The Biggest Adventure – Kids

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.

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19 responses to this post.

  1. Very cool.

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  2. Thanks!

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  3. Just took my 8&7 year olds to the Massassauga for two nights last month…they were literally two different children during that time – free, responsible, and content. No sugar, tv, video games…makes me wonder about the ‘benefits’ of city life…

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    • It’s amazing how differently they behave on trip isn’t it? Without anyone to impress or any electronics to passively stare at, they come alive. They act goofy, they get dirty, they play nicely with each other and they just plain have fun. Nature therapy!

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  4. Wow, what a beautiful post! There’s something so special about seeing the trail (or river) from a child’s perspective and it takes a kid to show us that.

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    • Thanks! The trick is to let go of your city self and become a kid again right along side them. It’s too easy to tune out their banter and their antics and get lost in your own thoughts. As soon as you start listening to their little voices, you realize that what they are saying is wonderful and sweet and funny and sometimes profound…truly a gift.

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  5. Haven’t taken my 3 yo daughter out hiking yet (we plan to this summer), but I completely agree with your post! It’s like reliving your childhood again…but better, b/c now you get a completely different perspective from your kid.

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    • It was easy as our tripping abilities progressed as adults, to get wrapped up in trying to do bigger and harder trips to satisfy our egos. It takes our kids to remind us that we first went into the wilderness to find peace and serenity…and fun!

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  6. Posted by Cheryl on June 28, 2012 at 5:31 PM

    We took our girls on their first portaging trip when they were 5 & 3. The experience was fantastic. They learned to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of nature. We learned to slow down a bit and enjoy the little things. We even saw a dragonfly emerge from the cocoon. It’s an experience we still talk about 2 years later.

    Love reading your blog and your adventures. Keep it up!!

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    • Thank you so much! Kids help to remind you that it’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. I’m grateful everyday for the lessons that they share 😉

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  7. My 22 year old daughter has moved to Jasper where she’s working for Sun Dog Tours. She’s paddling, hiking, climbing and camping like she never did in Ontario. Dragging them out in the early years, making it enjoyable and worthwhile, showing where there is value in the outdoor experience is a great way to get them started on a life-long love affair with the wilds!

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  8. Really nice post. Kids have so much to share with us…indoor and out, they make us better. Thanks!

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  9. Looking forward to chatting with you sometime this summer! Thanks for this post. Your opening paragraph says it all!

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  10. Posted by Marne Birch on July 29, 2012 at 9:18 PM

    I remember lying in a tent with my husband on one of our hikes and discussing children. He felt that we would have to stop hiking if we had kids. I asked why couldn’t they come with us to enjoy what we enjoy. We lived in northern BC, so our first hike with the kids (aged 1 and 3) was the Berg Lake trail. We only went to Kinney Lake that first time, but they have been to Berg Lake three times. I know exactly how you feel about hiking the backcountry with your kids. We will be doing the Coastal Trail in Pukaskwa in early August and we are all looking forward to the trip! Sounds like a rough trail, but the beach campsites,views of Superior and time spent together will be worth it. I’m so happy that my teenagers still want to spend time with their parents and I bet that has to do with all of the hiking we have done.

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    • I agree. Spending time with your kids in the backcountry is the basis for a strong family bond. I hope my boys will always want to be there with us.
      As for Pukaskwa…yay! It is a very tough trail, but you’re going to love it! Enjoy and take lots of pictures 🙂

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  11. We can’t wait until our little one is old enough to tackle trips like this. She is 10 months now and so this summer we tried her with car camping in a tent and we have been hiking with her on our backs or fronts since she was about 8 weeks old. She loves the outdoors, so hopefully she will continue to love the outdoors as she gets older so that we can try some backcountry camping and get back to canoe tripping. Any tips you have would be great.

    Reply

  12. Great post. Although I have not tackled anything challenging with the family yet, I have experienced the pride and joy of seeing the outdoors through a child’s eye.

    Reply

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