Use #4 for a stick: Getting down (or up) the trail

Does this sound familiar?  You’ve….

  • loaded your pack with snacks, bandaids, baby wipes, extra clothes, spare kleenex, candy, and a bazillion other things
  • cleaned off the carseat(s),
  • strapped the kiddo(s) into the car,
  • driven 25 minutes to an exciting looking trail head
  • sung row your boat and the song that never ends over 346 times on the drive
  • extracted the kiddos from the car
  • and set them off down the trail….

only to find that they are tired and ready to go home five minutes into the hike.  You try candy, coaxing, singing, follow the leader, knock knock jokes and as many other tricks as you can think of, but have only made it another 50 feet down the trail… and two hours have passed.  Let me recommend one more trick for getting little ones moving down the trail (and, truth be told, this still works on me today): the Hiking Stick.

Tell them they need to find a hiking stick because it will give them the energy to go further.  They’ll try 30 different sticks, cruising down the trail in search of new and improved ones, and totally forget that the point was to go for a ‘walk’.  They’ll try them forwards and backwards.  Between their legs like a horse.  Over their shoulder.  It might turn into a gun. They’ll balance it on the palm of their hand.  And who knows what else they’ll think of.

Point is, they won’t think about the hike.  Tell them to find you one too–it has to weigh a certain amount, be a certain length, be the right height, have a curve for your grip, etc.  The hiking stick is the ticket to at least 100 extra feet.  And if you’re in the Mojave and there are no ‘sticks’ to be had?  Substitute something else:  find me a white rock, a tortoise shell, a flower, etc.  Scavenger hunts are wondrous motivators.

11 Comments so far

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  1. Sticks are a component of pretty much every hike. My daughter, especially, is usually consumed with finding the perfect hiking stick. My only rule is it can’t have a bunch of poky branches coming out to poke eyes. Otherwise it’s a treasure hunt to find the best one along the trail!

    • Jennifer: Good rule! No pokey parts. And how many of these sticks make it home and end up stacked against the side of the house? I bring one home every walk, and my ‘collection’ is growing quite large…

  2. Love the hiking stick as a kid distraction/motivator. We’ve been loving scavenger hunts as hike motivators. They can be easy for little ones (i.e.: find a leaf) or trickier for bigger kids (i.e.: find a home, a fungus, and a seed).

    • Kristal: Aren’t scavenger hunts wonderful? And the joy doesn’t diminish with age, either. It’s a great way to get kids into the habit of observing things around them and looking for the little details.

  3. My son (not quite 3) wouldn’t leave the house yesterday for our daily neighbourhood “hike” without his hiking stick!

    • Suzi: I love it! Not quite three and already a budding John Muir!

  4. Tracy

    Great idea! I’ll give that one a go on our next bushwalks. Sadly haven’t been out bush since our Wee Jasper walk over a month ago. We’ve had heavy rains and lots of floods, and Wee Jasper itself was cut off from us by floods too. So I’m hoping for another walk next week if the national park reserves near us are open again.

    • Tracy–how frustrating to be cut off from your wild places by floods. I hope you can get out again soon, and that the flooding isn’t too detrimental to homes or habitats! The good thing about floods: they wash lots of new sticks into the area…

  5. Bonnie

    When the kids are older, a stout stick tucked backward under an arm makes a great downhill prop. If the hill is steep, they can put their feet out ahead, lean back on the stick and glissade down the hill, with or without snow.

    • Bonnie–I intend to highlight this use in a future post!!!

  6. I don’t think my boys can walk without a stick in their hands.


    I'm Lindsey. I'm an environmental educator, my husband's a biologist. The outdoors is infused into everything we do; which explains why I'm better at mud pies than home decorating. More About Me

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