It was cold, it was dark, and it was the evening of November 30th. 2.73 miles–that’s all we needed. Less than a week earlier I had hurt my foot by foolishly wearing the wrong shoes on a hike while on vacation. Now, it was up to Daddy to take our two children out onto the city streets in the cold, dark night. Completing the HiB 30 November Challenge with a total of 30 miles depended on it. A round-trip journey to the grocery store with just a few detours got them the mileage they needed, and my children returned home triumphant and tired.
The Journey evolves.
Before I go any further, I realize this might seem like extreme lengths to go to for a personal challenge; but you see, that’s just it. We’ve been participating in the Hike it Baby 30 Challenges since September of 2015. However, for the first time since then, the challenge truly was personal–not for me, but for my daughter. November marked the first challenge that she, at 6 years old, decided to own it for herself and go after all 30 miles. In the past I would try to plan at least one after-school hike a week so that I could make sure she got out with us, but it was never enough to get her close to 30. When I explained the challenge month to her and I saw her eyes light up at the thought of completing it, I knew I had to do whatever I could to make that happen. Our journey that month took us on some amazing trails. But, ultimately, it was those last few miles on the sidewalks close to our house that made all the difference. For my daughter, completing this challenge was the ultimate goal–and we did it.
It wasn’t always this way, though. As a baby we took her out hiking all the time. We spent most of the minutes of our days outside, and if we stayed in too long she would crawl to the front door and start knocking to go out. That was when we lived in the sunshine; the only bad weather was warm rain you could play in and the occasional tropical storm.
Adapting to new changes.
A few years later she was three years old, we had a baby for a younger brother, and we were living in Michigan. Originally a California girl I didn’t know how to get out with my babies in the cold, dark north. We kept our hiking to the brief spring and summer months. Sadly, this wasn’t enough to foster a love for the trail in her. When she was four-years-old we moved to Atlanta and found Hike it Baby (I wish I had found it in Michigan!) and finally started hiking again on a regular basis. When we started back into it there was so much complaining and lots of bribing; I was so disappointed that my beautiful, once outdoors-loving little girl didn’t like to hike. Only a year-and-a-half later and my daughter is hiking 6-mile hikes without complaining and completing 30-mile challenges. We did it, we made it, we got there! The journey wasn’t always easy, but I have a daughter that asks to go hiking–and would rather go camping for her birthday than have a party.
Balancing the journey and the destination.
So often, we make a point to focus on the journey, rather than the destination. This is great advice, especially in the little years. I host a toddler-led hike every week and let me tell you, that hike is all about the journey. We never really know where we are going to end up. But while taking care of little ones day-to-day, it can be hard to constantly stay positive when you have no idea where all of this is heading. I’m here to tell you that just as in hiking, there is a destination, and it’s pretty great. It’s ok to remind yourself of that every once and awhile. One day, little feet and little hands are going to get bigger and they’ll be asking to go outside before you even get the chance to suggest it.
When the trail is hard and your feet start to hurt, you need to look up and enjoy your surroundings for what they are; to find beauty amid the pain and the struggle. I have to say this is much the same for raising little ones. However, when you catch glimpse of the end of the trail, of the peak you’ve almost reached, and realize how close you are–it’s ok to rejoice in knowing you are almost there. Sometimes it is about the destination. Believing that you will reach it can be the hardest thing, but don’t worry, you will.