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Henry loves multisport!
posted by John : May 18, 2014

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See that peak Henry?

I don't really remember much about being six. Or six and a half. Or more specifically 6.96098562628337. I'm pretty sure I got bored pretty quickly, though. Being a parent is really about keeping kids engaged long enough so they can grow mentally and physically.

Hiking can be hard for littles. I can go for hours through the trees with just the promise of a summit or a sparkling lake ahead. Similarly, biking can bore kids after just a little while on the trail. Adults can pedal for hundreds of miles just to say they did it, no matter how numb they get. (Well, not me, but some adults.) Fishing can be the ultimate challenge for kids. Unless the fish are biting it can be more an exercise in patience than in catching.

In order to keep their attention, we like to mix it up. We've done this a lot with letterboxing, but it works even when you don't have any letterboxes to be found.

After a morning run up Putrid Pete's Peak, Henry, Treen, and I headed up to Iron Horse State Park for a few more miles. He was on his bike, Treen and I were on foot. It might seem a bit of a mismatch, but it worked out really well. Henry would zip ahead until he was almost out of sight, then race back. Treen and I covered about three miles. Henry probably biked close to five.

Just when Henry might have lost interest in biking along the old Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad converted into a Washington State Park we'd stop and poke around the rocks or explore a trail that inexplicably headed into the woods.

The best diversion was at Wood Creek. On the west side of the creek a high trail traversed the hill above the steep waterfall, ending where it met the water. I had high hopes it would lead to something more interesting, but there was nothing indicating any further route. (Wood Creek appears to flow from the northern face of McClellan Butte so perhaps this could be followed to a climbing area.)

On the east side of Wood Creek was an overgrown access road that dropped 50 feet to the culvert where the creek flowed under the trail. The waterfall was charming and there was plenty to explore around the culvert including old railroad ties and a "secret garden" Henry found. Just 10 minutes playing near the water without the bike was enough of a change of pace to get Henry interested in his bike again. At least for another 15 minutes until it started pouring rain and our turnaround alarm went off.

This kind of multisport adventure is perfect for adventurers with short attention spans regardless of their age. It also works wonders for those that might not particularly care for one aspect of an adventure, but are willing to undertake that leg if they know their preferred activity is coming up.

It's worked for us so far. If this strategy ever stops working for Henry and his sisters we'll be in big trouble.

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