I love hiking with Sky and having her explore the trails with me. That being said, sometimes all I want to do is go, go, go. I want to move and rack up some mileage. I want to not constantly worry about a toddler falling or running off into the pond to catch frogs. Sometimes, I want to be in nature and get to enjoy it for myself. Watching a tiny human run wild can be difficult to really enjoy nature (see last sentence about toddlers running into ponds).

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So typically, people spend mother’s day with their family. I opted for spending it mostly alone. Instead of spending mother’s day with Sky and Daniel, I went hiking. Mostly solo. My friend Heidi decided to join me and we headed up to Parnell Tower to hike part of the Parnell segment of the Ice Age Trail. We decided to do part of a segment that was a bit more technical than we normally would do with toddlers. In my handy dandy Ice Age Trail guide (Thanks Dan!), this was one of the harder segments in the area. So off we went.

Here’s the real kicker of the whole hike. I slowed down. Sky has taught me to slow down and enjoy the hike. So while we were moving at a good pace, I also slowed down, listened to the sounds around me, and enjoyed the experience. I tried to step on all the stones to see which ones would loosen under me. I looked for ephemeral ponds. I gleefully scrambled downhill. I took the time to look for birds and identify them (in my head, I doubt Heidi would be impressed by the fact I know five different birds). I lived life like a toddler. Mostly.. I didn’t ask Heidi for snacks every 30 seconds nor did I try to bushwhack, but I did use the opportunity to be present in the moment.

It’s interesting that we talk about how much we teach our children. Sky is learning her numbers so we count things on the trail, use the blaze markers to learn about colors (and maps and following the trail and all kinds of things), and identify different animals we see as we are hiking. Even though I have been teaching her all about the world through hiking, she has been teaching me all about hiking.

My whole goal in hiking had been seeing how far and how fast we can go. What I’ve learned through Sky is that isn’t the goal of hiking. The goal of hiking is to be there in nature. It’s to be present in that moment. I so rarely slow down in my life. So thank you Sky for teaching me how to slow down while being on the trail.

This post originally published on One Babe and Done with permission to reprint here on Hike it Baby.

Jessica Featherstone lives in the somewhat north of Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her husband, toddler, and two dogs. Jessica is often found trying to keep a toddler from bush whacking through the forest or entertained on neighborhood walks. She occasionally blogs at One Babe and Done and obsessively posts photos of her toddler on Instagram when she isn’t busy helping out with Hike it Baby social media.

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