Saturday, May 31, 2014

Lessons from the Trail

We are very fortunate to be surrounded by some of God's beautiful mountains.  We love exploring as a family, and we are thankful for the memories we make along these trails.

Grand Targee, ID 2013

I grew up hiking in Yosemite.  Yes, I know, I'm spoiled.  I started hiking at a very young age.  I learned a lot of valuable lessons on my many hiking trails.  Yosemite is my absolute favorite place in the world.  It is the most beautiful place I've ever been and also the most peaceful.  I have many great family memories there, and nothing makes me more excited than making memories along those same trails with my own girls.

Last summer my dad, Abby, and I hiked up to Vernal Falls, and then we decided to keep going.  We actually went to the top of Vernal Falls.  Not a very long hike but very steep at parts for four-year-old legs.

That is where I told Abby about the time that her daddy proposed to me.  It was on top of Half Dome.   Half Dome is an 8+ mile hike up and 16+ hike round trip.  We were sweaty, dirty, and totally in love.  It's a great memory.   After hearing my story Abby decided she wanted to hike Half Dome too.  Even though that's a very big goal for a very little girl, we decided we would help her try.

Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, CA 2004

This past year we've gone on several hikes as a family.  We've seen new places and made new memories.  We did this to help Abby prepare for Half Dome.  I didn't anticipate the lessons we all learned along the way.  So I wanted to share with you the top ten lessons we learned while hiking.

Mt. Charleston, Las Vegas, NV 2014

1. There are no shortcuts to the top.  You have to put in the work to get the reward, and that is so true in life too.

2. Planning is important.  You shouldn't go on a hike without knowing where you are going, how long it should take you, and the important items you will need to bring with you like snacks, water, and sunscreen.
San Diego, CA 2014

3. Press On.  This lesson came from a song buy Building 429.  Abby asked me what "press on" meant.  I told her "it's like when you are hiking, and you are tired.  You want to stop but you can't just stop in the middle of the trail.  You have to keep going.  You have to press on."

4. If you fall, you have to get back up and keep going.  We carry band aids and a small first aid kit with us but scrapes and bumps and falls happen.  When you fall or get scratched by a bush you have to keep going.  We can't carry you the rest of the way, and you can't just stop.  You get up and keep going.

5. Respect the earth.  God gave us this beautiful trail and this beautiful earth.  It's our job to take care of it.  That means we pack up any trash we have and carry it home with us.  It also means we don't take anything from the trail or destroy any homes to the animals living on the trail.
Mt. Charleston, Las Vegas, NV 2014

Red Rock Mountains, Las Vegas, NV 2014
6. It is about the journey not always the destination.  If you can't enjoy the hike itself, odds are you won't enjoy reaching the end either.  There are so many moments, views, and memories along the trail - don't miss them by only focusing on the end.

7. You have to make your own fun.  Technology is great but sometimes we all need a break.  I'm thankful that most times we don't get reception on a hiking trail.  I'm thankful we can't watch a movie or play games on the iPad on the trail.  But we do play games.  We've made up many games along the trail.  Who can spot an insect first? Or naming things in the Bible that start with each letter of the Alphabet.  Or songs that have the word love in them.  We are creative.  We have fun. And we all play together.

Angel's Landing, Zion National Park 2014
8.  Know when to stop.  Yes I believe its important to keep going, to finish what you start, and not to quit.  I also think its important to know your limits and know when stopping is the right choice.  We hiked Angel's Landing in Zion, UT.  It's steep and intense.  We bought Abby a harness for moments like that, but we also told her that if she wanted to turn around, that was ok too.  We didn't push her farther than she wanted.  It's a fine line as a parent to encourage your child to press on and support the choice to turn around.  She went farther than a lot of people and when she wanted to stop I stopped with her, and we sat and waited for daddy.

9.  Slow and steady wins the race.  Just like the tortoise and the hair or from my childhood: Goofy's Big Race.  If you start off too fast in the beginning, you won't have enough energy left to finish.  You have to set a pace that allows you to finish your hike not a pace that gets you to the top first.

10.  Enjoy the view.  God gave us this beautiful place we call home.  When we go hiking we get to see some spectacular sights.  It makes my heart happy to hear Abby turn a corner on a hiking trail and  say, "Mom, look how beautiful this is up here!"

Zion National Park 2013

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