Our Favorite Outdoor Adventures with Dad


To celebrate Father’s Day, here are some of our favorite memories of biking, hiking, and getting lost with dad.

Dads can (almost) teach us everything

I had just turned eight, which meant I was finally able to go on the annual Barronian hiking trip with my dad, uncle and older brothers and cousin. I wanted to join them for several years but I was: (1) a brat and (2) too small. After promising not to complain, I packed my small clothes into a JanSport backpack. Then we left for a lake in the Cascades. We got to camp, I had to pee, and my dad realized I hadn’t learned the backcountry squat yet. He misimitated the action, told me to pull my sweats up to my ankles, and sent me on my way. I dropped the hole, did a little squat directly over them and pissed squarely in my sweats. After hearing my cries for help, dad pulled me out of my mess and put on some paracord to hang the pants dry. Once I was comfortably zipped into a pair of dry jeans, I thought my embarrassment was behind me. It ended when a few friendly deer wandered around the camp and started treating the sweats like a lickstone. A few tips for backcountry parents: Ask mom to teach your daughters the backcountry bathroom technique. —Abigail Barronian, Editor-in-Chief

A day on the water

My father was a minister and a teacher, but he always had a fascination with traditional wooden boats, so much so that he often considered starting his own boat building workshop. One summer when I was a young teenager, he took my older brother and I on road trips along the coast of Maine, where we lived, to visit various boat builders. These artisans welcomed us graciously and spoke openly about trade and business, happy to have someone interested in joining the small pool of qualified individuals who keep the profession alive.

On a rainy Saturday, we drove up the west side of Penobscot Bay to Christmas Cove, where a group of boat builders had gathered. Moored at the docks was a remarkable collection of handcrafted boats of all shapes and styles. We were free to eliminate any of them, on our own, for as long as we wanted. At first my dad accompanied us as we cruised around the creek in a sleek 16ft sloop, but soon he spent his time mingling with the builders as my brother and I went out boat after boat: skiffs and rowing boats, canoes and kayaks. My brother fell in love with a well-balanced peapod that leapt through the water with every stroke of the oar, while I kept coming back to a sturdy working dory that glided across the creek as I stood up and spat the long oar of the stern in a soothing figure eight. Years later I still remember the brilliant colors of the hardwoods, the music of the waves passing in front of the hull, the thrill of moving on the water under my own power and the beautiful fatigue when we called one day and my dad took us home. while we slept in the car. —Jonathan Beverly, Senior Editor

C’est La Vie on Class III rapids

They say when something bad happens we block out the details, so I guess a lot of the details in my anecdote are just plain wrong. That said, this adventure had too few details to begin with. My father took me (10 years old) and my brother (8 years old) on a river in the south of France. We were both mediocre swimmers, and the three of us were in bathing suits the explode floats. We hadn’t spotted the river or even looked at a map beforehand. Instead, we bought the rafts, hopped on them in a fast-flowing river we knew nothing about, and then let the universe take care of the rest. We came across a pond full of chicken heads – it was bait used by a nearby restaurant to catch eels. We also saw hundreds of bewildered and horrified French spectators, watching us from the fast passing shore. We had several scraped knees and shins, and our mattresses were punctured. And in all that time, we didn’t see another floater or swimmer or human of any kind on the river. Finally, we encountered a very large waterfall and managed to survive thanks to an extremely graceful miracle – well, I guess it was three miracles. —Hannah McCaughey, Creative Director

Dad jokes on the path of misery

There are two things in this world that will no doubt make my dad smile: Monty Python’s “The Argument” skit, and mountain biking or skiing in terrible conditions. And there’s nothing he loves more than his children who suffer with him during outdoor misadventures. I’ve never been more furious with him than during the countless rides we’ve been on together. There’s a nice little montage that’s stuck in my head of the times I’ve ignored his friendly questions about steep climbs or asked him (not so politely) to stop circling me on top of a hill for I was struggling to catch my breath. A few years ago in California, my dad suggested we try one of the longest and toughest rides I’ve tried to date. (I take full responsibility for accepting.) We were hit by an extremely rare thunderstorm, and I fell on the slippery rocks at least five times and lost feeling in my toes and hands for about an hour before the ride, so when he was joking told me the water heater at home was broken on the last miserably soggy stretch to the car, I yelled, “It’s not funny!“It makes me a bad bike partner or slightly annoying. But even though he gets more giddy and I get grumpier as the conditions get worse, he’s still kind of my favorite person to deal with. biking. —Kelly Klein, associate editor

Big fish, small fishing rod

When I was seven, my favorite outdoor activity was fishing alongside my dad. My most prized possession was a two-foot-long fishing rod adorned with pictures of Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. Most weekends my dad would drive me to a lake or a river along Colorado’s Front Range, and I’d cast a lure or fatty salmon roe into the water and wait for the magic tug of a trout. Usually my catches were mere minnows, since that’s all my childish arms and fishing rod could bring ashore. My dad was always impressed and enthusiastic, no matter how small my fish was. In the summer of 1988, we took a family road trip from Denver through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, then to Missoula, Montana to visit family friends. The trip culminated with the two families sharing a cabin along the shores of Big Sky Lake. No sooner had we arrived than I ran to the docks, hooked a worm on a hook, and threw a cast into the lake with my Snoopy pole. The bait had barely touched the water when I felt a violent pull and started pulling the fish towards shore. My dad gave up unpacking the car and grabbed a net and ran to the dock. Somehow I managed to bring home a real lake monster – a magnificent rainbow trout that today, 33 years later, still looks like it’s ten feet long. I still remember my father’s flabbergasted look as he grabbed the huge fish and brought it back to shore. He was truly amazed that his son, wielding a toy fishing rod, had caught a fish that could feed six people. Fred Dreier, Articles Editor


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