After a night of ringing in 2022 together, my family decided to continue the celebration, jump-starting our New Year’s resolutions by inviting our extended family from Georgetown, Texas, on our New Year’s first hike. My mother-in-law, sister-in-law, teenage nieces (16 & 17), and nephew (8) joined in on the adventure.
Enjoying nature therapy together was a great way to ring in the new year; however, getting 5 children to agree to the challenge was no easy feat. My teenage nieces were slow to welcome the idea, gasping at the thought of leaving the house without makeup. My son and nephew were sent into shock being pulled away from their gaming systems, and my 5-year-old daughter needed extra time to decide which stuffed animals to pack.
The weather was sunny with a light breeze when we finally made our way out of the house to explore Dante’s, Lower Purgatory Creek, and Blue Trail Loop. We selected this trail, which is listed as a 2.7-mile loop, for its ease and to focus on the experience as a family. As we set out on our adventure, we decided to have fun by wearing our New Year’s hats and headbands. We had a great time wishing all the hikers, bikers, and trail walkers we encountered a Happy New Year. The children led the group, taking turns being line leaders, which allowed them to set the pace of our hiking adventure.
During the walk, we observed juniper groves and cacti, and picked a few chile pequins along the way. We noticed different bugs and insects on the trail and found a small animal habitat within the rocky terrain. Each of us guessed the type of animal that might be taking shelter there—A snake? Armadillo? Coyote? Fox? Skunk? The kids also used their binoculars to look at the various birds. My favorite moment was when, with the sun setting, they all looked into a rock pit, lifted their hands, and shouted “Happy New Year!!,” breaking the peace of the trails for a moment.
This hike was a great way to reflect on New Year’s resolutions as a family. We talked about bringing the spirit of nature home and about various ways to be mindful of embracing it into our daily lives. It’s been a challenging time for all, especially our youth. Given that spending time outdoors has countless benefits for our physical and mental health and wellness, I loved hearing each of them add hiking and setting aside time with nature into their resolutions.
As we ended our hike and headed back to the car, I was moved by my nephew’s taking pride in being our line leader. I was happy for our children’s being able to spend time connecting and enjoying time with their cousins, as well as their grandmother and aunt. Most of all, I was glad for the bonding time I had with my nieces, who said, “Thank you, Tia, for inviting us. I can’t wait to do it again.” Our New Year’s hike was a peaceful and uplifting way to kickstart the new year with promise and a breath of fresh air. It’s what we all needed.
Written by SMGA member Christina Casas-Moreno. Photos by Jennifer Eggleston and the author.