Short answer: ANYONE & EVERYONE.
Yesterday, in a hiking Facebook group I belong to there was a person who wrote a post basically telling parents we are failures if our kids are being carried on the trail & not pushing for more mileage. And while I do believe my kids are capable of so much more than I ever thought they would be at their age, this gentleman’s post did nothing to encourage people to get out there & try something new. All he did was send the message that if you aren’t basically a bad-ass heading out into the woods with all your gear on your back, hiking 15 miles with your little kids back to back days then you aren’t doing it right.
Don’t tell him that one of the first hikes I took my kids on was paved, 2 miles, & right next to the visitor’s center because I was too scared to go out in the woods alone with a 5 & 2.5 year old. And frankly, I wanted the stroller for my daughter. But, we still had the benefits of being out in nature from that paved trail; they saw bugs, different types of tree bark, we looked at different species of plants, & so much more. They were able to learn something from it & we figured out it was something we enjoyed doing together.
I appreciate this gentleman’s experience & I think what he’s doing for his family is really really cool. But what about the people who watch hikers from the sidelines wishing they could go but don’t really know how to get started? Or for the woman who would like to take her kids but she doesn’t feel like she “looks” the part based on all the pictures she’s seen on social media? Or the family who wants to do a day hike after church on Sunday but now they feel like they’re screwing it up because they’re not going on some epic overnight trip or they are going to carry their kids??? Or… or… or… there will always be reasons not to go & naysayers telling you you’re doing it wrong.
This is what you need to know: YOU deserve to spend time in the world God created for you. You don’t need to be a professional hiker or heading out to the backcountry for days, weeks or months at a time. Start small, pick a trail you feel comfortable with from the All Trails App, & then head out. Build your experience one trail at a time & as your confidence grows you will be able to try new things & go further with each trip out there. Maybe, you’ll end up being a backpacker teaching your friends how to go out! Or maybe, you’ll discover doing it huge isn’t for you but the small hikes are really fun.
There are plenty of sites out there that will teach you how to thru hike, how to hardcore backpack, they will find you the major trails with tons of mileage. As of today, this is not that site. I will leave that to the experts. I am an every day mom, doing everyday things who happens to believe my kids & I have an amazing time growing relationships with each other while hiking, getting some vitamin D in the dead of winter, & the whole slew of other benefits that comes from being on trails. And that’s regardless of the trail being 1 mile or 100.
If my family can do this, your family can too!
What is one of the main reasons you haven’t tried hiking with your kids yet?