Always carry snakes when you hike with kids

Di Westaway | Chief Adventure Chick Wild Women On Top | Life Changing Adventures

Happy hiking with kids is where art meets science. Art because you need creative solutions to unexpected problems and science because if you don’t understand the chemistry set of their small bodies you can turn them off hiking for life. 

That’s where jelly Snakes come in. They can be used to keep you safe when junior decides to go on strike. 

But the best hiking with kids experiences require careful planning to ensure that it’s fun and games; not sweat and tears. This which starts with choosing an appropriate destination and if things go wrong, turning it into a game. And, expect the unexpected. 

I once got turned completely off my delicious smoked salmon wrap lunch with a bunch of eight to twelve year olds while hiking in the Royal National Park near Sydney. Recent rain turned our chosen grassy verge picnic spot into a scene from Survivor where we were attacked by a colony of local leeches.

The leeches didn’t reveal themselves until we were well into our picnic but we were too hungry to retreat. Amidst squeals of horror we all squeezed onto the lunch tarpaulin where we continued to munch while flicking leeches off the perimeter of the tarp. The kids loved it. Staying calm in the face of fear was the secret.

On another occasion in the same Park, we were hit by a freak wave while swimming in the Figure Eight rock pools. Kids went catapulting around the rock ledge from the force of the water and when the wave retreated we had quite a few flesh wounds to manage. A good first aid kit came in handy. 

Enroute to the summit of Mt Solitary in the Blue Mountains with a bunch of teens and their mums one weekend, one of the teens had a falling out with a mate and sat on a rock in tears refusing to budge. When reasoning failed to shift the teen her mum threatened to video her outburst and post it on Facebook. 

The teen was up and walking in an instant. The lesson here is to use technology and social media wherever you can to keep you safe. 

On a family hike to Barn Bluff from Dove Lake near the Overland Track in Tassie, we needed emergency rations and spare torch batteries to get home happily. Nutrition is an important component of happy trekking and kids get hangry fast. But sugar spikes from Snakes alone can add to your challenges so make sure you get some scroggin, Bilton or salty nuts into the snacking mix. 

But kids can still be tricky. A recent mum/teen day hike around the Sydney Harbour National Park in the rain almost ended with a mutiny and bus ride home. Failure was averted with a delay tactic that involved salty hot potato wedges and a thermos of hot chocolate. The child was so invigorated by the food that he almost skipped the remaining 4 hours of wet walking without a grumble. Food is fuel and good food fuels best.  

But rule number one for hiking happily with kids is to choose the trek based on them, not you. They might grumble, but won’t turn them off hiking for life. 

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