Summertime Challenge – Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park

Well, we made it. We made the Summertime Challenge.  With all the other summer social obligations: weddings, pot lucks, and BBQ’s it was hard to find the time, be we were able to walk about, surrounded by nature at lease once a month, all summer long. Well, we still have September, but considering school starts before that, Im not sure we still count that as summer.  September in the pacific northwest says summer, but the school calendar says “Bah Humbug”!

The last hike was the longest, and most challenging for us.  It was just the 3 boys and mom.  And let me tell ya, the baby is a trooper; I only had to bribe him with the promise of daddy a few times to keep him moving.  He didn’t walk the whole 4 miles, but he did walk a good 2 miles. The rest of the way, my shoulders did the carrying.  The older two boys were great. They didn’t complain, except to say that mommy and baby couldn’t keep up, and carried everybody’s lunches in their backpacks. We didn’t stick to all the groomed trails, and some of the walking was a little jumping over roots, rocks and narrow little goat trails. But it was a blast.

Find the Perfect Hike

We left a little late because I was agonizing over the perfect trail to walk on. Not too long, not too tough, not too steep and with enough interest to keep little kids wondering whats around the next corner, e.g. just right – said baby bear. So, I hit my friendly http://www.WTA.org (Washington Trails Association) website. Their hike finder tool is fantastic. You can filter by location, sights, level of difficulty (kid-friendly).

Pack for the Hike

Then, we had to pack for the hike. Anyone who leaves the house with people smaller and younger than yourself know its a good idea to bring these items along on a trip, to anywhere. Unless its Grandma’s house; she pretty much has everything.

  • Diaper bag – with plenty of wipes
  • Change of clothes/shoes and socks
  • Lunch and healthy snacks (Peanut butter & local honey is a mainstay as well as oranges & apples)
  • Lots of water

I Googled the address and we were off!  The weather was warm. We shared the trail with horses, and other people of all ages out for either a pleasant stroll or a hardcore run through the woods.  Everyone we met was super nice and we really enjoyed ourselves.

Things We Learned:

  1. Pack the night before if you want to leave early
  2. Wear bug repellent, sunscreen and a hat. In my neighborhood, we have plenty of wind to keep the mosquitoes down, not so around these trails. The olders moved fast enough that the mosquitoes wouldn’t stick, but the little guy was in trouble.
  3. Make sure everyone has on long pants (see mosquito note above) and in case of trips, falls and sticker bushes.  We had a little of all 3 on our walk.
  4. Download a map of the hiking area and plan your hike accordingly. King County provided a Map at the trail head (Quite useful, thanks King County!) But, in my naivete, I thought the path was probably another loop, so didn’t bother to look until we found a spot for lunch. We had walked way out of our way from where we wanted to be and added an extra mile to our walk.
  5. Keep the Map! Along the route, during a diaper change no doubt, I dropped the map.  I hope some poor lost soul found it and used it. Thankfully, I was able to ask for directions. Did I mention that everyone we met was nice?
  6. On your hike in this area, either hike to a designated picnic area, or plan to make your impromptu lunch on a fallen log (we did). Just remember to pic up your trash!
  7. Wear comfortable shoes. I don’t own hiking boots, but after this, Im thinking I should invest in a pair. Oye, my aching feet!
  8. When hiking with kids, plan to take breaks. Break for water, rest, and most importantly potty breaks. This is where having boys is quite nice!
  9. Remember, if it takes you 1 hour to walk in, it will take you 2 hours to walk out along the same path.
  10. Have fun. Enjoy the time with the family. Savor the peanut butter!

 

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