This article was written by Jeanette Damato, who we connected to after her family’s hike up Camel’s Hump and through our #HikeVT promotion.
My husband and I did not grow up hiking and we didn’t actually get too involved until moving to Vermont in 2000. We fell in love with the mountains and although did not get out as much as we hoped, we knew that if we ever had children, this is the world we wanted to pass along to them. Well, that time came and from the age of putting them in pack carriers, to their now 9 and 13 year old selves, we continue to take them out on the trails as often as we can. I would not call us professional hikers by any means but we find good trails to meet our evolving abilities, pack good snacks, and head out to enjoy the adventures of the day.
Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to hike trails such as Sterling Pond, Jay Peak, The Pinnacle Meadow in Stowe, and new this summer, Mt. Pisgah and Camel’s Hump. Up and down, again and again, each time always finding some new treasure; turkey feathers, multitudes of different varieties of butterflies, newts, slugs, rocks to climb and trees to explore, every hike took an extended amount of time. At first I felt weird, thinking we should be going up the mountain much faster, but finally I understood that every stop to look at the “beautiful rock” or “beautiful slug” only made their connection to this amazing environment that much stronger – and that was exactly what we were after.
The outdoors quickly became our compass to a solid foundation in our family. When COVID arrived in Vermont, just as many, we were shaken. Uncertainty and unfamiliarity with the changing social structure came swift and hard. As soon as we could, when trails became accessible again, we headed out. I don’t think our guys know why we’ve made this such an important part of our lives. They just think, “We’re going on a hike!” but my husband and I have been very purposeful in all the activities we choose to foster in our children. I truly believe COVID lost some of its ownership and sense of isolation when we headed back out to the trails. Yes, we practiced “new trail etiquette” and were pleasantly surprised at the majority of hikers wearing masks and maintaining distance, but once on the trail, that was no longer our main focus. ‘Normalcy’ returned in our opportunity to experience the awe and wonder of our surroundings. Resting atop Camel’s Hump puts a different perspective on a pandemic, one that fills the soul and reassures the spirit that life is good and we will prevail – especially in the hearts of our children.
To find your different perspective on a pandemic through hiking, visit our HikeVT page.
To connect with other families or ask questions about hiking with your family, connect to our HikeVT with Kids group on facebook.