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By Lucy Higgins • July 28, 2022

My fingertips were stained blue. I bent down again, picking up another small handful of wild blueberries nestled in cracks between the smooth, sun-warmed rocks. I took one, smushed it between my fingers, and lifted it to my nine-month-old daughter’s mouth. Her red hair seemed to stand on end as she chewed, feet happily swinging on either side of the backpack she was sitting within. 

Karin Kloosterman / Unsplash

We were halfway through Bernard Mountain Loop Trail, a five-ish mile hike within Maine’s Acadia National Park. Our group was a family mashup: myself and my husband, our daughter, my sister and her husband, and my parents. The largest age gap spanned 70 years, my sister was expecting her first child that fall, and at least two party members loved a challenging day in the woods. Factor in hundreds of trails to choose from within the park and surrounding area, and finding a day hike that suited all of us was, to put it lightly, a challenge. 

And yet, here we were. Despite the range in ages and interests, we’d managed to find a trail, day after day, that more or less suited all of us. For this particular hike, Peter, my sister’s husband, had sifted through write-ups and reviews of trails on All Trails, a hiking site, eventually landing on Bernard Mountain Loop Trail. As we wrapped up dinner the night before the hike, he read out the description of what the day entailed: distance, estimated duration, and a rough idea of what the terrain would look like. There was fun elevation gain and rock scrambles, beautiful views, and chances throughout the hike to simply cruise along. The research and discussion gave everyone the chance to chime in on their comfort level, and a chance to voice any concerns before we were at the trailhead. 

Photo courtesy of Lucy Higgins

From there, a few more logistics secured the day. We took two cars to the trail, out of group-size necessity but also in case we needed to leave early for our daughter’s nap. We packed enough snacks, water, and layers to accommodate for being on the trail for the suggested time, and then some. Once we got rolling, we naturally divided into different-paced groups; my husband Jake, a distance runner, taking the lead in Crocs and with the baby backpack. Folks who were better on the ascent took the lead during that section, and when the trail descended, others more suited to declines slotted to the front of the pack. Every half mile to a mile, we’d stop and reconvene, catching up on what we’d seen and grabbing a water or a bite of food as needed.

It was a lesson in research and patience, and it paid off. What could have been a stressful and ill-suited—if not dangerous—day had transformed into a calm day spent in good company within striking scenery. With some extra attention to logistics and an open dialog about what the day entailed, we were able to spend a day hiking with three generations. 

Photo courtesy of Lucy Higgins

I reached down to grab a few more blueberries, this time splitting them between my daughter and I. Then all seven of us carried on along the trail, following cairns over the rolling rocks, back into the pines.