Tag Archives: nature

10 tips on how to hike with kids

Hiking with kidsThis summer we stuck close to home and enjoyed some of the stunning wilderness right in our backyard, in Utah. Hiking is a wonderfully simple form of fun and exercise requiring very little gear and expense. No matter where you live- there are trails nearby.  Here are 10 tips on how to hike with kids- get kids off the couch and into the wild without complaint and with a smile on their face.

hiking with wildflowers1. Do your research. Talk to locals, friends, consult guidebooks and make sure you know what you’re getting into before you start. Ask others about their favorite hikes and recommendations based on kids age and experience. Start short and simple and work up in distance and difficulty from there. Kids will learn to love the outdoors if they begin by having pleasant memories of excursions, and then (fingers crossed) beg for more.

snack time on Timpanogos2. Snacks and breaks. Be sure to bring along plenty of food and water for everyone. I would highly recommend a Camelback or other hydration system with an easy access tube for drinking water. You will ingest a lot more water if it’s conveniently reached. Bring finger foods that are easy to pack and eat. Our favorite trail snacks are: Granola bars, trail mix, crackers, cheese wedges (in wax) and hard salami- don’t forget a pocket knife. Apples and peanut butter (in a small tupperware container), gummy bears, goldfish and of course a few treats you don’t keep in the pantry at home as an added bonus- a favorite candy bar, cookies of your choice in snack size packaging.

eating wild raspberriesWe stopped to admire and snack on wild raspberries as we worked our way up the trail to the Mount Timpanogos Cirque.

Mt Timpanogos cirque3. Choose a visually beautiful destination. Time flies by when there is a lot to look at and enjoy while hiking, and a stunning final destination will be an unforgettable memory kids will remember the rest of their lives.

columbine, delphinium, indian paintbrush4. Stop to smell the flowers. Don’t try to move too fast, take your time and look around at the details of your surrounding. Point out what you observe and encourage little ones to look closely too. Bring a guidebook and identify flowers, birds, insects, rock formations… Make it an informal, cleverly disguised, learning experience. You might be surprised at what you see when you look close enough.

play with wildlife5. Enjoy the wildlife, in whatever form you encounter.  We love catching- or at least trying- little critter along the way wherever we are- snakes, frogs, fish, lizards, dragonflies, butterflies… Make sure kids get permission first- ask before touching a critter that might be harmful. We catch, observe and study, then put the critter right back right where we found it.

I think it’s crucial to teach kids to be kind to every living thing, to invoke empathy and wonder and instill a kinship and stewardship with nature that can only help them become better, kinder people throughout their lives.

hike with loved ones6. Embark early, finish early. You always hear tales of getting lost, darkness falling, running out of water or food… (you might be able to tell a few tales of woe yourself) but try to avoid drama and trauma through preparedness.. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the whole hike by starting out early in the day and endeavoring to finish before everyone is too tired and upset.

waterfall, Sulfur creek, Capitol Reef UT7. Water. This can and will make all the difference to kids. The hike will become ‘fun’ instead of just walking-for-a-really-long-time if there is water to be played in.

air time with the kids8. Did I mention water? If the weather/temperature is permitting- let the kids get wet… constantly. A  hot, dry hike with kids should be avoided. Take ‘dry’ hikes in cooler weather and plan summer, hot weather hikes into splashing-stomping-jumping-playing days of fun.

hike with loved ones9. Bring friends and/or family. Kids will always behave better if they have a friend along. Bring a someone to keep them entertained, distracted and share discoveries with along the way.

mud mittens10. Have fun. Leave all you cares and worries behind. Be present and enjoy the company of those around you. Tell stories, sing songs, rap, reminisce, be silly. Likely (and luckily), you won’t have cell service in many place you hike, so use that phone only as a camera, give your kids the gift of your full attention and have a blast!

Here’s a short video by my spouse, The Talking Fly of our Sulphur Creek hike, in Capitol Reef National Park and the logistical basics on hiking it for yourself.

Midway Utah- part 2

midway city utA bit more history about Midway Utah- last week we finished up another year of Swiss Days in which our no-stop-light-town fills up with 30,000+ visitors, it’s a weekend of yodeling, local musicians performing, craft, lederhosen and Swiss pride. I love it all- the Swiss-themed signage and architectural details around town makes me smile.

swiss tower clockIn the town building there’s this cuckoo clock, it reminds me of the welcome to Duloc scene from Shrek– except it’s in real life.  I always feel lucky when I’m around on-the-hour to see the tiny doors open up, the figurines pop out, rotate and music plays.

