I’d like to introduce you to the Kallin family,
my husband’s cousins who live in rural Maine. The father (trail name: All In) is an environmental lawyer and their mother (trail name: Mama Bear) is a biologist and farmer extraordinaire. They pulled their two kids, ages 7 (trail name: Cartwheel) and 9 (trail name: Robin Hood) out of school at the end of March to hike the Appalachian Trail from the southern tip in Georgia to the northernmost point in Maine, approximately 2,185 miles, the longest continuously marked footpath in the world. It should take them six months.
Along the way, they’ve been “trail schooling,” a more exciting version of home schooling. An example? One day they were observing cloud formations, noting the difference between cirrus, stratus, stratocumulous, cumulonimbus, and—
Ominous. Yes, their education contains a certain amount of humor, including an observation from their father in a recent post:
Over these first two months of watching the kids draft behind other hikers, I’ve been working out my special theory of relativity. This is what I have so far:
E = m * (1 – 2c) ^ 2
Where ‘E’ is the kids’ energy level; ‘m’ is the miles per hour of the hiker in front of them; and ‘c’ is the degree of genetic relatedness they have with the hiker in front of them.
Thus, as c approaches zero, the kids have the energy to keep up with any hiker, but as c approaches 1/2 (the genetic relatedness between a parent and their child who always has half their genes), the kids’ energy level approaches zero. This special theory of relativity is still a work in progress, but in practice!while they might declare that they are too tired to hike when it is just the family, you will never hear such a complaint when they are drafting behind a non-parent.
One recent fine morning, the kids got up at the crack of dawn to hike with a fellow traveler (trail name: Wired, note that c=0) on a big mileage day. Along the way, she recorded Cartwheel reciting the opening page to Moby Dick and Robin Hood reciting Frost’s “A Road Less Traveled”—while walking uphill at a brisk pace. The sound of these young voices makes my heart sing!