Hiking with children requires some planning: proper clothing, an attainable destination, and a bag of tricks.
During a day-after-Christmas hike with my family, my son, William, an Eagle Scout and avid backpacker, taught me a new trick for my bag. We were visiting family in New York and decided to take the kids for an afternoon hike. So we pulled out boots, snow pants, coat, hats, and mittens and started dressing children.
When we left the house it was 3:00 p.m., 28°, and it was getting ready to snow. We walked across an open field full of dried grass and wildflowers. The field was wet, so we changed our route and followed a trail up a steep hill. Aurora got tired and wanted to stop before we reached the summit. I tucked in behind her and said, “You can do it. Be the little engine that could: ‘I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.’ ”
Aurora made it to the top of the ridge. All the children and adults did. We all took in our reward—the beautiful view— and snapped some pictures to record our accomplishment. While these activities were taking place, it became clear that the younger children were getting tired. William walked over to the edge of the ridge and let out a loud primal yell. The kids loved it and all joined in. One at a time they each took center stage and yelled out over the land.
It was just what we needed to regroup the group. We started down the trail. The kids happily followed, with their eyes on home and their minds on the promise of hot chocolate.