Sunday, September 8, 2013

This is fun....right?

At least someone was happy for part of the time.
There was a time, say nine or ten years ago when hiking meant packing a light bag with water and a couple of sandwiches. It meant getting an early start, and heading up to a trail head high in the mountains to escape the scalding summer sun. It meant climbing steep paths that lead to spectacular views, long conversations and periods of sweet silence. We hiked the whole day until our legs were shaking and our feet were sore.

Fast forward to September 2013 and hiking looks a bit.... different.

Armed with an arsenal of snacks, sandwiches, beverages, diapers and a backpack carrier for our toddler we get a start much later than planned. The delay was was due to an argument with a five year old about wearing socks, a twenty minute time out for an (almost) eight year old after he called his younger brother a "stupid poopy-head" and fifteen minute search for pair of matching shoes for the baby.

After we successfully pile into our minivan which just screams "rugged outdoor adventure",we head to a "family-friendly" hike in the foothills, one that promises little elevation gain, and a gentle stream perfect for skipping rocks. Forty-five minutes later we arrive at our destination to find the parking lot jam packed with other minivans and sportier cars with bike racks on top. Seems that the flat kid-friendly hikes are usually shared with the mountain bikers.

Often times just navigating our way to the trail head requires more effort than a five mile hike sans children. We grab hands that don't want to be held, in an attempt to keep our tiny offspring safe. We return to the car multiple times to retrieve forgotten water bottles and sunscreen. We (unsuccessfully) attempt to coax our toddler to ride in the backpack, eventually yielding to his violent protests and carrying him on our hips.

Ahhh. The trail head! But first a potty break. No we didn't remember the hand-sanitizer. *Sigh.* The older boys run ahead. All is good. Five minutes in and the husband and I are congratulating each other on a fantastic family outing. Isn't this lovely? It isn't even that hot yet. What? You want a snack already? Seriously? Can't we walk another 15 minutes before stopping? Okayokayokayokay.... we can have a snack! We stop and begin rummaging through the pack. Pretzels? No. PBJ? No. Granola Bar? No. We don't have gummy bears. Why would we have gummy bears? You aren't hungry? Fine. Backpack slung back on shoulder we return to our walk.

"BIKE!!!!" "BOYS! BIKES! MOVE TO THE SIDE. THE SIDE!" "No don't cry, I am not mad, I just want you to be safe. We need to watch for the bikers and make room for them okay? Stop crying. Let's keep walking. Yes you can have some water. I just need to get it out of the pack."

Back to walking and we make it something like .01 miles when shoes needs to be tied. He can do it himself! (Only he really can't, so what should take 10 seconds takes five minutes and another lesson about bunny ears.) We have been "walking" 15 minutes now and I can still see the bathrooms where we started.

I put on my best camp counselor voice and try to motivate my boys. "Hey guys! Let's see if we can find that stream! We have to keep moving so we can get there! Let's go" I chirp cheerfully.

"Streams are dumb" my five year old informs me. "Hiking is so boring. All it is, is just walking." Don't get frustrated I tell myself. Keep calm. Use a bribe.

We have trail mix!!! With M&M's! BINGO. All systems are a go. Fueled by a mouthful of sugar the boys forge ahead. Julian is getting heavy. Won't you please go in the backpack? Maybe if we just force him in he will grow to like it. Back arched, it's a two person operation. I'm kicked in the chin and David has had his hair pulled but finally we have maneuvered our two-year old power-house into the pack and we are on our way.

It isn't as easy as it looks.
Julian's wails die down after ten minutes and we start to enjoy our surroundings. The wild flowers, the blue sky the.... "Look it's a deer!" Dad points out a doe obscured in the distance by forest and brush, I barely make it out. "I see it!" Zack chimes in. I bite my lip. Here it comes. "Where? Where? I don't see it!" Evan is craning his head this way and that trying to find the animal, which I can no longer spot. "Where is it?" Evan's voice rises in panic. He might miss it. Zachary wastes no time in informing his younger brother that he did in fact miss a viewing of the most spectacular deer in the history of all hikes.  Tears erupt. "I never get to see ANYTHING, and Zack always does! It's not fair! We have to find another deer right NOW!" Oh boy.

We look for distractions, point out unusual bugs and flowers, but Evan isn't fooled he missed the damn deer. He pouts and complains that his feet are tired, that it's too hot and that he is bored.

I'm getting a headache. Where the hell is this flipping stream that promises hours of fun rock skipping? And what is that smell? Right. Diaper change. In the woods. Fun stuff.

No stream but we find a large flat rock perfect for a lunch break. We sit down and unpack the picnic, which appears to be the highlight of the whole hike. Ahhh peace. 15 minutes later we are packed up and ready to press on. The boys seem rejuvenated and full of energy. They begin running down the wooded path, how sweet. I should grab my camera. A wail.  Zachary blurts an angry "I hate you!" The boys start pushing and shoving and a young couple walk by with a confused look on their faces.

"What is going on?" I demand. Talking over each other, with tears running down their faces I am told about how each one wanted to be the leader and who shoved who, and blah, blah, blah.

Defeated we return to our van. Once buckled in, the boys are again happy and chattering as they settle in for an episode of SpongeBob.

It's then as I am closing my eyes and trying to catch a cat nap on the way home that a

Hiking with their cousins. Guess who isn't happy?
small voice from the back of the car asks "Can we hike again next weekend?"


  1. Oh my god, this is so perfect! Perfect blow by blow and love the missed deer!

  2. This scenario could have played out at any moment when our kids were small. Oh, who am I kidding. This happens now, missed deer and all.

    So... will you be hiking again this weekend?

    1. Nope. Think we will be taking a little hiking break! :)

  3. We just did this over the weekend. Went about the same. *Sigh*