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To the lighthouse!

I just got back from an amazing summer trip. There were so many fantastic parts to this trip, it’s overwhelming just to list them: a family backpack in Desolation Wilderness, a week on the Monterey Peninsula with one grandma, a week backpacking the John Muir Trail with 6 other incredible mamas (and without any of our kids!), a week at Lake Tahoe with the other grandma, and a week of camping on the Olympic Peninsula, while simultaneously attending a week of Restorative Exercise™ classes and activities with new and old friends. That’s at least 6 trips rolled up into one! I am one lucky duck.

Coming soon, you can look for a couple more posts featuring What I Did This Summer, but now I’m going to talk about just one day.


It was the tail-end of the trip, the last day before the boys and I had to start making our way back to our home. In keeping with the tenets of Restorative Exercise,™ there was a walk planned, for anyone who had time. Not just any walk, but an 11-mile walk, out along a 5-mile sand spit to a lighthouse, and back. (There’s a half-mile trail just to get to the spit, for you math whizzes out there.)

I love walking, and I loved the idea of walking out on this relatively tiny strip of land that stretches five miles into the ocean, and I really loved the idea of doing it with a bunch of friends.

However. I had my kids with me, and they were going to have to go wherever I went. They are tough kids, but they simply had never walked 11 miles before, so I was not entirely sure how it would all go down. Our longest walk, at least that I had clocked, was about 5 miles. But I’ve been working on incorporating as much walking into our life as possible, and they are accustomed to walking for transportation. They know how I feel about the importance of walking. (Believe me, they know.) And they certainly don’t lack for energy, any day. So I was willing to give it a whirl. I figured, worst case, we don’t make it to the lighthouse and I end up carrying/bribing/enduring whining. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

So we talked it up. WOW, wouldn’t it be cool if you guys made it ALL THE WAY to the lighthouse? Can you IMAGINE how impressed everyone will be?? I will be SO PROUD! You can tell all your friends you walked ELEVEN MILES! On a TINY SAND SPIT!  You get the picture. I started this a couple months in advance, and used it as leverage when we were on “training walks.”

And we did up the mileage on those daily walks. From about 3 miles a day average, often in 1-mile chunks, to a few of those 5-miles-straight walks. I was pretty darned pleased just about that! And I figured we had a good shot at success on the big day.

Our family backpack was great, and we did longer distances this year than we’ve done before, with only mild whining, persuading, and “energy pellet” distribution.  OK, I might be fudging a little on the energy pellets. They flowed pretty freely. Nothing like a little motivation (read: sugar) to get you up the trail… And actually, one boy mentioned on the trail that he liked camping better than backpacking; all of the fun and playtime without all the carrying of gear. So maybe there was more whining than I remember. But they did great, and summited their first peak!

There was plenty of walking the rest of the trip, too, to the beach, to the farmer’s market, to the park, etc. All good.

Then came the Hurricane Ridge hike for a clinic on uphill and downhill gait… AKA just a really pretty hike for the non-students who came along. Or, a loooooong hottttttttt tiiiiirinnnnnggg how-much-longerrrrrr? hike for my kids. Except that it was *not* long, it probably wasn’t more than a couple miles. Only two days before the adventure to the lighthouse, their reaction made me a little panicky. Really, guys?

Hurricane Ridge

But they were still excited about the big walk and so was I, so two days later off we went.

water both sides

And they did it, without even the slightest difficulty.


Without a single whine.


In fact, when we got back to our campsite (we’d been walking from 9:00 am to 3:30pm- with a lunch break) they didn’t even pause to let me put down the backpack. They zoomed off to the playground to chase kids on bikes and swing and slide. Full speed ahead.

How about that?

So here are the factors that I think played a part in our wildly successful walk:

  • We had a real destination, AND it was an out-and-back hike, so once you get there, you have to get back.
  • It was a unique place in the world, not something we experience every day.
  • We were at sea level (we live at sea level) so altitude did not make us out-of-breath.
  • It was a lovely day, not hot, a little overcast.
  • We were on a super-awesome beach the whole time. Crabs, seals, jellyfish, sticks, rocks, bull kelp… never-ending entertainment.
  • We had an audience. Not that this is crucial, but I think it did help that there were plenty of people to impress.
  • I brought all kinds of clothes and food. (But no energy pellets!) For comfort along the way, and just in case we had to spend the night at the lighthouse… ha ha ha
  • And last but not least, it was something they’d known about and planned on for a long time, and that they wanted to accomplish. I had tried to present it as something they would choose to do. So they could brag. :)


So what this has taught me about my kids? They have plenty of energy. They are capable of walking/hiking/working/etc WAY more than I give them credit for. Their ability to accomplish a task is determined ENTIRELY BY THEIR MINDS.

tiny crab

Oh, hey.  I’m pretty sure that’s true about me, too.


Not really a new revelation, but certainly a good one to keep at the forefront of said mind.


There are days when I go for my walk mostly just because I know it’s good for me, not because I really want to. I don’t have really *motivating* locations for walks, here. Kids are less likely than adults to do something that’s not fun just because it’s good for them. So make it fun. Use the power of their mind to your (and their) benefit. It does take some work, because you just don’t always have a great beach with a lighthouse at the end of it, but it’s not impossible. Katy has one great idea for getting kids walking (click here), and an RES colleague, Susanne, has a bunch of ideas (click here)! If you think of more, share them here!



1 Comment

  1. No photo of the lighthouse :( ? Thanks for sharing your summer adventure. Making great memories. Your kids are pretty lucky too.


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