The Sling Diaries, Volume VII. A photo-documentary chronicling the art of baby wearing in the lives of families around the world. Over the course of six months, Sling Diarists will create their own Sling Diary though a series of diary entries interpreting a unique theme given to them each month.
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I often wonder how much the boys will remember from their early years on Kaua'i. Will they remember that they learned how to crawl alongside giant sea turtles? Or that they each took their first steps completely naked and free on the beach? Which moments and places will forever remain a part of who they are? More importantly, which moments and places will inspire them to keep on exploring?
Days after Tamayo was born we discovered this particular trail for the first time. The weather was extremely wet and windy so we didn't make it past the trailhead, but we've sure made up for it ever since. In fact, over the last three years we’ve hiked it well over a dozen different times--usually it's a family affair but we've been known to take some of our favorite people out there too!
It's safe to say that both boys have grown up on this mile-and-a-half long ridge between two of Kauai's most famous valleys. Sometimes we hold them close but nowadays they roam, they climb, they fall down and pick themselves up. Below I've shared some key insights we've learned about how to intentionally foster a child's sense of wonder and attachment to a certain place.
1. Purposefully plan experiences that build on each other. In our case, this is as simple as hiking the same trail over and over again. Each outing typically follows the same routine--we all pack our belongings the night before, we eat breakfast in the car on the way up the canyon, we race up the grassy hill to the trailhead. Every time we go we expect the boys to hike a little bit longer than the time before, and these days they even take turns leading the way.
2. Construct a unique understanding of familiar landmarks together. There are the narrow passages of ferns that relentlessly tickle our skin and tug at our hair, the boys call them "spiky ferns." Then we descend into "Mama's favorite spot," a small valley of intertwined branches that form a canopy the color of the clouds. Later Kahlo excitedly shares his observations of how tall he's grown based on his passage beneath a branch crossing the trail.
3. Take in a place in by stretching your senses from your fingertips to the bottoms of your bare feet. We look at and we listen to nearly everything on the trail. We glide our fingers across the feathery grasses and grip the textured bark of the trees we scramble up and across. We always make sure that every stop we make includes some barefoot time.
4. Venture out in rain or shine, in day and night. There's something special about experiencing how a place changes through the seasons and weather, especially overnight. The trail can be toasty and dry or wet, sticky, and ripe for sloshing around in the mud. The boys have certainly learned how to navigate tricky terrain--they have gained confidence traveling and camping along 3,000 foot cliffs with boundless curiosity and great caution.
Perhaps what I love most about this trail has everything to do with the fact that it's a physical manifestation of endless possibility. Every memory we've made on our hikes here is surrounded by a 360 degree view of where the land and sea meet the sky. It's quite literally a walk into the clouds and honestly what could be more awe inspiring than that?
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