Summer is here, and that means outdoor fun and adventures are calling. The forests and mountains beckon with their tranquil solitude and cooling shade on hot summer days.

We researched afterwards and learned we had disturbed a hornet’s nest. And while this experience was unfolding, my mind was screaming, How could I have been so unprepared? What if one of our groups were to have an anaphylactic allergy to these stings?

limit walking. Ensure your footwear is broken in and comfortable. If you are trying out new shoes, don’t plan an epic trek. And pack hardy, flexible adhesive bandages to use on blisters.

And being prepared for minor injuries and other health problems that could arise is wise, especially given the rug- ged and vast natural outdoors that we are so fortunate to have access to in beautiful British Columbia.

I am inspired to write this article because I want to be safe and more prepared this year then last.

Last August, my family and I were hiking in Strathcona Park, a beautiful provincial park on Vancouver Island. At the bottom of the mountain valley, we met another group with two adult brothers and their 9-year-old nephew, the same age as our twin boys.

The kids and the adults started talking, and our group became one as we climbed the steepening switchbacks

with brush and salal and larger trees. It was very hot, and we were all in shorts — we later discovered why seasoned hikers never wear shorts.

I was second in the group, and suddenly, I felt a sharp pinpoint stinging pain in my upper leg. I reflexively yelled, “Ouch!” and ran up the mountainside. Then I felt another bite, and behind me my sons were shouting in pain as well.

When we share our hiking folklore from that day, it goes something like this: the first person stepped on and disturbed the nest, the second person was the first to be stung, and then all heck broke loose!

That day, four of us were stung twice, but the first hiker was untouched.

Yes, it’s a worst-case scenario, but there are easy solutions if one is prepared. Fortunately, we were all ok, and I saw this experience as instructional — next time and every time, be prepared!

The hornets’ nest experience bonded us instantly with our new friends, and we grew even closer back at the Strathcona Park Lodge, playing games together and star- gazing in the late-night sky.


  1. The leading cause of hikers being strand- ed and needing to be evacuated is blisters. Yes, blistering, raw feet so painful that they
  2. Always tell someone you know where you are going, even if you intend it to be a short jaunt.
  3. Ensure one adult has a fully charged mobile phone with the location tracking enabled in the settings.
  4. Ensure you have adequate water and snacks for the adults and kids. Consider packing a lightweight, portable water con- tainer and some snacks in one backpack.
  5. Empower kids to carry their own backpacks and choose a selection of their favourite nutritious snacks (not from the gas station, but we some- times allow an unhealthy choice from there after an arduous hike).
  6. Attach bear bells to your backpack to warn wildlife that you’re around the corner. It is al- ways safest to avoid surprise encounters.
  7. Bear spray! Between climate change and growing tourism bear sightings are becoming increasingly common in BC.
  8. Water purification tablets to kill bacteria, virus- es, and parasites in water, just in case you need to supplement the water you brought.
  9. One adult Epi pen and oral antihistamines.

Now, I want to talk about getting out the door with children. It takes time to organize them and for them to organize themselves. Have you ever heard of a child keenly leading the parents out the front door to embark on a hike? Me neither.

Getting to the trailhead is not effortless, at least with our sons, but once we arrive magical shifts happen in their headspace.

Sometimes that happens more quickly than others, but eventually they stop resisting and enter the present moment.

They might be discussing a movie they enjoyed, looking around the forest for wildlife, or asking curious questions like, “Why is the sky blue? Why is the sea salty?”

Homemade Solutions

Homemade electrolyte drink recipes

Use some of your leisure time during summer and holidays to educate yourself and get messy.

I am continually explaining to my children that it is only thanks to an expensive marketing campaign that they believe sports drinks are necessary for staying hydrated. Sports drinks are loaded with sugar, synthetic vitamins, colourings, and additives.

Usually, simply adding mineralized salt, such as Himalayan salt, to home-prepared meals is sufficient for hydrating after activities.

But after a long sojourn outdoors in the heat, a rehy- dration drink might be a good idea. Let the kids help you create new drinks and have fun.

There are four main ingredients in electrolyte drinks

  • Water or coconut water. (Coconut water has five times more potassium and less sodium than the leading, traditional sports drinks. It does have sugar but less than commercially pre- pared drinks.)
  • Electrolytes are ion-rich minerals and salts that help our bodies optimize fluid levels. Himalayan salt has additional electrolytes such as calcium, potassium, and trace minerals.
  • Easy to digest carbs. You can modify these according to how much sugar you want. Raw honey and maple syrup are rich in minerals and easily digestible sugars, which can be used for quick energy.

Homemade energy balls

There are only 3 ingredients in this easy recipe that requires no cooking:

  • 6 Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup raw, natural nut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups raw, unsalted nuts

Simply place the dates and nut butter in a food processor, add in 1 cup of nuts, then blend until soft and crumbly. Add the final 1/2 cup of nuts and pulse just until incorporated. Finally, roll and press the dough-like mixture until firm balls are formed.

Nutrition and hydration

Have a wholesome, nutritious meal with some fibre, healthy fats, protein, and if it works for you, starch. I always include starches for kids. Have at least 2 glasses of water before setting out. Don’t head out hungry and/or thirsty! I have noticed that the whiny factor increases if the kids are underfed or under hydrated.

Bars. Count the number of ingredients on the label and ask yourself if you recognize each of them. Check the sugar content. And be prepared with water and fluids for rehydration as bars are dehydrated food products.

Carry snacks containing fibre, protein, fat, and carbs. I pack a good variety to ensure I have something that the kids will feel like eating.


Remember why you are heading into the great outdoors! What is special about today’s adventure? Whether it’s big or small, I recommend you hold on to a specific intention.

It might be something simple: get fresh air and natural light while moving outdoors. It might also be taking family or nature photos, or getting lost in the present moment and feeling removed from responsibilities and to-do lists, even if only for a few hours.

Enjoying the outdoors is not only good for you physically, but mentally as well. When you develop a more positive relationship with nature it will also improve your relationships with the people sharing your adventures.

Here’s my prescription for you today

Commune with nature. You don’t have to go far, even a local park will provide you with health benefits you deserve. Enjoy! — LP