Lauryn Koppes is a Hike it Baby Branch Ambassador from the Golden, Colorado branch. She is a mom of two and is enjoying the slowness of hikes with them during this HiB30 Challenge month.
I’ve always loved the Hike it Baby 30 Challenges.
Like many, my favorite part of the Challenges is the camaraderie of the community built during these wonderful, fleeting months. It’s inspiring, fun, and beautiful to see so many families coming together to get our little ones outside.
However, in the midst of all the encouraging words and gorgeous photography shared from all over the globe, come other sentiments. Without fail, in every Challenge, I see discouraged parents posting apologetically about their lack of mileage. What often accompanies these posts is the lament that their children just don’t hike in the carrier like they used to, that they prefer to be out on the trail on their own two feet.
I get it. It’s challenging to feel like you’re not accomplishing what others are.
Every family is different, and some amazing folks do hit well over 100 miles on these Challenges. But, here’s the thing: the slowness that comes from a child interacting with nature on their own terms should never be apologized for or regretted. Offering our youngest children the opportunity to truly immerse themselves in their natural environment- to stop, listen, observe, feel, and play is one of the most beautiful and important things we can do for them.
And here’s the kicker: it benefits us, too.
I can’t tell you how much more connected I’ve felt to nature after seeing it through the eyes of my two-year-old. I’ve grown to love snakes, frogs, insects, and birds, relishing my encounters with them. I can identify trees and flowers I previously stomped past without a passing thought. I’ve come to appreciate the incredible diversity and resiliency of life that exists all the way from the arid Colorado plains to our freezing alpine lakes.
If I can feel such wonder reawakened during my adulthood, I can’t imagine what it must be like for my little ones to experience it.
No wonder every water source beckons them to splash, pine cones must be collected and examined, rocks climbed and leapt from, and mud formed into balls and squished between toes. Nature really is our perfect playground, a place that invites both adults and children to live more fully.
So, this Hike it Baby 30 challenge, I’m grateful for this season of slowness.
I take pride in my low mileage, because it represents all the beautiful moments my children have had to explore their natural world in the way that brings them the greatest joy. I fully believe that if I stop and adjust to their pace, giving them freedom to come to the outdoors on their own terms, I will be fostering a love of nature that will be with them for a lifetime.
I can’t wait to climb all of Colorado’s 14,000+ foot-peaks with my children, but I know that’s not today. Today is about watching them fall head-over-heels in love with this incredible place we call Earth, and there’s no other way I’d rather pass the time.