There is a special feeling that a parent gets when their child accomplishes something new. The first smile, the first steps, and every other ‘first’ that comes after and in between makes you and your child glow with excitement. Well, the other day I got to experience another ‘first’ for my 2 and a half year old, one that I guess you don’t see documented in every kid’s baby book (but will be in ours!). Needless to say, I was completely stoked for this ‘first’ of my toddler’s – the first hike she’s ever completed on her own two feet from start to finish.

Big Hill Springs

The day was off to a good start but my daughters and I didn’t have much planned, so I decided to plop the two girls in the car and drive out to Big Hill Springs Provincial Park for an impromptu hike. It was only a two kilometre hike with small bridges, a few small waterfalls and then some beautiful rolling hills. While two kilometres may not seem like a long hike, I reasoned that it could be a long trek for a Mom and her two daughters under three years old.

Alberta Parks

This marked a first for me too – the first hike that I did with my girls without my husband and/or a stroller. I was a little nervous … okay I was a lot nervous! Not having a stroller would mean that my two and a half year old would have to walk the whole way, while my 10 month old was in a carrier on my back. It was not that I didn’t think she could hike the two kilometres, because I’ve seen her hike up to four over the course of a longer hike in the past. It was just that I could see how things could easily take a turn for the worse. Think toddler tantrum, and me stuck carrying her with my 10 month old still on my back. Does that sound like fun to you? Not so much to me. Carrying 50+ squirmy, noisy pounds through the wilderness was not in my plans for this lovely Wednesday afternoon. Another spin on this though is that I felt strong enough post-partum to deal with it if the situation did arise. One strong mama right here (my husband would be chuckling in the background at that statement).

Hiking Toddler

Luckily, it ended up being one of the best hikes of my life. My two year old daughter was a champ and my 10 month old was happy as could be. Sometimes taking care of the girls can feel really hard, but today was definitely not hard at all. It was incredibly fun to hang outside and explore a beautiful ‘new to us’ Alberta Park.

Hiking Stairs

My toddler loved checking out the little waterfalls and walking over the bridges. She was amazed and kept commenting that the waterfalls were ‘so cool’. She also seemed so happy and proud of herself that she was going to do the hike all by herself.

Waterfalls

While the hike was just two kilometres, it took us up a pretty big hill for her little feet. She chugged down a lot of water from her water bottle once we reached the top. She mostly trudged up the hills herself but she did hold my hand when she needed to for part of the hike. The thing about her though is that she knows if you climb up a hill, you usually get to run down it, and that is one of her favourite things to do in the world. She flew down the hills as I kept reminding her to ‘watch out for the rocks and sticks!’. I repeated myself so many times that she started saying ‘Mom, make sure to watch out for the rocks and sticks’. I guess we watch out for each other.

Big Hill Springs

The end of the hike provided us with some even more adventurous trail running. There was a switchback with a drop off on the side so we held hands and zig zagged down the trail together, and boy, did we run fast! As they say in trail running, let your feet follow the path of least resistance, like a stream of water flowing down the hill following that same path. My 10 month old enjoyed the ride on my back in the carrier bouncing up and down as I ‘ran’ at the pace of a toddler. At the end of the descent, I looked over at my 2 year old with a big smile. She was looking right back at me, with a huge grin plastered across her face. She continued to smile with pride as I told her how proud I was of her for doing the whole hike herself. She strung together a few two foot jumps for joy and happily walked back to the car for the drive home. It was a great day on the trails and hearing my toddler recount the tale to my husband at the dinner table was equally precious. It seems we are moving into a new era of mother-daughter hiking, and I must say, I am really looking forward to more bonding on the trails with my girls.

 

By Annika Mang
By Annika Mang

 

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