The words, “Grammie! Can we go for a hike?”, are music to my ears. I get excited thinking about the memories I’m instilling in the little brains of my 2-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyn and my six-year-old grandson, Jackson.
We had been camping in our favorite spot on top of the Uncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. My husband and I, our oldest son and his wife and their 2 kids and 2 dogs made up the camp. Camp was set up, we had no sooner settled back into our chairs with a nice cold drink when Brooklyn and Jackson patted my hand and asked me to take them on a hike.
I was a bit tired but eagerly jumped at the chance as I know as they get older, they won’t want to tag along with their grandmother but rather, hang with high school buddies at the mall ( hopefully at Cabela’s or REI). I grabbed my backpack and instructed them to pick out snacks and pack them into my pack. They also got their jackets, sunscreen, hats, hiking poles, chapstick, playing cards (just in case), Capri Suns, extra clothes and crayons (just in case).
After 15 or 20 minutes of preparation, we were ready to set out into the unknown. We touched base with everyone letting them know of our intentions. My daughter-in-law, Heather, looked at us then at her watch as said, “I give you 15 minutes.” My son, Kevin, said, ” See ya soon.” “Ha! ~ we will be gone longer than you think”, I thought to myself. My husband just grinned. After 33.5 years of marriage, he knows when to keep his mouth shut.
We said our goodbyes and hiked off into the forest following an old jeep road. About 20 yards down the road, Brookyn suddenly shouted, “Grammie!!! I have to go pee!” Oh shoot! We were potty training her and I had forgotten to get a diaper on her. Before I could grab her, she was standing in the middle of the road with a wetness dribbling down her pants. Jackson decided we’d best go back and change her pants. I agreed.
As we walked back into camp, my daughter-in-law looked at her watch. “Wow. Missed that one’, she said. I changed Brooklyn and we headed out again. Jackson put another water bottle in my backpack, just in case.
Off we trotted down the road again, the kids skipping as I was strolling behind, watching their enthusiasm, until…… “Grammie!!! I pooped my diaper!” We immediately turned around and headed back to the campsite. I couldn’t even look their parents in the eye. We did manage to knock out 50 yards before that accident.
Ten minutes later we were back on the trail. Along the way we saw the Colorado State Flower, the Columbine. I pointed out Wild Onions.
We picked them and chewed on them. After that, I think the kids stopped to pick every single one in the forest. They decided they were hungry and sat down to have a snack. I showed them Wild Irises. We also spied Wild Strawberries. They learned about Glacier Lilies and how bears like to eat them.
Bears?? Eat these flowers?? These flowers right here?? They come here and eat these flowers?? Panic started to set in. Jackson said he wasn’t too fond of bears. Brooklyn started crying. Oh no! What have I done? I rounded them up and we scurried back to the campsite where we were safe. Never mind the fact we were never out of sight of the camp, to the kids, we were miles from safety.
Back in camp, Brooklyn and Jackson excitedly told their parents, both science teachers, what they had seen and learned about while they were in the wild. Flowers, onions and bears. Sometimes we get caught up in our hurry up and wait world. We forget to cherish the small things in life and the little people who help us stay grounded. I got to see the forest through the eyes of a 5 (now 6) year old and a 2 year old. I learned patience and gained a new perspective of my surroundings. We had only been gone for 20 minutes and had hiked maybe, 100 yards, but to them, it was a long way and warranted all the snacks, water, clothing and crayons. For them, it was the best day ever. And to me, it WAS the best day ever. Everyone should hike with little people.
Camping with the grandkids is always an adventure. Their level of activity keeps me on my toes! I’m constantly telling them to keep away from the fire. “Don’t stray too far from the campsite.” “Don’t swing sticks around the dogs.” “Don’t throw things into the fire.” “Watch where you’re stepping.” My radar is extra sensitive as the outdoor hazards are not as controlled as they are at home.
I forget they enjoy the outdoors differently than adults do.
Recently, I got to enjoy some one-on-one time around the campfire with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Brooklyn. Everyone had taken off for a few hours and the two of us were left to hang out at camp. We sat around, relaxing in our camp chairs. She started to get a little squirmy, so I asked her if she wanted to help me start a campfire.
She jumped up and down, clapping her hands. I can’t believe what I was about to do was totally contradictory to what I had been telling her all day. Without the distraction of others, I taught Brooklyn how to gather wood and start a fire. She added sticks to the fire and placed them in a pyramid. I lit them and we enjoyed a nice blaze.
She volunteered to gather more wood and stacked it neatly in a pile for later. This was a completely different task from earlier in the day when she and her older brother were throwing sticks and knocking over the woodpile.
Brooklyn and I sat in our chairs and talked about how much we enjoy camping in the woods. We listened to the sounds that appear when it gets dark in the forest. We imagined what they could be. Squirrels? Birds? A bear? Or maybe a cow that had strayed from the herd that was grazing nearby?
