We are taking our boys to Olympic National Park for a week this summer, so we did a little trial run this weekend. We hiked down to a cave near our house — about a 2.5 mile loop — with little brother in the backpack and big brother on foot. Our three-year-old has never walked more than about a mile, so we thought this might be tough for him. We underestimated him. He found a walk through the “jungle” positively riveting and did not fuss once. He got a valuable education in reading trail signs and navigating obstacles (aka “popsicles”) on the trail. He also was thrilled to have both his camera and “bernoculers” at his disposal, stopping often to take pictures or look for animals. Mainly, he was interested in seeing any elephants that might happen by. We’ve got a budding naturalist on our hands.
Little brother had a ball in the backpack, too. He was mainly content just to look and listen, but he also pointed out interesting things he saw and he was all smiles the whole way.
We did note a few things to do differently. Big brother needs pants with pockets in case he locates any treasures. He found a dime on this trip and insisted on carrying it back himself rather than trust it to mommy or daddy’s pockets. We’re also going to bring extra socks for him next time. He finds puddles and streams pretty irresistible.
All in all, this experiment was a smashing success! Olympic doesn’t seem quite so intimidating now!