Why (And How) My Family Makes Time for Hiking Together
My family and I love being able to enjoy nature together. But when plans interfere with our daily life, connecting with nature and communicating with each other in a fun way sometimes fall to the wayside. As a WTA youth ambassador, however, I know how important it is to spend time outside.
By Hannah Meyer
My family and I love being able to enjoy nature together. However, since our days are often packed, we don’t always have much free time. When plans interfere with our daily life, connecting with nature and communicating with each other in a fun way sometimes fall to the wayside. As a WTA youth ambassador, however, I know how important it is to spend time outside. Luckily, there are plenty of places to hike in Tacoma (where we live) for when plans need to change, time is short or we don’t want to travel far. Recently, over about a month, my family of six prioritized getting outside, being away from screens and talking more to each other. Over 4 weeks, we ended up hiking three close-to-home, shorter trails. The trail length or location wasn’t the most important part — it was being outside and strengthening connections with my family.
As my family and I really explored some of the trails that are close to home for us, I was reminded of how much nature you can find to connect to, even in the city. Every day that we went hiking was rainy and overcast, but each trail that we walked was unique and fun. And we didn’t just strengthen our connection with nature; we also strengthened our connection to each other.
Our next hike was to Chambers Bay — a family favorite — where we hiked the entire trail, even though it was raining and we had a hard time going up the hills. I had to practically drag my little brothers. Even though it was rainy, cold and gloomy, we still had fun together. Near the end of the trail, we hung out by the water and watched the raindrops hit the water. We even saw some jellyfish again, near the shore. Our first hike was to Titlow Park — one of my favorite places to hike. It’s near the water with a beautiful view of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. There are train tracks that travel near the beach. I have two little brothers, who are twins. Ever since they were little, they have loved cars, trucks, and, yes, trains. They will sit and wait for the train even if it’s raining; they watch the entire thing go by. It’s something I enjoy doing with them. My family — mom, dad, little sister and little brothers — had lots of fun bounding around on the dirt trails and on the rocks alongside the water. My siblings and I grew up playing outside, climbing trees and joking around with each other. Years later, we still tease each other and play around outside together. At the end of the hike, we drew in the sand, took way too many pictures of a tiny jellyfish we spotted, and watched the trains. Life can get so busy and frustrating with all the work that is expected of everyone. Our hike allowed us to take a break from all of that and focus on what really matters — time together.
Our last trail day wasn’t a hike and we didn’t all go. Instead, my dad took me mountain biking at Swan Creek — an area with trails for hiking and biking. Even though I came away with bruises and scratches, we had an amazing time. My dad and I are very similar in personality, and his favorite thing is to tease me (nicely, of course). It was convenient that the mountain bike ramps and jumps were different sizes because I’m not the best at jumping. My dad joked with me when I was only able to jump off the little ramp!
These trail days helped me to get away from all of the screens I look at every day. I would encourage everyone, especially youth in school, to take a step outdoors and get away from technology. My family plans on continuing to go on hikes together and doing other outdoor activities each month. After every trip, my family came away with more appreciation for nature and each other. There is a wide variety of trails all over Washington, and even getting out and exploring your local neighborhood is a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the lovely world we live in.
Hannah Meyer is a WTA youth ambassador and a junior at Tacoma Science and Math Institute. She enjoys learning, baking, playing games with her family and, of course, going outside! She’s committed to showing other people her age the great outdoors and helping them get outside. She’s looking forward to hiking again with folks her own age when the pandemic regulations allow it.