Sometimes part of traveling is the unexpected turn of events that make a day really special.
While we were in Maryland we went hiking with Gabriel’s aunt and uncle. We took with us their 5 year-old grandson, Darius.
Darius loves superheroes and loves costumes. When he suggested we went hiking dressed as superheroes, I jumped on the idea.
He gave me a power ranger mask and sword, which I wore proudly for the duration of our hike (although mostly on the back of my head.) He himself wore a spiderman mask.
We got a few strange looks, but mostly the people that we crossed smiled at the fact that we were entertaining a child’s fantasy.
What made this day very special though was Darius’ bewildered amazement of the environment around him.
hiking with children
Indeed it was his first hike. He’d never been in the middle of the forrest before and took to the hike with a little too much enthusiasm.
The entire forrest was his playground, treating the rock formations as a giant hopscotch court.
Even as a full grown adult, the forrest is a magical place. There’s a voice in the back of your head that’s always yelling in wonderment and awed admiration, a voice the adult in you listens to, but keeps mostly to itself.
A five year old has no inhibition. When something is amazing to them, their reaction is immediately expressed.
When I showed him a caterpillar, his reaction was a sudden “wooooooooow, it’s so beautiful!”
And isn’t that true?!
Yet how many adult hikers glorify a little creature such as a caterpillar on a routine walk?
How delightful to have the excuse to be a child again, both inside and out. It’s a golden ticket to be yourself completely.
On the walk, Darius was collecting acorns. He gifted me the most perfect one that he had found.
Of course, hiking with a five year also has its challenges. Old rag isn’t too challenging for an adult, a mere 2.6km to the first “false” summit, all uphill, but mostly on clear-cut trail.
BUT, when you get to the top of old rag mountain, the landscape is bare of trees and replaced by smooth boulders.
Up here a wrong step can land you in pieces at the bottom of the mountain.
His grandmother was nervous, to say the least. It was difficult to calm his abundant energy and keep him from running around a little too close to the edge while we waited for Gabriel to climb to the real summit and return.
A bug running around on the rocks was enough to distract him for a little while though.
Up here you’re above the birds.
And the view is absolutely stupendous, for 360 full degrees.
On the way back down, his over-enthusiasm got him running way ahead of the pack.
We tried to show him that going too fast led to tripping and falling, something he learned on his own a bit later down the road.
We tried to get him to take a second to look around and make sure he was on the right trail by looking for the blue markers. He turned it into a game and tried to be the first to call out a new blue marker.
By the end of the hike, his legs were done. That’s something else I learned about five-year olds, they’ve yet to learn how to ration their energy. It’s on, or off, no in between, no warning. He needed a break, so I gave him a piggy back.
In the end we had a wonderful hike, and it would still have been wonderful without him, but with him, it allowed me to realize there’s a lot we normally take for granted, both about ourselves and our surroundings, or at least aren’t amazed about enough when we hike as adults.
When I got home I took that acorn and covered it with gold leaf. I put it in a ring box and asked that it be delivered to him the next time Gabriel’s folks went for a visit.
I hope it will remind him of the lesson he taught me:
Treat every moment as a perfect little treasure.