Thankfully this is not a video of me singing.
Recently I was hiking with my toddler. We were having a nice time looking at trees, touching boulders, eating snacks, when for some unknown reason she was suddenly and furiously done with the hike. Food, drink, walking, carrying, warm clothes, none of it made a difference.
The problem was, we still had a mile and a half to go back to the trailhead, a short but suddenly monumental distance.
So, I stuffed her back in the carrier and speed hiked/jogged as fast as one can with 25+ pounds of crying kid on your back, while navigating a rocky, leaf-covered trail and trying to distract her with songs.
Thus arrived my second problem. Despite having 3,000+ songs on my computer and iPod (back at home), I could no longer think of anything decent to sing for longer than a single verse. I blame my initial brain freeze on the sobbing behind my ears.
I eventually managed to recall:
- “The Wheels on the Bus” (pros: I know all the words, and my toddler was mollified; cons: I was not allowed to stop singing it);
- “Loch Lomond” (pros: I genuinely like the song and the chorus is about walking — “you take the high road and I'll take the low road”; cons: I have trouble remembering much beyond the chorus, and my Scottish accent needs work);
- “The Titanic” song, despite (or because of) its morbidity factor, thanks to summer camp;
- and my own rendition of “Val-deri,Val-dera, with my toddler on my back.”
Not my most impressive of playlists.
Back at home I Googled hiking songs and quickly found some of the worst (I'll spare you further suggestions, lest I'm guilty of planting “earworms”) and many camping/hiking/marching songs. However, there's no consensus on what, if anything, makes a song a good hiking song, versus a song about hiking (à la “The Happy Wanderer”), or just a song often sung outdoors (“Kumbaya” comes to mind here).
I think a good hiking song needs to:
- be a good song to begin with (an annoying song will not become better due to a change of scene);
- stand up to repetition (lest you ruin a good song forever);
- be easy to sing (in your head or, in certain dire circumstances, out loud);
- be appropriate for all ages (folk songs have an advantage here);
- and, be easy to recall in full (even when someone, who you're carrying, is sobbing for you and you're descending a field of leaf-covered boulders).
I'm now working on a mental play list of good hiking songs that I can (hopefully) recall without much prompting. First up, full rounds of “Loch Lomond” and “Ob-La-De, Ob-La-Da.”
Got any other suggestions? Or am I doomed during times of duress to remember only tunes that were locked in my memory back at Grange camp?