Nature Calls

Nature Calls 1

Yesterday, we went on a 2-hour hike as a family. We crunched leaves, skipped rocks over a creek, listened to the wind whisper through the trees, touched tree bark, and marveled at the majesty of Nature.

As we wandered up-and-over, around-and-across, I thought to myself, "THIS is what childhood should be. This discovery, this simplicity, this uncontaminated beauty."

What is childhood without nature - without the sweet sunlight on your cheeks, the dirt beneath your feet, and the smooth rocks in the palms of your hand?

Nature Calls 2

Maybe someday we will move to a property right on the edge of a forest.

For now, we will drive away from suburbia into the embrace of the outdoors - as often as we can. We will escape to the mountains and the creeks - savoring the chance to think clearly, to speak forthrightly.

"I much prefer being out in nature to going to Target or the fair or the mall," I said to Tim as our adventure came to an end, "Let's go hiking every weekend from now on." He agreed heartily to this sentiment. Perhaps we will. Indeed, perhaps we will.

Do you go hiking with your family? If so, how often?

ALSO - If you have small children (birth - age 5), I'm curious how you handle the "logistics" of hiking. Do you use a backpack carrier? How far are your hikes? Etc.

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23 comments on “Nature Calls”

  1. I thought to myself, “THIS is what childhood should be. This discovery, this simplicity, this uncontaminated beauty.” -- Yes, this! Wonderfully stated!

    I'll second or third the reccomendation for “The Last Child in the Woods” -- excellent book.

    We try to go on a hike as a family each weekend, and I try to take my son on mini-hikes once or twice during the week. If I'm on my own with Shane, it's just a short little trip, someplace local, where he can easily walk the entire distance on his own. When we go as a family, my husband wears a hiking pack w/ all our supplies (snacks, water bottles, extra diaper!) and I'll stuff our back carrier (a mei tai) in as well. When my son gets tired, I grab the carrier and settle him on my back for the rest of the hike.

  2. We are really blessed to be able to walk out our front door and go hiking if we want to. We also live right down the road from a beautiful state park. We enjoy taking out kiddos out as much as possible. I think too many kids these days are not getting out in nature enough.

    Have you ever read the book, "The last Child in the Woods"? A good friend of mine read it and highly recommended it. I haven't read it yet but am thinking of adding it to my summer reading list.

  3. Great post! We love playing outside. We don't have great areas for true hiking around here, but we do have some nice boardwalks through the swamp. When the mosquitoes aren't too bad.

  4. We get out as much as we can...we don't hike much, but we do walk every morning. Thankfully we live just a few blocks from the beach, so in the mornings I walk with both of them in the stroller. We walk for about an hour. Depending up on the route we take it is anywhere between 3 - 4.5 miles. We also take family walks after dinner...I push Jameson and Analise walks...well...runs alongside Markus and I. We either walk around the neighborhood, or go back down to the beach and run around down there. We also live just a few minutes from the redwoods so on weekend we talk walks in the 'forest' and explore. Now that Jameson is getting older he is slowly getting to the point where we will be able to let him walk/run with us instead of being in the stroller the whole time. All of that is to say...we LOVE being outside all the time. It is so fun to learn about the world through their eyes. The questions they ask about clouds, bugs, flowers, birds, whales, dolphins, trees...and who made them all are so fun!

  5. Ellie is 4 1/2 and can hike a mile (including inclines) on her own. It wasn't til this spring that she could do that. Prior, she would ride in a backpack. Grace rode in the backpack til she was about 3 1/2 and was then able to hike a mile also. We hike from our property to a dam in the Cienega Creek. We also hike Saguaro National Park East. I haven't taken them to Sabino Canyon yet. Well, I did take Grace when she was around 18mos as we lived in an apt so close to it.

  6. We love getting outdoors with our boys too. There's plenty of lovely hiking opportunities around here, but things are certainly different with 3 little ones in tow. We carry our 1-yr old in a Kelty backpack carrier - which is great (comfortable for us & baby, sunshade for baby, and plenty of backpack space for drinks, snacks, etc.) My 3 & 5-yr olds usually walk most of the way by themselves, as we try to keep our hike time fairly short. We usually do "destination hikes", though - a lake, a stream to splash in, etc. That helps motivate our little guys to keep walking!

