Hikes with my Boys

… And Sometimes My Girl, Too

Skip down to the hike list

wrcreekI was emailing my wife today and talking about how much I enjoyed an adventure with my two sons yesterday. We drove all the way to Stonington, hiked an Avalonia Land Conservancy property down there for an hour or so, went to lunch and then hit Beer’d Brewing Company. Oh, and Cato Corner on the way home, but that’s a given anytime we drive the length of route 2.

In doing so, I gave Hoang six hours of peace and I gave myself a rather great day out in the woods with my boys. I won’t spend too much time on it here, because if you skim though the hikes themselves it bears itself out, but “enjoying times in the woods” with my eldest was something I never thought would happen.

His rather vexing Smith-Magenis Syndrome makes short little hikes a bit of an ordeal – for both of us. As I piece this page together, I’m trying to recall all the awful outings we had as a duo. I can’t really explain his hatred of outdoor efforts other than to say that he simply hates outdoor efforts. He hates bundling up, he hates wearing “different” shoes, he hates unsteady ground… you get the point.

That last paragraph made sense all the way up through age 7 for Damian. It’s important to note that he didn’t walk steadily until he was two-and-a-half and wasn’t verbal until well past his 5th birthday. But with his little brother, five years his junior, becoming quite a little hiker, something has changed. Damian is engaged. He hikes the hikes. He shows wonder about the environment around him. He responds to Calvin’s encouragements to keep up. He carries the map and likes to try to take charge.

dtaaIt’s been immensely rewarding for me. In short, it’s a dream come true. Many fathers envision tossing the baseball in the backyard with their brood. Not me – I always had dreams of overnight hiking and camping trips with mine. With Damian’s diagnosis in 2008, those dreams faded almost to black. Now, they’ve warmed back up to a nice gray. And I love that.

So I’ve created this page, which links the hikes I’ve taken with one or both of our sons. I’ve done it mostly for me to reflect on in the future, but also for the special needs (and specifically the SMS) community as well. Let’s get our kids out there and push them to do the things we always hoped they would do. Never give up, encourage curiosity, and make the old hiking adage “hike your own hike” become more of a reality than you ever thought.

Above all, enjoy your children. Let them fail and fall and cry along the way. Answer their questions about lichen and flowers and water striders. Answer the same questions the next time out. The rewards of seeing a child, especially one with significant special needs, complete a difficult task are incalculable.

Trust me. I know.


Hikes with my Boys


Rule of thumb, though not totally accurate: Pre-autumn 2013 is just Damian. Afterwards, the hikes involve both Damian and Calvin.

CFPA Demonstration Trail, Middlefield, 4/17/2009
Campbell Falls short walk, Norfolk, 4/10/2010
Southford Falls State Park, Southbury, 4/2/2011
Rhode Island High Point, Rhode Island, 7/6/2011
Nonnewaug Falls Open Space, Woodbury, 8/15/2011
Orenaug Park Fire Tower, Woodbury, 1/7/2012
Roaring Brook Nature Center, Canton, 8/18/2013
Great Pond Forest, Simsbury (SLT), 9/15/2013
Wagner Woods, Simsbury (SLT), 10/10/2013
Sessions Woods WMA, Burlington, 10/15/2013
Stratton Brook State Park, Simsbury, 10/27/2013
West Rock Nature Center, New Haven, 1/18/2014
Knox Family Farm Preserve, Stonington (Avalonia Land Conservancy), 2/1/2014
Hollister and Whitehouse Family Preserves, Glastonbury (Kongscut LT), 4/5/2014
Mill Pond Park, Newington, 3/28/2014
Campbell Falls State Park, Norfolk, 4/19/2014
Shoddy Mill Preserve, Glastonbury, 4/27/2014
Blackledge Falls, Glastonbury, 4/27/2014
Mary Edwards Mountain Property, Granby, 5/4/2014
Western Barndoor Hill Preserve, Granby, 5/31/2014


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