One day during our years living in one of the most ecologically devastated cities of Central Asia, our landlord took us on a two to three hour car trip to visit his village. After the visit, he wanted us to see the hot springs and cold springs and waterfalls in the area. Upon parking the car near to where he wanted to take us, he could not figure out which path to take to go to the hot springs. He and his daughter led my husband and I and our three young sons on one of the paths. We all had on flip-flops and carried only beach towels, as he was certain it was only a 2-3 minute hike to the springs. He also said that we could get food and drink near the springs, so we did not carry anything else with us either.
After walking about thirty minutes, the trail began to ascend the mountain. We were now fairly sure the landlord did not have a clue as to how to find the hot springs. He found a man coming down over the mountain and asked him which way to the springs. He pointed to a different path which did lead to the river. Once we reached the river, we discovered that we were at the top of a long, narrow waterfall. Two teenage boys (wearing only underwear) had just ascended the dirt, root-laden path beside the falls. Our landlord asked them if we could get to the hot springs from the way they came. “Yes,” they assured him. So, we—with our young boys, all of us wearing flip-flops—climbed down the waterfall, holding on to tree roots and dangling limbs. Once down to the river side, we quickly learned that we had to scale the side of a rocky cliff to actually get down to the path leading to the springs. After three hours, we finally made it, without too many scratches, and enjoyed relaxing in the hot and cold springs. When we were finished, we followed a path out that took only 2-3 minutes to get to our car. Our landlord had chosen the path less traveled.
As Robert Frost said in his poem The Road Not Taken: “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.” Perhaps as parents we need to hit more trails with our kids and put ourselves in more adventurous nature situations.
If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of being in nature, then read an article I posted yesterday called the Nature Zone–posted on The Education Cafe.