On the Open Trail
out on a hike and they’re not looking, I drop the stones for my kids to find. Suddenly, they’re not on a boring hike in the woods anymore, but a magical treasure hunt in a forest full of leprechauns. My kids have walked ten miles just looking for stones!
I’ve given up my sanity, my sleep, and my bikini body, but I just had to draw the line at giving up my hikes.
5 Beautiful, Local Family Hikes
By Holly Hester
have always been a hiker. There’s nothing more I love to do than throw on a pair of sneakers, grab a bottle of water and some trail mix (the yummy kind with M&Ms in it), and disappear into the woods for the day. So naturally, when I had kids, I thought they’d love to hike as much as I did. But just like with everything else about parenting, I was very, very wrong.
“How much longer?” “Can we turn back?” “I can’t feel my feet.” “We’re going to be killed by a zebra, and it’s all your fault!” All things I’ve heard from my children on hikes. (Especially when we’re hiking in those horrible zebra-infested areas.) I almost gave up on the whole idea, but it just didn’t feel right. In the name of motherhood, I’ve given up my sanity, my sleep, and my bikini body, but I just had to draw the line at giving up my hikes. 18 SonomaFamilyLife
So I needed to figure out a way to get my kids to enjoy hiking, and it would have to have nothing to do with pointing out an interesting leaf here and there. I had to hit them where they live—in the land of candy, gadgets, and magic. It took a bit of trial and error, but I finally came up with a formula that has turned my kids into super excited Sonoma County hikers: Magic. I buy a bunch of polished rocks (Toyworks sells them at a great price), and then fill my pockets until I look like a senior citizen stealing food from a buffet. Then when we’re
Gadgets. Invest in some really good walkie-talkies. I got our Motorola walkie-talkies at REI, and they’re amazing. Everyone in our family has one. It’s hilarious to hear the kids talking along the trail. “I just saw a squirrel. Over.” “Come take a look at this awesome spider web. Over.” “I’m peeing on a cool log. Over.” Candy. Most kids don’t care about a pretty view unless it’s a pretty view of a water park or a Pixar movie. So to encourage my kids to make it to the top of a mountain, I bribe them with sugar. (I never said I was proud.) Sometimes I’ll make cupcakes. Sometimes I’ll just bring a bag of candy from the store. It doesn’t really matter as long as there’s a sugary surprise in mom’s backpack. Curiosity alone will keep them walking straight to the top. I’ve had some of the best times ever with my kids sitting on the top of a mountain overlooking a beautiful view while eating a Kit Kat.
November 2015 www.sonomafamilylife.com