We have slowly realized that, for as much as we like to hunt and fish, we could still do more to encourage our children to experience the amazing adventures that are waiting just outside our door. With the prevalence of screen time and the changes to society that seem to encourage families to disconnect from others and spending time outside, we have decided to be more intentional about leading our family out to experience the amazing world around us. We want to instill a sense of adventure and wonder in our children, and encourage a curiosity for the natural world. We also want to better our health and experience more opportunities to hike, hunt, fish, and camp. With that being said, I received an invitation to go hiking with some fellow homeschoolers this past weekend, and rather than talking myself out of it, we said yes.
We set out for Glacier National Park at 7am on a cloudy and cool (41 degrees) Friday morning. I started to doubt the sanity of this trip the further we drove along. Initially, there was a light rain that alternately turned into heavy rain, sleet and finally snow and dense fog. Then halfway there, we had an episode of car sickness which resulted in a change of clothing and the use of a lot of wipes. For one brief moment, I considered just going home. But then I thought, we are tougher than that! I had brought clean clothes and had supplies to clean things up. It was chilly but not freezing, so I determined to carry on! A little bit of a mess and cool weather wasn’t going to stop us!
We arrived at Many Glacier around 10 am and set off with 7 children (the youngest being my 4 yr old)and 6 adults. When we checked in, the rangers informed one of our group that they had just re-opened the trail to Red Rock Falls that day because it had been closed to keep people away from a grizzly that was feeding on a moose calf. Well, we wanted adventure! We were prepared for the possibility of a bear encounter and had coached the kids on steps to take and were armed with bear spray. But we didn’t have anything to worry about. Except for one brave deer and some grouse that occasionally “drummed” nearby, I don’t think there was any wildlife that was willing to come within a mile of our loud and rambunctious group.
The day was not quite what I would have asked for, it was a bit drizzly and cool, but the sense of adventure was high and everyone was in good spirits. We didn’t see wildlife, but it’s hard to be disappointed in a place like Glacier. We saw a myriad of interesting plants and moss, amazing rock formations and of course the gorgeous water fall. And we just plain had fun hiking around.
I wasn’t sure how my four year old son would do, but he embraced the sense of adventure and along with my friend Amy’s son and one of the dad’s, they led the hike pretty much the whole way. They climbed up and jumped off rocks, they ran and explored… It was great.
My oldest daughter who is nine, went on an extreme Nature Study hike. She examined every indentation, moss bank, unknown plant, and tree we came across and discussed it with a friend’s son, his grandfather and myself. I am afraid they also learned more fairy lore than they ever wanted to know. Which all resulted in us bringing up the end up the line.
And my social bug, who is seven, flitted from the front to the back of the line, teasing and visiting amongst all of the children. We had a great group and when she grew tired at the end of the hike, and began howling like a lost puppy (don’t ask, I don’t know why), my friend’s grandfather helped boost moral by pretending to throw her into the forest. It made for a lively return trip and of course my four year old had to participate in being thrown into the forest too.
It was a beautiful experience and the ideal way to build community. I can’t wait to get out on our next adventure!