ease, but I would be lying. There have been moments, at times many, dampened with words of whining punctuated by the sudden need to collapse on the trail and end with a soft whisper, “I can’t go on any further.” Oh yes, my children of the mountains also have a wonderful flair for the dramatics, but that’s to be expected from time to time. We have learned to soften our expectations for the day’s adventure and literally go with the flow; I say literally because one day it was just too hot for our trail trek that my husband pulled over with two less than happy campers and we found a river run off that cooled down not only our bodies, but our emotions as well.
From paddle boarding to hiking to my eldest showing curiosity for orienteering, we are doing our best to expose our kids to all the wonderful pastimes you can do outside, and hope they will lean into these activities as they grow older. How a hike in the hills can provide a reset to the mind when facing an obstacle in their everyday lives or that learning to navigate via a compass and a map is not only a safety necessity, but also a trusted companion in their knowledge bank. The woods have so much to teach them, but also us as well. My wish is that one day they will realize that the infamous John Muir quote, “The mountains are calling and I must go” that adorns the living room wall in our home, is not only a familiar saying, but a waypoint for navigating their lives.