  7. We love to get out and hike around. For now I take the double stroller (Goose is HEAVY... it hurts my back to carry him in the carrier anymore.) We have an abandoned subdivision a couple of miles away that has an awesome walking trail through a wooded area and down to a big lake. We spend a lot of time out there.
    -Jenn

  8. I love hiking so much and I'm sad to say we've slowed down on the hikes since having kids (especially with 3, we are outnumbered!) BUT, when we do venture out, I carry my baby 6 mo. in a wrap carrier, my husband carries the 2 yr old or 4 yr old (switching off) in the BOBA (excellent carrier - similar to the ERGO, but made in the USA and has stirrups!) and we usually only go for about 45 min - 1 hr roundtrip. The kids love it, but they can only handle so much. We can't wait to do more of it as they get older.

  9. I so agree with you, Stephanie. I grew up on land and have so many wonderful memories of playing in the fields and the creeks. We hiked a lot too.

    As for Mike and I and the kids, we don't do a lot of hiking, but we do a lot of walking. There are so many great nature paths where we live and the kids love to walk or ride bikes, then play in the nearby creek.

    Hugs to you,
    Genny

  10. We like to refer to it as wandering around here, but, yes, we definitely love to hike! ;) I would go every weekend if I could, but Stephan isn't off work that often. With remodeling, our wanderings have been put on hold a bit. But, we're still planning to squeeze in a few good ones soon.
    As far as logistics....bring plenty of food and water. I carry a tiny backpack with the necessities. Of course, a camera is always a must. Hikes are the one time that I can be guaranteed that no carrier is needed for Levi. He loves them and would wander for hours on end with only a few brief back rides. Pre-walking, though, I always brought a carrier...backback styles work the best. Little ones just get too heavy to tote them in your arms for so long.

  11. My son (13 months) would LIVE outside if given a choice! He puts on his hat in the morning, tries to put on his shoes and brings me my hat all the while pointing out the window! So Funny! We are blessed to live on 132 acres of rolling farm land...it honestly looks like a state park, right now I can hear the coyotes yipping and howling in the background.

    We go for hikes very frequently, we live back amongst some gorgeous farmland and cattle grazing. I've used a Storchenwiege wrap, that I love! It has worked great for both front and back carry. I have recently transitioned to a Walter's never fail back wrap, mainly because of the weave (it's suppose to be cooler in the summer), but it is very cush on the shoulders :) My husband and I both 'wear' my son, but usually I do...he loves being close to Mom :)

  12. We do take walks, using our Moby Wrap for our six month old, and sometimes the stroller or wagon for our toddler. But it's only to the park or on a walking path near our community. There are a ton of great local places to go hiking - but we haven't done it yet with both of our girls in tow!

  13. We love hiking and now that the girls are getting older and it is getting nicer outside we will go more often. Our five year old is capable of going for miles. Last fall when she was 4 I took her on a overnight backing trip. She was a little tropper and hiked 3.5 miles each way. Though next time we need to find a easier trail!

    Lily our 2 year old has been on two 1 mile hikes where Mikayla (the 5 year old) hiked each way with a few piggy back rides from dad. Lily was in a sling the first year (she was under 1 ) and the second year she was in a back pack. I tried to put her in the back pack recently and she hated it!

    Our hikes right now are pretty short so I have snacks waiting in the car but not on the trail so to going potty, Mikayla, is a pro at squatting. Much better than I was at her age.

  14. You know, hiking with my son and husband is something I DREAM of doing. We live in the flat flatness that is Katy, TX (a suburb of Houston), so mountain hiking isn't really an option. We were this close to moving to Colorado, and I was dreaming of all the outdoor fun we could have together as a family. Since that didn't happen, I'm doing my best to discover some new outdoor spots near us where we can explore and walk around. Last week we found a new (to us) park nearby with a lake and fishing pier, and this week we'll be checking out the Houston Arboretum, which supposedly has some great trails.

