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David Lottmann:

Great blog post from adventurous parents.com! I love the retractable water-bottle!

Originally posted on The Adventures in Parenthood Project:

Bonbon Break

It feels like it wasn’t that long ago that we had a baby we could snuggle into a soft carrier to take hiking, and who would fall asleep for long portions of the journey. But things have changed rather quickly, and we now have a toddler bubbling over with personality and propelling herself with her own two feet.

Though the newness of doing outdoor activities with a baby can be overwhelming, once that little person sleeps less and walks more, you’ve got a whole new set of wonderful (and totally manageable) challenges to contend with. Of course, this depends on your toddler. Some can sit longer than others. Some sleep anywhere. Mine is a restless little ball of energy who doesn’t want to miss a thing.

Either way, all toddlers are inherently busy and explorative, so if you have two-foot-high trail buddy in tow, these tips should come in handy.

Prepping for a hike into the backcountry in Banff National Park. Photo Meghan J. Ward collection. Prepping for a hike into the…

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We pulled into the parking lot a few minutes after 10AM. There were still plenty of parking spots open but as I glanced at the growing flipflop crowd already coating themselves in DEET (it was 64 degrees, breezy, with no bugs) I wondered why I was bringing us to such a heavily used trail for our first hike with our new puppy, Echo. I carried an empty kid carrier and with Echo on a leash and Alex by my side we left the parking lot and dipped into the woods.

This would be a bit of a training hike for Echo. Just a few minutes up the trail I was able to let Echo off leash and start “releasing” him and calling him back with my stash of smoked turkey treats. Alex already had the hand signals down to accompany “sit”, “stay”, “go play”, and enjoyed helping Echo learn.

Almost to the falls

Almost to the falls

As we approached the falls I put Echo back on leash due to the amount of people and a few other leashed dogs in the area. We made our way over to a sunny spot on the rocks to watch the swollen water from last nights epic storms.

Snack & Water Break

Snack & Water Break

When I mentioned leaving so we could meet up with Mommy for lunch Alex was adamant we do some exploring. I brought us a bit further up the trail away from the crowds so I could let Echo off his leash. Alex wanted to go off trail to explore a muddy little stream. My first reaction was to reel him in so he wouldn’t get muddy from the assured trips and face plants off trail travel would bring this 34 month old, but then I started thinking about this excellent piece by Emma Marris, “Let Kids Run Free in the Woods”, which I found through the Expect Adventure blog.

I wanted Alex to love hiking. If I always keep him from running, scrambling, exploring, and jumping in every puddle would he really want to keep doing it as he gets older? So I let Alex off the proverbial leash and off he went into the woods.

Bushwacking

Bushwacking

I was proud to see face height vegetation didn’t creep him out like it did this Spring when we were hiking at Tin Mountain Conservation Center. He scrambled over mossy boulders, found some ankle deep mud to jump in, and explored for almost 30 minutes. At one point he told me to stop following him, so I pulled back to about 40 feet from him. He wandered in circles for another 10 minutes humming and playing. This independent nature play was so great to watch. After almost an hour he looked up and when he didn’t see me right away he said “Daddy”?

“Yes, Alex?” as I stepped into view.

“I like hiking” he said.

“Me too, buddy. Want to hike back to the car so we can have some lunch with Mommy?”

This tree is BIG daddy!

This tree is BIG daddy!

Alex decided it would be fun to run back, and he pretty much ran the entire .6 miles back to the car. He would run for a minute or two, take a quick breather, then run again. He especially loved when Echo would run right next to him. We passed quite a few families with kids on their way in. I saw a few parents who were constantly telling their kids (much older than Alex) to stop running, stay on the trail, slow down, put that stick down… I could see some of these kids look at Alex with some envy as he blasted down the trail laughing and giggling all the way back to the car.

It feels good to be off leash.

Alex loves farms, and Michelle & I love history, so it was about time for us to visit the nearby Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm this past weekend. Walking distance from the idyllic village of Tamworth, NH this is an excellent place to spend a half-day with a toddler!

The Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm

The Remick Country Doctor Museum & Farm

“The Remick family settled in Tamworth over 200 years ago, and six generations of the same family worked the farm. Each generation prospered and was active in the town’s history. Before his death in 1993, Dr. Edwin Crafts Remick created a foundation to preserve his home, farm, and family history in a way that the public could enjoy. The Remick family’s 200 year history in Tamworth gives us all a glimpse into how people worked and played in this historic landscape.” – Remick’s Website

We could feel the history in well preserved rooms as we read interpretative information and marveled at what life must have been like in the 1800’s.

The Recreation Room

The Recreation Room

One of a few kitchens

One of a few kitchens

My favorite room was the dining area, and while researching this post I discovered that they run a few “Hearthside” dinners every year. Next one is October 4th, perhaps Michelle & I will find a sitter!

