Celebrating Mother’s Day in (Outdoor) Style


Before I was actually a mother, Mother’s Day was one of my favorite days of the year. In the Pacific Northwest, where I lived then, I spent the second Sundays in May hiking up post-eruption Mt. St. Helens in a party dress with a group of similarly dressed friends, skis stuck into our packs. When we pointed our tips downhill, the dresses that billowed out behind us made the long ski runs even better. If I thought about the Mother’s Day connection during those years, it was to decide that dressing up to ski a mountain named after a woman was a perfect way to celebrate the day.


The tradition we’ve developed here is a bit less, well, dressy. But it is a tradition: Every Mother’s Day, we go for a family hike. Our hikes are often short and nearby and certainly don’t involve volcanoes. In fact, they don’t even involve party dresses. I don’t mind, though: I still feel the joy of being outside together, whether we’re looking for trout lilies on the way up Mt. Cardigan or trying out a new trail farther afield.


That said, I haven’t let go of the box with my party favorites — the neon pink pajamas, the strapless black dress that looked great over long underwear, the black-and-white polka dot tutu. I think there’s a good chance that I’ll ski Mt. St. Helens in one of those dresses again, maybe even with my family by my side. In fact, I recently heard that hundreds of people now ski Mt. St. Helens in party dresses each Mother’s Day.


It’s not too late to join the AMC family-friendly hikes listed below. Or make your own outdoor celebration. However you spend this day that celebrates mothers, it’s worth remembering that our living planet is sometimes called Gaia, for the Greek goddess of the earth. Her more approachable English name, of course, is Mother Earth.


Maybe I’ll get those party dresses down after all.


Family Fun Fest at Noble View Outdoor Center. Russell, Mass. Friday, May 6, to Sunday, May 8. This is the fourth or fifth year that the Worcester Chapter has organized a three-day weekend for all AMC families. The weekend includes hikes, outdoor games, campfires, s'mores, movies and popcorn, and potluck meals. Lodging on Friday and Saturday nights is in newly renovated cottages. A few spaces still remain.


Mother's Day Welcome Weekend & Sunday Buffet Brunch. Highland Center at Crawford Notch, New Hampshire. Friday, May 6, to Sunday, May 8. This three-day weekend focused on Mother's Day includes daily hikes, interpretive programs, kid's crafts, a Mother's Day buffet — even massage sessions!


Cardigan Lodge hikes and summit climb. Mt. Cardigan, New Hampshire. Saturday, May 7. The New Hampshire Chapter is hosting a day of family activities at Cardigan Lodge. Families can choose between an easy morning hike down the Lower Manning Trail toward Welton Falls; a moderate afternoon hike of no more than five mile for families up Orange Mountain or Cardigan Mountain; and a summit climb of Mt. Cardigan that is appropriate for children ages 7 and up with some hiking experience.


Nickerson State Park. Brewster, Mass. Sunday, May 8. An afternoon Mother’s Day walk around Cape Cod ponds and woodland trails.


Follow the links for more details. Remember that these hikes and activities require prior registration and may involve other fees.


Photo: Kathy Phibbs, founding mother of the Mt. St. Helens ski party. Credit Rachel da Silva.


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


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