You won’t regret it.
“I like downhills, Daddy. Does this trail have downhills?” asks my 13 year old daughter.
“When can we eat the trail mix, Dad?” inquires my 15 year old son.
“Guys! C’mon. We haven’t even gotten out of the car yet.” says their…wait! Haha! You thought I was going to reveal my age, didn’t you?
With kids, you’ll quickly discover no two hikes are ever the same.
Now if you’re thinking this is going to be an anti-kid hiking post, you need to know right now I adore my kids. They’re funny, adventurous, playful, and fully self-expressed in all the right ways.
And they love hiking! Well, most of the time, at least…except when we have to go uphill or we’ve run out of trail mix, which – both – happens more often than not.
But, they’re a busy bunch and getting busier as they get older. Finding a break in their schedule to go hiking – and particularly a break that coincides with perfect weather – is getting as rare as an external frame pack.
The stars finally lined up – Mercury was no longer retrograde (as my friend is fond of pointing out), the weather was amazing and our two youngest kids were sitting around with nothing to do.
The thing about kids – and hiking – is no matter how old they are you still need to be flexible with your plans. It might not look like the hike you envisioned, but it’ll be fun…if you’re adaptable.
“My favorite thing about hiking, Daddy, is going downhill.”
“Say! How much trail mix did you bring, Dad?”
Being a rather impromptu hike, I didn’t have much time to plan it out. It was one of those, “Quick! Change your clothes, put on your boots, grab an apple and some water and let’s go,” kind of hikes. In situations like this I like to go on familiar trails. This way I know sort of what to expect.
I chose Kimsey Creek Trail at Standing Indian. At just over 4 miles from the Backcountry Info Center to the top at Deep Gap and the intersection with the Appalachian Trail, Kimsey Creek Trail is a very scenic and enjoyable hike.
“It does have downhills, doesn’t it, Daddy?”
“Did you put raisins in the trail mix this time, Dad?”
It’s a relatively easy to moderate hike, with long grades, wide trails and plenty of beautiful landscapes and water. Water, water everywhere! And like many trails in Standing Indian, much of the water – for most of the year – runs right down the middle of the trail – an entertaining distraction for most kids.
Sometimes you’re left wondering which is the trail and which is the creek.
But don’t let the wet trails discourage you. Even in the wettest season, they’re still passable and it’s kind of fun hopping from rock to log to rock to railroad tie. Just be sure you have hiking poles or a walking stick to help you with your balance. You might also want to leave an extra pair of shoes and clothes in the car for the kids for the ride home.
I expected my son would have gotten his shoes wet, but not this time. It was my daughter, the one who likes going downhill, who soaked both of her shoes…numerous times.
Our two youngest kids are quite the comedy team, playing off each other like a non-stop Vaudevillian act. Think of Dean and Jerry, Harvey and Tim, Lucy and Ethel or even Gilligan and the Skipper and that’ll give you some idea of what it’s like being around them.
And they were in rare form today. We’ve always whiled away the time on the trail by playing games; word games, concentration games, whatever their hyper minds can think of. Today – my daughter’s choice – we were playing “Would you rather…?”
It’s a simple game. Everyone takes turns asking someone a question like, “Would you rather be stuck in a submarine with Justin Bieber OR eat a plate full of greasy, grimy gopher guts?” (No animals were harmed in this game. Jussayin.) So, as you can see, the object of the game is to trap people in a no-win choice…or if you’re good, an embarrassing choice.
How embarrassing can it get? Pretty bad sometimes, especially when two young teenagers are trying to embarrass or gross out the other one.
“Did I ever tell you how much I like going downhill, Daddy?”
“Can I finish the rest of the trail mix myself, Dad?”
We didn’t get very far on the trail today – maybe a couple of miles. And that’s Ok. We had fun! Lots of fun! AND…we established that my daughter likes hiking downhill, not uphill, and that my son is always hungry. Come to think of it! I didn’t get any trail mix today.
And, in spite of their constant attempts to trap me into an embarrassing situation, it was determined that I’d rather hike Kimsey Creek Trail – or any trail – than kiss Miley Cyrus on the lips – or anywhere for that matter. Yuck!! Sorry, Miley.
How do you keep your kids entertained and engaged while you’re on a family hike? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
See ya on the trail!