The words, “Grammie! Can we go for a hike?”, are music to my ears. I get excited thinking about the memories I’m instilling in the little brains of my 2-year-old granddaughter, Brooklyn and my six-year-old grandson, Jackson.
We had been camping in our favorite spot on top of theUncompahgre Plateau in western Colorado. My husband and I, our oldest son and his wife and their 2 kids and 2 dogs made up the camp. Camp was set up, we had no sooner settled back into our chairs with a nice cold drink when Brooklyn and Jackson patted my hand and asked me to take them on a hike.
I was a bit tired but eagerly jumped at the chance as I know as they get older, they won’t want to tag along with their grandmother but rather, hang with high school buddies at the mall ( hopefully at Cabela’s or REI). I grabbed my backpack and instructed them to pick out snacks and pack them into my pack. They also got their jackets, sunscreen, hats, hiking poles, chapstick, playing cards (just in case), Capri Suns, extra clothes and crayons (just in case).
After 15 or 20 minutes of preparation, we were ready to set out into the unknown. We touched base with everyone letting them know of our intentions. My daughter-in-law, Heather, looked at us then at her watch as said, “I give you 15 minutes.” My son, Kevin, said, ” See ya soon.” “Ha! ~ we will be gone longer than you think”, I thought to myself. My husband just grinned. After 33.5 years of marriage, he knows when to keep his mouth shut.
We said our goodbyes and hiked off into the forest following an old jeep road. About 20 yards down the road, Brookyn suddenly shouted, “Grammie!!! I have to go pee!” Oh shoot! We were potty training her and I had forgotten to get a diaper on her. Before I could grab her, she was standing in the middle of the road with a wetness dribbling down her pants. Jackson decided we’d best go back and change her pants. I agreed.
As we walked back into camp, my daughter-in-law looked at her watch. “Wow. Missed that one’, she said. I changed Brooklyn and we headed out again. Jackson put another water bottle in my backpack, just in case.
Off we trotted down the road again, the kids skipping as I was strolling behind, watching their enthusiasm, until…… “Grammie!!! I pooped my diaper!” We immediately turned around and headed back to the campsite. I couldn’t even look their parents in the eye. We did manage to knock out 50 yards before that accident.
Ten minutes later we were back on the trail. Along the way we saw the Colorado State Flower, the Columbine. I pointed out Wild Onions.
We picked them and chewed on them. After that, I think the kids stopped to pick every single one in the forest. They decided they were hungry and sat down to have a snack. I showed them Wild Irises. We also spied Wild Strawberries. They learned about Glacier Lilies and how bears like to eat them.
Bears?? Eat these flowers?? These flowers right here?? They come here and eat these flowers?? Panic started to set in. Jackson said he wasn’t too fond of bears. Brooklyn started crying. Oh no! What have I done? I rounded them up and we scurried back to the campsite where we were safe. Never mind the fact we were never out of sight of the camp, to the kids, we were miles from safety.
Back in camp, Brooklyn and Jackson excitedly told their parents, both science teachers, what they had seen and learned about while they were in the wild. Flowers, onions and bears. Sometimes we get caught up in our hurry up and wait world. We forget to cherish the small things in life and the little people who help us stay grounded. I got to see the forest through the eyes of a 5 (now 6) year old and a 2 year old. I learned patience and gained a new perspective of my surroundings. We had only been gone for 20 minutes and had hiked maybe, 100 yards, but to them, it was a long way and warranted all the snacks, water, clothing and crayons. For them, it was the best day ever. And to me, it WAS the best day ever. Everyone should hike with little people.
Camping with the grandkids is always an adventure. Their level of activity keeps me on my toes! I’m constantly telling them to keep away from the fire. “Don’t stray too far from the campsite.” “Don’t swing sticks around the dogs.” “Don’t throw things into the fire.” “Watch where you’re stepping.” My radar is extra sensitive as the outdoor hazards are not as controlled as they are at home.
I forget they enjoy the outdoors differently than adults do.
Recently, I got to enjoy some one-on-one time around the campfire with my 2 1/2 year old granddaughter, Brooklyn. Everyone had taken off for a few hours and the two of us were left to hang out at camp. We sat around, relaxing in our camp chairs. She started to get a little squirmy, so I asked her if she wanted to help me start a campfire.
She jumped up and down, clapping her hands. I can’t believe what I was about to do was totally contradictory to what I had been telling her all day. Without the distraction of others, I taught Brooklyn how to gather wood and start a fire. She added sticks to the fire and placed them in a pyramid. I lit them and we enjoyed a nice blaze.
She volunteered to gather more wood and stacked it neatly in a pile for later. This was a completely different task from earlier in the day when she and her older brother were throwing sticks and knocking over the woodpile.
Brooklyn and I sat in our chairs and talked about how much we enjoy camping in the woods. We listened to the sounds that appear when it gets dark in the forest. We imagined what they could be. Squirrels? Birds? A bear? Or maybe a cow that had strayed from the herd that was grazing nearby?
I had my phone and asked if she would like to listen to some music. I played American Authors and she danced around the campfire in the dark to the song, “Best Day of My Life” and “Oh What A Life”. Seeing a 2 1/2 year old dancing around the fire to those songs made my heart soar.
We were enjoying being the only ones in camp and we were doing what girls do when they camp ~ embrace each other and the outdoors. She even sang the National Anthem at the top of her lungs. What makes us want to sing at the top of our lungs around a campfire in the middle of nowhere? Maybe it’s an instinct as old as time that kicks in. Whatever it is, I love it! And so did Brooklyn.
I look forward to being alone with her in the woods again, doing what girls to best ~ making fire and singing!