04 October, 2016
Fair Are The Meadows, Fairer The Woodlands
So I spent a couple of months thinking that for being so green and beautiful, and well-preserved (lots of legislation here to keep the trees around), New York state was lacking in great family hikes!
And it didn't help that all the hikes that friends went on were hours away. With young kids, we gotta go to places that are within an hour or two or things get crazy fast (though we do allow one faraway trip a month - faraway like 2-5 hours).
Anyway, I realized after a short while that there just had to be some amazing hikes here. There are! Dozens! I scoured the internet with search words like:
Great Family Hike CNY Syracuse Falls Trails Children Intermediate All Weather
We try to hike at least twice every month, but often we end up going more. I plan elaborate Saturday adventures that usually cost money, but then when everyone is dressed and breakfasted, we realize that we'd rather just go to a favorite park and find a new trail.
Hiking is so good for the soul of a family. The older kids get to explore and roam, the younger kids get to rely on Mom and Dad for a hand to hold, but also get to branch out and be part of the big kids group. And the babies get to be held (in a pack) for hours on end. And Mom and Dad get to take deep, fresh breaths of air and let all the troubles float above the tree cover. It is truly delightful.
On Sundays we will sometimes go on nature walks on less-strenuous trails. We try to remind the kids more often than usual that Heavenly Father gave us this family and this beautiful life, with beauty all around us to feel joy. It's easy to teach this lesson when we are out, in the beauty, feeling the joy! We also teach them about respecting animals, plants, and rules (like staying on the trail). We've had in-depth conversations about erosion, pollution, and dangerous domestication of wild animals. We've also had elaborate pretend play, roaming through the beautiful CNY groves of delicious, tall trees. Harry Potter, Star Wars, Fairies, Lost Princesses, Hansel and Gretel.
The other thing we love about hiking with our family, is that food is so good when you are the right kind of hungry. We always just pack food we have at home. There is no need to try to make it a special trip by buying special food or going out to eat. My kids got so excited a couple of weeks ago about a slice of ham and a slice of fresh bread for lunch. They munched on apples and guzzled down water. Yummy, healthy, and already bought. You really can't beat that budget-wise.
The best experiences I had as a kid were exploring with my family on Saturday mornings. My dad is an adventurous thrill-seeker and gave us all a little bit of it in our blood. I hope to do the same for my kiddos!