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, June 1, 2017

The Dangers of Letting Children Lead

            Parents, it’s important to remember that many times kids have no fear. Each time we go camping I try to remind myself of this fact and still I follow my kids anywhere. This particular adventure takes me right up a rock face.
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The dark woods on the hike to Zapata Falls,
Colorado. Raw and rugged!

            We got up early to hike the cool, dark trail to Zapata Falls, which is just south of the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado.
You can read of our adventures in the Great Sand Dunes here

When we got to the falls, our son climbed up an almost vertical rock to the top. The girls soon followed. They follow their brother everywhere. But this time, my husband climbed up, too.

Me? I was admiring the crystal clear, icy mountain rapids tumbling over rocks, boulders, and logs. The frigid water burbled by my feet as if it had forgotten all about the tumble it took off the cliff ledge.

Then the family called to me from atop the rock face. I pretended I couldn’t hear because of the sound of the rapids. But then my husband did his famous whistle. You know, that whistle that all dads use to call home their children in the neighborhood.

I started to tremble. Why couldn’t they just leave me to my terra firma? Loose rock, dirt, no footholds or handholds. That’s not my idea of adventure. But then I heard all the children encouraging me. My son came back down a ways to help guide me up, the little angel. I couldn’t delay any longer.

Wearing a ball cap limited my vision. This was probably a good thing in my situation. Like I’ve said before, I’ve got this thing about edges. I couldn’t look up to see my son; so he guided me by his black shoelaces. My son’s shoelaces are always untied, and in this particular situation, they were hanging down below his shoes. So I followed the little bits of laces I could see in front of me as I clung to the rock. I focused on his tenor voice, the directions he gave—even though I couldn’t find those blasted foot ledges and hand grips he spoke of.

Suddenly a deep bass voice penetrated my consciousness. “No son! You’re taking her off the cliff ledge!”

My husband, my hero! 

But the tenor voice was back, calm as ever. “Okay, Mom,” it said. “Move to your right.”

Instinctively, I looked left. Nothing but air! And for some reason, I couldn’t get that air inside my lungs. I went back to staring at the rock face two inches in front of me. My nails scraped the rock trying to get a better grip.

“Where are the shoelaces?” I screeched.

“Where are the what, Mom?” My son asked.

Little drips of black came into my vision again. “Come lower.” I told my son.

            For the love of black shoelaces, the lengths of which finally dangled into my view. Cautiously, slowly, I followed them up the side of the rock.

            Once I got to the top, my family cheered and I finally started breathing again.

What a spectacular view—once I was sitting down with my family. The San Luis Valley, mountains, sand dunes in the distance, lakes reflecting a powder blue sky.

 Ah, but we needed to get down too.

We faced the rock and climbed down slowly. My husband went first and helped the girls and then me. My son the Billy goat had his own way down—which I don’t recommend to anyone. What an exhilarating climb!


Always pay attention to your surroundings and your abilities. Within reason, live adventurously. The memories and excitement stay with you and your family forever. Do you have any exciting adventure you wish to share on Camping with Kids? Please leave a note in the comments section. Thanks!