A quick adventure at Mingo Falls

My family and ours spent a week in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park as well as a few days in Pisgah National Forest. It was a great time for all of us.

The Trek Begins

One of the days my wife suggested we go to Mingo Falls near Cherokee North Carolina. We hoped in the truck and headed that way. When we got their we were greeted by a quarter mile with of stairs. I prefer natural trails versus stairs so I was not happy about this. Our kids hopped out of the truck and we hiked up the stairs. After the stairs were defeated (my sons words) we hiked another quarter to half mile to the falls. This time it was a more natural trail. At the falls was a bridge going over the stream the waterfall created.

My wife started across the fallen logs to get a closer picture of the falls. The rest of the family followed while my daughter and I played in the stream and on the bridge. When my wife returned she had told me my son wanted to get to the top of the falls. The top was 125 feet in the air.

I started across the fallen logs and hopped across the rocks to get to the side of the water fall. Waiting their was Isaiah. We began our ascent with him leading the way. He was determined to do it himself.

The Ascent

As we started Isaiah took the lead and was quickly scrambling up the side of the waterfall. Climbing over rocks, stepping over roots, and ducking under fallen trees. He looked agile for a 4 year old. At the half way point, we noticed that the rugged trail split into three. Before I could say anything Isaiah bolted up the trail closest to the water fall. After I caught up to him, he turned to me and said “daddy are you ok?” To which I responded ” Yeah, why?”  He preceded to tell me that I sounded a little wore out. I laughed and thought, am I really breathing that hard?

We continued up the side of the falls to a small rocky out cropping. We didn’t know it at the time but this was the top of the falls

Finding a Hidden Fall

Neither Isaiah nor I knew this was the top. We couldn’t see it nor hear it. He spotted what looked like a little game trail at the top of the out cropping and started for it. He handled the out cropping with easy while making me nervous the entire time.

Going down the trail, it began to flatten out and become choked with brush and fallen trees. Isaiah handled these with ease, ducking below and scurrying through where he needed to. Not being as small as Isaiah, I lumbered through, stepping over the fallen trees.

Then we heard it.

The sound of falling water. We couldn’t see it yet through the overgrowth but we pushed through and ducked under one last tree. There it was. A smaller water fall than the one we came to see but one that we didn’t know about. It was great experience to find such a thing. Isaiah was proud of himself, making it up by himself and finding a waterfall. We snapped a selfie as proof and began our descent down.

The Descent

On our way down. Isaiah’s Uncle Johnny met us at the rock outcropping. We had worried them because of how long we had been gone. He lead the way to the actual top of Mingo falls and Isaiah and I were able to see the waterfall from the top looking down 125ft.

The way down seemed a bit trickier for Isaiah since he had to meter his speed and try not to slide down. He was able to navigate it well but towards the end he had gotten tired. I helped him down the last 20 feet or so. Once we reached the stream he caught his second wind and we were off across the stream. Jumping across rocks and racing over wet logs to get to the bridge.

The falls were beautiful, especially Mingo falls. Isaiah had a great time, Susie got great pictures and I got to see my son handle climb that could be difficult for adults. It was a great little adventure.

 

Lems Boulder Boots Review

Those who have read this blog before know we hike often. I usually hike in my Lems Primal 2 shoes. I am not much of a boot person but Lems gave me a pair of their Boulder Boots to try out. The boots were not only used them for hiking but for outdoor work as well. This review will go over these Lems boots and how they have held up.

Lems boulder boots black, boot, boulder, minimalist hiking bootFirst Off

Who is Lems? They are essentially and 8 person company. Lems make minimalist shoes and boots and are becoming quite popular. Where are Lems shoes made? They are American run and family owned company based out of Boulder Colorado. Lems has carved a substantial niche out for themselves in the minimalist footwear community. Building up a brand that is known for quality, versatility, and adaptability to what their customers want.

The Boulder boot they sent me was the Lems Boulder Boot Black. They came in a Lems shoe box and looked great out of the box.

The Specs are as follows.

