Of the several Dennis Aprill hiking books, my favorite is “Paths Less Traveled.”
“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.
There are lots of reasons to introduce kids to kayaking:
- No other kind of boating connects us so closely to the water.
- Kayaking can be a lifelong activity
- It’s good exercise.
- You can do it alone or in a group.
- Kayaking can be linked to camping or fishing or birdwatching … and so many other outdoors activities.
If you have a cottage or camp or second home in the mountains, on a lake or at the seashore, you’ll recognize this idea: Going to camp isn’t about exploring, its about returning.
When I write “camp” I don’t mean camping in a tent or summer at sleepaway camp. Those are great experiences. But camping is about exploring and summer camp is about a time of life.
Returning to an Adirondack Camp is like returning to a home that is more than a home.
Every hike teaches me something: the changing light in the pines, a fresh and mysterious bird song, the startled shock when a trail runner bounds past.
Summit of Owls Head with Brigid.
But hikes with my children have taught me the most. Here are a few things that I learned hiking Owl’s Head, one of my favorite family outings:
- Boulders aren’t something to get around, they aree something to play on.
- Trees have personalities, feelings and sometimes we have to give them names.
- A shady perch on a hot afternoon deserves more than a quick drink.
- It’s lunch time when you’re hungry … wait too long and you’ll be sorry.
- Getting tired? Pull out a chapter book and read a bit.
- Are there elves watching from that dense brush? Could a dwarf fit into that little cave? Is that walking stick really a wizard’s staff? Yes.
- And the summit doesn’t matter. Maybe we’ll get there, maybe we won’t
Want to get out of that summit focused, head down, oblivious hiking posture? Take a kid along.
I love the Adirondacks.
No, we don’t have the grandeur of the Tetons or the rhythm of the seashore. But we do have startling beauty, wonderful access and a nature ethic that builds on a history recreation and family fun.
And I love being a dad. I’m an older dad now, with two girls in college and one entering middle school. This blog is an attempt to look back at my years with kids outdoors and look forward in ways that I hope some of you will find helpful.