Amazing dining area

Amazing dining area

Once we had soaked up as much info as we could inside we headed out to explore the grounds.

Lots to see!

Lots to see!

What kid doesn't want to sit on this?

What kid doesn’t want to sit on this?

Great area for picnics & parties

Great area for picnics & parties

iPhone Panaroma... great view of Chocurua from here.

iPhone Panaroma… great view of Chocurua from here.

After visiting the historic barn & milking house our stomachs were growling so we headed down to the village and discovered the tres hip “Tamworth Lyceum“. This was the perfect place to grab some sandwiches after spending the morning on the farm. Best grilled cheese I have ever had, and some great chicken & pesto panini’s were enjoyed on their back porch.

Photo courtesy of Yelp

Photo courtesy of Yelp

While driving home Michelle and I talked about how great it is to live so close to so many great little villages worth spending a day with Alex at. There’s a lot more to Tamworth than I had thought and we’ll be heading back there soon for the River Walk and some of the cool village events. A trip to the Barnstormers Theater is also high on the bucket list, stay tuned!

Our beloved Bear passed away just after Alex turned 1. We have always wanted a dog in our family but our hearts were not ready and it was easy to focus our attention on our wonderful one-year-old. This winter we decided that after the busy guiding season we would start looking, and last week, after hearing of a influx of puppies at the Conway Area Humane Society, we decided to get serious.

Puppies & Toddlers

Love at first sight?

We originally had our eye on a beautiful one year old Shepard mix named Sissy, but after our 2nd visit we were drawn to this 2.5 month old hound mix. He seemed so sweet and gentle compared to his feisty sister. It didn’t take us long to fall in love.

Puppies & Toddlers

Already good on a leash?

Once we got home though we started noticing we had upset Alex’s balance in his world… Suddenly it wasn’t 100% about him. And Echo would obviously be trying to figure out where in our pack he belonged. This would be by testing each of us through nips and rough play. It was crushing to hear Alex say “I don’t want a doggy” after being jumped on for the 3rd time.

There is a ton of advice on the internet regarding toddlers & puppies. We’ve skimmed and read much of what’s out there, but so far these have been the best tips we’ve followed with some success:

1) Set up some dog free/kid free boundaries. We want Alex & Echo to become best friends, but that can’t be forced. Some playtime together is important so they grow affection for each other, but so is personal space. Alex no longer felt safe playing with his toys on the living room floor, so I took our wood stove kid gate down and re-installed it to split the living room and dining room.

Toddlers & Puppies

This wall will come down, once proper pack order is established

2) 1 on 1 time, for both Pup and Boy. Michelle and I have been sure to spend some quality time with both Alex & Echo when it is just us. This time is so precious. Like when I took Alex for a swim at our nearby beach, just the two of us. Or Echo sitting in my lap last night at a backyard campfire while Alex read books with Mommy inside. We try to give each an hour of undivided attention every day.

Toddlers & Puppies

Solo doggie play

3) Together time. This is very closely supervised at this point until Echo learns he can’t jump on Alex. But with Echo in my lap Alex can sit and learn how to pet him gently. Alex also loves to help get the doggy food and water and sharing these responsibilities will help them bond.

Puppies & Toddlers

Chillin’ on the couch

Well it has only been 9 days since we brought Echo home, and I feel we are making good progress inducting him into our little family. Thanks to crate training house-breaking has gone pretty well considering his young age, and I feel we are on the right path to establishing the proper “pack order”.

Anyone have any tips that worked for them when adding a puppy to a toddler home? Please share below!

 

Originally posted on Expect Adventure:

Throw Rocks. Be Wild. I recently read an article by Emma Marris that makes a wonderfully commonsense argument: kids who play outdoors on their own terms develop a deeper connection to nature. She cites solid research suggesting that Leave No Trace philosophies are only appropriate for adults, but kids should be allowed to run a bit wild – even if they will pick some forbidden flowers. I posted the article to facebook and twitter, where lots of people appreciated this refreshingly relaxed point of view. Meanwhile, I congratulated myself for already encouraging this sort of deep, playful connection to nature.

The very next hike my six-year-old son and I went on – a long backcountry romp in the San Gabriel Mountains – I slipped into a routine I didn’t even know I had of reigning in my surefooted, nature-loving boy. “Stay on the trail.” “Don’t throw rocks.” “Don’t scare the lizards.” When I started…

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The mission of the Tin Mountain Conservation Center is “to promote an appreciation of the environment among children, families, and the community through hands-on programs in the schools, at camp, and in the community.”

This place is only 2 miles from our home. How have I not checked this place out already!?

