Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Boardman Lake Hike

hiking with children, mountain loop highway
Boardman Lake

Since our hike 2 weeks ago was canceled due to thunderstorms, we rescheduled it for this week, and boy, was the weather fantastic!  We picked up my friend K and her baby R2 and carpooled to the trailhead.  After taking several long drives lately, it was nice to have a hike closer to home.  The road to the trailhead has gotten a bit worse over the past several years, but it is still drivable by a passenger car.  Just take it slow, because there are some deep potholes that come up fast.

They’ve also installed a new sign at the trailhead since the last time I went – warning of trailhead break-ins.  The broken glass in the parking area didn’t inspire much confidence, either.  Thankfully we had no problems while we were there.  And there were a couple of other vehicles parked there, so we felt better having other folks around.  The temps were in the 70s, actually warmer than I thought it would be there.  We swatted at some pesky horseflies while we geared up.  A young couple came back to their car after spending the night at the lake.  The gal was carrying a cooler on her shoulder – she packed that all the way there and back?  Then they made a second trip back to the lake to get the rest of their stuff.  Well, more power to them, it’s good to see folks out in the wilderness even if they might not fit the ultralight definition.  At least they carried out a large bag of trash.

Boardman Lake, hiking with children, mountain loop highway, easy hikes
Good Beginnings

Thankfully the trail is in deep shade the whole way up to the lake.  Huge old trees tower above Lake Evan and all the way up to the Boardman Lake basin.

boardman lake trail, hiking with children, big trees
Old Trees

Typical shady understory plants create a carpet of greenery all around.  Foamflower, bunchberry, ferns of 2 or 3 different varieties, mosses, fungi, and other plants carpet the ground under huckleberry plants.

Boardman Lake trail, hiking with children, northwest ferns, washington native plants
Ferns Along the Trail

Interestingly, I only saw one or two berries along the trail (there were many at the Verlot Ranger Station, though!).

The trail begins climbing right away at a medium grade, and roots and rocks are the norm for much of it.

Boardman lake trail, hiking with children, mountain loop highway trails
Negotiating the Rocks

This proved to be tricky for my friend who is vision-impaired.  She functions so well in the world that I always forget she is legally blind.  Luckily, she is also persistent and stubborn, and she never complained a bit.  We took it nice and slow, which was good for Annika and her vision issues, too.  The sun and shade played with their eyes and their depth perception on the uneven tread.

Hiking with children, Boardman Lake Trail, Mountain Loop Highway Trails, kids in nature
A Minor Blowdown

Even at our slow pace, Gabe tripped on a tippy rock and required two bandages about halfway up.  I told him he got the award for the first bandaids administered for the day.  He just rolled his eyes at me.

northwest native plants, washington flowers, orange, Boardman lake Trail, hiking with children
Tiger Lily

Just when my friend was starting to regret saying she wanted to come hiking with me, we rounded the final corner and began the descent into the lake basin.

hiking with children, mountain loop highway hikes, swimming lake
Boardman Lake

Ah, it looked so lovely and peaceful.  We found a spot in the shade on the gravelly bank of the lake.  Immediately Gabriel caught a newt in the shallow waters.

rough-skinned newt, kids in nature, amphibians, washington salamanders, Boardman lake
Gabe Catches a Newt
rough-skinned newt, washington amphibian, Boardman lake, kids in nature
Newt Wrangler

I used to find these all the time as a kid, but I think these might have been my kids’ first newts.  We settled our stuff down and had lunch.

At one point I took Annika over the log jam to use the toilet on the other side of the outlet stream.  She was able to negotiate the logs better than on past hikes (with some help from me), so I was real proud of her.

washington native plants, pink flowers, heteroptrophic plants, Boardman lake flowers
Corallorhiza mertensiana, western or pacific coralroot

We finally found the sign for the toilet, way back from the campsites, but then we could smell it from several yards away.  It’s one of those box kinds, and it was rank.  We decided to go in the bushes and just leave the TP in the box for the copious flies to enjoy.  Yuck.

