When I was little, one of the family trips I remember was to Mammoth, California. My parents were skiers and so they loved traveling to this central-Californian town to spend weekends skiing all over Mammoth Mountain. As for us kids, who were all too little at the time to ski, we looked forward to sledding down those white fluffy hills. The memories of sledding down the mountains in Mammoth have a special spot in my mind as some of the most memorable moments of my childhood.
There was always so much snow, which made for a lot of movement all over the town. Some people would be sledding, some snowshoeing and, of course, you could always look up the enormous mountain to see masses of people skiing down. The sunlight would sparkle over the snow, shooting out different colorful rays of warmth. People were always bundled up, laughing and walking along the snow-covered sidewalks. I remember the feeling of the outdoor energy; it was as if everyone had their own personal clouds of excitement surrounding them.
Many years later, when I was all grown up, my sister and I wanted to recreate the same memories for my niece and nephew. Along with my husband Erik and another couple, my sister and her family headed down to central California. The first full day we were in Mammoth, we took everyone on a really nice hike up and down many of the trails surrounding Mammoth Mountain.
Erik found us a really fun trail that was far enough off the beaten paths to be challenging, but not far enough to be too difficult for the little ones. We found ourselves hiking up this trail, surrounded by different rock formations, high peaks and trees that tucked us in from all directions. My niece, who was five, and my nephew, who was three, were being towed in a sled by their dad.
We were building memories for the next generation of our family. We found those memories riddled within the pine trees, hidden beneath the snowdrifts and lurking behind the white-capped boulders; all we had to do was uncover them. The drifts were deep and challenging to move through, but my niece emerged from the sled to travel by foot for about 25 minutes, which for a five-year old is pretty good. It felt so rewarding to see the memories building behind the smile of my young niece. I have no doubt that my sister’s kids will remember our trips to various wilderness destinations. I hope it becomes instilled in them to get outdoors, be active and never lose their sense of exploration.
Making the hikes we do more enjoyable and memorable can be very simple. All we need is a good mountain, good company and a plan. Some ways that I have found hiking to be enjoyable is by inviting people who are new to it. Bring out the explorer in the city folks, who perhaps are new to town. Or maybe there are old friends that just never got into it like you and me.
I recently reconnected on Facebook with some childhood friends who were my neighbors when I was growing up in Golden Valley, Nevada. Since we had a mountain behind our house when we were kids, we decided it might be appropriate to go for a hike as a way to reconnect. It had been at least ten years since we last saw each other, yet here we were with the same things in common, all because as children we used to hike and build forts together in the mountain that sat behind our houses.
There are many things that can bring people together, but organizing meaningful hikes is one of my favorites.
Hiking is a wonderful way to expand your horizons and to learn about others as well as yourself. I believe people change every day, with the slightest bit of new information. We take in so much every day that by simply reconnecting with nature we can reconnect with ourselves, family and old friends.
There is so much to learn and explore in this world that sometimes it can become overwhelming. When we find ourselves losing focus, we should get outside and take a stroll, a hike, or a backpacking trip across a mountain. Have a plan, reconnect, change your perspective, become aware, find a good attitude to deal with any new changes, allow yourself to recover and explore the road less traveled. If hiking over a mountain filled with life can bring you presently into your own life, then you have achieved a hiker’s dream.
Share with me how you build long-lasting memories in the comments below, or follow me on twitter @KellieHiking.