Whew! It’s been quite the summer of adventures with our baby! From car camping to beaches to cabins to festivals, Autumn has experienced her fair share of Oregon – not bad for an 11 month (soon to be a year) old. When we set out on her first adventure back in May, we envisioned a final culminating outdoor experience with a backpacking trip in September – the perfect way to welcome fall. As summer winded down, we decided on a trip down one of my favorite trails – the Salmon River trail just outside the Salmon-Huckleberry wilderness in the Mt. Hood National Forest. There’s something about this trail, and the way it weaves elegantly through pristine forest along the river’s edge that offers me peace and comfort. Perhaps it’s the quietness of my boots as they make contact with the soft earth, or the way the sunlight shines through the dark green canopy overhead, or the lived in feeling of the primitive camp sites along the way. Whatever it is, I feel like I am at home when hiking this trail, and was eager to return with Autumn.
When it came time to pack, all nonessential items would stay home. There would be no BOB stroller to carry in added luxuries. Just a few clothing items to stay warm, along with diapers, food, sleeping bags, a tent and a few odds and ends we could fit into our packs or that of our dog. While we were able to successfully pack for a single night on the trail, we soon realized anything longer than that would require a larger pack or a larger dog!
After choosing our campsite with our friends for the night, we unpacked and set our little ones loose to explore. Autumn had a great time playing with foliage, and with new found mobility, it was nearly impossible to keep her on the blanket. I was glad that, despite warm temperatures, I had decided to dress her in pants, because she spent most of the afternoon and morning crawling around in the dirt. I loved watching her. Watching her soak it all up – the sights, sounds, smells, feelings, and tastes. It was during one of these sensory moments that I began realizing the true value of each of her adventures. The underlying purpose, at the end of the day, was to expose her to the greatest gift of all – the natural world that supports her and all living things. As we share these adventures, we are hopefully encouraging a lasting appreciation for nature and the environment.
As the season of Autumn further unfolds around us, and nature casts it’s brilliant glow, I’m reminded of the delicate balance of life – a balance and responsibility I will need to teach my daughter moving forward. And when Autumn feels out of balance, I hope she’ll turn to the trail and woods for guidance. Our summer was fun and full of abundance and adventure. I hope Autumn’s Summer Adventures has inspired others to get out and connect with nature in all of its forms – it’s truly one of the best gifts a parent can offer a child.
“In every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks.” — John Muir