Jasper’s First Hike

by Matt on January 28, 2015

Before I get to today's blog, I just want to say thank you. I was blown away by the amazing support that you gave us during our fall fundraising push. With your help we were able to raise nearly $15,000 which will be doubled by a matching donor. That almost $30,000 will have a huge impact on our mission this year. It means that we can provide more scholarships to families in need. It also will be critical to the development of our vision to bring deep nature connection to every child in Lane County. So, thank you.

Now, I would like you to meet Jasper. Jasper is three weeks old tomorrow. When I learned that I was going to be having a child, I knew immediately that it would be important to Anna and I to expose him to nature and the outdoors as much as possible. But I also knew that might be a challenge. Dealing with adverse weather, diaper changes in the woods, uneven trails while holding a baby, and keeping him warm and comfortable could all be difficult. The ever since Jasper came home we have been trying to get him some regular sit spot time in the backyard. Typically 5 or 10 minutes at a time. But on Sunday we decided that it was time for Jasper's first hike.

Continue reading below…


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…Continued from above

We decided for Jasper’s first hike to keep it fairly low key. Horse Rock Ridge in the nearby Coburg Hills is about 1.6 miles each way. But I knew that the hike provided some nice views after about a half mile which would provide us with a turnaround point if we decided not to go all the way to the top. So, while the valley was blanketed in wispy fog, we strapped Jasper into the car seat and headed up the Mohawk Valley. It wasn’t long before we left the fog behind and started climbing back roads up to the trailhead.

At the trailhead we had to figure out what we wanted to carry on our hike. Of course, we wanted to be prepared properly, but we also didn’t want to carry the kitchen-sink diaper bag with us. We compromised and brought along a few snacks, some water, and an extra burp cloth for wiping up messes. The hike wasn’t very long and we could deal with the diaper situation when we got back to the car.

The first stretch of the hike was a slow climb through a coniferous forest. We went very slow both because we are still in that paranoid-first-time-parent state of mind and because Anna’s body is still recovering from birth and she hadn’t been out of the house much in a couple weeks. After a half-mile or so we broke out of the trees to an amazing hillside meadow. This large meadow habitat is rare in the Cascade foothills and it affords a unique habitat for many plants. In the middle of winter, though, it was mostly moss that covered all the rocks and dead stalks of grasses and wildflowers that covered the hillside. The day was sunny and warm and we decided to perch ourselves on a rocky outcropping to sit and enjoy the view.

From our perch we could see clearly south over the rolling foothills. To the East, though the trees, we could catch a glimpse of the Three Sisters and Mount Jefferson. Just sitting there and taking it in seemed like just the right pace for two new parents and an infant. The dog, of course, disagreed and was constantly prodding us to throw a stick for him.

As we watched the sun sink toward the distant ridges we decided it was time to head back to the car. After a field-expedient diaper change at the car we strapped Jasper back in to his harness and headed down the mountain. As we came back to the valley I was amazed at how think the fog had become. The contrast of the sunny hilltop and the foggy valley was a great reminder of how easy it can be to beat the winter cold and soak up some sun, even with an infant in tow.

Sincerely,
       
Matt Bradley
Executive Director of Operations
Whole Earth Nature School
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