On Sunday, there was a break in the rain. February is running out, and if I wanted to meet my goal of getting a hike in, this was the best opportunity. And, as usual, when I mentioned taking a hike, the boys were less than enthused. Fortunately, Dan was in, so score one for the parents.
We hopped in the car and headed to the Gorge (the area where the Columbia River divides Oregon and Washington) for a little hike that had been on my idea list for a while. Wahclella Falls is only 40 minutes out of Portland, right near the Bonneville Dam. It's a 1 mile in, 1 mile out hike with only 250 ft. elevation gain. The weather was relatively mild, and the water levels are high right now, so it was the perfect day to be out there.
Thirty yards into the hike, both boys forgot they were a little chilly. They were amazed by the river, the mossy trees, and all that good nature stuff. It was grey and cloudy, but that didn't take away from the beauty of the river. And when we were only a quarter mile in, we turned a corner only to find a large waterfall RIGHT NEXT to the trail. A bridge was necessary to cross it, and the boys loved being able to stick their hands out and feel the mist.
And they were hooked. For the rest of the trip there wasn't a single complaint, bit of whining, or an "I'm tired" to be heard. Instead, they were amazed at how beautiful everything looked and had a great time searching out any little caves they could find along the way.
When we hit the halfway point, I realized we needed to head back more quickly so I could make it to my book club meeting in downtown Portland. Both boys were disappointed to leave, but immediately started trying to bargain for the next time we could return.
Some keys to our success?
1. It was a hike of very easy/appropriate length and difficulty. There was enough of an incline in a couple of areas (as well as a pretty steep drop-off) to help the 4 year old feel challenged, but still very capable. We didn't want to push them too hard this time - instead, we aimed for enjoyment.
2. With the waterfall at the end, there was a destination - a goal for them to look forward to. At the one moment the little one was feeling hungry, all I had to say was that we'd have a snack at the waterfall, and he was off. Which brings us to #3...
3. We brought food. Yeah, it's a very short hike. But for the boys, some trail mix made it a very worthwhile adventure, and snacking on the way back eliminated any low blood sugar issues we may have had since it was mid-afternoon already.
4. We gave them the camera. Any time they saw something they wanted to take a picture of, we handed the camera over. Their eyes were constantly on the lookout for things they wanted to capture. Our oldest found himself on a search for any cool caves/caverns/holes to record. The little one was happiest with shots of the trees and sky. But giving them the camera opened their eyes.
It was a great trip, and with success like that under our belt, hopefully the next time I suggest going on a hike, they won't be so resistant.