Yesterday I had the bright idea of taking River on a hike with me. I recently bought a book of local hikes and selected one that was 1.2 miles through the woods. The description said it was appropriate for all ages, but it also said that jogging strollers can’t pass, due to tree roots and a stream crossing.
I waited until later in the evening, until the temperature got down to 95 or so. Upon arrival, I saw that the path was closed due to construction. There was a detour sign, which we followed and we soon found ourselves in the woods.
River is very cautious physically (he didn’t take his first unassisted step up or down stairs until 2.5), so I thought the experience of walking up and down hills, over roots and fallen trees, etc. was good practice for him. Within a matter of minutes I noticed increased confidence. He was also taken by all the details of nature – the leaves, nuts, fallen fruits, insects and trees. It started out great.
As we continued on and followed the arrows, I realized I had no idea how long this “detour” was. He is only 2. I had no stroller or carrier. I’m four months pregnant. And night was approaching. So while I tried to remain calm for his sake, walking quietly behind him and responding calmly to his inquiries, my heart was pounding with worry about what I’d do if we ran into a psycho in the empty woods, how far his little legs could do, how far I could carry him, and what we would do if darkness fell.
Eventually, the path came to a road that I recognized and I knew we’d be able to get out. According to my pedometer, we walked a total of over 1.5 miles (it would have been a bit longer, but towards the end, we jumped a few barriers). This included a substantial hill at the end. While his pace slowed a bit, my little trooper did not complain once. He didn’t ask me to carry him, he didn’t ask me to stop, he didn’t ask me how much further we had to go. He started to sweat first at the nape of his neck. By the end of the walk, his hair was soaked, making his thick mane look like a thin, wet comb-over. He had sweat dripping down his face. But his little legs kept on moving. He continued to smile and to point out sights of interest.
Mark calls my hikes “death marches.” I counter that they are “health marches” since long walks can only do good things for your health. I think Mark would have been complaining on this one. I was so proud of my little toddler for covering such a distance in the woods without complaint. I may just have a future (and current) hiking buddy.