Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Wendy Almeida has been writing about enjoying the outdoors with kids in her monthly Kid Tracks Outdoors column for the Maine Sunday Telegram for 10 years. Her kids have grown up exploring the trails of Maine on foot, skis and bikes as well as through the geocache and EarthCache games. The family has found treasures of all sorts while out on the trail and the journey continues to be as much fun now that the kids are teenagers as it was when they were preschoolers.
On Twitter and Instagram at @wea1021.
We went hiking in the White Mountains of New Hampshire the other day. I plan to write a more full account of the trip for my next Kid Tracks column but I know there are some things that will never make it into that 18" column.
For instance, we got off to a slow start due to me not having time to food shop so I had to pick up sandwiches for our mountain top lunch. I lamented the late start but c'est la vie with my schedule lately.
Then a woman at the trailhead locked her car keys in her car and asked us to borrow a phone to call for a rescue. This prompted Shannon and my 15-year-old to discuss yoga moves – and then try them – while we waited for the woman to make her call(s).
You can see the woman making her call behind Shannon.
When doing some maintenance on one of our geocaches the kids ran across a "coin." We originally thought it was a Travel Bug, an item that travels from one geocache to another that is tracked online, but we were mistaken. It turns out there are all sorts of "trackables" to be found in a geocache. The one we found was actually a signature item.
The "Kayaking Loon" Path Tag we found was actually a signature item this particular geocacher leaves in the geocaches s/he finds.
Confused about the trackables in the geocaching game? I have a basic working knowledge of them but don't know the details of every kind, which was obvious upon me mistakenly identifying a Path Tag signature item for a Travel Bug.
When a geocacher finds a Travel Bug in a geocache they are supposed to look for the unique serial number on its tag and log it into the geocaching website's special Travel Bug page. This alerts the owner their Travel Bug was found. It is then the geocacher's job (because they picked up the Travel Bug) to move the Bug along to a new geocache.
We took our first big mountain hike of 2013 with a trek up the North Peak Trail of Burnt Meadow Mountain in Brownfield.
Everyone got a bottle of bubbles in their Easter basket so we had some fun at a couple of stops (to blow bubbles of course, not to take a break because we're all out of shape!). Truth be told, we're all about fun and games (and/or snacks) on the trail. Fast hikers we are not.
The trick of hiking in the spring is being flexible. I really wasn't sure if we would be able to summit the North Peak of the mountain. There's no app (that I know of, if you have one let me know!) to check on specific trail conditions for a lightly traveled mountain trail in Maine. I knew there was still plenty of snow visible on the mountain when I saw it from the road so that prompted my caution. And having hiked this mountain previously, I knew there was a steep rocky climb just before the peak. I told the crew I wasn't sure if we'd make it to the top because we were going to err on the side of caution.
Spring time offers up some of the most variable conditions. But lucky for us the mild temps of the day and the recent rain had left little snow on our climb up the mountain.
Yesterday we were on Portland Trails for our weekly meet-up with Shannon to "train" for our mountain hiking season (which has started but more on that later). After several weeks of walking the Eastern Prom and Bayside trails we've discovered there is an ever changing guerilla art (a.k.a. graffiti) landscape. Each week there seems to be something new on these trails.
I know this sort of thing should not be encouraged but now that we've become trail regulars we've learned to keep an eye out for what has changed. Sort of the old Highlights children's magazine feature to figure out what's different between two pictures.
I made an interactive map and took photos along the way of the art that struck our fancy this week.
It was only a few days ago that the kids and I spotted animal tracks in the snow on a trail near our house. It's always so fun to come upon a discovery on hiking trails like this one.
We find the winter is a great time to find animal tracks. But it is amazing what a difference a few days can make in late winter when warm temperatures start melting snow. The muddy mess of early spring makes animal tracking (at least for my family) a little more challenging.
The animal tracks we have been seeing for the past month or so in our own backyard are of a skunk. We know this because even though we don't always have tracks to follow, our noses can easily detect our (unwelcome) visitor.