87°F
weather icon Clear

Time spent outdoors is gift that lasts lifetime

Careful as you may be in choosing Christmas gifts for your children, it’s a rare gift that won’t eventually be broken, outgrown or worn out. ‘Tis the nature of material things.

But good memories can last a lifetime, and those few days after the Christmas-morning climax, but before school resumes, offer an unparalleled opportunity to build those memories along the trails of Southern Nevada.

Because nothing ruins such memories like being cold outdoors, think first about the few basic items you’ll need to outfit every person going with you. Also think first about those because, if everyone doesn’t already have them, they’re excellent late gifts, mostly very affordable, and likely to be even more so at after-Christmas sales.

On the lower half wear comfortable yet rugged pants (with a layer of long underwear if needed,) warm socks and a pair of hiking boots or sneakers that have good tread.

On top, use a layering system, starting with a base layer such as a long-sleeved T-shirt, then add a fleece layer and finally, on the outside, a windbreaker, depending on the weather. Top it all off with warm hat and gloves. All fabrics from inside to out, should be man-made, never cotton, as it doesn’t wick away moisture and won’t keep you warm. Wool socks are an exception.

Many seasoned outdoor folks nowadays consider a water hydration pack a necessity, especially for each child they take on an outdoor excursion. These are small backpacks with inner bladders to carry a water supply, and always equipped with a drinking tube extending forward over one shoulder so the wearer doesn’t have to unpack the water supply to take a drink.

You’ll find children will drink more water, so they don’t get dehydrated as easily. Furthermore, the hands-free access is safer on rugged trails.

If your child already has a backpack, you can just buy the bladder and drinking tube separately and stow it in the existing pack. Both complete units and separate bladders and tubes are available at most local sports stores such as REI, Sports Chalet, and Dick’s Sporting Goods, or even well-stocked discount stores like Wal-Mart. With small children, encourage them to attach a favorite stuffed animal or doll to the backpack, to join in the fun.

With children it’s always best to go at their pace even though you won’t get many miles under your belt. Your goal is experience, not mileage. Take time and let them explore, climb a small boulder or check out the different colored rocks and the different species of plants, birds and wildlife you might see.

Take time to lie down together on a flat boulder, close your eyes, and listen to the natural sounds. Children usually come to the experience with the expectation of hearing nothing, and are therefore delighted at the variety and richness of the natural sounds, like auditory jewels presented on pillows of peacefulness.

Don’t forget to explain some rules of the trail and the good reasons those rules are needed. Children love to run, throw things and take shortcuts, but on the trail they can’t. Point out that if they run, an animal might think they are prey and chase them. And that if they throw things, another child, who happened to be out of sight, might be injured.

Progress to more technical rules such as the one against shortcuts, which can cause erosion that will take years to repair itself. Building on this simple knowledge, they’ll become good stewards of the land and more agreeable companions on the trail.

Most state parks, recreation, conservation areas and national parks also offer some sort of junior ranger booklets. These are great incentives for children to get on the trail and become aware of their surroundings. They not only provide fun and easy-to-swallow education, but build self-esteem when the child has filled out the workbook, brings it into the visitor center, and is awarded a Junior Ranger badge or some award and certificate specific to that particular park.

Surrounding Las Vegas there are dozens of excellent places to take any age child to show them the wonders of the outdoors. A few local places to start include Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area, Valley of Fire State Park and Lake Mead National Recreation Area. There are also a few excellent bird viewing places in the valley with trails such as the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve and Wetlands Park.

Many of Deborah Wall’s columns have been compiled in the book “Base Camp Las Vegas, Hiking the Southwestern States.” She is also the author of “Great Hikes, a Cerca Country Guide” and a co-author of the newly released book “Access For All, Seeing the Southwest With Limited Mobility.” Wall can be reached at Deborabus@aol.com.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST
Pickleball proves popular; city to add courts

The sport of pickleball is expanding faster than the dry areas at Lake Mead, with over 5 million players nationwide. Boulder City has noticed this and, in a recent City Council meeting, approved $160,000 of the American Rescue Plan Act COVID-19 relief funds for additional courts in the city.

Fishers angle for best spot

Anglers covered the shorelines at Veterans’ Memorial Park on Saturday, June 11, as Boulder City hosted the Southern Nevada free fishing day event.

94-year-old still out on the green

Feeling younger than ever, 94-year old Virginia “Birdie” Hurst is an avid golfer who has no plans to slow down.

Catalina evokes visions of romance, nature

For many who grew up in the 1950s or ’60s, the name of Santa Catalina will always evoke the vision of California at its most romantic, thanks to the Four Preps’ influential pop song of the same name. But the actual island has helped city folk enjoy romance, nature and elegant surroundings in their preferred proportions for nearly a century.

Waterfall standout of Grand Staircase-Escalante

While it would take a lifetime to see all the extraordinary wonders of the 1.87-million-acre Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in Utah, even on a short visit you can hike to some of the highlights. One of the standouts, that most people are eager to visit, is Lower Calf Creek Falls.

Orchards highlight visit to Capitol Reef

Capitol Reef National Park in Utah boasts some of the finest rock formations and geologic wonders in the West, including the Waterpocket Fold, a wrinkle in the Earth that extends 100 miles. It is also one of the top choices for visitors to hike; its 150 miles of trails take in slot canyons, natural arches and bridges, waterfalls and petroglyphs.

Desert living heralded in Palm Springs

For outdoor lovers who are looking for a family or multigenerational weekend, Palm Springs, California, will certainly fit the bill. While there are hundreds of wonderful things to do here, three places should top any list for those traveling with people of different ages.

Park features more than namesake Joshua trees

Joshua Tree National Park, California, lies about 185 miles from Boulder City, but the scenic route seems just a hop, skip and jump, for it consists partly of a drive in the remote and visually stunning Mojave National Preserve, along a short section of Route 66 and through the ghost town of Amboy.

Bridge extends welcome to Havasu visitors

Moving one of England’s tourist attractions to the American Southwest sounded far-fetched until somebody did it. Now it has become the second most popular tourist destination in Arizona, only being outdone by the Grand Canyon.