Legs on fire, I gripped the stroller handlebars tightly as I pushed nearly 100 pounds of kids, snacks, and BOB up the hill. My heavy heart pounded harder and harder with each step and threatened to burst out of my chest. A flood of tears spilled down my cheeks, an unbridled response to the physical and emotional overwhelm I felt through my entire body. The grief over the death of my brother only weeks prior weighed me down tremendously.

My boys rode happily up the hill, their eyes peeled for the birds and rabbits startled by the sound of our hardy wheels on the gravel underfoot. With the exception of the occasional car below us, Garden of the Gods felt unusually quiet.

At long last, we made it to the top of the hill. We rounded a corner, broke through the grove of scrub oak, and came into full view of the red rock formations below. I paused at an overlook for a moment to catch my breath and take in the beautiful sight. Time stood still for a few seconds, just long enough for the boys to get a little antsy in the motionless stroller. Four-year-old Luke asked sweetly if we could keep going, so on we went.

The sweat on my forehead and the pumping blood in my veins helped to slowly release some of the pressure in my chest. With each full breath of fresh air, I could feel the muscles in my face, neck, and upper back relax a bit more. The rhythm of my footsteps calmed my racing mind just enough to allow the endorphins to start to work their positive magic.

My boys rode happily down the hill, completely oblivious to the pain I felt. I gripped the stroller handlebars tightly as I eased the three of us down and back into the trees. “I will be okay,” I said quietly to myself, as tears continued to roll down my cheeks. “We will all be okay.”

April’s Hike it Baby 30 and our BOB Gear Challenge gave my family the extra boost to get outside and seek comfort and healing on the trails in the wake of my brother’s unexpected passing early last month. Some days were easy; other days required every bit of strength I could gather just to get us out the door. The goal of 30 off-road stroller miles gently pushed me outside on those tough days.

My boys and I logged our miles in many different places and with different groups over the course of the month. We strolled with their dad, with my dad, with dear Hike it Baby friends, and on our own. We strolled beside the ocean, beneath impressive rock formations, through the trees, and along the creekside that divides some of our local neighborhoods. I will hold many of these stroller hikes close to my heart for a very long time.

There is something miraculously therapeutic about simply putting one foot in front of the other. Sadness, stress, and overwhelm begin to lose their power with the very first step. If you are grieving, if you are troubled, or if you are overcome, gather up every last drop of strength you have and head outside. Comfort and healing can be found beside the ocean, beneath the trees, and on the tops of mountains.

Be sure to read Jessie’s initial post about her journey and the BOB Gear Challenge : A Journey to Healing.


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