Friday, February 26, 2016

Planning a Hiking Vacation: Family Edition

Last year's vacation was a first for us - we went on a hiking vacation with my family. Granted we're an older bunch with the youngest at 24 and we've vacationed with family before, but not like this. We never had to test our nerves together after miles of heat, blisters, and uphill and I was nervous. But I'm a planner at heart and I issued instructions as I tend to do with most things to help make it a better trip.

1) I was a drill sergeant about training
I brought up hiking training in every conversation. I would ask them how many miles they are walking each day, how many or how tall were the hills, and how winded they felt afterwards. I would make comparisons to landmarks they know ("Hiking up Highline trail will be like going up Kennesaw Mountain 3 times in a row.") so they could hopefully train more.  I started the training conversation before we even booked the flights. I didn't want anyone unprepared.

Trail signs are better with funny faces.

2) I assigned gear lists
I'm a list keeper. When we booked this trip, I sent them my copy of lists from previous hiking trips to show them the gear they would need. Good news is they didn't have to buy a lot more, but I knew before I sent the the lists what they were missing. I made sure everyone had their own pack and water. We addressed clothing to bring like jackets, convertible pants, HATS! For the love of god always hike with a hat! There was even a first-aid briefing so at least each pair of hikers had basic items for blister care.

We also discovered we are a family who loves puzzles.

3) I listened to their needs
After the first hike, I learned a lot. I hurried us on a 5 mile hike in mid-afternoon in the crowds and heat. We did not perform well. My husband's pace was too fast for the group, my mom liked to break at different points than me, and my sister wanted lots of photos. At the end of the hike we were exhausted in more than one way and it was just day one. I was worried the entire vacation was going to already be a bust.

So at dinner time, we talked it over. I asked how they felt on the hike and what they wanted to change. When we hiked as a family again on Day 3, we made lots of changes. I became line leader as my pace was the right balance. I made sure to stop at the bottom and top of hills, instead of just the top like I was use to.  We communicated more about stopping for photos or changing pace. It was a much better hike!

Hiking with family presents a new set of challenges, but it was rewarding to share the memories together after the trip. Don't get a few bumps prevent you from the same!

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