WATERPROOFING  None

  • LAST      Lems Natural-Shape™ Last
  • UPPER   1200 denier nylon – *VEGAN
  • LINING   100% cotton
  • OUTSOLE   9.0mm LemsRubber™ (air-injection rubber)
  • FOOTBED   3.0mm removable PU insole
  • INSOLE BOARD   1.0mm PU strobel (lined with fabric on top)
  • STACK HEIGHT   10.0mm (not including 3.0mm footbed)
  • DROP   0.0mm (Zero-Drop)
  • WEIGHT   9.9oz/280g (sz 43)
  • PROVIDED WITH 2 PARIS OF LACES black + red

 

Without Further delay, the review.

The Great

While I don’t like to wear boots much, I don’t like the ankle support, these boots are great looking and comfortable. These LemsLems boulder boots black, boot, boulder, minimalist hiking boot boots are zero drop heel to toe and have a relatively small outsole at just 9.00mm. They have good ground feel and allow the toes to splay.

They are water resistant. This is great. Here in NC it rains often and in the mountains it is usually damp. Not walking around with soggy socks or feet is wonderful. The Army drilled into me to not let your feet get wet and these boots do a good job at that. Nobody likes hiking with a baby carrier on their back and wet feet. It makes for a bad hike and a long day.

The Good

These are one of the few truly minimalist boots on the market. This makes them good to begin with. On top of this, The boulder boots come with removable insoles for even better ground feel. I prefer to have the insole out. I have been wearing minimalist shoes for awhile and it is much more comfortable for me.

These black boulder boots are tough. I have hiked through the Great Smoky Mountains, Forested mountains in New Mexico, Desert in New Mexico, Arkansas Ozarks, and my brother in law has worked in them. They have held up great. The only thing I have had to do is give them a wash. No rips, tears, or any other destruction has taken place. The soles have held up nicely, showing minimal wear after spending a few weeks hiking in the Mountains.

These would make a great minimalist snow boot for both men and women. With it being water resistant and relatively warm, these boots would perform great in the winter.

The tread is great on dry rocks, sand, trails, and more.

These can roll up small or fold flat to fit in your pack for an extra pair of footwear on your hike. They also dry relatively quickly if you get them wet crossing a stream or river.

Having 2 sets of laces has also been nice.

The Bad

What I don’t like about these Boulder boots is the lip. It looks good but while hiking in the mountains and walking over logs, it gets caught easily. Is this a deal breaker? No. It is just a minor annoyance and something I need to be aware of while I am hiking.

This is a personal one, I don’t like the ankle support. My brother-in-law loves it. For those who like the ankle support, they will love this boot. I have hiked so long in shoes that not having ankle support is a preference for me.

The tread doesn’t do so good on wet rock. To be fair, not many pieces of footwear do good on wet rock. I learned this lesson the Lems boulder boots black, boot, boulder, minimalist hiking boothard way a few years ago when hoping across a stream and I slipped on the rock and injured my ankle. This happened while wearing regular hiking boots. Not minimalist hiking boots. This didn’t happen with Lems and admittedly, these boots do better than traditional shoes on wet rock but not as good as traditional hiking boots.

Conclusion

Would I recommend them? Heck yes. The negatives I listed were all pretty minor in my estimation and definitely are not deal breakers. I prefer to wear my Lems Primal 2’s hiking in the summer…. unless it rains. If it is wet outside, or in the winter time, I will definitely be using these to hike with my wife and 2 kids. Lems Boulder Boots are great for hiking, working, and just casual walking around. Try them out!

 

 

Deuter Kid Comfort III Review.

 Finding a balance between your outdoor side and the little one at home can be a daunting task. Being a father that enjoys being outside, I can tell you it isn’t easy. My wife and I hike and camp often and finding a way to transport our children along the trails wasn’t easy. Our solution? A backpack kid carrier. To be more specific, the Deuter Kid  comfort 3. Before I bought the Kid Comfort III I had read several reviews which never listed things they did not like. I want to lay out the good and the bad.

First things First

Kid Comfort III 3 DeuterAre you and you child a good fit for a kid carrier? Ideally your child should be able to hold its head up without assistance before using a child carrier. The adult carrying the child might have issues if they are short or have a smaller frame. An example: I am 5’4 and I don’t have issues carrying it. I do not have a small frame either. My wife is 5’3 and smaller frame and can still carry it but it is more difficult as it sits higher on her.

Only Child Carrier?

