Help your child build a tool they will use their entire lives

Mitchell Lake Indian Peaks Wilderness

You can experience a lot from the seat of your chair. But the natural wonders of the world, waterfalls, canyons, glaciers, point breaks, jungles, mountain tops – the exotic environments that make your jaw-drop – this sort of magnificence one must behold at the source. To get there tends to require a hike.

While humans are bipedal by design, hiking, especially in difficult terrain, conditions, or for an extended duration, requires physical abilities, skills development, and proper equipment. If you never get comfortable hiking, one day you will discover that you are having a diminished human experience. You won’t be able to make the journey, literally.

As a parent, helping your child develop the skill of hiking is incredibly valuable. Not only does it give them a tool they will use their entire life to access spectacular experiences, it is also an excellent way to burn off energy (so they will sleep!), gives you a way to connect with them without the distraction of technology and modern life, and gives you a hobby that helps increase your activity level and overall health.

I took my daughter on her first hike before she was able to walk. Once walking, she provided her own locomotion on the trail. Today, 3-years old, she’s been able to hike to mountain summits that overlook the continental divide, to waterfalls plummeting down rocky canyons, and to breathtaking mountain lakes that touch the foot of glaciers. Inspiring stuff that makes me want to jump out of bed before the sun rises! Hiking with my daughter at preschool age has been incredibly rewarding and challenging. After dozens of hikes and many miles on the trial we have learned a lot and hit our stride: hiking has become second nature as it should for a bipedal strider!

In the next series of posts I will share the lessons I’ve learned.

Next: “What’s so great about being outside anyway?