I had the most amazing spring day in Waterton with the boys recently. Well, you have to use the word “amazing’ with a grain of salt when hiking with toddlers. But it was a rare day with absolutely no wind so the lake was flat and glassy, the sun was shining, and everyone’s spirits were high. At first.
I like to take the boys to this little runoff waterfall that occurs every spring on the Bertha Falls trail. It’s only a quarter mile or so in which makes it the perfect “destination” hike for toddlers with little legs.
I tried to get the boys to hike on their own at the beginning. Someone had kindly stacked a few child size “hiking” sticks at the trailhead sign and I gave them each one to encourage them to hike along.
Logan made it 5-10 paces before he dropped to the ground crying to be carried. That was okay though because we quickly came up to the avalanche area from the January avalanche.
This was a challenging hill of slushy spring snow mixed with sticks and rocks. I talked to Tynan about “planting” his foot before putting his weight on it and told him to use his hiking stick for counter balance. I was actually surprised we made it up and over so well. We only had to stop twice to empty snow out of Ty’s boots.
Once over that hump, the trail opened up (a few snowy parts were still here and there) and Tynan ran ahead. You see, his imaginary friend Mario was with us hiking. And Mario was leading the way and it was our job to keep up with him.
Because of the Kenow Fire, the trees on Bertha Trail are all burned up. While sad, this gives you great Mt. Vimy and Waterton Lake views.
I even used the self timer app to snap this photo of the boys and I which I’m absolutely obsessed with!
Before we knew it we were at the waterfall. I put Logan down and let the boys have some free play; eating snow, throwing rocks, and putting their hands and sticks under the water.
We weren’t there long when Logan lost interest and tried running down the trail himself. This trail has a very steep edge and he is a very clumsy toddler, so I knew we had to go.
The Joys of Hiking with Toddlers
Tynan was very upset when I told him we were leaving because Mario was still playing in the waterfall and wasn’t coming with us. I told Ty he could make Mario do whatever he wanted but apparently, he couldn’t.
That whole quarter mile down he was screaming and crying “I wanna go home! I wanna go home!” Because he wasn’t focused there was much more slipping and falling over the snow patches and the avalanche area which made him crankier.
When we got to the trail head, we didn’t go home, despite Ty’s tantrum. I knew we HAD to get to the lake for Logan’s favourite activity in the world- throwing rocks into water.
The entire walk to the lake Ty cried “I wanna go home!” over and over. I wondered if any passersby judged me for not listening, but I didn’t care. This kid needed to learn that sometimes we sacrifice what we want to make others happy.
We got to the lake and Logan was in heaven. Ty sat sulking for a while and then he started to work at cheering himself up. He tried throwing rocks in the water but got upset that we were seated too far from the water. Then he started building inukshuks, but got upset when they fell. Then he buried his feet in rocks. He was actively trying to focus on something else. I was impressed as I watched him undertake this.
Logan didn’t last long before he was done and we started the walk back to the car. Now that he was calm and had time to reflect, Ty said “I think Mario stayed at the waterfall because I wanted to stay at the waterfall.” Pretty good self reflection from a 4 year old!
While this wasn’t the “perfect spring day hiking with toddlers,” it was a memorable outing where lessons were learned and memories made. Isn’t that how it should go?
What are your tips and tricks for hiking with toddlers?