Washington family sets out for a CDT summer

Written by Aaron Rogers on April 19, 2021
Washington family sets out for a CDT summer
(Courtesy Photo)
Members of the Bennet family — dad Adam; mom Mindi; Sierra, 18; Kaia, 16; Tristan, 14; and Ruby, 11, pose with the family trail dog, Muir, at the southern Continental Divide Trail monument as they set out on their second leg of the triple crown of hiking trails in North America.

Somewhere around Lordsburg, there is a family of six who are setting out this month to complete the Continental Divide Trail. The Bennet family, made up of parents Adam and Mindi, their four children, Sierra, 18, Kaia, 16, Tristan, 14, and Ruby, 11, and their Aussie/shepherd mix trail dog, Muir, already completed the Pacific Crest Trail two years ago, when little Ruby was only 9 years old.

The natives of Battle Ground, Wash., are attempting to complete the triple crown of through-hikes in North America, which includes the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail and the Continental Divide Trail — the longest of the three.

“We wanted to hike the Appalachian Trail last summer and this summer,” Mindi said Saturday evening via cellphone, as they walked along the trail south of Lordsburg. “Some of the states along that route are still not open for hiking, so we decided to adjust and do the Continental Divide Trail this year.”

Despite the last-minute change of plans, the family is more than prepared for the challenges of the CDT.

“We have been planning this since 2013,” she continued. “We cram the school year into five months. On the trail, we make sure to take pictures of plants and rocks so that we can research them later. We are always meeting new people who are more than eager to help the kids learn from them as well. Yesterday, we ran into a 67-year-old hiker who told the kids, ‘You’re getting the best education you can get. You will always be able to do hard things.’ They hear those words from their parents all the time, so it was nice for a stranger to also reinforce that message.”

Another person they met on a previous hike was a geology professor, who stopped to teach the kids all about conglomerate rocks.

As for how the parents motivated their kids of various ages to give up their summers and take on these adventures, Mindi said that it was not always an easy sell.

“Sierra will do just about anything her parents suggest,” she said. “Kaia was initially the one most opposed, but after our first trail, she ended up having the most fun. Ruby probably takes it the hardest, because she misses her friends and there aren’t many kids her age on the trail. And she misses going to the pool.”

However, while the family is on a schedule to complete the necessary miles, they have worked time into their plans for stops to enjoy good swimming holes or to take a wade into a river.

“We are really big into midday siestas,” Mindi explained. “We like to take a two-hour lunch break, preferably at a river or lake.”

Their son, Tristan, is a big fan of audiobooks, and has listened to more than 70 different books, ranging from what his mom called “fluff books” to those with a more educational focus.

They plan to pass through Silver City sometime next weekend. To follow along on their adventures online, find their Facebook group, called Kids Out Wild. The Bennets regularly post photos of some of the interesting things they find along the way to help with their research on the trail.

For the next few weeks, they are keeping their eyes out for one animal in particular.

“We would love to see a Gila monster,” Mindi said as they continued on down the trail.

—AARON ROGERS

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