Schneitter's Hot Pots, Midway UTBack to some history…I’m not sure what year this invitation/business card is from but these hot pots are still in use and haven’t fallen into disrepair like Mountain Spaa.

The Crater, Midway UTSome original settlers of Midway, perhaps the Schneitters themselves, in front of the crater in the late 1890’s. The Crater is the biggest and most amazing natural phenomenon in town. Currently, the Crater is part of the Homestead Resort.

homestead crater midway utHere is how the Crater and the Homestead look today.

stairs to the top of the craterThe stairs to the top of the Crater, slightly improved since the early 1900’s.

top of Homestead craterIn the last year or so, the Homestead has added a nice bridge and improved netting system for those who want to get a good look down into the Crater from the top. The view of the whole valley is great from this vantage point.

looking down into the craterLooking down into the Crater from above- can you see the feet of swimmers in the patch of sunlight?  The scene in 127 Hours when James Franco and girls jump into the pool was filmed right here.

inside the crater midway utInside the crater- accessed from a ‘tunnel’ that has been carved out of the rock at the bottom. The water is crystal clear and continually 95 degrees. At 60 feet deep, it’s a popular spot for scuba divers with marks every 20 feet until you reach the sandy bottom. To keep swimming organized, you’ve got to schedule a session in advance. I’ve been meaning to sign up for a paddle board yoga class in this spot. Awesome.

For part 1 of Midway history, including more on the Mountain Spaa resort look here.

no need to panic, maybe

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My brother and sister-in-law and tiny baby nephew recently moved to New Orleans. Their first hurricane experience just came and went- luckily, they dealt with run-of-the-mill rain and wind and that was about the extent of it, we’re all relieved.  Here are the hurricane procedures that really helped them in their preparations-

Soon, you’re going to turn on the TV and see a weather person pointing to some spinning red thing headed toward our coast and making two basic meteorological points:
(1) There is no need to panic.
(2) We could all be killed.

If you’re new to the area, you’re probably wondering what you need to do to prepare for the possibility that we’ll get hit by “the big one.”
Follow this simple three-step hurricane preparedness plan:
STEP 1. Buy enough food and bottled water to last your family for at least three days.
STEP 2. Put these supplies into your car.
STEP 3. Drive to Nebraska and remain there until Halloween.

HOMEOWNERS’ INSURANCE:
If you own a home, you must have hurricane insurance. Fortunately, this insurance is cheap and easy to get, as long as your home meets two basic requirements:
(1) It is reasonably well-built, and
(2) It is located in Nebraska.

Unfortunately, if your home is located in Louisiana, most insurance companies would prefer not to sell you hurricane insurance, because then they might be required to pay YOU money, and that is certainly not why they got into the insurance business in the first place. So you’ll have to scrounge around for an insurance company, which will charge you an annual premium roughly equal to the replacement value of your house. At any moment, this company can drop you like a bad talk show host.

EVACUATION ROUTE:
If you live in a low-lying area, you should have an evacuation route planned.. (To determine whether you live in a low-lying area, look at your driver’s license; if it says Louisiana, you live in a low-lying area.) The purpose of having an evacuation route is to avoid being trapped in your home when a major storm hits. Instead, you will be trapped in a gigantic traffic jam several miles from your home, along with two hundred thousand other evacuees. So, as a bonus, you will not be lonely.

HURRICANE SUPPLIES:
If you don’t evacuate, you will need a lot of supplies. Louisiana tradition requires that you wait until the last possible minute, then go to the supermarket and get into vicious fights with strangers over who gets the last can of SPAM.

In addition to food and water, you will need the following supplies:
–23 Flashlights.
–At least $167 worth of batteries that turn out, when the power goes off, to be the wrong size for the flashlights.
–Bleach. (No, I don’t know what the bleach is for. NOBODY knows what the bleach is for, but it’s traditional, so GET some!)
–A 55-gallon drum of underarm deodorant.
–A big knife that you can strap to your leg. (This will be useless in a hurricane, but it looks cool.)
–And $35,000 in cash or diamonds so that, after the hurricane passes, you can buy a generator from a man with no visible teeth.

Of course these are just basic precautions. As the hurricane draws near, it is vitally important that you keep abreast of the situation by turning on your television and watching TV reporters in rain slickers stand right next to the gulf and tell you over and over how vitally important it is for everybody to stay away from the gulf.