Weekend Family Hike


“I have often thought of the forest as a living cathedral…” -Richard Nelson

One of the things I miss most about living in the states, particularly Santa Barbara, is the freedom to hike and walk and run outside. There is something about the quiet of the trees, the beauty of a forrest, and the stunning views from the top that are just good for my soul. Just to be in nature, without the fear of being robbed or whistled at or a host of other things, is simply put, a gift. You don’t always realize these things when you leave a place where you can run from your front door to the the beach in less than a mile.

Don’t get me wrong Guatemala has a some of the most beautiful mountains and views in the world. Nature really is everywhere, but unfortunately it’s not always safe to be “out in nature.”

But on Saturday Gerber, Elena and I went to El Pilar, a nature reserve less than 5k from our house, and were thoroughly impressed. A 5oQ (about 7$) entrance fee was most definitely worth it for well-maintained paths, easy stream crossings across wooden bridges and just the security that comes from being on private land.


About 1.5K into the hike there are steps up to the mirador (look out point). It was a little hazy, but still hard to believe we were looking down at our valley.

They may have been some pretty, steep steps….or just carrying  a 20lb baby warrants a water break.

I love that she likes to drink water. A girl after my own heart.

We wondered probably for a good 30 min through the canyon. It was green and lush and almost felt more like the jungle, than the hills around where we live. Best part was it was almost all in the shade. If you live here you know that’s a good thing, because hiking under the Guatemalan sun at 5,000 feet elevation get very hot, very quickly. After about 2K you arrive at the top of the canyon, where you can either take the path back to the bottom or keep going up along a gravel road to the cabanas. 

Gerber was convinced the cabanas were just around the curve. So, we decided to keep going. And an hour or so later we rounded the final curve of the road. Elena had her lunch on the way up. (yes, you can breastfeed in the ergo-another reason it’s my favorite baby carrier EVER!) And we found a perfect little spot to have our lunch once we got to the top. There were bathrooms (with toilet paper! and soap) and picnic tables. Hiking has a way of making everything taste good, even squished, soggy sandwiches.

We started the walk back down and of course, in her favorite napping place…Elena fell asleep. I may complain about some of the challenges of having a child who only naps while being held, but I will say it makes her pretty easy to take out and about. So there’s trade offs, right?

We came home tired and sore and happy.

When we have groups here one or both of us often has work stuff to do on the weekends. Or we often do a lot of weekends where we trade off. Gerber watches E and I go to yoga or to a coffee shop to write. And then I watch her and he goes to lunch with friends. But it’s been awhile since we have done something together, as a family. And I think we could make this part of a new routine.

We’re still figuring this out…life as a family….but this weekend was a great start.

Do you have any weekend family routines or traditions?


P.S. Just one more picture…because I mean, look. She’s got her running clothes on. gah!

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2 thoughts on “Weekend Family Hike

  1. Michelle and Gerber,

    First off, I love reading your blog…its a beautiful window into your lives and ministry. And now that I have a special place in my heart for Guatemala since my trip last year, except for my hospital visit, your blog gives me a chance to continually connect. I’m also excited that my youngest daughter and I are planning on coming to Guatemala this summer with the team from Coastal.

    I also enjoy seeing you guys navigate that special place of marriage and parenthood. You both are doing great and have a great perspective on working through the hard times (that will surely come) and the fun, special moments that make a family.

    All this to say, yes, my wife and I have done some things over our 26 year marriage and 2 kids that have drawn us together. We played volleyball in a few leagues and even brought our kids with us and put them in the Pack n Play next to the court, going out to dinner is probably one of our favorites, walks on the beach, rollerskating and many other things.

    We don’t do many of those things anymore, but the one that has stuck with us is spending time with our “chosen family”. These are the friends that we have had over many years that have become family to us. Celebrating birthdays/anniversaries, going to the beach as a group, going to our children’s sporting events/extracurricular activities, picnics, bible study/small groups, making up silly excuses to be together for laughter that goes on into the night. We have vacationed together for almost 20 years, and our kids have grown up together. And as we prepare for our annual Easter vacation to the Outer Banks of North Carolina with five or six of these families and a week of 30 people in a house on the beach we will treasure these times!

    My best friend is the father of my daughter’s best friend since before birth. It doesn’t get any better than that!!

    These are the people that anchor us, celebrate with us, cheer us on, hold us, cry with us, guide us, and build into our lives even more than our actual family at times.

    Let me give you something that you can actually implement right away! Geocaching. If you don’t know about it, it is basically treasure hunting with a GPS. You use your phone or gps unit to find “caches” that have been placed by other people and posted to geocaching websites. There are hints and you plug in the coordinates then go out and find the cache. You can write in the log book and maybe trade little trinkets for the next person who finds the cache and even take pics to post online. The cool thing…it’s worldwide. So when you are traveling you can look up new adventures.

    Here is the list of ones that are near Antigua: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/nearest.aspx?lat=14.5636&lng=-90.73284&dist=100

    Pretty cool, free day out with that family. Sorry this was so long…see you in July!

  2. Jim, thank you for this! I love your ideas and I think we might try our first geocaching one of these days. Looking forward to seeing you in July!

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