Notes from Higher Ground

A few lessons learned (or re-learned) from a recent family overnight at Greenleaf Hut:

The best all-time motivating method. Our youngest and most reluctant hiker can still be motivated by what we call the “Hansel and Gretel” ploy. His sister runs ahead with a bag of treats. He follows, searching for those she’s hidden along the way. Sometimes the treats are on top of a rock in the middle of the trail, sometimes in little nooks and crannies of the sort that would appeal to a woodland elf. Ursula kept count and so did Virgil: Some large number of M&Ms, raisins, and crackers later, they were off by only one — an M&M Ursula found still in its (too-good) hiding spot on the way down!

Best new motivating method. The Trail Mini-Olympics grew out of a game we made up to keep Virgil cross-country skiing last winter. He tweaked it for the hike: push-ups with packs; hopping on one foot; running in place; you get the idea. We rotated events, he kept score for all of us. It got him through the tough middle of the hike up to the hut.

Items we’re glad we packed.
Working headlamps for each one of us. Fun play for the kids (and safety for the middle of the night); reading lamps for the adults. No need for the extra batteries, but glad we had them, just in case.

Item we wish we’d packed.
A small washcloth or hand towel would have made the four of us a little less grimy and a little less sticky, for not that much more weight.

Item envy moment, again. Upon seeing other bunks laid out with lightweight sleeping sacks, I said, not for the first (or second) time, “We should make some of those.” Now if I can just hold onto the thought long enough to sew sheets into sacks before the next trip….

High point of the trip for the kids.
Staying up until lights out playing the card game B.S. with new friends.

High point of the trip for the parents. Hiking (almost) to the top of Mt. Lafayette on a cloudless, blue-sky morning after breakfast.

Greatest family moment.
The final push had gone on a while, and we were just about out of steam when Virgil caught sight of the hut. He ran ahead and through the door. Moments later, he ran straight back out again and right into Jim’s arms, where he exclaimed, “This is sooo worth it!”

Learn more
• Games, tips, and ploys for motivating kids on the trail: “The Right Trail and Candy Motivate a Reluctant Hiker” and “More Tips…
Greenleaf Hut information
White Mountain Huts Fact Sheet: includes a list of what to bring (wash cloth and hand towel mentioned…)

Great Kids, Great Outdoors” is an AMC Outdoors blog, written by Kristen Laine.

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