About the Author

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.

Previous entries

Tuesday March 12, 2013 | 08:35 AM

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.

Wednesday March 06, 2013 | 02:30 PM

I am teaching someone how to play the game of geocaching on Saturday so I had to do some prep work this week. This included some geocache maintenance for a couple of geocaches my own family has hidden for players of this outdoor game.

Geocaching is a game that uses GPS coordinates to find a hidden box filled with inexpensive trinkets and a logbook. I used to use a hand-held GPS unit to play, manually downloading coordinates from a website to find the hidden box in the woods. These days I use a free mobile app on my Galaxy phone. There are several smart phone apps available now that has helped the game grow in popularity.

Since it has been a snowy winter – and no big thaw yet – the geocaches my family has hidden are under at least a foot of snow, which is a bit more of a challenge (even for us) to find than usual.

Friday March 01, 2013 | 04:23 PM

The kids and I decided to schedule weekly meet-ups to "train" for hiking mountains this summer. Our hope is to get into shape to summit Mt. Washington in the fall. My friend Shannon has decided to join  this adventure with us so we're all committed to making each other accountable. We are planning our weekly "M-dub Club" (our nickname thanks to Shannon's wordsmithing skills) meet-ups to cover at least a few miles of walking/hiking (or cross country skiing as it happened this week) for exercise. We're going with whatever seasonal activity we can manage to get our legs and hearts pumping in anticipation of tackling the 6,288 foot mountain.

The Mount Washington Observatory website has a helpful guide that offers information about the four more popular hiking routes to the summit. No matter which way we choose – Pinkham Notch, Tuckerman Ravine, Ammonoosuc Ravine or Gulfside – we're looking at an elevation gain of at least 3,800 feet. Since our hike last year looped from Little Haystack to Lafayette was an elevation gain of about 3,500 feet, we have a few hundred feet more to tackle. It doesn't sound like much but in thinking back to that adventure (which was awesome for so many reasons), we were working pretty darn hard to summit.

With a friend in the mix relying on us to stay accountable – and of course having an "official" name for our meet-ups helps – we're committed to meeting every week after school/work until the summer when we can plan more weekend adventures.

But already my family's busy life is getting in the way. My 16-year-old has been talking about taking a tractor safety class for years. She has been working at a beef cow farm every week for five years with her 4-H project and they have tractors. She drives the smaller ATV-types on occassion but this summer she wants to drive the big boys. But she needs this tractor safety class under her belt to do it.

Thursday February 28, 2013 | 01:57 PM

I saw a photo on Facebook with the quote, "There is no wifi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection." And since I appreciated the sentiment, I liked it.

Photo credit: www.facebook.com/sungazing1

One of my kids saw it on my Facebook timeline (the hazard of liking stuff and being "friends" with your teenagers is that they know what you're doing on that site, too) and reminded me that I do in fact use my smart phone in the woods.

Thursday February 28, 2013 | 01:57 PM

I saw a photo on Facebook with the quote, "There is no wifi in the forest, but I promise you will find a better connection." And since I appreciated the sentiment, I liked it.

Photo credit: www.facebook.com/sungazing1

One of my kids saw it on my Facebook timeline (the hazard of liking stuff and being "friends" with your teenagers is that they know what you're doing on that site, too) and reminded me that I do in fact use my smart phone in the woods.