ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this June 2, 2016 photo, Hazel Loerch rests on the beach at Cama Beach State Park, buried under the excellent rocks. (Jessi Loerch/The Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this June 2, 2016 photo, Hazel Loerch rests on the beach at Cama Beach State Park, buried under the excellent rocks. (Jessi Loerch/The Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

Adventures with Hazel: Hiking with kids is its own kind of epic

CAMANO, Wash. (AP) — I like to hike. No, I love to hike. Or, to say it another way, hiking is the only thing I’ll happily get up early for.

So, of course, I want my daughter to love to hike. I fantasize about hiking the PCT with her or going on other epic adventures.

Right now, though, she’s 5, almost 6, and epic isn’t really her style.

Picnic is more her style, and has been for a while. If I want to take her hiking, I have to be careful to avoid using the word “hike,” or she’ll simply say “No.” Not as if she’s being difficult, just as if it’s a fact.

If I let her pack a picnic lunch, however, she’s in.

My husband, Jerry, and I wanted to head outside recently, on one of the lovely summer-like days we’ve had this spring.

I envisioned something in the mountains, my default outdoor playground.

But all the trails were going to be extremely muddy from the days of rain that had preceded our sunny day.

Jerry suggested the beach. I resisted a little. Because when I say I want Hazel to love hiking what I really mean is I want her to love hiking the way I love hiking.

I want her to suffer up steep mountains with me and then, at the summit, flop down in ecstasy, take in the view and savor whatever fancy picnic we’ve packed.

But, like I said, she’s 5. She’s not really interested in anything as abstract as a view.

She cares about the things she can touch and play with.

So we went to the beach.

We started with the short walk to Cranberry Lake at Cama Beach State Park. Hazel led, playing her favorite game of being the teacher and telling us about the plants and wildlife.

We sat down in the trail to watch a millipede. Hazel let it crawl up on her hand before carefully setting it at the edge of the trail where it wouldn’t get squashed.

When we reached the lake, another family was already there with their two small kids.

They pointed out the frogs in the water, but Hazel was distracted by the damselflies. I was distracted as well. I love damselflies. They’re just as beautiful as dragonflies, you just have to look a little closer because they’re so small.

One of them, delicately shaped with a bit of bright blue, landed on my arm. I carefully lifted it on my finger and then set it in Hazel’s palm. She held it, entranced, and so very, very careful. Eventually, she wanted to see the frogs, so I helped her slip the damselfly onto a leaf.

She turned her attention to the frogs. She pointed out the different colors, the different sizes. She was suitably impressed with the gigantic tadpole we’d spotted. (Seriously, that thing was enormous.)

Then, as she lost interest in the frogs, she headed farther downshore and another damselfly landed right on her hand.

She was just as entranced the second time. And truly, so was I.

When we finally left the pond, after Hazel spotted a bird with its mouth full of nesting material, we walked the mile or so to the beach.

At the beach, we all settled in on the warm rock, backs propped up against a log. Hazel ran in and out of the water, occasionally eating, while Jerry and I watched and laughed at her goofiness.

Eventually, with the food and drinks gone, she lured me into the water and my husband put his hat over his face and fell asleep.

I buried her in the perfect beach rocks. As I dug up the rocks to cover her, I found shells and agates and chunks of perfectly weathered beach glass. I held up each treasure for her to examine.

When she got tired of being buried, she shook off all the beach rocks and we headed to the tiny playground.

We played in the sand box inside an old boat. She made me endless meals of sand, that we pretended to eat together.

I pushed her on the swing and then I took the swing next to her. I closed my eyes and I felt like I was falling and flying at the same time.

And really — that exhilarating feeling was a lot like what I feel when I stand on the top of a mountain.

We went home that evening so happy, all of us. I want Hazel to love the outdoors and I realize she does. She loves the rocks and the waves and the tiny damselflies. And some day, she’ll probably love the views and the summits and the feeling of achievement from getting there under your own power.

Maybe someday I’ll teach her that. But for now? She’s reminding me to look closer than a grand view. She’s reminding me to slow down, to watch the millipede, to smell the wild roses and to let the damselfly sunbathe on your skin.

And maybe that’s its own kind of epic.

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS - In this June 2, 2016 photo, a damselfly rests on Hazel Loerch's hand at Cranberry Lake at Cama Beach State Park, buried under the excellent rocks. (Jessi Loerch/The Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

ADVANCE FOR WEEKEND EDITIONS – In this June 2, 2016 photo, a damselfly rests on Hazel Loerch’s hand at Cranberry Lake at Cama Beach State Park, buried under the excellent rocks. (Jessi Loerch/The Herald via AP) MANDATORY CREDIT

More in Life

Virginia Walters (Courtesy photo)
Life in the Pedestrian Lane: Thanksgiving

We at least have a good idea of what our political future looks like.

This is Arthur Vernon Watson at age 39, when he was transferred from the federal prison in Atlanta to the penitentiary on Alcatraz Island near San Francisco. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)
Justice wasn’t elementary: Watson, Part 3

Anchorage probation officer Roy V. Norquist was monitoring Arthur’s movements and reported that he was pleased with what he saw

Cranberry sauce made from scratch with hand-picked berries makes a special holiday treat. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
Foraging with love and gratitude

Gathered and prepared by hand, cranberries brighten a Thanksgiving feast

File
Minister’s Message: When the going gets tough…

Suffering as a Christian is not always a popular preaching topic.

Letitia Wright as Shuri in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (Image courtesy Marvel Studios)
On the Screen: ‘Wakanda Forever’ picks up the pieces

“Black Panther” sequel grapples with grief and hope after franchise loses its star

Oxtails are cooked with onions, garlic and daikon. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A bowl full of medicine

Oxtail soup makes a healing winter meal

Will Morrow (courtesy)
Ride on!

Later this month, I’ll turn 49

Arthur Vernon Watson was 23 years old when he was incarcerated in San Quentin state prison in California. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)
Justice wasn’t elementary, Watson, Part 1

The Frolichs’ establishment, then called the Watson Motel, had been owned by Arthur Vernon Watson and had become a crime scene

Korean red pepper paste adds heat to this Mapo tofu recipe. (Photo by Tressa Dale/Peninsula Clarion)
A spicy meal to burn away the sadness

This hearty meal can be adjusted to be as mild or spicy as you wish

Nick Varney
Thanksgiving memories of the unhinged kind

Let’s take a first look at the oncoming day of feasting

The first snowfall of the year arrives in Kenai, Alaska, on Oct. 25, 2022. (Photo by Erin Thompson/Peninsula Clarion)
Minister’s Message: Delight in the wonder of winter

Seemingly overnight, we’ve transitioned from our summer playground to our winter lives