Monday, April 25, 2011

Hiking with the Inexperienced (Children or Adults!)

We don't hike as much as we would like. No excuses, as we live in a perfect area for it. Only that hiking with kids takes more planning, more effort, and our schedules are pretty full already. Oh, and also because I have learned some things along the way that I am a little sticker for following.

Know Your Trail
ESPECIALLY if you are taking little ones, I don't recommend a trail you haven't already tried yourself. If this just isn't an option, RESEARCH! Ask around. Find review sites. I like to use to find out what other people thought, check out their pictures, and find out if there are things we should be aware of before choosing a path. No one wants to get out there to find out the trail is just too tough for your crew and have the day wasted in defeat. 

Read Trail head Signs, FOLLOW THE WARNINGS!
Those signs are not just decoration, or meant for other people. Bad things can happen. Beware of animals, they are not your friends. Feeding them is not a nice thing to do for them, it teaches them to look for handouts, and can mess with their digestive system. I also don't feed ducks for that reason. And, animals ALWAYS have the right of way. Make room!

Leave No Trace
There is a program that lays out recommendations and ethics for enjoying the outdoors. The ideas are simple, but rarely do I see people following them. 

  • Plan Ahead
  • Travel on Durable Surfaces (STAY ON THE TRAIL!)
  • Dispose of waste properly (PACK IT IN, PACK IT OUT)
  • Leave what you find (LOOK, DON'T TOUCH)
  • Be considerate of other visitors (DON'T BE A LOUD MOUTH, SHARE THE TRAIL)
  • Respect Wildlife (I already covered this.)
Pack Well
There are some basic things every hiker needs. Water, snacks, extra clothes. Most people traveling with kids know this is not new. So, pack more. There are also specific things you should have, just in case. 

  1. Map/Compass
  2. Space Blanket 
  3. Sunscreen/Bug Spray
  4. Extra food and water
  5. Extra clothes
  6. Headlamp (outdoor)/flashlight
  7. First aid kit
  8. Fire starter/Matches
  9. Toilet Kit (shovel, TP, ziplock bag)
  10. Knife
  11. Signalling Device (Whistle, mirror, cell phone, but don't depend on cell phones!)
Many Hand Make Light Loads
When hiking with small children, never plan a hike longer than you are willing to carry your gear, your kids' gear, and possibly your kids. You are the only know who knows your children's limits. Even then, sometimes they like to just throw us through a loop and change that. Hike with friends, hike with partners, take multiple baby carriers, or choose trails that accommodate strollers or wagons if you think that might work better.

Enjoy It!
Why else would you hike, than to have a good time, enjoying each other and the world around?! Make sure everyone is rested, watered, fed, comfortable, and enjoying themselves. Be ready to cut the trip short if things aren't working. Sometimes it just isn't the day. Go into the trip knowing plans could change at any time, respect everybody's needs, and you can always try again later!

Does your family like hiking? Have you ever considered any outdoor training to learn more about keeping your family safe outdoors?

1 comment:

  1. Great advice! We've been hiking with Baby since he was just a few weeks old. He loves looking at the trees and flowers and views and it keeps him so calm :-)