Story by

Jessie Emslie

May 17th, 2016

"Lukey's climbing this big rock! Look! Lukey's climbing!" We are less than a half mile into our hike and Luke has already pulled over to the side of the trail a half dozen times to look at a cactus, examine a footprint in the dirt, or, in this case, climb the boulders that line this particular part of the trail. It's a good thing our loop is only two miles, or we'd be spending the night with whatever animal left its prints in the dirt.

Hiking with a toddler and a newborn doesn't exactly allow for covering much ground. Over the last few months, I've gotten much better at accepting our incredibly slow pace and focusing on making memories instead of logging miles or "completing" hikes. Still, there are days I itch for longer and more challenging trails than the ones we hike right now.

It dawned on me recently that the outdoor experiences in this chapter of life are about so much more than simply making memories; they are about gradually building up the strength, confidence, and skills necessary for the more challenging adventures I so often crave. Without these slow, exploratory hikes, we won't be prepared to take advantage of the bigger opportunities waiting for us down the road.

At this point in our family's journey, we are building a foundation. Mile after slow-paced mile, my husband and I are helping our children discover their own strength and we are showing them how to push on when the going gets tough. We are building trust and respect for each other and we are emphasizing the importance of working together as a team. We are instilling a love of nature and teaching our children how to do their part to take care of it. These lessons, learned at a pace right around one mile per hour, are laying the foundation our family will build upon for years to come.

My wild child finally agrees to jump off the boulder for the "last time," and runs a few more feet down the trail before stopping to admire the spines on the hundredth prickly pear cactus we've seen so far. He spots a rock that clearly needs to be relocated to the lake far below us and dutifully carries it with both hands until he gets the opportunity to toss it in. Our adventures are slow moving and simple, but they are paving the way for bigger ones up ahead.

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