. Life lessons from hiking with a father and son : Budget Travel Adventures

Life lessons from hiking with a father and son

hiking lessons from a father and son Michael Schuermann Josh Schuermann

As a fan of hiking, I love sharing my hiking guides, tips, and adventures with others.  However, sometimes the best hiking lessons are bonding experiences between a father and a son.  Josh and Michael share their hiking experiences in a Father’s Day tribute to dads.

One of the great benefits to hiking is the time you spend outdoors, exploring nature, and enjoying the the abundance of beauty along the trails.  Hiking is not only a great way to get some exercise – it’s also a time to bond and spend time with family and friends.

Various hiking trails will take you up steep mountains and give you spectacular views (like those from Round Top in Lake Tahoe).  You can hike through canyons and valleys where the beauty isn’t just around you but above you.  Whether you enjoy strenuous hikes up mountains or peaceful, easy hikes through the valley, there are plenty of highs and lows you can experience through hiking.

However, the hills and valleys you explore in hiking are a metaphor for life for this father and son – while hiking.  Check out Michael and his son Josh as they share their perspectives on the likes and dislikes of hiking together.  Ironically, Michael and Josh are setting out on another week-long hiking trip together.

A son’s perspective on hiking with his

father

If you go on a hike with somebody, it is not like going to the mall or the movies with a friend. There is a lot of time to fill, and there aren’t always many distractions. Most of the time, it’s just the two of you, so inevitably, you get to talk, and for my Dad and me, this mainly means: to argue. There are many things in life over which we agree, but what fun would it be talking about them?

They say that the Greek philosopher Aristotle had knowledge of everything there was to know. Dad, in his inimitable way, tries to match that by having an opinion about everything he can have an opinion about.  Worse, it is, more often than not, the same opinion.

To Dad, 99 percent of all things are “rubbish”. Now this may be entertaining if he vents his spleen on such things as Mothers Day, the Olympic games and Desperate Housewives. But it is far less amusing if it concerns matters about which I happen to know a little myself.

Jazz music, for example. For Dad, this is just “mad flapdoodle”. I am not the greatest Jazz fan myself, but I know enough about music to say that what he says is simply, well, rubbish.

Unfortunately, my Dad, after many years of defending outrageous opinions, has become a skillful defender of tight corners, and I found it very frustrating to argue with him when I was still in my teens. Sometimes, literally, to the point of tears. But now that I am 23, I find I can increasingly often argue it out with him to tough draws, and occasionally I even win. HAH!

The good thing about Dad is that he gracefully admits it when he is losing, sometimes even with a smile. I think he may even be a little proud of me.

But that’s not what I really want to say.

What I really want to say is this: the good thing about hiking with Dad is that I get to see things that I do not normally see.

I was born in London and grew up in Paris, so rural Germany – quaint, peaceful, quiet – sometimes spookily so – is not just another country to me, but one which is located on another planet.

Plus Dad introduced me to the joys of German cuisine. Big portions! Mountains of meat! Jägerschnitzel!  Makes me hungry just thinking about it. When’s the next trip?

father and son hiking lessons Michael Schuermann Josh Schuermann

A father’s perspective on hiking with his son

Hiking with Josh (my son) is great – once we are on the road, that is. Getting there is another story. Waking up and getting ready anytime before 10 is a problem, getting ready any time before eight a major drama.

When we go hiking, we have established a tacit arrangement, and most days, we leave the hotel at around 9:30. But if we have to catch a bus or a train, there is just so much less room for compromise.

What really angers me, what actually drives me into a mad frenzy is that he even, no,  particularly, if he is already late, insists on doing everything in a sort of super slow motion, just to see how far he can push me before I finally snap.

Now I am not a violent Dad, on the contrary, I never once gave him as much as a slap when he was little, but several times during our hikes, I have came uncomfortably close to assaulting him.

Once, I banged his bathroom door so hard from the outside that some nails actually flew off the inside handle. (We had agreed on a 7:30 start, and at 7:25, he was still in bed, at 7:26, proceeding leisurely to the bathroom and locking himself in to take a shower).

The best thing – among many good things – about Josh is that he is totally unfussy. He never gives me any of this prima donna stuff: “This hotel is awful… I am not going to eat this food …this ice cream tastes of cat’s wee.”  He does not fret, whimper or complain. Or roll his eyes when Dad, for the second time that day, has taken the wrong turn.

You see, taking your son on a hike can be stressful, particularly when you have not been doing this often or for long. You don’t want to confirm his long-held suspicion that you are a danger to yourself in any outdoors environment more menacing than your own back garden – and at the same time, you want to do your best so your kid enjoys himself. (Is he bored? Is he tired? It can be worse than taking a girl out for a date.)

But Josh has always made it easy for me. Actually, he is an absolute joy to have around. After ten o’clock, that is.

Michael Schuermann Josh Schuermann hiking lessons

Hiking lessons in life from father and son

Thanks to Michael and Josh for taking the time to share their perspectives on their likes and dislikes when it comes to spending time together.  Both of them were brutally honest in sharing both the good and bad about each other.  However, there are some valuable lessons to learn from their experiences:

1.  Families that travel (or hike) together don’t always get along – If anyone thinks that parents and children only have fun together on the road, think again.  Through these conflicts, parents and kids learn about each other and themselves and it isn’t always fun.

