Will, of his own initiative, began drawing treasure maps on a notepad on the car trip up to Pine Mountain. Once we hit the trail, he declared himself “the master” – our official treasure-hunting guide. Sometimes he would come to a place where there was nothing but the trail ahead, no forks in the path, no possible detours, and he would stop and say “I wonder where we should go now?” before determining that the treasure was somewhere straight ahead conveniently located on the only path in sight.
We ate lunch about a mile in and it was about five steps into our return hike that Will announced with a long sigh, “I’m soooo tired.” So, in keeping with our commitment to make sure that hiking is never a chore so that our kids will keep wanting to join us on outdoor excursions, Rob toted Will on his shoulders for a bit until he was ready to get down and begin collecting “golden nuggets” – in fact, a variety of acorns and buckeye fruits that are now sitting on our kitchen counter in a jar.
To keep Owen happy for this second leg of the hike, I began stopping at various trees and letting him feel the bark. Soon he was pointing at every tree we passed, shouting “ba ba” or “ga ga” or some such nonsense word that was an attempt to demand some time to commune with the tree in view. So Owen felt many, many trees on the way home and I realized that I’d never looked so closely at the bark on so many different trees.
Even when the kids have longer, stronger legs, I think I’ll want to slow down for an amble again every now and then.
(For most of the hike Owen was stuck in a backpack -- but when we let him out he was the happiest ambler of all.)