Hiking with a 3 year old can be very challenging or it can be both educational and fun for all. This is a continuation of our hiking adventures from last week.
The next day, we thought that we might "try" hiking up to Nymph Lake and Dream Lake. Little Marty got his little walking stick and his hat and was on his way. A Zip-Loc bag of cut-up apples and some pretzels went a long way for encouragement. Next thing we knew, we were at Nymph Lake (which is about .5 miles) where we saw the beautiful pond lilies with pretty yellow
flowers and spectacular views of Flattop and Hallett Peak. He loved walking around the lake and taking everything in. Should we try Dream Lake? It's only .6 miles more. Why not! And off we went. We stopped at the overlook to see the forests and meadows and take a little break. On the way up we saw lots of wildflowers like Indian Paintbrush and Purple Larkspur. We crossed a bridge and saw some snow on the side of the trail. Dream Lake was beautiful with Hallett Peak as a backdrop. He loved climbing on the rocks.
Hm-m-m Emerald Lake was only .7 mile longer .let's go for it! Little Marty was loving it all and learning about everything that he could take in. The little "chipmunks" were a big treat and we saw lots of them along all of the trails. He learned how we do not feed the wildlife because then they cannot fend for themselves in the winter. We walked part way around Dream Lake where he saw many anglers. We'd stop and sit on a rock and watch the fish swim by. Hiking up the many steps was Gramma's turn to take his hand. We sang little songs and practiced counting how many steps we climbed. We passed many little waterfalls and saw lots of trees and flowers. Emerald Lake was just gorgeous. We snacked while the Clark's Nutcrackers, Mountain Chickadees and Stellar's Jay chattered nearby. We never thought we would make it this far, so we didn't even think about bringing lunch. Thank goodness we had a lot of snacks and water. The hike back down was short he was now our little "trooper" and we were all very proud of him! He had hiked 3.6 miles that day! The reward was a lunch at a picnic table by the side of the river.
The final day we all thought .Cub Lake? Can he make it? Well, we'll try and turn around when he gets tired. At the beginning of the trail, we crossed 2 bridges and looked for the American Dipper. We passed an old beaver dam and looked for the weasel that Grampa Phil had seen a couple of weeks ago. He loved to see where "Paul Bunyan" (or really a glacier) split a rock apart and it was just hanging there. We saw the Marmot sunning himself on the rock and where the little woodpeckers and wrens make their nests in the cavities of the dead trees. We also found lots of "resting rocks" where we had our snacks. Today we did bring our lunch and even some M&Ms for encouragement. We passed 2 ponds where we saw some baby Mallards and their parents. The last ascent up to Cub Lake was somewhat steep, but he just loved it! We sang and counted and talked about everything that we saw. We had a picnic by the lake while the little chipmunks and ducks tried to scrounge our food. "Don't feed the wildlife," Little Marty said. He was learning some good outdoor lessons at such a young age. He hiked all of the way down with very little stopping and we were all amazed! 4.6 miles by a 3 year old! Wow!
If you keep children busy by talking about everything you see on the trail, it can be a life-long lesson. It's good to do some research on the hikes so that you can share this with them. Remember to take sunscreen, a hat, lots of water (he loved drinking from his Dad's Camelbak!), lots of snacks (pretzels, apples or M&Ms were a big hit), lunch, and a walking stick. We were totally amazed at how much a little child can do and learn about the environment at such a young age! Hats off to Little Marty!
P.S. We just received an email from Little Marty's Mom saying that they had just gone for a 2 hour hike in CT and he got so excited on the trail because he saw a tree back east that had "snow knees!" I guess he did learn something, but more than anything, we think it opened up a whole new world in nature for both parents and children.