On Mom’s orders, Bridgette, Austin and the Haggerty dogs take a hike

Austin Haggerty put away his cell phone the other day and took the family dogs for a hike on Quad Rocker Loop in Bangs Canyon. His sister, Bridgette, and mom, Glenda, joined Austin in their own “No Child Left Inside” excursion. Meanwhile, Bill Haggerty was stuck for six hours in ski traffic on Interstate 70.



QUICKREAD

Quad Rocker Loop/

Bangs Canyon

Drive time and distance: 19 minutes, 6.8 miles

Length: 2-plus miles one way

Hiking Time: 1.5 hours

Difficulty: Easy to moderate



Editor’s Note: Bridgette Haggerty is pinch-hiking this week for her father, Bill.

So Tuesday, Dad was stuck in ski traffic on the dark side of the Continental Divide. He took Grandma home to Denver while Mom, brother Austin and I soaked up some sunshine on Quad Rocker Loop.

Anyway, I’m writing the Haggerty’s Hikes column this week because a) I’m a Haggerty; b) Dad couldn’t make up a story about hiking to Starbucks in Idaho Springs; and, c) he’s a little bitter that our lungs were filled with fresh air while his was full of carbon monoxide while being stuck for six hours on Interstate 70 with thousands of his closest road raging friends.

It started when my mom (forcefully) suggested we take the dogs hiking. She’s discovered a secret that my brother and I don’t like to acknowledge — kids need fresh air and outdoor activity.

You see, now that I’m out of college and trying desperately to figure out what to do with my life, and my brother is home from college with apparently nothing to do, we both have a tendency to sleep, watch TV — and mope.

Mom had enough of that and decided we would be in much better moods if we left the house.

She was right.

Of course.

Austin didn’t have cell service and I got to soak in a few rays before moving to foggy San Francisco next month. Mom got to walk dogs and witness her children actually moving around while conversing intelligently.

It was a great day.

Poor Dad.

Mom’s theory about spending time outside proved correct. After a couple of Google searches, I discovered she’s not the only one with this theory. In fact, there’s a national movement to get kids outside and away from text-Wii-Twitter-land. The movement is called “No Child Left Inside.” Several states are attempting to implement programs in public schools requiring kids to spend time outside.

Richard Louv, author of “Last Child in the Woods,” even coined the term “nature-deficient disorder,” describing a condition in which children become disconnected from the natural world.

According to the No Child Left Inside website at http://www.cbf.org/Page.aspx?pid=702, “Louv links this lack of nature to some of the most disturbing childhood trends, such as the rises in obesity, attention disorders and depression.”

A study published in the American Journal of Public Health in 2004 entitled, “A Potential Natural Treatment for Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: Evidence From a National Study,” found that kids who regularly participated in activities in a “natural or green setting” had reduced symptoms from attention disorders than kids who participated in the same activities indoors.

With that in mind, we headed to the Bangs Canyon Recreation Area to participate in our own little experiment.

To get there, take Broadway to Monument Road. Turn left on D Road, which soon turns into Rosevale Road. Stay on Rosevale for 1.2 miles, then turn right on Little Park Road. Stay on Little Park Road for 4.1 miles. There’s a sign on the left for the Bangs Canyon Staging Area.

We parked about .1 mile from this sign, next to the Twist and Shout trail head. We walked down the main ATV road for less than a quarter mile, then turned right onto the Quad Rocker Loop.

The day we hiked, the sun shone brightly, and since we’ve been lucky enough to avoid the dreaded inversion so far this year, had beautiful views of the Bookcliffs, Mt. Garfield and Grand Mesa. There were a couple of hills, which I thought were the “quad rocking” part of the loop, but then realized that quad probably referred to ATVs and not my leg muscles.

However, we saw only two ATVs and my own quads were only slightly rocked.

That could have something to do with trying to stay ahead of “little brother” Austin. He might be six inches taller, but that doesn’t mean he should be ahead of me on the trail!

Quad Rocker isn’t the only trail we could have taken. There are several trails adjacent to this Staging Area, such as Easy Rider, Rollover Ridge, Canyon View, Nut-N-2-It, and Rocky Stumble, not to mention all the trails at the Little Park and the Billings Canyon trail heads.

This is a multi-use area, so hikers should be aware that many of these trails, including Quad Rocker, are open to ATVs, horses and mountain bikers.

So, after a great hike, we concluded our study and found that indeed we were all happier.

I didn’t worry about the whole unemployment thing for a couple of hours. Austin gave his fingers a rest from texting. Mom was ecstatic to be outdoors with her kids and dogs.

In fact, we were all happier than Dad, who finally returned home late that day, stiff and hungry and ready for next weeks’ excursion.


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