Advice from the Original Adirondack Dad

Of the several Dennis Aprill hiking books, my favorite is “Paths Less Traveled.”

"Paths Less Traveled" by Dennis Aprill

“Paths Less Traveled” by Dennis Aprill

As I mentioned in my earlier post, influential Adirondack outdoor writer Aprill died in 2010. His books are mostly out of print, but you can pick up reasonably priced used copies at area bookstores or through online booksellers.

In this book, Aprill includes two short chapters about kids and hiking.

First, in his “Hiking with Children” chapter, Aprill gives some of the usual advice: slow down, bring snacks, carry a basic first-aid kit.

One really useful caution he gives involves the downhill trip. He says, and I agree, that most hiking injuries happen on the way down. So how do you get tired kids to pay attention and slow down on the return trip?

I jokingly tell my kids that anybody who falls on the way down doesn’t get ice cream, our traditional post-hike treat.

Dennis Aprill, outdoor writer

Dennis Aprill, outdoor writer

The downhill slog is a good time to stop for a bit of tree identification or to watch the chipmunks. But whatever you do, don’t let kids run down trails unless you are looking forward to an emergency room visit.

On this topic, one more suggestion. With younger children I let them lead on the way up so I can be right behind if they slip, but I lead on the way down, where I may be able to help if they tumble and I can slow the pace.

Later Aprill wisely includes a section about hiking with teens. Just getting a teen to join you on a hike can be a success. Maybe you can use a hike with teens for some of the” big talks” that are hard to have at home.

Finally, I love that Aprill includes a “Hiking with Adults” chapter penned by his daughter Karalyn, then 10 years old. She gives lots of good advice and then writes:

“The thing I like most about hiking with my dad is the attention I get. At home he has to spend time with Mom, my brother and me. On our trips, it’s only me.”

And that is the most important reason to take your child hiking: spending time together.

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