Story by

Sarah Packham

January 26th, 2016

"Get out and live" is a phrase I hear often, as it's the motto of a local nonprofit organization in Ogden, UT. It's also a motto that our family tries to live by as we take advantage of the beautiful rivers and mountains just minutes from our home.

But sometimes putting this idea into practice is a little bit daunting. With five children, ages three to thirteen, finding outdoor activities that are both interesting and age appropriate for everyone can be a challenge. Physically preparing for an adventure with a family of seven is also a bit overwhelming. More often than not, the key is to just get out the door and figure it out along the way. We also find it helpful to be flexible with our plans and prepared with not only snacks and equipment, but a willingness to slow down or even go home early if need be.

The morning after Christmas, the snowy mountains behind our house were calling to us. With family in town visiting, we set out with four adults and seven children on a winter hike. Anticipating the difficulty of our twin three-year-olds walking on snow and ice, we brought baby carriers and, at the last minute, grabbed a sled. The trail, with snow packed down from other hikers, was perfect for the sled to glide on, and the toddlers were happy to be pulled along. Fortunately for the adults, the thirteen year olds were excited to show off their strength and agility, and they did most of the pulling up the trail. It was a great way to involve them on an otherwise easy hike.

The white caps of Mount Ogden and Malan's Peak were a breathtaking backdrop to the frosted scrub oak branches of the foothills. The crunch of the snow beneath our boots added rhythm to our steps. The twenty-two degree temperature was invigorating, but didn't penetrate our woolen hats and fleece layers. Around a sharp bend, the twin on the back of the sled toppled off into a soft snow bank and felt the shock of snow on her neck. Minutes later, brushed off and reassured, she was back in place. We soon reached the pond, our destination, and pulled out thermoses of hot cocoa. The kids were all amazed that the fresh water spring wasn't frozen over and that the water, usually ice cold in the summer, felt warm compared to the cold winter air. The older kids did some winter exploring, which was a fun change from summer exploring. Discovering icicle coves and identifying wildlife tracks were among the day's activities.

Eventually, fingers and toes got cold. The twins, too afraid of going downhill in the sled, had to be carried, and the teens and tweens took turns navigating the sled down the trail. It wasn't a long hike. It wasn't a very ambitious adventure. But two families spent time in the beautiful wintery outdoors. We got out and lived.