I grew up in a family that was not what you’d call “outdoorsy.” We did a lot of exploring and traveling, but from the safe confines of sidewalks and vehicles, or just plain indoors. There was no camping in our vacation plans! Don’t get me wrong, we saw a lot of cool things and learned a lot. I wouldn’t trade it!
But as my husband and I explore the world and take our kids along, we do things a little differently. We all love being outdoors. The fresh air, the sunshine, the sounds of nature… it’s our family’s happy place.
We’ve been hiking since my son was a little toddler, snuggled up in the Ergo on my back and napping as we hiked. He loved the wind and the trees and taking it all in. One of our first family vacations was a trip to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and we hiked through Taquamenon Falls, Pictured Rocks, and the Porcupine Mountains. (We all loved it so much that we’re hoping for a return trip this fall.) Now, both of my kids are big enough to run the trails themselves, though we have upgraded our hiking carrier to a used Deuter to hold the bigger kids when they get tired.
Seriously, wasn’t he adorable? Okay, that’s not what this post is about. Back to hiking.
Before we started hiking, it seemed like something only those “super healthy, super crunchy” people did. You know, the ones in the commercials that made their own granola, packed themselves and their dog into the Subaru, and hiked to the top of a mountain just in time for a sunset? Well, it turns out you can pack store-bought snacks and just take a walk in the woods. It doesn’t have to be crazy.
Here are a few things I’d recommend when you get started: (a.k.a. “Learn from our mistakes.”)
- Wear good shoes. My husband hiked in Converse All Stars when we started, and I often wore flip flops. I wouldn’t recommend that. We currently have a pair of Merrell boots for him, and Salomons for me, but any good sturdy athletic shoe will work. You can also wear Keens or Chacos or other well-made sandals, but leave the flip flops in the car. It’s more fun if you don’t give yourself blisters and your feet are protected.
- Bring water. Hiking is fun, but even if it’s a walk through a flat area, it’s still exercise (especially if you’re wearing a 20+ pound kid on your back like I usually am). Stay hydrated so you don’t feel like garbage. (No single-use bottled water though, please!)
- Get a map. If you’re at a state park, there are usually trail maps that tell you how far the trail is and how difficult. If it’s your first time out, maybe don’t try a five mile “difficult/rugged” trail. Start with something easy and then add on. It doesn’t have to be difficult to be beautiful and fun. It still counts as hiking!
- Bug repellent and sunscreen. Don’t forget these. Look for something earth friendly if possible, but make sure you’re prepared for the elements so you don’t look like a lobster with chicken pox the next day.
- Don’t do it alone. Take someone with you. It makes it more fun, and it keeps you safe in case of emergencies.
Most of all, have a good time. Go somewhere beautiful, breathe in the fresh air, and enjoy this amazing planet of ours.
Want to join me on Earth Day for a hike? (I’ll even take you on a paved trail to get you started!) We’re heading to Potters Bridge and the White River Greenway for a walk along through the trees along the river. There’s a playground, a paved trail, and a cool old wooden bridge. Join me to explore and enjoy nature together! (We’ll also be adding in a clean-up option if you want to help pick up litter along the river, but that’s up to you!)
Check out the event HERE, and let me know you’re coming!
Do you like to hike? Where is your favorite place to hike? (My favorite local is Shades State Park, favorite regional was the Porcupine Mountains, and favorite national was the Canyon area of Yellowstone.)