I had my phone and asked if she would like to listen to some music. I played American Authors and she danced around the campfire in the dark to the song, “Best Day of My Life” and “Oh What A Life”. Seeing a 2 1/2 year old dancing around the fire to those songs made my heart soar.
We were enjoying being the only ones in camp and we were doing what girls do when they camp ~ embrace each other and the outdoors. She even sang the National Anthem at the top of her lungs. What makes us want to sing at the top of our lungs around a campfire in the middle of nowhere? Maybe it’s an instinct as old as time that kicks in. Whatever it is, I love it! And so did Brooklyn.
I look forward to being alone with her in the woods again, doing what girls to best ~ making fire and singing!
Hike Like A Woman is a brilliant website brimming with women who celebrate being a woman in the outdoors and who inspire each other on a daily basis. I am one of the lucky few who is both an Ambassador and a staff member of HLAW. We are first and foremost, adventurers. We are bloggers, vloggers and freelancers. We are day hikers and backpackers. We are horsewomen, skiers, snowshoers and climbers. We mothers, sisters, daughters and friends. We blog about our day hike to amazing waterfalls or our solo hike into the wilderness. We write articles about our hopes, our dreams, our families, our hiking buddies, and what scares us. We take our audience on a magic carpet ride in search of the perfect piece of hiking gear, backpack snack or the perfect trail. We tell stories of our time on the trail and share our victories and defeats with each other. We are a sisterhood. We are a tribe of outdoor women.
But hidden behind the curtains, standing in the shadows, are the men who support us and embrace our philosophy. Without them, we would not be the women we are today.
My husband, Dale, and I just celebrated our 33rd wedding anniversary. We met in college and have been a couple for 37 years now. Throughout the better part of my life, Dale and I have adventured through life together, as a team. He supports every zany idea I come up with. He is there to catch me when I fall, brush me off and set me back on the path.
He wholeheartedly supports my position within the Hike Like A Woman community. He helps edit my blogs and articles. He makes suggestions for topics and takes me on amazing adventures so I may share them with others. He pushes me to be a better person than I was the day before and he inspires me to be the best I can be. We are a team. He is the man behind this HLAW woman.
I asked some of my fellow HLAW ambassador buddies to tell me about their behind-the-scenes man ~ Ladies and gentlemen, let me introduce you to some of the men behind the women of Hike Like A Woman:
HLAW Ambassador Jennifer Simmons, her husband Scott, and their growing family
Kristin Smeltzer My lovely man is allergic to the outdoors. Literally allergic to all flora (he got tested). He is the only person I know who has managed to get bitten by a possum. The outdoors is just really not his thing. But he understands how much being outdoors means to me. He encourages me to take time out hiking and camping as he knows it strengthens me mentally and physically. He encourages me to do things he wouldn’t do – like go overseas for a month hiking and travelling with no fixed plan. You can’t get a lot more supportive than that …
Rebecca Connell Walsh My husband challenges me to push myself harder than I think I can, to set bigger goals than I think I’m capable of achieving, and to reach for the stars. But if I miss he catches me when I fall, and lifts me back up again. He’s my best friend, my confidant, my mentor, and an amazing father to my little boys. He’s the best thing to ever happen to me.
HLAW founder aka Bossypants, Rebecca Walsh and her husband, Al Walsh
Ruth Schmidt I must say that all of the guys I regularly hike with (husband included) have been fantastic and have helped me out on numerous occasions. My husband helped me when we were kloofing in the Magaliesberg and I started getting cramps from the cold water (https://youtu.be/yc1vTKZ1hDA), and of course my friend Ralph and cousin Benjamin carried all my stuff and helped me hike out of the Drakensberg when I dislocated my shoulder. https://youtu.be/IbhRLh843nQ
Amanda Lucy Haskins Where do I even begin??? Tim has carried me mentally, physically and emotionally through one of the most difficult and challenging parts of my life. He has helped me to work my way from the wheelchair up to 6 miles of hiking (and he hates hiking!). He carries me to bed when I am in too much pain to walk.
I ask him constantly why he would want to be with a broken girl when there are so many healthy girls out there. He still sees me as Wonder Woman even when I am sobbing from the frustration of not being able to be the me I used to be, from the pain and from countless doctors visits with no..
When we pack for a backpacking trip, we pack the essentials to ensure our survival.
Simply put ~ Food, clothing and shelter. But, there are other tricks we have up our sleeve that we can’t do without on the trail.
Please do not make me leave my 4 year old trusty compression gloves at home!
Lucky charms, tradition or superstition, call it what you will. I’m a firm believer. If it works to ensure a safe and uneventful trip for us, then I make sure I do the same thing over and over again.
