Not ones to let a little rain put a damper on our Canada Day celebrations, my husband and I invented a new family-friendly activity in Fernie this past weekend: mud hiking. When the sky cleared late in the afternoon on July 1, we packed the children and Grammy into the car and drove five minutes into Mt. Fernie Provincial Park. Our intent was not to subject the youngest and eldest among us to a Burmese March; we merely wished to enjoy the mountain scenery on Canada Day. Besides, our kids had been pestering us to go on a hike.
When it comes to kids and hiking, we try to keep it simple. Short, flat trails. Lots of rest stops. Snacks. Really, it’s hiking-lite. This trek, however, annointed Avery, Bennett and Grammy into the ranks of the hard-core.
The trail was beyond muddy. Mountain bikers had churned the wet path into a soupy, slippery, almost treacherous, mess. Rather than fret about the kids’ and Grammy’s safety, however, I worried about my shoes! I immediately knew I had worn the wrong pair (my fashion runners, not the sensible hiking boots). At that point I should have turned back to spare them (still talking about the shoes), but there was little to no elevation gain along the path, plus it was supposed to be a two-kilometre loop, and ultimately I guess we all thought the trail would become miraculously mud-free if we kept hiking. So we plodded on. I resolved to walk along the edges of the trail, where possible. Even so, my shoes couldn’t compete with the mud’s slippery suction.
Unaware of the imminent peril of slipping, falling and becoming filthy, the kids walked in giant, splashy strides down the middle of the trail, laughing and saying things like, “Look how muddy my shoes are! Look how muddy my legs are! Haha! We’re so dirty! Hahaha!!” On occasion, Blake had to portage Bennett to spare him a mud bath.
My mom, a.k.a. Grammy, relied on a hiking pole for balance while she tried to sidestep the peanut butter-like consistency of the trails and thus salvage her new $85 tennis shoes (yeah, we’re all about the shoes in my family). It was a losing battle. “But Mom,” I said, “That’s nothing compared with the memories you’ll have from mud-hiking with the grandkids: Priceless!”
And it was. Once I cleaned my shoes, and the kids, we had a great laugh about the hike. Family bonding is easy when there’s mud.