Alex and I started at the Nature Learning Center off of Bald Hill Rd in Albany, NH. This beautiful eco-friendly building boosts a Nature Library, an impressive collection of  preserved mammals (Alex likes the bear that greets you at the door and a large bobcat further in), and a large function room used for educational programs and events.

Tin Mountain Conservation Center

Tin Mountain Conservation Center

After obtaining a map of the Rockwell Sanctuary we hit the trail. From TMC’s website, “The Sanctuary also boasts a fully preserved ca. 1800 barn, an extensive trail system, a four-acre pond, numerous unique plant species, and a small granite quarry active from 1885-1890.”

Tin Mountain Conservation Center & Rockwell Sanctuary

Tin Mountain Conservation Center & Rockwell Sanctuary

There are about 5 miles of trails on the 138 acre protected land, and they are broken into shorter loop hikes and trails with easy to follow color coded animal trail markers. This made the “find the next blaze” game I play with Alex all the more entertaining. I had a couple of hours and wanted to get as much in as possible so decided to do an “outer-loop” run counter-clockwise around the map.

We cruised south along the “Yellow Beaver” trail before descending down and turning right onto the blue “Bear Tree Loop” trail. We turned east and followed it all the way to the Quarry. Alex demanded I carry us up to the top of a tall stack of quarried blocks, which I was happy to oblige. Here there was a distinct lack of trail markers on an otherwise heavily marked trail. After some snooping I decided to follow the obvious boundary line north and came back into the network on that little unmarked trail about 500 feet north of the Quarry. I could see looking back south the Blue Bear trail would be easier to follow if going clock-wise.

We soon turned right on the yellow “Quarry Trail”. Alex really liked the pick-axe on each marker though I could not convince him it was not a shovel. I intended to stay on this trail until getting to the orange “Frog Leap Loop” but when Alex saw trail signs with sandwiches on them, the aptly named “Lunch Rock Trail” he was adamant we change course. Giving up my goal of a circumnavigation of the area we headed up the Lunch Rock Trail and decided to break at the open Lunch Rock area for a snack and a leg stretch.

Lunch Rock

Lunch Rock

Leg Stretch

Leg Stretch

After a diaper change Alex wanted to hike a bit on his own. The trail ahead had just a bit too much underbrush for his comfort though so I loaded him back into the pack with a promise he could explore once we reached some more open terrain. Finishing the short Lunch Rock Trail we turned right on the red “Maple Leaf Loop” and made our way towards the 4 acre Chase Pond. Soon after turning onto the orange “Frog Leap Loop” we saw the pond through the trees and came across an impressive beaver dam at its outlet.

Beaver Dam

Beaver Dam

We crossed the outlet just downstream over a small wooden bridge and turned right onto the blue “Owl Prowl” trail.

Bridges and trail signs

Bridges and trail signs

Alex was starting to tire so I decided to save the north most loop trail for another visit and we turned in towards the pond on the red “Stoney’s Spur”. This short bit of trail was definitely one of our favorites and we really slowed down to enjoy it. Alex quickly spotted the two Canadian Geese and exclaimed “Ducks! Ducks!”

Frog's and Canadian Geese on Chase Pond

Frog’s and Canadian Geese on Chase Pond

Harder for him to see were the dozens of large frogs milling about in the pond flora around these boardwalk. Some were quite large and I wished I had brought one of the nets the offer at the center for interactive exploring. Next time…

Hard enough for me to see them

Hard enough for me to see them

Alex was anxious to walk himself and I was happy to get him out of the pack. The boardwalks were perfect and he showed great awareness if they went over water. We passed some obvious beaver activity…

Beaver Activity

Beaver Activity

Exploring outside the kid carrier

Exploring outside the kid carrier

Soon we had rounded the northern tip of the pond and were turning onto the yellow “Chestnut-Sided” trail to return to the center.

Almost there

Almost there

We got back to the parking lot 1 hour and 45 minutes from leaving, having completing an exact 2.0 mile loop. Before heading home Alex got to meet a resident dog named Sage (due to her being too smart), as well as the Public Relations Manager Donna and for a brief moment the Executive Director, Michael Kline.

Our route today

Our route today

I feel very lucky to have such an amazing resource so close to home to help us instill the sense of awe and wonder in nature that we all know is important to a balanced life-style. I’m also hoping to find some ways to be more involved with the organization, through membership and perhaps sharing some educational content like my Wilderness Navigation course I teach through EMS Schools. If you live in the area and haven’t made it over to this place do yourself a favor and make time. It’s a great place with great people and a definite gem for our community!

P.S. Adventure With Alex is now on Twitter here and Facebook here! Please follow or share if you like!

 

 

 

Another awesome post by fellow blogger Cragmama. If you have rock climbing kids check this one out!

Cragmama’s Featured #KidCrushers – Round 1.

I’m also added a list of family/kid adventure blogs I have started following under “Suggested Links”. Please check them out!

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