During our end-of-year leader meeting we set the goal to offer an optional activity one weekend each month throughout the year. We had tried this at the start of last year, but stopped because of lack of participation. We decided a restart was in order, and had several goals:
- It should usually involve physical activity – we’re a fairly sedentary culture, and getting families off the couch and on the trail is one of our goals.
- It should usually be something that is readily available to most Trailmen – As a Troop that has Trailmen as young as 5 years old, we want to make sure we’re offering a physical activity that is achievable by even out youngest Trailman.
- It should be something appealing to our older Trailmen – Our Navigators and Adventurers don’t want to be bogged down at a kiddy park, and they don’t want to hike on Kiddy Trails. We need to offer something that is at worst acceptable to them, and at best offers them a challenge every now and then.
- It should be available to families – First, these are not a drop-and-run event. We understand that sometimes a Trailman (especially a younger, Woodlands Trail Trailman), may have problems on the Trail. For these optional hikes, we want the family to be able to help their young Trailman out). Secondly, we want the families, and especially the dads, to be involved with their sons out on the trail. Parents, Siblings, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, etc., are all invited to attend.
As you can imagine, it’s sometimes difficult to find an activity that meets all of these requirements.
Trailman and their families pose for a picture on one of the bridges on Butler Creek Trail
In January, we hiked nearly 3 miles round-trip from Linneman Station, along the Springwater Corridor Trail, and up the Butler Creek Trail to Butler Creek Park. The Butler Creek Trail is a mostly unpaved trail through the woods that divide two neighborhoods. Even with houses so close, you really feel like you’re in the woods. There is a creek that runs alongside the trail, and there are several bridges to cross in a couple places.
Nearly half the Troop showed up, and along with siblings and parents we had quite a crew. Butler Creek Park has a playground, so we took 20 minutes to have a snack and the kids played on the equipment, before heading back down the hill. Okay – I called it a hill, but there was really only 194 feet in total elevation change in the entire walk, so it was a really easy introductory hike for many of the boys.
Some of the Navigators taking a snack break and bouldering near Multnomah Falls Creek, above Multnomah Falls.
In February we decided to try one of the trails in the Columbia River Gorge. We started with a short (but steep) hike to the top of Multnomah Falls. If you haven’t done this hike, you should. It’s only 2.17 miles round-trip, but does involve 907 total feet in elevation change, so be prepared. Our goal was for our Woodlands Trail Trailmen to do this shorter hike, and then we’d split up and the older Trailmen would continue on, loop around the top of Wahkeena Falls, and then hike back on the trail to Multnomah Falls.
We took a couple deviations from our plan. First, at the top of the Wahkeena falls trail we took a short trail to reach a Wahkeena Springs, which feeds Wahkeena falls. This is a great place for the boys to drink clean water that comes right out of the ground.
The trail between Wahkeena Falls and Multnomah Falls was closed for maintenance, so after ensuring it was safe to do so, we hiked alongside the railroad tracks which run alongside Historic Highway 30. Total revised hike, about 5 miles round-trip.
As expected, we had fewer people on this second hike. It was not only Valentine’s Day, but we’d also warned people that only Woodlands Trail Trailmen and siblings who were capable of climbing 1,000 feet in elevation over the course of a mile (20% grade) should attempt this hike. I was very proud of the one young Fox Patrol Trailman who made it to the top. I’m sure the view at the top of Multnomah Falls was very sweet for him.
Our March hike is this weekend. This time we’re going to have two back-to-back hikes. Our first will be a very easy, short (less-than-a-mile) hike over fairly level ground to Bridal Veil Falls. Then, anyone wanting a little more physical adventure is welcome to join us on hike to Angel’s Rest. This hike is just over 4.21 miles, and has an elevation gain of 1,305 feet. For those who went on the Multnomah Falls hike, this will be an easier grade. There is a cliff, however, so parents will want to be sure their younger children understand the importance of staying on the trail. We’ll reiterate that point before we go. That said, my younger daughter did this hike when she was in Kindergarten, so it is doable by most of the younger Trailmen.
We’ve had a good time the past few months taking these optional hikes. If you’ve been on one, what’s your feedback? Are you a grade, middle, or high-school aged boy who is ready for Adventure? Come visit us at one of our meetings to find out how you can enjoy the Trail Life with us. In the meantime, Walk Worthy!