Hiking with grandchildren is a fun experience. In my case the girls are ages 9 and 12, independent and responsible, fun in a group of hikers. They prepare and carry their own day packs. They walk at a steady pace, actually faster than their grandmother. They have been hiking for a few years. Several years ago they climbed Mount Morgan, last year Mount Madison, and this year another 4,000’ mountain, so they are already accomplishing great goals. The girls are Morgan and Madison—no wonder they climbed mountains with the same name! In fifth grade, Morgan climbed Mount Morgan a second time, on a field trip with her class.
When they hike with me, they keep me so occupied by playing mental games that any challenges or tiredness is hardly noticed. They sing and try to teach me their favorite songs, until they give up and go on to something else more stimulating to them. The time flies by. They are nature bugs and they are the first to spot a frog or turtle on a log. They like to identify tracks of animals and surprise me when they point out a tree and say “That’s a maple” or “white pine” or “oak.” One will recite poems she has created, and the other sings songs she is practicing for chorus. It is a great way for me to keep up with their current interests. I try to remember to focus on the roots and rocks under foot, and on we tread down the path, merrily entering life in the forest. Other times we tread silently, listening for signs of nature to identify: perhaps a woodpecker, a blue jay, or chick-a-dee.
From the time they were born, they were carried on their parents’ backs, and on occasion I carried them while snowshoeing or walking on trails. We live near a state park, and the reward for a walk was going to one of the playgrounds there, with a mini picnic lunch or treat. Sometimes we would canoe one way and walk back, if someone offered to assist with transportation. They like to camp and that includes short hikes and nature walks.
They have traveled in many areas of our country and in foreign countries, too. Travel and family incentives to enjoy nature have encouraged us all to stay physically fit, and hiking is a pleasant way to do it. They are great company, and I plan to enjoy many more years of hiking with them in the future.
(posted October 20, 2015)