This isn’t the only backpack kid carrier from Deuter. Deuter isn’t the only brand either. The Kid comfort comes in the Kid comfort III, II, I, and air. Osprey has several child carriers. The Poco AG, Plus, and Premium. We had the Osprey Poco AG but opted for the Kid Comfort instead. This was more about my child liking the plush bear that came with the Deuter Kid comfort than a dislike for the osprey child carrier.

What’s great about the Kid Comfort

There are some great features on this kid carrier. It is adjustable like crazy. This is a huge plus. We had big babies so this was Kid Comfort III, kid comfort, deuter, backpack kid carrier. important. Also the frame size between my wife and I is considerable. The seat, where the child sits, is adjustable. You adjust the seat up for smaller children and down as they grow. The seat belt system is also adjustable. The side flaps allow you to adjust how the child sits on you back as well. Pull the flap tighter and the child is closer to your back looser gives them a bit more room. There are two straps that come over the shoulders that also pull the child closer to your back so they don’t throw your center of gravity off while hiking.

The straps for the adults are numerous as well. The pack is fully customizable fit due to these straps. The shoulder straps, waist straps, chest straps are all fully adjustable. to get the right fit for you.

The Kid Comfort III has 7 pockets total on it. Two are on the waist strap. You can carry compass, small snacks for the monsters, watch or other small items in there. We usually pack our compass and a few snacks in here. The other pockets are on the back of the pack. Two on either side of the head of the pack that can hold small water bottles or snacks or the plush teddy bear that came with it. The main pocket is big. It doesn’t say on their website how many liters it holds. It holds diapers, water bottles, first aid kit, extra clothes and more. The upper pockets on the back usually hold more stow away items or they stay empty.

This child carrier also has a kick stand for stability in putting the child in or putting the pack down. This has been great for us. It makes things easier, especially if you have two people to maneuver it on and off.

The Good

kid comfort, deuter kid comfort, child carrierIt has adjustable foot rests for the kids. This tends to keep the kids legs at a 90 degree angle if you want. My kids never kept their feet in them but I know many who do.

I really like the fact that it has a hydration bladder pocket. This has been great for a few reasons. First off, I like carrying water. When I was in the Army, we used Camelbaks and I loved them. Adding a bladder (which is not included 3L capacity) is great. I like being able to sip water while hiking. The second reason this is great is that my daughter loves playing with the hydration hose. It keeps her busy and not fussing.

It tends to put the kids to sleep. This is nice, especially if you are hiking around nap times. On top of that it comes with a pillow for them to lay their face on as well as a sunshade to keep them cool out on the trails.

The Bad

The first bad for me was the price tag. They are not the cheapest one’s. With that being said, I wanted one I could trust with my child and that would be comfortable for them.

The sunshade, while good, has drawbacks as well. It doesn’t work if it is in the morning or late afternoon. It works during the most important times of day ( most of the time, I’ll get to that next) noon and the heat of the day. However, if the child is asleep against the pillow or laying against the side flap, part of their face is exposed. This isn’t a horrible thing but something to be aware of. They might wake up to some funky tan lines.

Kids are messy and this thing isn’t always the easiest to clean. The pillow is, it detaches, but the side flaps are not.

The bladder is great but it fits right between the child and your back. I couldn’t fit a full 3L in the bladder because I would squeeze the water out after I tightened the straps.

Conclusion

Would I recommend this backpack kid carrier? I would. It has been great! The Kid Comfort 3 is comfortable, looks good, has the features I was looking for. It has gotten me through 2 kids and 3 years. We have hiked through the Arkansas Ozarks, New Mexico mountains and forests and deserts, Sandia Peak, North Carolina Smoky mountains, and various trails near home. It has held up tremendously and is money well spent. My wife and I can enjoy one of our favorite past times and the kids can go with us as well.

You can check out our tips and tricks on hiking with children as well!

Have you ever used a backpack child carrier? what were the good and the bad about the one you used? We would love to hear from you. Check us out on twitter, Facebook page or Facebook group, or drop us a comment below!

 

 

Hiking With Children

We have been getting emails regarding hiking with children lately. We often go on family friendly hikes as well as family backpacking trips. These trips allow our kids to get out and enjoy nature. We’re going to share a few tips with you to get you and those kids out on the trails!

The first thing to remember is to prep. If you’re new to hiking then I would suggest reading REI’s Ten essentials article as well as their beginner hiker article. Those who are not new can focus strictly on the little ones.

