It’s starting to warm up with sunlight that lasts past 5pm… time to bring on the Snakeye camping season.  I have to admit though, Pam’s declared that it’s too cold for an overnighter… so if I press forward too hard, everyone quickly becomes miserable.  Just like last year, a gradual break-in is what the doctor (Dr. Pam, that is) is ordering.  We decided to take advantage of the non-rainy weekend and hike the countryside.

I researched a roundabout route nearby our town that would take us through some interesting sights to keep everybody appeased.

The plan: hike 3-6 miles with a planned picnic stop halfway through, motivating everyone to make it to the picnic spot as well as giving everyone a chance to recharge their batteries before finishing the back-half of the hike.

The execution through…

My eyes: this is to set my expectations.  It’ll be the initial ‘foundation’ measurement to determine how robust I can make the end-of-summer tour de force outdoor adventure.  With young kids, you can only push so hard until it isn’t fun and then they’re scarred for life; they don’t have that self-competitive sense of drive yet that compel their adult counterparts to want to do things faster, harder and more challenging.  Ultimately, I’d like to trek at least 5 miles per day for a three day end-of-summer trip; this hike will see where we stand and what needs to be done.  Even though I won’t fit the kids up with hiking backpacks for the ‘big one’, I would like to get them used to carrying something on hikes to give a gradual multi-year break-in hiking with a backpack.

HIking to the picnic spot

“Dr.” Pam’s eyes: I prescribed some fresh air and quality time for our family this fine early-March Saturday.  The day started great with all going full-throttle.  We enjoyed all the early spring flowers (daffodils already!), appreciated the Edwardian architecture of passing-by farmhouses (well, I did at least) and “baah” at some sheep ( faaa-irly typical).  The highlight for me and the kids, who’s minds are still fairly food-centric, was pic-i-nicking at Bolingbroke Castle.  Although a ruined shell from it’s prior glory (and the birthplace of King Henry IV),  it was nice to imagine a thousand years of feasts in the same spot we were dining… although I doubt their diet consisted of buffalo chicken sandwiches and trail mix.  Post lunch called for a quick pit stop at the village pub for a pint of Lincolnshire’s finest bitters to re-energize Trav and I for the rest of the hike. Brenden has been learning about carbohydrates and energy in school and, in turn, I utilized an excellent teaching opportunity: beer=carbohydrates=energy to hike! Why not?!  Problem was, we were only 1.5 miles into the hike and the kids were already complaining about their dogs barking.  The rest of the time was spent with positive distractions (i.e. Ooh look at that stick, it’s SO much cooler than the one you are holding!), positive association (isn’t hiking FUN?!), encouragement (you guys are doing great, so proud!) and a little bit of bribery (hot chocolate when we get home and yes… one hour of Super Mario).   Overall, I am looking forward to the summer and exploring the Highlands with all luck not practicing our disaster management skills again.

Picnic in the shell of a castle

The kids’ eyes: this is a great adventure… it’s fun to take our time (in fact, a lot of dilly-dally time!) to look at nature, find mushrooms, and pick up every stick we come across… until after about 2 miles.  Then the promise of a picnic kept us going and held the 1-minute-interval “are we there yet?” monsters at bay (we only released the 5-minute-interval “are we there yet?” monster).  Carrying a backpack was fun because I got to bring my favorite stuffed animal along for the adventure – it was the only thing in my bag.  The picnic was awesome: we ate, ran around, and climbed over everything in the castle ruins.  After the picnic, we packed up and walked some more.  Our feet got tired after 30 minutes and we were ready to bequeath our backpacks to Mom and Dad.  The occasional snack, and a promise that we could play Mario 3D World when we were finished, kept us moving forward with packs.  We arrived to the car at the 5-mile point running on fumes.  We climbed into the car, the engine started and….    (out like a light.)

Hiking Lincolnshire

A few more day hikes through the countryside and I think we’ll be ready for an epic excursion.  Call it the 2nd Annual Gaza Memorial Backpacking Trip… the big one will be in Scotland for sure, but where?  Right now, I’m looking at Galloway in the southern uplands (a closer drive and not too many tourists out exploring) or a trek around Loch Ness in the highlands (a little more touristy, yes… but with bragging potential that the monster brings).

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