    I've been wondering about the logistics of going on long "exploration expeditions" with my 2 (almost 3 year old). He's an active guy and we love to let him run out some of that energy, but sometimes I want to go on longer than he does. He's VERY little for his age, weighing only 23 pounds, which makes him somewhat easier to lug around that the average almost-3-year-old. We don't have a backpack carrier (though I did have a front carrier when he was a baby). Usually my husband carries my son on his shoulders when he gets tired of walking, or I carry him. What do you do with your older daughter? You said you went on a 2 hour hike.

  15. The hubbs and I go hiking about once a month and we each wear a kiddo. He uses our TMD (www.twomommasdesigns.com) full buckle tai and I use the Cuppiecake Mei Tai. We usually go for at least an hour and we take the dogs too b/c they LOVE it :)

  16. We are very blessed to live right along the path of the Appalachain Trail so our family hikes parts of it and many other beautiful treks several times a week from spring through fall. We only go as far as the little girls can carry themselves. When they were smaller we would go places where we could manage the triple stroller, but those days are long gone. We've been caught in a rain storm nearly a mile in on a hike once, and that is one of their favorite stories and likely one of their best memories as well!!

  17. We love the outdoors, but I must say that we prefer places that we can take a stroller. Elizabeth is not very excited by slings or packs these days but she loves to ride in what we call her personal chariot. She also loves to climb in and out and push it herself mind you. And she loves to walk herself. So if we were to go for a hike it wouldn't be too far just in case Elizabeth decided she was doing all the walking...

  18. Oh yes you must read Last Child In the Woods! Also we love hiking, we do it tons in the Fall and Spring. Not so much in the Summer and Winter though.

  19. I cannot say enough how important I think being in nature is to kids. Growing up, we were very fortunate to have a large back yard that backed up into a nature preserve. We spent hours and hours playing, sledding, hiking, imagining we were explorers, etc. back there. Actually, I feel God more in the middle of nature than I do in Church.

    We do hike, but we choose easier paths that are in our local parks so my son can actually walk. We also have a Radio Flyer Pathfinder Wagon that has large rubber wheels for navigating. He can sit in that if he ever gets tired. We can also put our stuff in there too. Usually we just bring a very small amount of snacks (cheerios, Annie's Bunny Grahams) and water plus the obligatory change of diapers, wipes, and trash bags.

  20. We have a pack for our two year old that we hardley ever use it. We always try to make it fun and have a lot of treats for the hike up. Usually it takes a lot of urging to get them up and they usally run like Mountain goats back down.

  21. Great Post!!!

    We love the outdoor so much that after our first little princess was born we move in the country. Our house is located on the hiking trail, lets just say if we want to go for a hike it's about 1 minute walk in our back yard hehe!

    We 2 kiddos (R is 3 years old and S is 17 months) we were using a Ergo carrier for the eldest and the youngest stared in a sling ring and moved in a wrap (the non stretchy kind one and was put on my back ~ wish we had another Ergo but we can't afford that kind of expenses right now)

    Now that baby #3 is on the way and ready to be here anytime, the logistic for our summer hikes will be a bit different.

    Our 3 years old is full of energy and is a excellent walker so I think she will need to walk while the other 2 will be carried!

    For the winter, we own a own a little sleigh (it was mine when I was a baby) that we could pull that fit 3 kiddos.

    Hope you'll enjoyed a summer fill of fresh air!!!

  22. So far, we have just taken short hikes/walks at our park (which is a block away with at least 2 acres of wooden area) and at a local lake. We love to stroll and take our time picking up rocks and sticks with our toddler. My son can walk about a mile on his own, but sometimes we end up carrying him back, rotating between my husband and I.

    My wish is that all children had the opportunity to visit natural surroundings on a regular basis.

  23. Have you read The Last Child in the Woods? I can't remember the author, but it's in my current reading pile. Has been for a while, but it is good. I have just been a delinquent reader. I admire how much reading you get done as a mother. I need to be better!

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