So you’re on the fence about having kids. You’re not sure if you’re ready to give up the lifestyle to which you are accustomed. You haven’t ticked off all of the trips that you wanted to take down before you settled down. You trip endlessly and you’re good. Some would call you hardcore. You shrug it off as no big thing but you secretly tuck those accolades away, pulling them out and rolling them around in your head when you need a boost. I’m here to tell you that bringing little ones into the fold will only increase your enjoyment and your achievements, not to mention your street cred. I know this from personal experience. My favourite tripping partners are my husband Fraser and our kids, Luke 11, and Zach 8. They make everything more fun and I honestly can’t remember how I entertained myself before they came along. The soundtrack to my life is one filled with laughter, commentary and endless inquiries.
What is better than coming to the end of a 3k portage without losing my lunch? Watching my kids complete the same trek with fully loaded packs all the while chatting non-stop about every leaf, snail and rock that they pass. I marvel at their strength, passion and attitudes. Relative to their size, they are hauling as much as I am. Their faces are flush and little beads of sweat form on their upper lips. The breathing comes hard…for all of us. It’s difficult, but there is no complaining, just pride in accomplishing what others believed was too difficult, beyond their capabilities. And I don’t often have to wonder what they are thinking because they share their thoughts freely and without filters. They are not like other tripping partners…they trust me completely and care about me as much, if not more, than themselves and I reciprocate the sentiment. There are no egos and no competition, just encouragement and a hand up when necessary.
The gift of seeing the world through their eyes is one that I wouldn’t trade for all the first ascents and records in the world. The truth is we get out far more often now that we have kids than we ever did before. Their enthusiasm to climb higher, hike farther and paddle longer drives us to attempt ever more ambitious adventures. This summer saw us hike Pukaskwa’s Coastal Hiking Trail, a grueling seven day slog through some dauntingly rough terrain that had us crossing suspension bridges, wading through ice-cold rivers and sharing beaches with the local black bear population. And if that weren’t enough, we will follow up this trip with a three-week canoe expedition dissecting the entire maintained length of Algonquin Provincial Park from north to south.
The accolades will still come. People are even more impressed with what you’ve accomplished when they find out that your progeny were by your side from launch to take-out. The thing is you won’t need their praise anymore. You have the best motivation there is…your kids.