I wear the exact same clothes. That way there is no overthinking of what to wear. Worked last time. It’ll work this time. Unless I’ve gained weight and have to buy something new ~ which now makes me cranky to think that I have gained some weight and I’ll be a Nancy-No Fun on the trail.
I wear the exact same jewelry as I did on the previous backpack trip and I paint my nails the color of the trail I’m on.
Before our hike in the Grand Canyon, I had scheduled a nail appointment. I thought that was a silly thing to do, as I’d probably screw up a good manicure. Nope! It turns out that my nails were extra strong and didn’t break. Plus, they looked good, too! They hid the dirt well. We all need to utilize a little vanity every now and then, plus have fun with it.
The only jewelry I wear while backpacking and my CT green nails!
Before our hike on the Colorado Trail, I scheduled a manicure. My nail technician suggested I paint them the color of the iconic trail markers. They matched perfectly! I wore the same jewelry on the trail that I had worn in the Grand Canyon.
Spidey always goes where Dale goes…. They’re a team!
Dale packs his lucky Spiderman bendable action figure as his co-navigator. He goes wherever we go. He transfers Spidey from his daypack to his backpack when necessary. That little man goes with us wherever we go. Why? No reason other than it wouldn’t feel right if we left him home.
My trowel always clings to the left side of my pack ~ never the right. Do not ask me why…
Then there is the trowel I carry. It can always be found on the left side of my pack. Dale suggested putting it on the other side and I about stroked out. I don’t know why I can’t pack it on the right side ~ I just have a phobia about screwing up the good vibes. When I try to go against the grain, it just doesn’t feel good.
I have an irrational fear of screwing up good karma on the trail. So I do everything in my power to make sure I won’t upset the trail gods. All our pack trips have been successful and uneventful. So, I believe all our charms, superstitions and traditions have paid off. What are your superstitions? Do you have any lucky charms to ward off the bad vibes one might encounter in the woods?
*Remember ~ it’s only weird if it doesn’t work. *
Something epic is about to go down on Hike Like A Woman–the 10 Week Outdoor School. Will you join me for this online class? We’ll learn everything from risk management to backcountry cooking. Get the details right here (and sign up to get a $5.00 off coupon code when registration begins): https://hikelikeawoman.net/outdoor-school
Summertime is a long time coming when you live in the northwest corner of Colorado. It can snow one day, be 65 degrees the next, blow the salad off your plate, then rain that afternoon. I have sat in my front yard, wrapped in a sleeping bag on the 4th of July, watching the fireworks while it spit snow on us! While waiting for the weather to straighten out, trip planning is on the books.
Camping at Steamboat Lake, Colorado
Our favorite summer trips are the ones we take with our friends. And family, of course. But because our kids don’t live in town, anymore, we often hook up with friends. Dale and I have taken our friends fishing, hiking, backpacking, camping, boating and 4 wheeling. Going on adventures is so much more fun when shared with other like-minded adventurers. Our fun meter always seems to get cranked sky high.
Bechler River Trail, Yellowstone National Park
I have laughed with my friends in a cabin until my sides hurt so bad that I prayed for a somber moment. I have played cards for shots of my favorite drink at an outfitter’s camp located deep in the Flat Tops Wilderness of Colorado, only to brush my teeth with the leftover rum and coke in my coffee cup the next morning. My husband and I have listened from our sleeping bags, to our camp mates in the next tent trying to herd a bat in the direction of the nearest exit while trying not to wake us up with their squeals. We all take turns fixing the best camp dinners ever ~ it’s kind of an egotistic validation type of thing. We have fished until our arms hurt from catching too many fish. We have hiked switchbacks while hollering to each other, “Hellooooooo!”, in a British accent. Somehow, I don’t think these moments in time would have occurred if it was just Dale and I by ourselves. Dignity seems to go out the window when we run in packs.
Los Blancos Locos
There are 6 of us who are great friends. Our kids have grown up together. Two of us are co-workers. Four of us are co-founders of a business. We all come from diverse backgrounds, but our thirst for adventure has brought us closer together.
Every trip we take together is a grand adventure in companionship. We have climbed up mountains together.
We have slept under the stars together. We have crossed over 12,000′ passes. We have hiked into camp only to play cards and cheat our way to victory (Doug!) We have sat in the hot springs of Chalk Creek together until our skin wrinkled and almost fell off!
We are more than just friends, we are a small gang.
