“I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.”
“Oh, may I go a-wandering
Until the day I die!
Oh, may I always laugh and sing,
Beneath God's clear blue sky!”
The Happy Wanderer Antonia Rudge
The song echoes through my mind over and over. In youthful scouting days, life seemed carefree and wildness was all around. These wishes to continue hiking and wandering still carry into adulthood. Now opportunity ranges farther afield and youngsters roam not only domestic trails but are privileged to venture far off the beaten track. They might go to Alaska or the Arctic or to the Galapagos or the Amazon taken on a family expedition by parents or grandparents, aunts or uncles.
The forest is dark. Needles of Sitka spruce and western hemlock drift silently towards the ground like gently falling snow. The soft carpet that they weave masks the traces of others who have passed this way. Patches of mud display the imprint of a giant paw, five toes separated from the impressions of claws by several inches. A brown bear is somewhere near. A river gurgles, cascading and tumbling over rocks forming pools here and there where exhausted salmon lay. A family expedition to Alaska will lead you down the trails of an old growth forest.
Hike across the tundra of Arctic Norway. It is like nothing you have ever seen before. There are no trails. A patch of green attracts our attention. Closer still we see why it’s there. An ancient whalebone adds nutrients to the mounds of glacial debris, just enough for a garden of two inch tall wildflowers to grow. The ground is patterned with strange designs. The action of Jack Frost’s hand can be seen in polygons, hummocks and puzzle rocks. Cruise on the National Geographic Explorer to meet the archipelago of Svalbard.
Trail markers indicate that this is the place to walk, to hike from shore to mountaintop or all the way across an island. But…birds can’t read and they don’t care. If it looks like a good place to nest then that is where the nest will be. Blue-footed boobies are a comical lot, pointed at front and at back. The wings are pointed too and when head and tail and both wings all arch to the sky it means, “I like you” to its mate. If they are standing in our trail, there is only one thing to do. We wait. You never know what you will discover when hiking on a Galapagos Island cruise.
The jungle is a different place to hike. Lianas or vines twist and turn, looping over tree branches that seem as far away as the sky. No two trees seem alike. Diversity is huge. A cacophony of calls surrounds us but the colorful avian world is hidden within the verdant greenery. The Amazon River is a highway to adventure in the jungle. North or south, jungle, forest or desert, the trails of the world are open for hiking when you take a family trip with us.
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