Hiking with Family

The first thing to consider is this, What is your goal? What I have found is that those who do not have children focus on the destination while those with children focus on the journey. This is something to keep in mind when looking for family friendly hikes. For us, hiking with family is fun. Whether it be day hikes or family backpacking trips.

Staying warm, dry, fed and hydrated are things to consider for the whole family. In practice this means bringing plenty of snacks, water, watching the weather and dressing appropriately. Since the children are not your average hiking partner, those jobs fall squarely on your shoulders.

Family hiking should be enjoyable, however, you have to realize that the children will keep you going at a slower pace. This gives the family more time to enjoy things they may just gloss over if they were going at a faster pace. As parents we have to be able to enjoy the little things during family hikes. For my wife and I, it turns into a learning adventure for our kids and ourselves. Pointing out snails and flowers, showing my son how to pet a bee to climbing trees when you come across one. To foster a love of the outdoors you have to let them explore, climb, run, fall, look, ask, and enjoy being out in the wilderness.

Hiking with an infant

Hiking with an infant sounds scary.  If you’re not prepared for it, it can be. The good thing is that outside of feeding them and changing their diapers, you can pretty much hike how you want with a few exceptions.

The biggest difference is your going to have to carry your new hiking partner everywhere. An infant should be swaddled and carried on your front for the first 6 months. There are a few front carriers available. I don’t have a preference since we didn’t hike with one when our son was born nor when our daughter was either. Amazon seems to have a high selection though. After 6 months you can transition them to a backpack carrier. These are a bit nicer, roomier, comfortable, and pricier. We use the Deuter kid comfort III. This pack has worked great for us! It has a sun shade, H20 bladder pocket, tons of pockets and a little plush bear for the kid. Osprey has a few good kid carriers as well

It can get hot in those carriers so it is important to put a hat on or use the sun shade for the kiddo’s as well as keep them hydrated and cooled down. A nice little spray bottle works for that.

The factors limiting your hike would be your endurance, your child’s endurance, as well as the weather. We would suggest not to make it more than a 3-4 hours. In our experience, children get a little stir crazy when strapped in to long.

The motion of the pack while hiking tends to put children to sleep, plan your hikes around nap time.

Hiking With Toddlers

Hiking with toddlers brings its own set of rewards and challenges. Your child will want to walk more and that is great, however, they don’t usually walk very far. We have taken our son hiking and have seen a dramatic increase in the distance he can go. When he was 2.5 he was able to hike around a half mile or more depending on elevation. He is 4.5 now and routinely hikes 4-5 miles with elevation gains. This does not include any side climbing we may do on the trail.

Hangout in the tree

Start slow, keep the baby carrier with you. Your toddler will get tired, you will have to carry them. Stop and take breaks from the hike often. Let them play, snack and drink before you head back on the trail. Know how far you are from the trailhead, you will have to carry them all the way back.

Toddlers love to have their own hiking gear. As they get older, your trekking toddler can get their own pack, hydration bladder, whistle, boots and more. Our son has his own pack now. While he can’t carry a lot in it, it is his pride and joy and he likes to carry my handheld GPS on it. Add these items slowly. Your 2 year old does not need his own pair of boots just yet.

Dress your toddlers in bright clothing. This makes them easy to spot if they run off. Teaching your toddler to use a safety whistle is another great step to take. These are loud and easy to hear out on the trails. Having a system in place to know when your toddler is lost gives you peace of mind. Beware, your toddler will blow the whistle in the car.

Hiking with Children (5-pre-teen)

Hiking with children offers you the ability to give them more independence. At this age you can begin to teach basic map reading as well as the leave no trace rules.

Giving children independence on the trail can be as easy as letting them hike a little bit ahead or even going out of sight of mom and dad on the trail. Scary as this thought is, it will be great for their confidence as well as your confidence in them.

The kids can start participating in the planning as well as the prep for the hike or the backpacking trip if it is longer than one day. They can pick places to go, routes to hike, and trails to try. They can pack their own hiking pack with their snacks and water bladder. You may even let them lead the hike!

At this age you may want to try geo-caching to keep them engaged on longer hikes. Or go low tech and scavenger hunt. Look for certain wildlife, plants, creeks, and rocks.

Point out obstacles for your children to conquer. Crossing streams, climbing rocks, and balancing on fallen logs will keep them engaged and enjoying the hike.

