Last time I talked about our Divide & Conquer backpacking trip. This method of splitting kids to maximize excitement is one of our most successful – if logistically challenging – outdoor activity strategies. During pregnancy, postpartum, or simply in times when one parent is pushing harder (or recovering harder) than the other, dividing kids is key.
One of our typical activities for this is the point-to-point hike. We started doing this with running, when I was in heavy marathon training. I would start my long run from the house, carrying water and fuel in a belt or pack, and run to meet my husband (and eventually daughter, and then second daughter!) at a point some miles away. For me, this was typically running to the Bosque, and along to meet at the BioPark or Nature Center, or a coffee shop.
The big benefits of this is that it allowed me to explore a bit further afield from my house, while I also didn’t have to spend so much time of the weekend away from my family. I remember doing this when my dad was marathon training: on special days he would do the “Breakfast Run” with his training partners. My mom would pack breakfast, and we would go up to the mountains to a specific ending point, and play wildly while my dad hammered out his long runs that started from our home in Los Alamos. I loved seeing the runners emerging from the woods, and loved running the last mile or so with my dad, after which everyone enjoyed a forest breakfast.
We have morphed this technique for hiking, and lately we have been loving hiking up the La Luz Trail. Our 8 year old and my husband can nail the 7 mile hike and nearly 4000 feet of elevation gain in under 4 hours, which is the perfect amount of time for them to have an early start, and for our 4 year old and newborn to have breakfast, read some books, and time the hour-long drive up to the Sandia Crest with the baby’s morning nap. We usually are able to hike down a half mile or so to meet the happy hikers as they are finishing. We do different iterations of this: sometimes dad needs a “mental hike” and wants to spend a few hours alone in the woods; in this case, kiddos and I do the pick up leg; other times, it’s me who needs time alone with my thoughts or who is on a fast-paced run.
The divide and conquer methods require more planning than hiking alone or hiking altogether, however, it’s well worth the extra planning so that everyone can have time to really explore in the way that they are excited and capable of doing. Hiking, running, biking, we know that as our children grow, we know we’ll need to adapt these plans to challenge and thrill everyone as best we can.