Getting Kids Out Into Nature

Thinking About Fall and Winter

Well, we had a hike planned today.  I even had the kids pick where to go, and they were looking forward to it.  But when we woke up this morning, my most sensitive and emotional child burst into tears at the thought of hiking.  I couldn’t get him to budge on the idea, even with the encouragement of jelly beans, hot cocoa, and beef jerky.  Reluctantly, I sighed, and decided maybe it would be best to take a rest day at home.  I actually didn’t mind, as we’ve been so busy lately, I haven’t been doing much housework.  It would be good to catch up a bit, and do some more relaxing activities such as playing Uno and teaching the kids to play Pente.

So you see, even The Hiker Mama and her family have off days!  We’re thinking ahead to next week, though, and hoping to get out to see some waterfalls on Thanksgiving weekend.

So instead of a trip report today, you’ll get some links I’ve been saving to share with you.

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This is a good time for planning ahead for the rest of the season.  You’ll start seeing winter sport clothing on sale online, and might be able to take advantage of Christmas sales to get gear for kids at a cheaper price.  REI’s big sale starts today, and they have a bunch of kids’ clothing items on sale on their regular website, as well as on the outlet site.  I try to buy most of our gear on clearance if I can’t find it used.

hiking with children, fall hiking gear, kids outdoor clothing
Surprise snowstorm on what was supposed to be a sunny October day

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Northwest Trip Finder put a blog post out this morning about surviving the northwest winter.  She’s got some good points about wearing wool and synthetics, continuing to get outside, and having good boots and shoes.  If you haven’t visited over there yet, take a look around and check out the local trips they’ve been describing!

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While you’re getting out this fall and winter, you are at increased risk for hypothermia.  The Washington Trails Associationposted an article this week educating hikers about the signs and treatment of this dangerous condition.  Last year I got a wake-up call when Annika started showing the signs of mild hypothermia.  We were on a quick hike during a long drive through the mountains.  I didn’t make the kids put on their long johns or snow pants, despite temps that were just above freezing.  It had snowed earlier in the week.  The sun had gone behind the peaks, leaving the valley we were in dark, even though it was the middle of the afternoon.  The hike was less than 2 miles round trip, on a paved trail, just off the highway.

hiking with children, north cascades, Highway 20 hikes, fall hiking gear
Annika at Rainy Lake

But Annika got her mittens wet by playing in the snow and ice, and when we stopped to rest at the lake before turning back, she got chilled to the bone.  She was shivering, whining and complaining, and couldn’t warm up.  I gave her my mittens to wear, and we headed quickly back to the car.  She turned inward, becoming quiet, and got very tired.  It took her a couple of hours in the warm car and then a warm cabin with warm soup and tea to get her normal liveliness back.  It was a good warning to me to keep my kids dry, take the extra few minutes to make sure they are dressed appropriately, even for just a short hike.

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I hope you’re able to get out a lot this fall.  There is a mental battle that seems tougher this time of year, but if you can overcome the drive to stay encased in the warmth and safety of your home, there are many rewards to hiking in the “off-season.”  It takes some more thought and care, and requires heavier packs for the parent, but it’s still worth it.

highway 20 hikes, hiking with children, fall hikes washington
Fall Meets Winter at Rainy Lake, 2011

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