Take A Hike

The earth is what we all have in common.
~ Wendell Berry – Naturalist

Weekly visits to local parks have always been a part of our schedule, but at the start of September the trips became more of a daily occurrence. The change came as we began participating in the Summit Metro Parks Hiking Spree.

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The Fall Hiking Spree

The annual Hiking Spree event is the largest and longest-running of its kind in the nation. Participants hike eight of fifteen preselected trails found throughout the park system. After completion, a successful hiker receives a hiking stick (first-year) and a special shield (every year) in recognition of their accomplishment.

Welcomed Obsession

What started as an eight hike plan became a welcomed obsession. We completed our 2015 Spree requirements in about a month. Along the way, we discovered hiking was kind of our thing, so we just kept going.  Since embarking on this journey at the start of September, we’ve covered nearly 40 miles of trails – no small feat for little boy feet.

Fall Hiking Spree
Studying the effects of undercutting caused by erosion – Fall Hiking Spree

Education Connection

From informal lessons on geology and life science, to trail etiquette and nutrition, participation in the Fall Hiking Spree presented countless teachable moments. It was the perfect blend of recreation and education.

See: Photo Walk

Taking a break on the Fall Hiking Spree
Taking a break in the backpack – Fall Hiking Spree

Hiking with Preschoolers

By carefully working around nap time, our four-year-old had no problem completing the hikes with energy to spare. It was more of a challenge for our two-year-old, but frequent stops, a little patience, and time in our Kelty backpack made the Fall Hiking Spree a positive experience for the entire family.

Lessons Learned

  • Be realistic on how long it will take to hike a trail.
  • Not every park is equipped with a restroom, and those that are, probably don’t smell very good. Plan ahead and know where public restrooms are for both before and following a hike.
  • If you find something on the trail that looks like poop, it probably is
  • Not every dog is friendly, not every dog owner is courteous. Keep your little ones close when dogs approach.
  • Have snacks and drinks ready at the end of the hike.

Benefits Of Outdoor Activity

Studies show that kids are increasingly out of shape and stressed. According to the National Wildlife Federation, many of these kids are missing an essential contributor to health and development: a connection to the natural world.

  • Children’s stress levels fall within minutes of seeing green spaces.
  • Play protects children’s emotional development whereas loss of free time and a hurried lifestyle can contribute to anxiety and depression.
  • Nature makes you nicer, enhancing social interactions, value for community and close relationships.

And these are just of few of the many benefits outlined by the NWF.

Trail Etiquette

While there are lots of rules for hiking that we, as adults, should keep in mind, there are just three that we expect our boys to remember without reminders.

  • Stay on the Trail
  • Stay to the right when others are on the trail
  • Greet fellow hikers with a smile and simple greeting

To learn more about trail etiquette, visit HikingDude.com‘s page devoted to the topic.

Pictures from our Fall Hiking Spree in the Summit County Metro Parks

Thomas is the founder of Propulsion Factory Marketing, providing small businesses, churches and non-profit organizations with the tools needed for effective online communications. He is also the father of three amazing boys and husband to their wonderful mother. Thomas is an advocate for non-traditional education, and an outspoken critic of public education and the Common Core.