Who inspires you to get outdoors? In this article, Hike it Baby founder Shanti Hodges shares how her sister inspires her to hit the trails with her son, Mason. 

I moved to Oregon in 2011 after my sister, Radha, gave birth to her twins. One of her son’s, Zach, was born with Down Syndrome. Having a son with a disability might seem like a reason for a parent to slow down, but right away, I could see this wasn’t going to be the case for her. In fact, it seemed like after she had her kids, she was even more motivated to get outside with them whenever she could.

At six months, she was camping with them. She went hiking or walking around neighborhood parks every chance she got. She went snowshoeing with them when they were a year old. I never understood how amazing it was that she did all that with her boys in their first few years until Mason was born.

Gaining Perspective

While Mason was a relatively easy child from the start and let me wear him on adventures from day one, I still recognized it was easy to find an excuse to not get outside with a child. Whenever I felt myself feeling like something was just too hard to do, I would remind myself that, unlike my sister, I only had one child to get out there and he didn’t have a disability I had to consider, either.

Who inspires you to get outside by Shanti Hodges for Hike it Baby

What I noticed about my sister was that she never hesitated to ask me or other friends to go outdoors with her. I think she recognized early on that being in nature with her young children was not only how she kept her sanity, but also helped bond her better with her sons and the friends and family who were around her.

As she hauled her 45 lb. 5-year-old son on her back up to Hardy Falls in Washington, I remember her telling me she could notice a dramatic difference in Zach when they went out hiking together. Even if it meant carrying him most of the way, she was going to continue to do it. I could see just on that hike how much calmer Zach was and how my sister’s shoulders relaxed and her smile got bigger the closer to the waterfall we got.

This is what nature does for all of us from the youngest of humans to the oldest.

Who inspires you to get out there?

We all have someone who reminds us how important it is to get out the door, to go for that hike on a rainy day.

Who can you call to motivate you on those days when you just don’t feel like it?

How can you be that person for someone else?

I am lucky that I had my sister on both ends of that. We now push each other to get outside — whether it’s through Facebook posts or giving a quick call and making a plan to get out. This is what we do to inspire each other to make it to the trail and get a hike in even if it’s a quick one.

This post is the first of a series “Who inspires you” for the 10,000 Women Trail Project for participants to share stories about who gets them out on trail. Join the project at www.10kwomentrailproject.org.

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