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Devlyn Brooks, Published November 10 2009

Parenting Perspectives: Hiking with sons a relaxing getaway

Yep, we don’t go hiking enough.

After the divorce several years ago, the boys and I were hiking maniacs. At least a couple of times per week we’d load up the two dogs and head out to any number of city, county or state parks in the area. And then we hiked, and hiked and hiked.

I can’t believe the number of miles the boys were willing to put on in those days. But, in recent years, as the boys have grown older and more interested in their own friends and their own hobbies, we’ve hiked less and less. What a shame.

However, on a recent Saturday, four of us dads took our first-year Cub Scout sons on a nature walk at a local university science center.

In late morning, we set out down the trail to teach our sons a little bit about hiking and why the activity can be so fun. It didn’t take long for the kids to get into it. As soon as the trail tilted downhill toward the south and headed to the river, the boys’ excitement grew. And surprisingly they maintained a fervor for the next two hours.

We found animal prints in the sandy beach along the river and on the trails in the woods. We stopped on the walking bridge that crossed the river and looked at the bird homes built into the cutbank downstream. And the kids scoured the ground for anything and everything that a 6-year-old boy would find cool.

One of the true treasures, at least as far as my son Bug was concerned, was a 12-inch femur bone that I found along the river path. It was a big, thick bone and must have come from a large animal. I guessed it came from a cow, maybe a large deer. Bug was sure that it came from a dinosaur. We agreed to disagree.

Regardless, he gripped that bone tight the rest of the morning, even on the car ride home. We finished the day doing leaf rubbings on the front porch of the science center, a good activity to bring down the boys’ excitement levels a bit before we all headed home.

The boys weren’t the only ones excited about their day. It was a thrill to work with the kids to find deer and raccoon tracks along the banks of the river, and to assure them that not even the bigger tracks came from bears.

And for just a brief moment, while we were standing on the walking bridge that spanned the river, there was a lull in the boys’ noise.

As their sound faded, the urgent rush of the river, recently swollen by rain runoff, thundered in my ears and just a little fainter was the sound of the tall grass swaying in the wind. I felt the cool, moist breeze hitting my cheeks and could smell the musty, wet leaves decomposing all around us. The bridge’s metal handrailing was cool to the touch and the sky, although overcast, still contained a hint of a blue tint. And just for that brief moment, before the boys’ joyful shrieks returned to cover-your-ears level, everything was perfect in the world.

We were so far away from the everyday worries that drag us down. The world seemed to stop and we were the only ones living in it. Wow, what a moment.

Yep, I know for certain we don’t go hiking enough.

Readers can reach Forum News Editor Devyln Brooks at (701) 241-5505. Brooks’ blog can be found at www.areavoices.com/singledad