Sunday, July 06, 2014

Playing in Yosemite and yes, I'm still around….

It's been a while since I wrote because... well in Singapore, when your child starts formal school, most parents end up getting very involved in the child's education. Whether it's chauffeuring the child from one enrichment class to another or actually providing enrichment themselves. I do a mix of both and I also have an actual job that pays and keeps me busy half the time! I write, take photos, and talk to bloggers/journalists so you can imagine by the time I have time to myself, I don't feel very inclined to write some more.

I am still taking photographs with any toy camera that I can get my hands on and recently, I also purchased the Impossible Project's Polaroid Sun 600 LMS instant camera but more about that later.

We just came back from an amazing trip to California and a highlight of the trip was Yosemite National Park. I've written a post in the past on tips on trekking with toddlers/babies and some of our treks with my young urbanite toddlers:
- Trekking in Blue Mountains, Australia
- Grampians, Australia

I am updating the tips with some slight changes as during this recent trip, both boys are definitely too old (8yo and soon-to-be-5yo) to be carried for long distance and too young to be walking/trekking for long distance on their own. So we chose treks/walks that they can manage although we brought along our trusty Macpac Possum in case Kit got tired. Here's my updated list on trekking with children in this age group.

1. Get fit and choose a trail that the whole family can manage

Look at Kit! He's sticking out all over the place! We took turns to carry him… uphill.
(Taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1)
The get fit portion of the tip includes the children. Urbanite children who get wheeled around in strollers most of the time won't be able to last very long walking in the great outdoors and some of the walking trails are not wheelchair or stroller accessible. Get them used to walking for long distance, bring them out for walks, runs, cycling trips, increase the distance over time. We did the Mirror Lake Trail which is a 3.2km walk to the famous Mirror Lake and back. Kai did very well on his own though 'bribes' are also necessary to keep him going.

Kai had been to a few treks with us but Kit is still a newbie; we've carried him in the Macpac all the time until this trip so this is an initiation trip for him. We carried him for a short distance uphill but he walked most of the 3.2km, and you can imagine that little fella was dead beat at the end of the trip.

2. Stop, rest, and play

Shoes off and into Mirror Lake.
(Taken with Fujipet Thunderbird using Lomography Color Negative 800ISO film)
Little children will need to rest often so expect your trip to take longer than expected. Plan your day so that you don't end up in a bad situation i.e. starting a trek late in the day and not having enough daylight to make it back. The trip to Mirror Lake is expected to take 1 hour but we made some stops so it probably took us 1.5 hours or so. Find scenic spots to rest, drink water, eat snacks, and have fun. Which brings me to an important point….

Kai scrambled to the top of a big rock halfway through the walk just to see if he could do it, and
he wouldn't stop after he discovered he could!
(Taken with Olympus OM-D E-M1)

3. Carry your own trash. Don't leave it behind.

(Taken with Fujipet Thunderbird using Lomography Color Negative 800ISO film)
The only thing left behind by you should be your footprints and whatever Mother Nature herself discards. Snacks are important for walking with children. It serves as a bribe and takes their mind off the ache in their feet and how tired they are sometimes. Bring a plastic bag along for storing trash or if you forget, just stuff it into your bag for disposal later.

4. Carry enough water and change of clothes

(Taken with Fujipet Thunderbird using Lomography Color Negative 800ISO film)
If you drive, you have the option of leaving a set of clean clothes in your car that you and the kids can change into. Trekking can be dirty business. If you don't drive, bring them along. The boys got wet splashing around Mirror Lake and I forgot to pack a change of clothes. But thankfully the weather was so dry that their clothes dried as quickly as it got wet.

Terence and I once ran out of water while trekking in France. That was before the kids came along, luckily, and it wasn't funny at all! So bring enough water for everyone and spread the load.

5. Have fun, talk, and most of all, enjoy the silence

(Taken with Fujipet Thunderbird using Lomography Color Negative 800ISO film)
It's ok for the kids to get dirty and let them play. But play safely of course. No horsing around right next to the cliff! The boys really had a whale of a time splashing in the icy cool water, climbing over rocks at the bottom of a waterfall, finding long sticks as walking sticks and getting splinters in their fingers for doing so. If they were noisy (and they do get VERY noisy), I didn't even notice. They were lost in the moment and we were happy for them to be lost.

Photography notes (if you are interested):
I carried two cameras with me on this trip--the Diana F+ and the Fujipet Thunderbird. Terence carried the Olympus OM-D E-M1. I am constantly amazed at the results delivered by my toy cameras and the contrast they pose to what you see around you (and which is accurately captured in the Olympus.)

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