Our Pukaskwa Family Adventure

Guest blogger Jennifer Johnson and her family (Backcountry with the Kids) are taking on the rugged 60 kilometre Coastal Hiking Trail in Pukaskwa National Park next week! Her boys, 8 and 10, will be the youngest hikers to ever complete the trail end-to-end. We’ll be checking in with them throughout the week. Let’s cheer them on….Share your words of encouragement here!

We are an adventure loving family. We’ve tripped here, we’ve tripped there, we’ve tripped just about everywhere. But never have we been to a place quite like Pukaskwa National Park. While we’ve always been outdoorsy, the kids are old enough now at 8 and 10 to allow the family to challenge ourselves with some more advanced fare. On May 26th we launch our year of great Ontario Outdoor adventures by making the long drive north from our home in Toronto to Ontario’s most remote national park to take on the Coastal Hiking Trail.

Hiking with the kids is nothing new to my husband and myself, but this particular trail is gonna be a doozy. Its sixty rugged kilometers stretch along the north-eastern coast of Ontario’s inland sea, Lake Superior. The terrain is rough and remains relatively untouched and the weather can be strong-willed. Those who choose to make the journey here do so for the beauty, the experience and let’s face it, the bragging rights. Trekking this trail is certainly more difficult than a simple walk in the park.

By all accounts our boys will be the youngest hikers to ever complete the trail end-to-end. We did not plan it this way. That revelation was an eyebrow raising hint at the complexity of the feat before us; a not so subtle cue to come well prepared. And we will not be taking any aspect of readiness for granted. With the trip just a few days away I’m confident that we are well practiced and that we are equipped for almost every potential predicament. As parents we are role models and what better lessons are there to impart on our children than to dream big, train hard, come prepared and follow through.

Sure we do trips like this for the fun and adventure, but there is another side to getting into the backcountry with your kids. Not every classroom has walls. Spending time in a wilderness classroom teaches more than survival skills, it teaches life skills. Spending time in the outdoors with your family is valuable for fostering a meaningful connection to each other. Each member is able to rely on the others and kids feel empowered when they know that we trust and believe in them. Tripping allows kids to push their limits and discover physical and mental strength. They learn to problem solve and to trust their instincts. And they find that there is an abundance of ways to occupy their time without all of the gadgets they’ve left at home. They use their imaginations.

Taking your kids on a big adventure takes a ton of planning, preparation and sacrifice. It’s all worth it though to demonstrate that the most rewarding experiences are earned through hard work and perseverance, the best memories are the ones created with family and friends and the best rewards are the ones that reveal a deeper understanding of ourselves, the world and our place in it. Pukaskwa is going to be our greatest challenge to date, but with all of us doing our part it is sure to be our greatest success.

7 Comments Add yours

  1. I admire you and your husband for deciding to hike this challenging trail and bringing your boys along. You are right about the life skills that the wilderness classroom teaches. This kind of trip will definitely be memorable on many levels. Looking forward to seeing your photos and story after the trip!

  2. Anita Mac says:

    What a great adventure! Have an amazing time. The lessons and skills those boys will learn – I am sure they will have a great appreciation for the outdoors that will last a lifetime!

  3. jennyj says:

    Thank you so much for the kind words! I certainly will share how our adventure went when we get back 🙂

  4. What an incredible experience for your family – best of luck on the hike!

  5. Great post. You can find lots of news for Ontario Parks on the Park Blog at http://www.parkreports.com/parksblog/

  6. Dawn says:

    My husband and I did 20K of the Coastal Hiking Trail about 4yrs ago — it was very challenging but we vowed to go back and do the entire trail. We now have a 3.5yr old and a 3mos old and I am so inspired now to plan that trip back with them (maybe not they’re inaugural backcountry experence!). We have resorted to car camping our last few trips and miss desperately the backcountry. Thanks for your inspiration!

  7. They should look at your personal blog (from another fan of your blog). You have been on so many adventures as well. This family will have such a great experience! I look forward to hearing how it went.

    Best of luck in Pukaskwa National Park!

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