Experiences, anecdotes, tips, how-tos, hiking, nature, motherhood, memories.

Adventures in Camping with Kids

Camping with kids is like pitching a tent upside down. Both are bound to fill with laughter and raindrops.

--Victoria Marie

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Weather Changes Suddenly in the Mountains: When Hiking with Children Be Prepared

The Alpine Visitors' Center at
Rocky Mountain National Park
Here we are in the winter season, and as the children say their nightly prayers, they slip in a prayer for snow.  As an added plea, they stick a piece of silverware under their pillows before they go to sleep, to help them dream about snow. 

And all we get is rain.  I still don’t understand the concept of placing spoons under your pillow at night for snow, but the children assure me that their friends do it, too.  At least when I run out of spoons, I know where to find them.  Funny what children pray for sometimes. 
           
However, when we listen to our children’s prayers at night while camping, we hear a prayer for dry weather and add one of our own.  Rain can make for damp campers.  And damp forests.  And damp mountains.  And damp…well, you get the idea.  And the children are fine with all that, most of the time.  What they can’t understand is when the campground pool is closed because of a rain storm.

            “We’re wet anyway,” my seven-year-old would complain.  “Why can’t we play in the pool?”

            It’s all about the severity of the rainstorm and if there’s thunder.  No one should be in the pool or a large body of water during a thunderstorm. 

            You should also not be on top of bald rock during a lightning storm. 

When we visited the tundra at Rocky Mountain National Park, the park ranger opened his daily talks with, “Make sure you’re off the tundra by 3 p.m. because thunderstorms seem to hit precisely at 3.”

            Interesting, we thought.  We wanted to see it.
            We hiked on marked trails only, always a good idea when hiking with children.  We hiked in the morning and early afternoon, hiking from the visitors’ center at a lower elevation, up onto the tundra, but made sure we were back at the visitor’s center by 3. 

As a family who didn’t watch a clock when we camped and hiked, we still knew the hour was approaching 3 p.m.  It was like watching a movie. 

The sky blackened.  The wind howled.  We needed to be inside the visitors’ center by this time as hail mixed with rain began pelting anything in sight. 

Suddenly, the sky lit brilliantly in craggy, jolting lines. 

The children oooed and ahhed from the safety of the plate-glass windows at the Visitors’ Center at Rocky Mountain National Park. 

And then as fast as the storm came up, it stopped.

We waited a little longer, and then ventured out upon the tundra.  The air smelled earthy and fresh.  Lichen, clinging to its gritty gray host, popped in brilliant patches of rust and yellow green.  We shivered as the temperature had dropped.  Hence the reason you should wear layers when hiking.  Quilted raincoats or windbreakers come in handy, whether you tie them around your waist when not in use or shove them into a daypack.    

Another tip to think about is whenever shoes are wet after a hike, store them outside the trailer when at the campground or in the back of your vehicle when driving to save everyone from asking who brought the skunk along.  Never store wet shoes in a closed-down camper.  The entire little vacation home will need to be dipped in febreze if you do.


I hope your 2015 will be dipped in laughter and memories.  Happy New Year!