At the far end of the spectrum covering outings of parents with young children -- well beyond a hike on a well-tended city trail -- is the trek Hig Higman and Erin McKittrick just completed.
The five-months-pregnant McKittrick, Higman and their 18-month-old son Katmai walked from Cape Lisburne south through Point Hope and Kivalina -- Katmai actually rode. Then they caught a ride northeast to the Red Dog Mine and walked and paddled the Noatak River through Noatak village to Kotzebue. All told, it was about 300 miles.
"It actually was fine, pretty much the whole time," McKittrick said from the family cabin in Seldovia. "In our society, because we have more medical care or don't have to be out working all the time, we think of ourselves as being more fragile than we really are.
"People always think, you walked all the way? But you know, they could too -- but they may not want to. We didn't do anything that hard, and we're not incredibly athletic. We just kept at it.
"It's one thing if people don't have the time or the desire. That's obviously fine. It's sad if they don't think it's possible or they think it must be too hard."
To be sure, though, the trek had a few anxious moments. One came not far from Cape Lisburne when the weather turned.
"We ignored the slowly increasing wind," McKittrick wrote in expedition blog. "The shuddering of our tent gave way to a booming thunder, as the walls whooshed and flapped with each gust. Strings broke free, cut by the rocks we used as stakes.
"Hig crawled out of the tent over and over again, re-tying the ends until we crouched in a strange small shape that barely kept the worst of it out. Katmai's rain pants blew right out of the tent in one great gust, over the cliff and off into the Chukchi Sea. Katmai was the only one that slept."
And Katmai, once awake, proved particularly popular in Kivalina.
"A crowd of children followed us to the edge of town, engulfing Katmai," wrote McKittrick. "Some watched Hig inflate the raft on the seawall, but it was mostly the boy they were interested in.
" 'What color is your hair Katmai?' "
" 'Whaite!' "
" 'What color are your shoes Katmai?' "
" 'Bwack!' "
"Some tried to pick him up, while others held his hands, and still others passed him rocks to throw and pointed out things to play with. To me, they directed a continual barrage of "How old is he?" "What's his name?" and "Who taught him to talk?" while I tried to police the hubbub just enough to keep the kid from being overwhelmed.
"Katmai's shockingly white-blond hair is certainly a novelty in a Native village. And for the adults, the sight of a tiny little white boy eagerly devouring whale blubber at the Eskimo-style dinner we were invited to must have been charming. But to some extent, Katmai's stardom confuses even his doting parents. As we paddled away from town, a chorus of 'Bye Katmai!' sounded from the children on the shore."
Four week of travel afforded opportunities to see caribou, huge bird rookeries, grizzly bears and musk ox. But McKittrick will remember villagers they met longest.
"They were just wonderful, so welcoming. Probably because everybody knows everybody, word spread fast that there were people were walking to town.
"In both cases (in Kivalina and Noatak) somebody offered us a place to say 4-5 miles before we reached town. That was great."
And in a world where everything moves faster and faster, slowing down to soak in the Chukchi Sea at a toddler speed leaves a lasting impression.
Reach reporter Mike Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or 257-4329.