Timp Independence Experiment

As you no doubt are aware, my family consists of 2 adults (well, at least one responsible adult and another that looks like one) and 5 children. Scroll down a bit to get a refresher course on the family (with pictures!). Feel free to jump down there now.

Back? You’ll remember that our 5 children are ages 7 and down. This presents some unique challenges when the family chooses to do something like hiking, especially when that hike is somewhat challenging. This, as you’ll have guessed, is precisely what we decided to do with our 4th of July: a bit of family hiking.

I won’t disparage those sadly deluded persons who think that the pinacle of the outdoors is a well-maintained asphalt path that spans a completely level stretch between the parking lot and a small waterfall visible from the road (here’s to you, Bridal Veil Falls!). Suffice it to say that we like the challenge and the beauty of the mountains, preferably away from the rest of human civilization. Given that we have 5 children, it isn’t strictly possible for us to galavant around the raw wilderness, so we settled for a decent middle ground: the Aspen Grove Timpanogos Summit trail.

That trail is a tough route, if you follow it all the way to the summit. This time of year, it’s not only physically demanding, it’s extremely technical. We obviously didn’t summit with 5 kids ages 7 and under; we simply went to the lower waterfall that sits below the first steppe on the approach to Emerald Lake.

Having taken young kids hiking before, we knew that this would be a pretty slow approach and, as we contemplated this, Elise and I came up with an idea to help us kill time on the way: give every child a digital camera.

The Setup

To be fair, we weren’t exactly sure what would happen if we gave cameras to kids ranging from 2 to 7 years old (sorry, 11 months is a little young for this). We actually didn’t have 6 cameras to go around. Instead, we scrounged my old iPhone (2G), our nice camera (Kodak Z712), and two iPhone 4s (mine and Elise’s). Initially, we gave the iPhone 2G to Gini, my iPhone 4 to Thomas, and Elise’s iPhone 4 to William. I kept the Kodak.

The Rules

Since we didn’t have enough cameras for everyone, we setup a sharing regime- when we felt like someone had had enough time, we asked them to pass it along. This went surprisingly well and there are pictures from each of the cameras taken from every child (minus Jonathan).

We told the kids to take pictures of anything they found interesting- things that were different or unique, including plants, animals, and the like. We also asked them to take pictures of the family. Beyond that, we let them run loose.

The Experience

Of course, there are several pictures of plants right outside the van where we parked and there are a number of pictures from the first quarter mile of trail. Every so often, we would have to tell the children to “Lock the phone and keep walking!”, though it was less prominent than you might think. The pace we set was pretty comfortable.

After the first quarter mile or so, the kids got down to business. Every 30 seconds or so, they would take a camera out of their pocket and snap a shot at something they found interesting. We tried to keep sharing up, but Thomas and Gini accounted for the bulk of the photos taken by kids. William took his fair share, Peter took just a few.

When they had settled into a rhythm of walking, snapping a picture, and returning to a walk, we made pretty good headway on the trail. There were a few fun spots: we crossed a raging stream on a wet and rickety bridge and we spanned a couple of fairly long and treacherous sections of snow. Of course, these were picture-worthy and we gave opportunity for both the kids and ourselves to take pictures.

Overall, the hike was fun and successful. The kids were in surprisingly good shape by the end. As you’ll see in the album below, even our 2-year-old Peter was running and giggling at the end. As a hike and a family activity, it was fantastic.

The Results

What about the pictures? You just had to ask. We uploaded most of the pictures to Google last night and this morning, just to let you see how things went. For the most part, I think they’re what we all expect: a few out of focus pictures, many pictures of nothing in particular, and a few beautiful gems. Those gems and the wonderful experience we had gathering them made this one of the best family hikes – and even general activities – we’ve ever had.

You can view the entire album with all of the pictures (unedited!) here:

Timp Independence Experiment Photos

Here’s a simple slideshow for those who want to simply kick back and see what happened:

The Family: A Refresher Course

Just in case the names and ages are foreign to you, here’s a quick refresher on the family (as it stands today):

Virginia (Gini): 7 years old

Gini (Virginia), 7 years old

Thomas: 6 years old

Thomas, 6 years old

William (Will): 4 years old

William (Will), 4 years old

Peter: 2 years old

Peter, 2 years old

Jonathan: 11 months old

Jonathan, 11 months old

Elise: The beautiful adult

Elise: The beautiful adult

Me: Adult aged

Me: Adult-aged