Sunday, August 4, 2013

Adventures: Hiking with Kids in Auburn, California

We have only lived in Northern California since about 2005 and, as such, are constantly still learning about fun things to do in the area.
 
As a kid, I did camping, hiking, and backpacking trips with my family. While Mr. Howard didn't go with his family, he did go with Boyscouts and loved it, as well. So we both knew we'd want to do that with our kids some day. Even when we were still dating, we did a few camping trips in fun locations (usually with a lot of offroading thrown in there!). We were brave a few years ago and went camping once with all three of the kids when the twins were two months old. I know. We're crazy. Here's the post about that. But beyond that one trip, we really haven't ventured out to do those things because we've been in, - well - survival mode with three kids all under four. Ahem.
 
But, now that the twins are two, we are starting to add in some of the things we used to do! We have decided to get out our traveling books and take weekends and day trips to all the places in the area we can possibly visit and I thought I'd document some of those in a series of Northern California Adventures.
 
First up? A family day hike (it took us about 2-3 hours) in Auburn at Hidden Falls Regional Park. It was the PERFECT hike for adults and kids. Aiden and Isabella are still too little to hike it by themselves, but Connor at four-years-old was perfect! He did the whole 4 mile hike by himself and only asked to be carried at the very end (which wasn't going to happen, since hubby and I were already carrying the babies on our backs...and were very tired!).
We have a Kelty Kids Pathfinder we bought when we took Connor to Europe and a Baby Trend Backpack carrier a friend gave us when we found out we were having twins. Aiden went in the kelty and Izzy went in the baby trend. Hubby also stuffed a CamelBak hydration pack into his kelty. The chord is the perfect length for Connor to drink without having to be lifted up and I could just occasionally hike next to Mr. Howard to give Isabella some drinks without having to stop or carry a bunch of water bottles. We've had our hydration pack for years and love it!
The trail we went on was nice and short - maybe 2 miles each way - and had lots to see on the way. At the end, there was an observation deck where you could observe the waterfall or have a picnic lunch.
 We got a lot of, "Whoa you have your hands full!" comments on the trail with our backpack carriers and we certainly do have our hands full, but it isn't what we try to focus on. My favorite comment came from this sweet older woman. She and her husband were so sweet to Connor, asking him all sorts of questions about if he was our trail guide and where she should go next. When she saw Aiden and Izzy on our backs, she asked if they were twins. "They are," we said with smiles. She gasped and said, "Oh! How lucky you are!" I just love getting comments like that. I know people are trying to relate and acknowledge how brave we are when taking all our kids out to do these adventures with their "hands full" comments, and I totally get that. I often see a mom and think, "Wow. She has her hands full and is handling it with such grace." But I just love it when people change the way they look at it and instead say something so uplifting to us. Rather than the obligatory, "Oh geesh. Yikes. You have your hands full," it just makes me smile to hear, "you are so lucky!" Because, we are. A few minutes later, we turned around and were hiking this big hill back. Mr. Howard, looking up at Connor who was running ahead with his trail map, said to me "This is so fun. I'm so glad you thought to do this. She's right. You know? We really are lucky."
 Isabella Lynn and me:
  Isabella kept trying to peek past me to get a glimpse of the trail ahead!
 One of the falls. This looks tiny, but it isn't:
 Connor was our trail guide and, while occasionally I wanted to take the map and hide it so we could just GO ON with it already, I'll tell you a little secret. That map was also our little savior. When we were tired, we'd stop and say, "Connor, we need you to consult the map. Where should we go?" It'd give us a few minutes to rest our backs, give the kids water, or dig snacks out of the backpack to eat as we walked. Or when Connor started to complain and ask to be held, we could stop and say, "Alright. We're almost there. Look at the map." And when Connor would ask how much longer it was until we saw the falls, we could say, "Hmm. Check the map and let us know." He'd stop, glance at the map, trace the imaginary route he thought we were taking, and say, "Alright guys. It's pretty close." I've only been a mom for four years, but if I've learned anything about survival - it's the art of Distraction. And yes, I meant to capitalize it. Because that's how important it is.
And the second most important survival skill of parenthood that goes hand-in-hand with distraction? For, in fact, it is by far the easiest way to distract? Food. We never leave the house without food. Problem: the babies getting fussy? Solution: Distract them with a granola bar! Problem: Connor doesn't want to walk the last half a mile of the hike? Solution: "We're almost there buddy. And then we're going to eat a granola bar in the car. Ooh. Doesn't that sound yummy? Come on! Let's count our steps. One...two...Hmm. What would you like for lunch when we get home?" We brought about 6 granola bars to share.

We had so much fun and already have plans to go back in September with some friends! Do you have any tips for hiking that you've found work?

6 comments:

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Oh it looks like so much fun!! We are headed to Big Sur and Santa Cruz for a week so I am researching Hikes right now:) Love the pics!

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

How fun! I've been trying to think of outings to do with the girls. It's hard to come up with activities for 2 year olds.
I TOTALLY get the art of Distraction. I use it many times a day. :)

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

We love taking the kids to Hidden Falls and in fact go past the falls to a small area of the river/creek were there is a small swimming hole area. There are parts that are deeper for adults to go completely under water but most of it is shallow enough the kids will wade around in the water or crouch down and get wet. The best part is that in the summer months you can hike down there, go for a refreshing dip in the water, and hike back. By the time you hike the 2 or so miles back to the car the kids are dried off and ready to go home. It's a great way to keep cool on the hot days. We are planning a trip there soon, we should all go together.

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

We would LOVE to go with you guys!! Ooh I didn't know there was a place they could swim...you must show us!!

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

It is so hard to come up with activities. In my opinion, it's so much harder to find things to do at this age than the baby age or pre-k age, because they are in the "in-between" age They don't necessarily love to be carried everywhere and, if your girls are anything like my twins, they don't love to be confined in the stroller very often. I found that my kids did so much better in the backpacks than they do the stroller or being carried.

Mrs. Howard said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I can't wait to take my kids to big sur! I loved going there as a kid!! I'm hoping we'll be able to do some camping trips next summer!

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