In 2012, our family has a goal of hiking 100 miles together. While most of these miles will occur during the warmer months (we live in Minnesota after all!) we had the opportunity to hike on a mild winter day 2 weeks ago. (Mild by Minnesota standards means it was upper 30s, not typical for January).
However, we almost didn’t go. Before we even got out of bed that morning, our son came to our door and loudly announced he hated hiking and it would make him sick to go. This greatly upset my husband, who proceeded to grandly announce we’d cancel our vacation if the little one was going to complain about hiking so much.
So being the wise motherly figure that I am, I told our junior hiker that if he ruins mommy and daddy’s fun, we would ruin his fun (no movies or Wii). Believe it or not, it did the trick! An attitude adjustment was made and we were out the door about an hour later.
We decided to go to Battle Creek Regional Park. Even though it is less than 5 miles from downtown St. Paul, with 750 acres it doesn’t feel like you are in the middle of the city.
One of the features of the park are the sugar sandstone walls that line the entrance. We’d only been walking a few minutes when we decided to go off trail for a mini-adventure. Our junior hiker loved the experience of touching the walls and covering himself in sand in the process. It proved to be a wonderful experiential geology lesson.
There is also a tiny creek running through the park. The frozen waterfalls and watching the water move under the ice was a new experience for our son and kept him interested in continuing our hike.
We continued our adventure spirit and pieced trails together at whim. We ended up on a bike path headed straight up hill. With a bit of ice it was challenging to climb, but it made for more fun as we slid backwards and pushed forward towards the top of the hill. From there we were able to see downtown St. Paul framed by the trees. We came across a boulder no more than 3 feet high, and our junior hiker immediately assessed its suitableness for bouldering (it wasn’t possible at his sill level).
Our time outside in winter is admittedly limited. Typical temperatures can range from -10 to 25 degrees this time of year and we had never gone hiking during the winter as a family. However, it was refreshing to be out in nature and to share in the discovery of an environment changed by the season. It was easy to spot where animals would hang out by tracks in the snow. (As the only female member of the family its refreshing to track animals this way rather than by scat. I don’t understand how poop is endlessly funny, but I digress.) As long as we kept moving it was easy to stay warm. The only unanticipated side effect of the cold was that the camera rebelled after a few pictures. Apparently when it gets cold it thinks the batteries are dead.
I used to think that winter was a time to see how fast one could move from a warm house to a pre-heated car and then dashing to a warm destination. For me, it certainly wasn’t about lingering outside. However, I’ve found that I love being outside too much to only experience it April through October. Taking the time to go outside helped invigorate me and gave us some great memories as a family.
As for the 100 miles, we sure have our work cut out for us. The grand total for January is 1.5 miles. We have to average 9 miles a month to meet our goal. That math doesn’t exactly work in our favor at this point, but I think we are still up for the challenge!
Have you had any unexpected discoveries recently? Enjoy something you didn’t think you would? Please share in the comments and until next time, adventure on!