toddlerwalkingstick

Hike it Baby is on a mission to raise a generation to love the outdoors. Our hikes are as varied as the families who join us. During HiB30 Challenge months, we get to see hikers of all shapes and sizes taking on all types of terrain in groups of 2 to 20+, and having fun while doing it. We love ALL of the hikes we get to experience through one another’s eyes.

The anatomy of a hike

As a hike host, I love when so many people love my idea for a hike that a huge group shows up.  It is validating to feel that my idea was super awesome, and it brings a smile to my face. However, it can be daunting when 20, 30, or more families show up to play hostess to and get to speak with everyone. I always worry that someone is going to feel left out, and it can be hard to gauge shyness versus an internal need for less conversation and more quiet enjoyment of nature. So, it’s especially awesome when HiB veterans are joining us on these bigger hikes, and we can co-host (even if I nominate them on the spot) and split into 2-3 smaller, more manageable groups.

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Although I’ve only experienced a handful of hikes where it’s just my family, I actually love those too. It allows me one-on-one time with my kid (and sometimes husband), to explore at his pace. He enjoys getting to throw as many rocks in the lake or creek as he wants, while I have fun watching him, or drawing in the dirt with a stick. “Draw a train, Mommy! Now a truck!” We see some really amazing things when I let go of my perfect hike idea, and stop to watch a mama duck swimming around a pond with 5 ducklings in tow. He takes such delight in things that I’ve grown to take for granted over the last 3 decades. Sometimes I wish I had another adult along for company and conversation, but I always have so much fun with the memories.

I also love when we have even just one other person who shows up to hike with us, especially if the weather is less than perfect.  I started out hosting hikes with HiB in April, and since we’re in Alaska, the weather is ALWAYS unpredictable, but never more so than in April (where it’s spring in the rest of the country). Right around Tax Day, a wintry mix was spitting out of the sky, and I was getting ready to call it a day when no one had showed up. Right at the 11th hour, a new mom showed up, and so I pulled my stroller back out, and the two of us went on an awesome 5 mile walk. We had a great time talking, and I was thrilled that she came so that I actually got to enjoy some fresh air. So even just one other person can make the difference between… well, going big or going home.

We’ve talked about the very big hikes and the very small hikes. But my favorite hikes tend to be somewhere in the middle, or about 5-7 families. Whether I’m hosting or showing up to someone else’s hike, I thoroughly enjoy these outings. The group is big enough that we can have some truly amazing conversations (depending on how much toddler chasing is happening). However, it’s also small enough that everyone gets a chance to chit chat and get to know one another. These connections are my favorite, and my greatest HiB friendships tend to grow from these hikes.

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Any hike can be fantastic

In the end, over the last 15 months, I’ve enjoyed hikes where we’ve summited mountains, followed a stream up the valley, pulled ourselves across a gorge in a hand tram, ran around in circles on a boardwalk or playground, and followed a beautiful paved trail along the coast. And more. With groups that consisted of myself and my no-longer-little one, or groups that were 30 or more. And you know what? I’ve loved at least one aspect of them all! They don’t always go as planned, whether because of inclement weather, wildlife, or toddler antics, but I’m always glad we went exploring.

Photos Credits: Kali Allen, Tais Kulish

Erin PenningsErin Pennings is a marketer by trade, and a work-at-home mom to an adventurous small boy who believes firmly in hitting the ground running and the walls climbing. Follow her adventures, fun feats, and tasty treats at SalmonAtSeven.com. Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook – @SalmonAtSeven.

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