It takes a certain type of chemistry to hang with people who like to have the same adventures as you do. It doesn’t work for all couples, but it works for us! All the decisions are made easily. All the small jobs that come with a hike or camping trip are distributed with ease. I don’t know how or why it happens ~ it just does.
https://hikelikeawoman.net/2017/05/hiking-with-chardonnay-2/ So my podcast is out on Hike Like a Woman! It was my first time doing a podcast interview. We did the interview back in December, so I was still in trail prep mode. Rebecca is a great interviewer, checkout some of her other interviews they are more informative. I was nervous, if you […]
Sometimes an adventure may come in a different shape and size other than what we think it should be…
I was so excited about the upcoming President’s Day weekend ~ that translated into a 4-day holiday weekend for Dale and I. OOOOOOOO!!!!! Where should we go? What should we do? How far to we want to travel? When should we leave? Thursday night after work or Friday morning bright and early? Should we take our camper or stay in a motel? Do we go to a National Park or State Park? Should we plan to go fishing? Do we take our side-by-side or just hike? The upcoming weekend is ripe for adventure!! The possibilities are endless!! We started our planning on the Tuesday before the weekend.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Washington and Mr. Lincoln!!
I mentioned to Dale, let’s go north to Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming. We had always wanted to go there and check out their reservoirs and numerous trails. It’s only about a 4.5 hour drive from us. And we have friends in Laramie a half hour away whom we could visit. Perfect! Wait. It’s the middle of Feb. Even though the water is still frozen, the trails might be dry. Then there is the horrific wind we have to deal with. Hmmm. I’ll sit and stew on that one a bit.
Let’s go west! We could take our camper to Goblin Valley State Park in UT. It’s only a 4 hour drive. It’s in the desert and we could take our camper and go hiking. Checked on campsite availability ~ nada. All full.
Goblin Valley State Park, Utah
Okay….. Change of direction. Let’s go south! Once we cross the southern border of Colorado, the weather should be nicer (although, our winter here in Meeker has been pretty nice so far). We could drive to Mexican Hat in the southern part of Utah, almost to the Arizona border, and hang out at Goosenecks State Park overlooking the San Juan River. It’s only a 5.5 hour (gulp!) drive south through the mountains. Then there’s always the possibility of a random snowstorm. We’d have our camper and would be pulling our trailer with our side-by-side on board (double-gulp!).
Gooseneck State Park on the San Juan River
Throughout the week, Dale and I tossed around these ideas. Why was it so hard to make a decision? I even asked my friends on Facebook which of the above mentioned places would they prefer to go? My sister said to come visit her in Arizona. My friend said to come visit her in Laramie and another said she liked Goosenecks. I think the rest of my friends were hanging in the shadows and didn’t want to interfere with our selection process.
As Friday morning rolled around, we found out that we were needed to work at the local artisans cooperative as no one had signed up for that day. So we spent Friday working, talking with customers, doing book work and making native Aspen wood coasters with turquoise inlay. A very fun and productive day.
On Saturday morning, we woke up to a nasty weather forecast for the southern part of the state and into the northern part of Arizona and New Mexico. There goes our trip south. The wind was still in the forecast for Wyoming ~ it always is, no surprise there, so there goes our trip north. We were contemplating on traveling into the mountains to visit our favorite town, Ouray, and stay at our favorite motel, the Wiesbaden, but we’d have to kennel our Saint Bernard, Fiona, and we didn’t feel like doing that on the spur of the moment.
Later that morning, our friend called and needed Dale’s help with some remodeling he was doing. Then Dale’s uncle called from Maybell (45 miles north of Meeker) and said if we were going to be around, he’d like to drive over and pick up the snowmobiles and jeep we wanted him to have. So, our day was pretty much shot from there on.
Sunday morning found us sitting on the sofa in our bathrobes and drinking coffee while looking at ideas on Pinterest. That website can get you into more trouble than anything else possibly can! All of a sudden, I had a wild idea! Let’s remodel the mudroom! It wouldn’t be too hard ~ we could make a screaming trip to Lowes (1.5 hours away), grab some items and start working on it. We still had 2 days left in the weekend! Brilliant!
On our way to Lowes located in Glenwood Springs, we decided to stop in and see our friends, the Gambas. We hadn’t visted them in a while and we knew they were bottling their Gamba Family Wine that weekend. We pulled up to their home, expecting a crowd of friends there to help them ~ we saw only a few cars, so we joined in to help finish bottling their 2014 Zinfandel and Barbera wine. I always like to help them – it’s the best job ever! Being Italian, the Gambas know how to put on a feed like no other. So, we bottled wine, drank wine, met new friends, touched base with old friends and ate like kings!
Five hours later we were back on the road to Glenwood. We hit Lowes fast and furiously, made our purchases, then beat it back home. The next morning, we got up, fixed breakfastthen proceeded to make a mess in our house.
Monday evening, we sat back and realized there was a reason for our indecisiveness regarding the long weekend. Obviously we weren’t meant to go on the type of an adventure that I had thought about. Our destiny pointed us in a different direction. Initially, I was disappointed that the weekend was going to be a bust, but thinking it over on Monday evening, I was contented with what all we had accomplished and who all we got to help. And I was okay with that, because every now and then it’s okay to not have an adventure ~ or maybe it was an adventure…