How to make hiking as family enjoyable for all
June 13, 2011 11:56 AM   Subscribe

Hiking as a family (with 3 teens)-need help making it enjoyable for all. Any tips? The challenges I have had in the past are kids who want to sleep in so it is usually a hotter time of the day for hiking and I have noticed my DH likes to get way ahead of all of the rest of us and even takes different routes sometimes. It seems like the slower ones of our group have to hurry to catch up to the faster hikers. We are all in pretty good shape.

Ever since I have known my husband he has been a person who likes to separate from the hiking group. This causes me angst because I feel like I am constantly trying to keep up with him and it makes my hike not as fun. He is a marathoner so he is in great physical shape but I am no slouch either and I still have trouble keeping up. It makes my hike feel like a race not a leisure activity.

I don't know what the compromise would be. It is maddening when he takes off too. I read stuff into it that probably is not there! He seems to get defensive when I ask him to wait up. Like I am ruining his hike? Is it just testosterone that makes him want to "beat" us all on a hike? A competitive streak in him? what do you think?

My oldest daughter had knee surgery last summer so our pace is more of the same and I guess I can stay with her instead? She is not slow but she is certainly not fast like my husband. Sometimes he even runs on the trail.

Should I just give up hiking with him?
posted by seekingsimplicity to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Stop trying to keep up with your husband. It's not a race, is it? If he needs to get way ahead, let him. You don't have to keep up, and you don't have to let him turn it into a race. Go at a pace that lets you and the others enjoy the day.
posted by Dolley at 12:01 PM on June 13, 2011 [2 favorites]

Being a cyclist, I used to ride ahead of the group because it fed my ego and I could show off how good and fit I was. I was riding with family/friends who only rode a bike once every few years, thus I finally realized that it only led to a lonely bike ride and furthermore no one would ride with me anymore.

So, putting this in regards to your husband:

1) Let him hike ahead. It's his loss, not yours. Just know where you are going first. (If he won't let you know where you are going first, then that is controlling and then there is more there, but let's hope this isn't the case.)

2) Are there times when he can literally just take a hike by himself?

3) Regarding the sleeping teens, can they just sleep in some days while everyone else gets up and goes on a hike? Sort of like "they snooze, they lose"? Counter that with other days where everyone does get up and get going sooner.
posted by TinWhistle at 12:05 PM on June 13, 2011

See #3. If he's unwilling or unable to do this, then hike with someone else.
posted by devbrain at 12:07 PM on June 13, 2011

When I go hiking with my teens we have breakfast together and set off together, and plan to meet at a certain point at a specific time. I move faster than them and like to have some momentum, but they really enjoy meandering, taking their time, talking as they walk, etc. I hope that they will be hikers for life so I would never want to ruin their experience by having them hurry up. It sometimes means I do an extra loop and I always carry a book with me to read at the summit, but the point for me is to make sure they get the most they can out of it. That doesn't necessarily mean walking with mom :) Also your husband might want to join a trail-running group.
posted by headnsouth at 12:09 PM on June 13, 2011

Let the teens sleep in and your husband can got for an early morning hike at his own pace looping back to join you for breakfast. Then hike together as a family, sharing the responsibilty for your children and making this an enjoyable hike for everyone.
posted by saucysault at 12:13 PM on June 13, 2011 [6 favorites]

I once went hiking with someone who was in great shape and really wanted to just go-- he spent part of the time walking with us at a slower pace and was able to enjoy that for awhile, and then he would get antsy so part of the time he ran or walked fast ahead of us but eventually would turn around and come back to join the group, where he walked at our pace for awhile, then repeat... Seemed to be a good balance.

Would your husband be willing to go on ahead of you guys for awhile, but agree to turn back after some rough set period and rejoin you? When you're walking together, he could try to walk slower (and maybe you guys could walk a little faster, knowing that in awhile he''ll be gone again and you can walk as slow as you want?)
posted by EmilyClimbs at 12:48 PM on June 13, 2011

Why does he like to go fast? Could be any number of reasons, but it may just be a faster natural pace. Some people just go fast, particularly if they're in good shape and, like your husband, may actually be used to running more than walking. Being a marathoner doesn't just mean that he's in good shape, it means he likes to run for long periods of time.

But seconding devbrain: staying within earshot of the rest of the group isn't just about personal preference or courtesy, it's about safety. Stuff happens. Rocks slip, logs roll, mud slides, and then ankles twist and arms break. If you're with a group, this will ruin your day, but you'll probably be okay. If you're by yourself, particularly if the rest of the group doesn't know where you are, you've inherited a whole pile of trouble in two seconds flat. It's not just him that's in danger either. He's clearly a strong hiker. But if he's not with the group when one of the rest of you goes down, he's no use to you.

Sure, 99% of the time this isn't going to matter, but when things do go wrong they tend to go wrong in as many ways as possible all at once, so the one time that something does happen, you just know it'll be the time he's taken off on his own.

Should he stay right with you guys? No, that's probably not strictly necessary. If he wants to be out in front, that may not be your preference, but it's not unsafe as such. But if you can't see and hear him, he can't see or hear you, and for all intent's and purposes, neither of you can be of assistance to the other should such become necessary.
posted by valkyryn at 1:25 PM on June 13, 2011

It sounds like you're asking him to change behavior you'd always accepted, and that if you're doing it reactively (in response to him taking off) rather than proactively (speaking about it beforehand), it's not surprising that he's having trouble seeing your side of things. If hiking has always been about pushing himself, it may not be occurring to him that it's about spending time together, or that his taking off is a big deal to you.

If your husband enjoys hiking fast, maybe you could offer to make time for him to hike by himself by finding something to do with the kids if he agrees to stick with the group when you go as a family, or come up with some sort of 50-50 arrangement where he agrees to stick with the group every other hike. In exchange, you don't have to feel slighted or obligated to go fast when he takes off, because you're on the same page.

My understanding of hiking etiquette is that the slowest people in the party should set the pace. I do a lot of hiking by myself and I'm pretty fast, but things change for me when I'm with a group. I really wouldn't want other people in my group to feel like they had to strain to keep up with me.
posted by alphanerd at 3:53 PM on June 13, 2011

I have experience with this. To all the people who say to let him go ahead: It won't work. The O.P. stated that it causes her angst, and I can confirm that it does indeed cause angst, cumulative angst. I can see how it got started too, because it's the kind of thing you let happen the first couple times because it seems minor --and it is, at first. You may even be slow to recognize the effect it has on you. But soon you notice that you're anxious when your friend goes ahead, and soon you're hoping ahead of time that he won't be doing that again on a hike that's coming up, and finally you're going DAMN THERE HE EFFING GOES AGAIN, NOW I'M TOTALLY AT HIS MERCY AGAIN ABOUT WHERE AND WHEN WE MEET AGAIN, DAMN DAMN WHERE IS HE.

So you're obviously going to have to deal directly with it, or quit. If, in your negotiations, you encounter waffling or pooh-poohing or other deflections, I encourage you to hit him, hard, with a trekking pole. But maybe I'm letting my own feelings intrude on my judgement
posted by Rich Smorgasbord at 9:47 PM on June 13, 2011

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