I have two little ones under five. While I’ve slowed down my own ambitions for hiking and climbing, I haven’t let their little legs limit the fun of being outdoors. In fact, focusing on the kids’ experience in nature has made for some experiences that rival some of my adventures in the Adirondacks and even Alaska. They don’t normally get your adrenal gland feeding the machine, but they make you feel just as alive. And isn’t that the whole point?
Here are 10 things that are awesome about hiking with the little ones that I had no idea about just five years ago:
10. You have to smell the roses. They’re slow and see the smallest things, sometimes for the first time.
9. Municipal parks come into their own. I professed to being a trail snob before kids. Now that I am a father a little woods and an urban creek becomes a gateway to sharing nature.
8. You get to teach, and talk about trees, and streams, and maps, and gear, and outdoor basics! Nuff said.
7. They get into packing. Nobody likes packing, except these little guys, and it’s contagious.
6. Rain isn’t a problem, it’s an excuse to wear rain boots and jackets. Go play!
5. Finding trailmarkers can be a game. My Uncle Tom started this one with me, albeit when I was older.
4. Puddles aren’t just mosquito havens. Before we drain them, you have to jump in them.
3. Sticks, stones, and leaves are the attraction. And it can occupy them for a real long time. (So I suggest bringing a nice picnic for you and your spouse.)
2. They’re early risers. I’m a morning person. Big people aren’t always willing to go out an watch the sunrise, but these little buddies will!
1. They make you look at everything with renewed wonder.