Sunday, August 3, 2014

Convincing Kids to Be Happy Hikers (The Flatirons in Boulder)

If I were in a city, looking up at a 90-story building, and I wanted to get to the top, I would probably opt for the elevator over the stairway. Put me in front of a mountain, though, and I'm pretty determined to "take the stairs." As a grown-up living in the Rocky Mountains, hiking is my idea of fun. From what I saw yesterday, though, most of the little kids who were hiking were there against their wishes. There weren't many happy hikers in the pre-teen set.
The Flatirons
We were looking up at the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado. The trailhead is at the Chautauqua Park. The gain in elevation is over 1,400 feet if one hikes to where the rock climbers go, and that was our plan.

People come out in droves to the Chautauqua Park. We noticed many families with small children, cajoling and pleading with their unwilling little ones to keep hiking. One little girl, dressed in pink from the top of her Patagonia hat to her little hiking boots, kept running back down toward the trailhead, and then whimpered as she trudged back up to her waiting parents. Another family was having a pow-wow to convince their pouting child that this was going to be FUN. "We're almost there," I heard one mom lie to her whining child, half-way up the mountain. 

"I wish I'd figured out a way to take you kids hiking when you were little," I told Sierra. "But after witnessing all of the grumpy little kids up here today, maybe it's a good thing I didn't."

"I probably wouldn't be hiking with you today if you had taken me when I was little," Sierra laughed. She confided that the only time she actually goes hiking is when we are visiting each other. And poor Jason loves sleeping in on the weekend. I felt pretty honored that they would dedicate this Saturday morning to hiking with me. I love being outdoors, especially with the ones I love.

You learn a lot about people when you're hiking together. What I know about my kids is they're not whiners; they care about each other and me; they have great stamina; and they like to have fun. 

Jason and Sierra were constantly checking on me, offering to take breaks to catch our breath, and wanting to help me over the rough terrain. I assured them that as long as I didn't have to replicate any of Jason's strong-arm moves between the boulders, I'd be just fine. It's actually harder to hold someone's hand and maneuver through the rocks, if you ask me. The guys in our family always offer to give me a hand; I always politely decline. 
Looking out over Boulder. The tell-tale red roofs indicate the location of the Colorado University campus.

Jason and Sierra are good sports to indulge me in hiking.

The Flatiron Access trail actually gains about 1400 feet in elevation. We were not out to set any records, though, and after hiking over 900 feet up, we enjoyed a rest on a rocky overlook, and decided to head down to the festivities on Pearl Street in Boulder, where the Ironman race was being held.

My suggestion to parents who want their children to hike with them is to go early before the day gets too hot. To avoid emotional melt-downs, pack plenty of drinks and snacks, and plan on lots of breaks. 

Or you can just do what I did. Wait until your kids are old enough to enjoy hiking without pouting. I had to wait awhile, but it worked for me. I love my happy hikers.

These are some of my favorite shots from today...

Ever wonder where rock climbers go potty when they're outside
all day? Wonder no more. The park service provides "Restop 2"
bags for their convenience. "Commode sold separately." Wonder
how many of them haul their commode with them in their

My glutes have been giving me fits this week. I took every opportunity
to stretch them out, utilizing the available rocks and trees.

Thanks for giving up a morning of sleeping in to take me hiking, J!

From the top, "it's all downhill." Thank goodness.

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