I can remember back when I was about 12 or 13, my brother-in-law Mark and I would occasionally pack up fishing and camping gear and head to the mountains for a day or two of hauling in trout from the streams and beaver ponds deep in the high country of Colorado.
I can’t remember any trip where we got skunked. Going to fishing grounds above Jefferson Lake and Taylor Park Reservoir, or perhaps wading through the marshes in river valleys near Eagle always brought back worthwhile experiences, memories and, of course, a fresh catch or two.
The same might be said of earlier times, when I was small. My parents would pack us all up in the family car (a behemoth green Chevy Caprice of late ’60s vintage) and head up to this awesome little A-frame cabin near Bailey. It didn’t have running water, but it had electricity, a huge deck with a bird feeder (hummingbirds!) and a view of alpine woods. Sylvan scenes from exploratory hikes around that cabin are still with me decades later.
There is something to be said for passing along that outdoors legacy. Obviously, it stuck for me.
I had the opportunity to spend the weekend with a couple of my nephews. These are two awesome boys, ages 12 and 8, who have energy and curiosity to burn. Like a lot of kids these days, many things battle for their attention and time. Organized sports, for one (no problem with that). And video games, be they on a console or on a smartphone or tablet.
I know there was no way to completely eliminate the video games. Not when they’re so portable, and honestly, it would be an exercise in frustration for everyone if I had tried. But I wanted the weekend to be fun and active. The key word being “active.”
We did the usual stuff: got some grub, saw “Turbo,” played a few games. But then there were other things that I hope are more memorable.
We spent a couple of hours at a rock climbing gym. It had been a goal of mine to get them there because I know they enjoyed it the last time they climbed. I had no problem being their belay slave. As they climbed higher, their confidence grew. Memories were being made.
Here’s the youngest, Ethan, climbing like a boss.
Not to be outdone was older brother Seth. He made it to the top on four or five routes that day. I think climbing is in his blood. He even tried doing tougher 5.7 and 5.9 routes, just to push himself a little harder. Here he is topping out.
The day ended with dinner, then putt-putt. There’s not a lot of “nature” in putt-putt, but it was time away from video games. I call that a win, especially since both of them scored holes-in-one.
The next day I offered to take them hiking at Turkey Mountain, my trail running haunt for the past couple of years. I’m afraid the video games won out for the little guy. I remember being there as a kid, entranced by “Defender” and “Asteroids.” And yeah, I know that dates me. Anyway, there was no sense pushing too hard there.
But Seth was game. So off we went.
We did a little bouldering at the trailhead, then hiked a 2-mile loop through the woods. Spotted some bugs disguised as leaves that made weird noises. Saw horse tracks. A lizard. And at a pond, a fish jumping for a snack (bad day to be a bug) and a whole load of turtles patrolling the waters. With each new sighting, I could see the kid’s imagination firing.
At some point that afternoon, we’d stopped for a bit and I showed him photographs from my recent climb of Mount Sneffels. I’d describe what was what, or what was happening in that particular pic. During the ride home, we got do discuss mountaineering.
“Climbing a mountain is a lot like putting together that rock climbing we did yesterday and the hiking we did today,” I told him. “Except there is a lot more of it.”
He nodded with understanding.
“You think you want to climb a mountain one day?” I asked.
He thought about it for a few seconds, then answered, “Yeah. I think that would be cool.”
Adventure instilled. Chalk one up for the outdoors.
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