“Is it raining out?” Ryan, our 13-year-old nephew bellows from his sleeping bag. “I heard dripping on the tent all night and it still sounds like it is raining.”
I zip up my jacket a little more. “It’s only drizzling,” I assure him from the picnic table. “It’s mainly just falling from the trees. But wait until Uncle Justin finishes prepping breakfast to come out of the tent.”
My watch reads 6:15am as Justin fires up our camp stove to boil some water.
“But if it keeps raining, are we really going to hike in this weather?” Ryan lets out a simultaneous whine and yawn as he finishes his sentence.
“Of course!” I reply enthusiastically, knowing there is no Plan B.
For Justin and I, who have built a life around the outdoors and have hiked more than 12,000 miles together, walking in the rain comes with the territory. But, for our Gen Z nephew who finds walking home from the bus stop a chore, this could be a catastrophe.
According to the Children & Nature network, only 6 percent of children between the age of 9 and 13 play outside in a typical week. In contrast, these kids spend 53 hours a week using entertainment media.
We are on Day 3 of our Alaskan adventure, an 8th grade graduation gift for Ryan from us. Ryan is admittedly an electronics junkie. Whenever we visit him, we make it a point to get him outside and he loves it. But this trip is different. This involves several consecutive days of outdoor play.
Camped in Denali National Park and Preserve, we hope to spot all the famous animals today—including the two biggest: grizzly bear and moose. We review all the protocol with Ryan for keeping a safe distance from wildlife, but we have no need to worry about him taking any chances. Ryan claims he would rather see these wild animals from a football field away to be safe.
Five hours into the mostly rainy day in the national park, our nephew has not complained about the raindrops pouring off his hood. Instead he is smiling ear to ear, excitedly losing count of the caribou, Dall sheep, bald eagles, ptarmigan and, as luck would have it, moose and bear.
As we bed down for the night in our tents listening to the continuing precipitation, Ryan makes a bold declaration.
“Camping in the rain is really not bad at all!”
Justin and I smile at each other and hope this is the start of a lifetime of exploring for Ryan.
Some trails are familiar, like a pair of cushioned slippers formed to your feet. Each turn is comforting and warm, as known as the pages of your favorite book. Some trails are rocky and wild, proving to you with every mile both the thrill of nature and your own limitations. For different experience levels, locations, time constraints and moods, there are likely to be a variety of trails near you that meet your needs. With some helpful resources and considerations, finding the perfect hiking trail is easy.
From hiking dog jealousy to estimating the calorie-to-weight ratio of entire grocery stores, outdoor adventurers have unique experiences all around.
Here are just a few to make you laugh, paired with watercolor interpretations of outdoorsy absurdity.
My first pair of sturdy, quality hiking boots changed my outdoor experience. Before them, I tumbled around awkwardly in slippery, ill-fitting, non-breathable (and somehow also non-waterproof) boots, coming away from hikes happy but covered in scrapes, bruises, and favoring tender limbs. My arches would ache, and eventually, the dull pain would spread to my leg joints. Then I bought “my blue boots.” The most significant outdoor purchase I had ever made, I was unconvinced that they would be worth it. Now, without a doubt in my mind, I can say they were absolutely worth the price.
|Small||4 - 6.5||2 - 4.5||35 - 37||20.5 - 23|
7 - 9.5
|5 - 7.5||38 - 40||23.5 - 25.5|
|8 - 10.5||41 - 45||26 - 28.5|
13.5 - 15
|11 - 13.5||46 - 49||29 - 31|
|Small||N/A||N/A||N/A||20.5 - 23|
6 - 8.5
|5.5 - 8||39 - 41||23.5 - 25.5|
|8.5 - 11||42 - 44||26 - 28.5|
12 - 14.5
|11.5 - 14||45 - 47||29 - 31|
|WOMEN'S||FITS SIZES||US Sizes (Inches)|
|Small||2 - 4||Length: 26"||Width: 15 ¾"|
|Medium||6 - 8||Length: 26 ½"||Width: 16 ½"|
|Large||8 - 10||Length: 27 ⅛ "||Width: 17 ½"|
|X-Large||10 - 14||Length: 27 ¾"||Width: 18 ½"|
|2X-Large||14 - 18||Length: 28 ⅜"||Width: 19 ½|
|MEN'S / UNISEX||CHEST TO FIT||US Sizes (Inches)|
|Small||34 - 37||Length: 28"||Width: 18"|
38 - 41
|Length: 29"||Width: 20"|
42 - 45
|Length: 30"||Width: 22"|
46 - 49
|Length: 31"||Width: 24"|
|2X-Large||50 - 53||Length: 32"||Width: 26"|