This is the age where the kids really want to explore and go off trail. These are great passive teaching moments. Let them explore. This will keep them engaged and interested in the hike.

Start teaching basic map reading. You can start with a trail map and work your way to topo maps as they get more advanced.

Now What

First, don’t get discouraged. The Kallin family thru-hiked the Appalachian trail with their two kids so a few mile hike for the rest of us should be simple enough.

Second, have a ton of fun. When hiking with family or children it is about the journey as well as the destination. Have fun with it. Climb those rocks and trees, swing from a branch, play I spy, and look for wildlife.

Third, be safe. Don’t do dumb things, you have to take care of those kids both at home and on the trail. That’s hard to do if you’re hurt or dead.

Fourth, Hike often. While hiking every once in awhile is ok, it is much better to get out their often. You will be surprised by how much you and your children enjoy it.

 

Do you have any tips or tricks with hiking for your kids? We would love to hear about it. Comment below and come join our liberty parents facebook page or follow us on twitter!

What is peaceful parenting?

Peaceful parenting. It is a philosophy many have heard about but not many know what it actually is. We are going to try and lay it out for you and see if it fits within your parenting philosophy.

My first encounter with peaceful parenting was within the liberty movement. Many parents were taking the defining principle of libertarianism, the non-aggression principle, and extending it past the political and into the parental realm as well. To some it was a natural extention, to others it was a distortion of libertarianism. I am not the one to determine the proper scope of libertarianism but we will discuss peaceful parenting in this article and what that entails.

The philosophy of peaceful parenting is an interesting one and one that varies depending on who one talks to. The main tenant is that you do not initiate force against the child. This includes smacking, spanking, and even yelling. The majority of the peaceful parent blog pieces I have read, and even psychologist websites I have read about it state that the point is not to punish the child but to help the child develope and learn. Punishment is not conducive to the childs ability to learn but in fact, negates it.

Another tenent of peaceful parenting is the emphasis on communication with the child and helping them through their emotions rather than punishing them for wrong doings. This is something that is much easier said than done. There is an entire group on facebook where parents are struggling to impliment this philosophy in their house. This is common with any change but these parents are working at it. Active listening to the child, expressing of emotions in a open and non-judgmental manner for both children and parents alike are encouraged. This is to create not only a strong communication base but a trust and mutual respect between parent and child along with creating a strong, heart felt bond between child and parent as well.

As far as punishment goes, they don’t punish but seek to guide the child through tantrums, mistakes, and misdeeds. To model the behavior you want to see in the child rather than trying to correct the issue with physical force like spanking. They also don’t believe in bribing, disapproval, or rewards. The belief being that modeling the behaviors you want as well as the creation of mutual respect allows for self-discipline, self-responsibility, and itegrity of the child.

Along with the above mentioned communication, the setting of clearly defined limits is key as well. I found this quote that I thought nailed what peaceful parents mean:

limits are set by the parent with confidence, giving the child a very clear understanding of what the limit is, while maintaining a warm connected and supportive relationship with the child.  It is an approach that constantly models a much more mature form of communication that fosters connection, confidence, trust, lateral thinking, problem-solving skills, and conflict-resolution skills.  Peaceful parenting is a model that aims to meet the needs of both the parent and the child, while teaching and modeling flexibility and adaptability.

This is not permissive parenting. This is not letting the child do what he or she pleases without limits or guidance. Nor is it overprotective parenting, this is letting the child workout for themselves as much as they can while still providing a place of learning and guidance from the parent.

Peaceful parenting has a lot to offer parents who are interested in taking a much more radical approach to parenting. It even has something to offer those who don’t fully buy into the peaceful parenting approach. You can take what you are comfortable with and leave what you are not. That is the beauty of being a parent, you customize your parenting style towards each individual child.

As for my wife and I we don’t subscribe 100% to the peaceful parenting. We do follow the priciples in a general sense but have made mistakes and will continue to make them. Those parent’s that say they don’t are lying as they all have made a mistake here or there. That doesn’t make any of us a bad parent, that makes us human parents.

Here is a good write up from Ryan Burgett in regards to Corporal punishment and peaceful parenting.

Do you practice peaceful parenting? Is it something that you are interested in? If so here is a facebook group for it. You can get support and ask questions and realize many parents make mistakes.