There was a family camped at one of the sites.  It looked so peaceful there, and seemed like they were having a good time.  We saw a guy way out on the lake on one of those rafts you can stand up in, fishing, I think.  A couple of other parties came up while we were eating, including some teens with their parents, who went straight into the water, splashing and yelling.  By this point my kids were changing into their own swimsuits, and enjoying the shallow outlet stream area.  They splashed and ran in and out.

Boardman lake, kids swimming in lake, kids in nature, summer fun, hiking with children
Water Fight!

It was nice and warm, a perfect afternoon for wading.  Unfortunately, at that point we were besieged by a swarm of horseflies, or something like them.  Buzzing all around us, pestering us all and making the kids panic.  My friend wasn’t that keen on them with the baby, either. My kids begged for bug spray, but since they were wet, it ran into their eyes and stung.  Not a happy mommy moment.  Thankfully, after a few minutes of frenzied swatting, the buggers flew off to pester someone else.  We hypothesized that the kids’ splashing in the water was what drew them in, because they didn’t bother us for the rest of the time there.

washington insects, Boardman Lake, nature with kids
Strange Green Damselfly

We enjoyed watching the dragonflies and damselflies flitting all around us.  A giant beetle with super long antennae landed near us.

washington insects, beetles, nature with kids, Boardman lake insects, long antennae
Fabulous Beetle!

Little green inchworms were floating by on strings of silk.

insects of washington, kids and bugs, children in nature
Annika and an Inchworm

We found several of them over the course of the day. I took pictures of flowers and kids.

washington native plants, orange flowers, Boardman Lake, ant pollination
Elliottia pyroliflora, Copperbush – Being Pollinated by Ants
washington native plants, white flowers, Boardman Lake, wetland plants
Triantha occidentalis; sticky asphodel, or sticky tofieldia; Covered with Little Flies
Washington native plants, white flowers, wetland plants, forest wildflowers, Boardman Lake
Boykinia occidentalis, coastal brookfoam
washington fungus, fungi, Boardman lake,
Fungus

The baby tried to eat rocks and sand, and seemed to really enjoy being out in nature.

babies in nature, kids in nature, dirty face, hiking with children
R2 Ate Some Dirt

It brought back memories of those days with my own kids, and I remembered how hard it could be to hike with little ones, always having to be vigilant with everything they got into. We watched a couple of little puff clouds change shape and drift over our heads.  Soon enough, we decided it was time to gather our stuff and head on back to the car.  We made it back without any mishaps.  The flies were bad at the car, though, so we hurriedly got in and closed the windows.

It was great to come back to this lake, one of my favorites.  The first time I went, there was still snow up there, and Gabe was a toddler.

hiking with children, Boardman lake, children in nature
Gabriel, almost 2 years old, 2004, on our first visit

The last time I was there Annika was crawling.

children in nature, hiking with kids, Boardman Lake, kids in water
Annika, 14 months old, 2007. You could not keep this kid out of the water!

We went several times in between.  Gabe used to call one of the trees “The Claw Tree” because of its interesting clumps of dead branches along the trunk. I reminded him of that when we got to that tree, but he had no memory of it.  Oh well, I still thought it was neat.  This area always has a deep, deep silence when I go.  It really is completely quiet at times.  We heard a raven, but otherwise no other birds.  It’s a good hike for kids and adults, and looks like it would be a great first backpack.

hiking with children, kids in nature, Boardman lake Trail
Almost Back to the Car

5 Responses to Boardman Lake Hike

  1. Love the water fight picture. The best part of the report is how your friend named her baby R2. I have a guess what his middle name is…

  2. Looks like a great day! Even warm enough for swimming! You saw lot’s of interesting creatures and plants. Loved the report!

  3. I want to go there too! It looks beautiful! I am sure my family could enjoy the benefits of fresh air and clean environment for a change. Its change from the smoke of the city and toxicity within. The pictures are just amazing! I love them all.

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