As you can see from the background, we live in the Greater Los Angeles area. “People hike there?” Actually…yes! Those 2 monkeys in the foreground are standing near Angel’s Point in Elysian Park, overlooking Dodger Stadium behind them. You would think keeping incredibly active boys entertained on a hike is a no-brainer. But even they whine about “Are we there yet?”
When I was a kid, I used to go hiking all the time with my dad. There were times I loved it, and there were times I didn’t like it and got tired and whiny. But it stuck with me all this time. I cherish those memories and appreciate how much of a love of the outdoors my dad instilled in me. I want to do the same for my boys. Sometimes they don’t always love it, but over the last several years, I discovered what to do with these crazy kids on the trails.
Have them carry their own stuff
I got them their own backpacks so they can carry their own snacks, their own water, their own flashlights, and whatever the heck they feel like throwing in there. I pretty much let them bring whatever they want as long as they carry it, EXCEPT electronics.
Start out small
They didn’t used to be into hiking that much, and so I didn’t want to have them hike Mt. Wilson straight out of the gate. I eased them into it with short, easy hikes, like this 3 mile hike behind JPL, the trail leading to Gould Mesa Campground.
Go somewhere cool
“Urban hikes” are usually not too far from the city and are riddled with trash and graffiti. However, it makes for a cool experience for kids, and they tend to be easier hikes. Believe it or not, these are ruins of an old Nazi sympathizer camp…in Pacific Palisades. Yep. That happened. Alas, Murphy Ranch is no longer, as it was demolished recently. But for a while these ruins fascinated artists and hikers alike. We haven’t been to Rustic Canyon since this photo was taken. However, you can still hike around there and the surround hills in the Santa Monicas. We also bring plastic bags so we can help pick up trash that careless people have left on the trail on the way back. The boys actually like doing that.
There’s no rush. The mountains aren’t going anywhere. Kids like to stop. And snack. They love snacks. Heck, I love snacks. But letting them guide the pace gives them a sense of control and they will probably whine less. Not always, but most the time.
Hike with other kids
Here they are hiking with their cousin up the Verdugo Mountains from Stough Canyon. Having other kids around, older or younger, just makes it more fun for them and gives them distractions from the fact that their mean old mommy made them leave their electronics at home.
Go climb a rock
The first time I took the boys to Joshua Tree, we stopped by some large boulders somewhere. As soon as they got out of the car, something came over them and they were immediately climbing every boulder in site. It’s like they instinctively knew what to do, like the call of the wild or something. Ever since then, every time they see a big rock or boulder, they must climb it. If they know there are going to be rocks to climb, they can’t wait to get in the car to go hiking. Here they are at Anza-Borrego State Park going nuts climbing over all the rocks they can see.
Just have fun
They’re just kids. Hiking with them isn’t about elevation training, and sometimes not even reaching the destination. It’s just enjoying the journey and each other’s company. Did I mention to leave the electronics at home???? There’s no cell or wifi reception anyway, so they can just for the Minecraft until later. And guess what? They don’t even miss it! They’re too busy climbing rocks and cracking jokes with each other. So far I’m pretty proud of how much they enjoy going outside and hiking!