2.  Dads appreciate their kids - While traveling or hiking together isn’t always easy, there are things a dad can learn about his child that can give them a greater appreciation for who they are and the love for that child grows even deeper.

3.  Children respect their dads - Experiences are what bond families and even through the ups and downs, the time spent together invariably gives kids opportunities to appreciate and respect their fathers.

4.  Just do it - Through the ups and downs, you will never regret the times you spent with each other.  It’s not always fun or easy but hiking or traveling together has a great way of bonding a father and child.

Hiking, like life, has its peaks and valleys.  Hikes can be difficult, painful, beautiful, and rewarding.  I think there is a lot to learn from a father and son hiking together that can teach us a lot about our own lives and the opportunities we have to spend together.  May we treasure those opportunities that we have.

Thanks to Michael and Josh for their guest post!

Michael Schuermann started travelling when he was seven but discovered the pleasures of easy hiking only in his late forties. Since then, he has managed to get his son and his wife hiking too. If easy hiking interest you, subscribe to his blog Easy Hiker and follow him on Twitter @easyhiker101 and Facebook.

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  1. Michael says:

    Thanks for having us share our traveling together as father and son in your site, Jeremy. Hope it somehow helps parents traveling, or even hiking, with their offsprings.

    • Thanks to you and Josh for sharing your experiences. It goes to show that you can be different and you don’t always have to agree but you can still enjoy the bonding experience.

  2. Great article. In a month I will be going on a canoeing/fishing adventure with my dad and have hiked with him many times.

    • That’s awesome! I never had those opportunities with my dad and even when I did, I am not sure I would have appreciated hiking and outdoors when I was younger. I know you’ve done a lot with your dad and hope you have a great time!

    • And I look forward to reading about this year’s father/son adventure in Quantico. Great that you get out into the wilderness together.

  3. Travelling (and hiking) with kids can be such fun – and so frustrating. My two daughters are usually easy-going and don’t mind getting up before dawn to get going. But when there are shops around, it’s nearly impossible to get them out.

    I really enjoyed reading this!

    • I will say this – thank goodness I won’t ever have to compete with shops for my boys’ attention. Other things, yes but at least not that! However, I might be the unpleasant one at dawn. I am not an early morning person! :)

  4. Loved the different perspectives in this post! I think traveling with anyone can be trying but when it is parent/child there are definitely different buttons that can get pushed.

    • I think there are ways mothers and daughters bond but it typically isn’t outdoor stuff. I am sure there are some that enjoy it but maybe it is just more of a guy thing.

  5. Grace says:

    Love this one…I wonder if there are any mother-daughter hikers out there and if the dynamic is a bit more different. I do agree though that family can drive you crazy on trips.

  6. eva hamori says:

    I love the fact that you are able to travel together at all. My husband and his father, or even my dad and my brother there’s no way in hell they could survive making it to the hike let alone on a hike! :)

    • Well, I never did outdoor stuff with my dad. Never even did camping. We get along well but my dad isn’t much of a talker. Unlike your husband and brother, I wouldn’t find with my dad. Just long periods of comfortable silence. :)

  7. Funny! I like that hiking gives you lots of time for talking… about anything and everything until your companion is bored with you. Then it’s time for quiet introspection :-)

    • Ah the difference between men and women…JK! I don’t mind hiking with someone quietly. Your find your times to talk and it comes and goes but enjoying the beauty and taking a strenuous hike that leaves you huffing and puffing makes for comfortable moments of silence! :)

  8. Having lived abroad for nearly 6 years I do cherish the time I have with my parents & I often bond with them doing activities such as walking, biking or other forms of exercise. It makes for a much more memorable experience than just sitting on the couch and chatting.

    • That’s awesome Samuel! Unfortunately, too much of my formative years were spent watching TV as a family. The time you have bonding is so much better so continue to do it!

  9. robin says:

    Ha! So not surprising to hear that Dad is more of a morning person than son…

  10. Leslie says:

    What a sweet post! I can’t picture my dad hiking; he is a city boy through and through. Looks like a fun way to bond :)

  11. Hi Jeremy,
    What a lovely post! I’m envious of bondings like these because my parents had me late and there weren’t many opportunities of outdoor activities like this.
    Now I do it with my kids and I’m happy if I can get them off the computer to go with me even just to eat out. It was different when they were younger because then they were always willing to go with me anywhere.
    I’ll look forward to being a grandma so I’ll have willing grandchildren to bond with.

    • Thanks for your comment Theresa. I didn’t have the chance to do much with my parents in terms of outdoors stuff either. And my parents are quite young! We weren’t outdoors people and it wasn’t until later in my life that I realized how much I enjoyed it. Like you, I hope to bond with my kids and do fun stuff like thing. I think my own experiences (or lack there of) have motivated me to try and do more outdoors stuff with my family.

  12. Thanks Michael and Josh for collaborating on this. It was fun to read.

  13. Lisa says:

    Hilarious! I think I can particularly relate to this one as I’m visiting my grandma as I prepare to depart for overseas and inevitably in families there are disagreements. It helps to see that all families face similar moments, whether the topic is different or not. It’s quite nice that you are able to enjoy traveling together despite the challenges.

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