As I crack my fresh copy of Stephen Hui's latest hiking guide: Best Hikes and Nature Walks with Kids, I'm faced immediately with a few questions:
- Am I a kid at heart or just someone that is developmentally stunted?
- Do I even like kids? (I have none of my own)
- Should I write this post with some zany kid-like font?
|Cubs: Me on left. |
How did my legs
At first I thought the content of Hui's latest book was, for me, most like the 109 Walks series. I have "peak bagged" several editions of the "Walks" books as off-season challenges or as injury recovery. Typically that series covers shorter, and often more accessible hikes including those within city boundaries, and with less elevation gain than typical regional hike books. "With Kids" is not really that.
I'd put the 109s more in a category of dog walks,.. or somewhere convenient where you "get your steps
in". Being also a McCaree creation, it often felt like the leftovers from the 103 Hikes series that were less alpine and had less wow factor.
"With Kids" focuses on what I call "the gravy". By that I mean there is a pay-off,.. some little memorable point of interest that would capture a curious mind's attention (or something interesting for us adults that are amateur photographers) Examples: some tide pool, waterfall, or iconic bridge. In other words for Minecraft attention span kids: something to "do" or "look at" besides walking and getting exercise. As I get older I find myself seeking more gravy for less effort. A few of the destinations in With Kids are very much of that formula:
|Last 109 Walk photo|
- Train Wreck falls near Whistler
- Skookumchuk Narrows
- Lynn Canyon
Format: "With Kids" follows the same general formula of Hui's other books including an overview map, a more meaningful foreword than most hike books from a representative of regional first nations authors, and some colour photos.
I personally think maps are engaging for my child mind and am pleased to see that some are full page. The colour palette of the book is nothing beyond Hui's other books but there are more photos overall (not the token 1 per hike), often of kids. For some reason I expected McDonalds style primary colours for kids.
New to the book are "Wild Sights" sections with pictures. These include full colour photos of fungi, plants, and animals you might encounter in the backwoods. A great addition IMO (though a bingo style checklist might have appealed to me as a child). There also are "fun fact" sections which seem a bit more kid focused (as opposed to geology for example), but I'll mention more on that below.
Also handy and new is that on the pages facing the opposite of the spine of the book (whatever that is called) you can see the sections colour coded. I always liked that with Dawn Hanna's classic hike anthology.
This book is a great book for short format hiking in the region,.. and I'll say it,.. for adults. Yes it might be geared for taking children outdoors but the language and level of reading required is clearly aiming intentionally at the parents. GPS coordinates, history etc. and the tone that I really believe make this author the pre-eminent go to for guidebooks in BC is little deviation from that of his other works. For me, an adult, that suits me just fine - in need information! I would recommend this book for people with zero intention of hiking with children as much as those completely focused on it.
What I will say this, my relationship with books as a child was more activity based,.. and that is kind of how I am now. When I think back to the joy I experienced working through Richard Scary's Rainy Day book or even the ones I had with spy or Star Wars themes, I think they may have made me the peak bagger that I am today - seriously,.. it may have been genesis of that.
I know that Hui had the parents in mind and a tested format to spring from but I do wonder if anyone in the region has considered something aimed a bit more AT the the kids. Little missions to go on perhaps or as my wife suggested, a short suggested teaser that the parent can dangle in front of a reluctant child (like the fun fact sections, but at the start of each section):
"Who wants to see gnome doors embedded into trees?!"
"Yucky banana slugs anyone?"
Writing or colouring in an activity book was right up my homebody alley back as a kid,.. maybe could there be a companion book? (You heard it here first!)
All in all Hui has assembled another great book and opportunity to teach kids what nature has to offer rather than the dark side of littering, swimming holes, trail speakers, and coolers that they might discover in a less "guided" format later in life on their own. Buy this for your friends with kids,.. PLEASE. (we have!).
For adults, as we get further away from recent editions of the 109 hikes this book also has value there. You may have lived in the Lower Mainland for your entire life,.. but I'll bet few of you have explored all of these places and you don't need to be a hard core alpine hiker to do them - this is what you do as part of a day trip in October or March when a 4 hour+ excursion is just not your thing.