Over the past few months, I’ve been on my share of hikes where Sky has just cried and nursed the entire time. If she isn’t nursing, she’s crying at the top of her lungs over… well, I don’t know really what. Perhaps she is tired because she is in the weird nap transition from two down to one, perhaps she is mad that her gloves are falling off or the snow is hard to walk in. It’s really hard for me to tell. I’ve been dreading leading hikes or even leaving the house some days because of the meltdowns.
I put a hike on the Hike it Baby calendar to head up to Lac Lawrann here in Wisconsin. When I pulled in the other two cars in the parking lot were leaving. It ended up that no one was able to join us so it was just Sky and me. She was so happy to get out on a hike. We started by exploring the trail around the lake. Since there was snow on the ground and the trails were relatively unused, we saw so many animal tracks like deer, rabbit, and perhaps a fox. I ended up telling her it was a fox as that’s one of her favorite animals right now. She’ll eventually figure out mommy is not a master tracker but for now it’s fine.
As we went along the 1 mile loop, Sky eventually asked to be carried and I pulled out a carrier to place her in. She started slowly drifting off to sleep and fell asleep against my chest. No crying, no nursing, just a peaceful sleep. There was very little fussing even to be carried. Just a quiet asking for “uppies”.
She fell asleep about three quarters of the way around the 1 mile lake loop. Since she was asleep, I decided now would be a good time to keep walking. Sky could nap a bit instead of being tossed in a car seat to go home and possibly going back to sleep but probably not. She might nap half hour or maybe even two hours in the carrier if I kept walking. It was a balmy 35 degrees and I was dressed well so why not keep moving.
With Sky sleeping on my chest, I was alone with my thoughts as I walked around Lac Lawrann. They place maps around the trails so you can easily find your way around. I decided it would be fun to head out to the other lake on the preserve. All around me was the silence and stillness that only comes in winter. I was following in the footsteps of the snowshoers that had come before me and enjoyed the quiet. As I walked along the trail, I came to a place where the trail was closed (the steps didn’t look safe in the winter).
However, I could see the snowshoers who had gone before blazing a trail off to my right. Before baby, I probably would have thrown caution to the wind and hiked up the closed trail (Pfft safety). Having a 20lb sleeping toddler strapped to you changes the way you see things. I was nervous to follow the snowshoe trail (that wasn’t the way the map went) but I decided to do it anyways. I had to talk myself into following the trail. Obviously being in an area with 4G and able to call for help made me realize I was being a bit silly. (Seriously self, the trail isn’t even that far from a major road) I had this realization of how differently I think now that I have a child. I have a far less reckless abandon, throw everything to the wind mentality now. I’ve been trying to plan, color inside the lines, and be a good example so often that I rarely just let go of things.
So I kept walking and walking and walking and walking. I walked over 5 miles before Sky woke up. I saw a small family of deer, hiked along a hill top, took a side path that meandered us through deep snow and hills, found the pine forest, and breathed deeply throughout. It was in this quiet solitude that magic happened. I relaxed and let go. I had no plan and no real idea of where I would go next. Just steady movement of one foot in front of the other.
“And then the magic happens” originally posted on One Babe and Done on Feb. 10, 2016
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 busying helping out with Hike it Baby social media.