CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Jeff Alt built hiking partners for life when he exposed daughter Madison and son William to hiking when they were both babes-in-arms. Their adventures since have led them to the storied Appalachian Trail and other popular U.S. hiking spots.The cover of Alt's new book, which he will promote at a June 13 book signing at Taylor Books in downtown Charleston.Having kids can inspire a parent.
They inspired Jeff Alt to write a book about how to interest and motivate youngsters to try hiking, and how to equip them for it. The book, "Get Your Kids Hiking," just came out, and Alt will visit Charleston on June 13 to introduce it to readers.
Alt is already known in hiking circles for his book, "A Walk for Sunshine." First published in 2000, it chronicles how Alt, inspired by a brother who has cerebral palsy, hiked the 2,160-mile Appalachian Trail.
Alt's children, 8-year old Madison and 5-year-old William, inspired his latest book.
"I realized there's a lot of information about hiking in print, but not so much information that's specifically for kids," Alt said. "And most of it is scattered around in books 2-inches thick.
"Kids grow up fast. I wrote this book so parents wouldn't have to waste a lot of time researching. They can just get out and go."
Alt drew much of the material from personal experience.
"Both of our kids have been hiking with my wife and me since they were infants," he said.
"Madison was 10 weeks old when we first took her, and William was just eight weeks old. Obviously they weren't walking at that age; we carried them on our backs in child carriers."
At that age, babies can't communicate. Alt believes, however, that they absorb everything: the sights, the smells, the sounds and the myriad experiences that come with being outdoors.
"Start them as young as you can," he said. "When you expose a kid to hiking at a very young age, it sticks. No age is too early. Hiking equipment makes a great baby-shower gift."
When Alt's wife got pregnant with their daughter, he worried that his long-distance hiking days might be ending.
"Not so. We added a few pieces of equipment and kept right on hiking," he said.
For parents whose kids are no longer infants, Alt offers one all-important bit of advice: "The key is making it fun," he said. "You want to help them have such a good time they'll want to come back.
"Take your cues from the kids. If they throw rocks into the creek, you throw rocks into the creek.