I have a lot going on right now. A few hic-ups with the house have occurred but since I am overtired, both physically and mentally, from camping, hiking, swimming and adventuring I will save those details when they become clearer and have progressed a litter further to provide a more detailed account. Instead let’s work through this limited brain function and talk about my fun mini vacation!
Over the past four days we explored some of the hidden wonders New Mexico has to offer. We have a short bucket list of sights and activities we hope to do in this desert terrain before departure. Our first adventure led us to Sitting Bull Falls. We had not planned on going out to this area because of the closures caused by wild fire damages last year but once aware that they were lifted we quickly packed into the car. Sitting Bull Falls is said to be one of the best summer activities to do over the summer. It offers several trails that lead to small pools of water filled by waterfall. Even at 104 degrees we managed a short but steep hike to achieve our reward. When we first spotted the pool two younger boys had just left leaving us to enjoy the cool, refreshing waters for an hour before the next guest arrived. It was an amazing day.
Once returning home we packed up our gear, planned a menu and researched trails and other activities to do at our next destination. This time we were going to beat the heat by climbing up the mountain reaching 9,000 feet above sea level. It was a cool 77 with Ponderosas and Douglas Firs standing tall for miles. We picked a campground, set up camp, and embarked on our first journey. With our kids being on the young side (6, 6 and 3) we have not ventured into dispersed/primitive style camping yet. We like being able to help them learn about camping, survival, backpacking in an area that is a little more controlled and comfortable for them.
On this trip we worked on identifying natural tinder. The girls received a bag and were free to pick out things that they believed would make a good tinder. We used trial and error while explaining what was good or bad about each choice. The biggest hurdle for this task was that the area had received rainfall hours before we arrived. They did discover that moss, blackened mushrooms and the underside of fallen trees once or still inhabited by termites tend to provide the driest tinder.
The other focus of this trip was plant identification. We have a pocket guide of medicinal plants. It has wonderful illustrations and descriptions making it impossible to doubt that you are wrong. We spent roughly 5 miles hiking, often falling off the beaten path, to identify and learn about the uses of certain flowers growing in the area. The girls enjoyed picking the flowers and bringing them to our attention. At the end of the hike we sheared off some pine needles from a Douglas Fir and brewed them into some delicious pine needle tea.
I am exhausted! Oddly enough I have received more mosquito bites sitting at my desk talking to you than I did the whole adventure out in the wild. Everyone is enjoying a calm, relaxing, family movie night with snacks and ice cream!
On a side note – never under estimate what your kids can learn, accomplish, or do on an adventure. I have many people who question how I can take my kids out on the hikes we do, but kids will rise up to the challenge and understanding that limits will exist make it enjoyable for all! Besides, in another 5 years the kids will have the respect and knowledge of nature while being able to hit the journeys you desire!