Not Hiking

on 16 April 2012

I've always loved hiking. 

Well, hiking in the Pacific Northwest is a soggy affair that leaves a lot to be desired, but when the weather is nice, there's nothing as beautiful as THAT.  But we have so much lovely weather down South, that hiking is a treat.  Well, except in the summer when you think you might melt.  But other than that, hiking is my favorite weekend activity.

Before I had Children, hiking was always a challenging adventure.  Chris and I would pick a moderate to difficult trail and up we would go.  And then we had the Boy but we were reluctant to let that one go, so we acquired an awesome toddler backpack and continued.  You might remember this one from the summer before last.

The Boy is now sufficiently big that he doesn't want to ride in the backpack anymore, he wants to hike with us.  And by hike, what he really means is play in the DIRT!

We're all in favor of dirt in our household.  I don't believe in Antibacterializing your Childhood, I think some germs are good for a healthy immune system, so I let the Boy play in the dirt.  But when we're hiking, I can't get over this mindset that it should be challenging!  It's a HIKE, not a Mosey, not a Stroll, not a Meander, it's a HIKE.

So needless to say, hiking at the pace of a 3 year old doesn't quite satisfy my desire for adventure.

Saturday the weather was gorgeous and I had absolutely nothing planned for our Saturday, so Chris wanted to hike.  After the chickadees had naps, we popped up to Eno River State park since it's reasonably close and familiar (we've hiked several of their trails before).  We only had an hour or so before we needed to hop on the dinner-bath-bedtime merry-go-round, so we chose the Cole Mill trail which is just over a mile.

We get started and it's nice a flat, and the Boy (who loves dirt) is in 7th heaven.  We're walking along the trail, well, walking is a bit of a stretch because the Boy is stopping every couple of steps to pick up STICKS!  STICKS, MAMA, STICKS!  And Chris keeps reminding me that this isn't adventure, it certainly isn't exercise, this is a family walk in the woods now.  So we let the Boy pick up sticks.  After 50 feet or so, it becomes apparent that this child is CLEANING the forest floor!

But we let him, at least until his hands were so full that he couldn't carry anymore, and he was so focused on the STICKS that he kept falling down.  At that point I asked him to please drop the sticks and just WALK for the love of mike.

So he did.  He's very obedient this one, and I love him for it.

He took 2 steps when I hear from behind me, LOOK, MAMA, LOOK!  PINE CONES!"  And before I could turn around he was picking up pine cones in every shape and size he could find.

At that point Chris and I looked at each other and just burst into laughter.  This child...I'm at a loss for words.  He is hilarious.  He is adventurous.  He is wicked smart.  He did the exact same thing with the pine cones that he did with the sticks until he kept falling down.  At which point I asked him to please drop the pine cones and just WALK.

I kept waiting to hear, LOOK, MAMA, LOOK!  ROCKS!  But I didn't.  At least until we reached the river, and then, oh dear people, it was all we could do to pry him out of the throwing-rocks-in-the-river-playing-in-all-the-amazing-mud that he could find.  It's a good thing we like dirt in our family because by the end of that mile we were covered in it.

The Girl was in the bjorn and happy as could be watching her crazy brother.  Chris was endeared of the tiny little wildflowers, and we had a great conversation about the potential metaphor there.  That there's value and great beauty in just being small.  Not being a beautiful and highly cultivated rose in some magnificent garden, but just a small little wildflower, brightening our corner of a very big forest.

All in all, it was a wonderful day.  But it was NOT hiking.


Cel and JP said...

ahahaha! i love this story! if we could all be so excited about sticks and pine cones.

And I'm jealous. Nowhere to hike around here. I don't count beaches as hiking. Maybe I should :)

Brett said...

Wanna know our secret for getting our kids to MOVE during a hike? Geocaching. I bet C would love it. I've also heard of people making a little notebook and drawing simple pictures of things kids could try to spot during the hike - a bird, a tree, etc. I've made the books but haven't actually used them yet.

Although, I love C's approach, and I'm impressed with your patience and understanding. Just try to remind yourself that you might not be hiking now, but if you keep up the habit, it won't be long before you ARE hiking again.

PS> Have you heard anything?

Rae said...

That sounds awesome . We don't take the kiddos out often enough, but I would love to more. There's a small park near us that has a trail we need to hit more often.

The squirrels haven't hit the bird feeders, I think because we put it in a young-ish tree that wouldn't support them. The 150 pound dog on the porch is also a deterrent. The slugs sure loved the gelatin, though, when one fell in the dirt.