Taking kids out to the backcountry can get easier with a little distraction.

In my last post about hiking with kids, I expressed that tweens and teens are hard to get going on trails. I thinks I wrote,”Generally get ready for a lot of whining. Issues brought up: showers, bears, bugs, electronics, food, walking, going up, going down…”. Well, there may be hope for us, after all.

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We spent a week hiking in Colorado.With a bit of “luck”, our first trail in Rocky Mountain National Park was completely covered in ice. Ok, that was a bit of a mixed blessing, but it created a challenge for our lad that made the rest of the week a bit of an amazing time.

Between sliding and falling, the hiking disapeared. This was just a crazy thing to do. There is no way to duplicate this whenever you go out, but if you can – do it!

After that, it was a little farther everyday, in generally better conditions.

So, what made the difference on the other days? When he was bored, he talked. And talked. And talked. He re-told books, made up books (in 7 chapters). Was it crazy making? Why yes, yes it was. Did we get to go hiking? Also, yes. To keep sane, we would (individually) go ahead on the trail. One day I spent a lovely hour alone running to a gorgeous lake.

Hint number 1: Distractions make all of the difference. From ice to stories, there has to be a way to keep your kids minds from thinking hiking = work.

Hint number 2: Reasonable goals. If you can hike with enough adults to give yourself a break and a longer hike, do it. If not, your goals need to be in line with the abilities of your kids. Make them work, but not so hard that they fail. Instead of loops, we did all ‘out-and-back’ hikes. This allowed for variable distances – open for discussion.

Hint number 3: Bring enough food for a week. I don’t know how, but kids eat their body weight every few hours.

So don’t dispair parents! Get those kids out on trails!

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