I am not outdoorsy.
In college, I had friends who were nature-lovers and would go on camping adventures. They’d ride bicycles over mountains and scale things and jump off bridges. The uniform consisted of t-shirts made of fancy, tech-y material, hiking boots, and when it was warmer, those sandals you can hike in that are like $100.
My idea of fun in college was smuggling wine into my dry campus and watching The Bachelor. (That’s still my idea of fun, but the wine is out in the open now. We can discuss Rachel’s upcoming season at a later time.) The only boots I owned had stilleto heels, and if I’m spending $100 on sandals they sure as hell won’t be touching dirt.
While I was pregnant with my baby girl, I was anticipating becoming a working mama. As I was extremely passionate about my career and the nonprofit for which I was Marketing Manager, I anticipated falling right back into the swing of things after my maternity leave.
Following the birth of my sweet girl and my return to the office, I found my heart was no longer in my work. I wasn’t capable of being the employee they hired and trusted, and I was also working through some clinically mild but very real post-partum depression that was aggravated by separation from my newborn.
My stay-at-home mom journey began.
I was still working at getting a routine down and knowing what to do with this tiny human with whom I was so very in love. I was still trying to make sense of my new SAHM life. I did not yet have “mom friends,” and was pretty sure I didn’t fit in.
Then I met Hike It Baby.
It is not hyperbole to state that this organization has changed my life. I remember my first step was joining my local chapter’s Facebook page, then trying to determine what exactly they meant by “hike.” Were those water-filled backpacks required? Must I wear a caribeener on my person?
I proceeded to creep on several personal profiles to gauge personalities/levels of outdoorsiness (Here’s looking at you, Laurie and Keira). I was not going to endlessly wander through the woods with my infant strapped to my back. Then I saw that the next hike was really a group coffee date and followed by a half-mile stroll to a park, hanging out, and walking back.
If this was hiking, I was on board.
Ever since that very first coffee walk, I was hooked. I had never been around a more welcoming group of people, all of whom were experiencing motherhood and fatherhood at different stages. I even began to attend other hikes, completed my first trail hike, and started to lead a few. My husband got involved and we started hiking together as a family and with the group as often as possible.
Hike It Baby has created a community that gave me something to look forward to on days I felt like a sleep-deprived zombie dairy cow. It improved my health, fed my soul, and gave me a safe and accepting place to share the struggles and joys of parenthood.
I get to see babies grow into toddlers, toddlers grow into children, and families grow together. We are a tribe. We share hysterical tales of toddler shenanigans and heartbreaking stories of when we’ve felt we’ve fallen short as parents. We support each other. No hiker left behind doesn’t stop on the trails.
Recently I’ve been battling a medical diagnosis that has severely limited my mobility and, to be frank, there are days where my spirit feels crushed. The day my Hike It Baby tribe discovered this my family started receiving meals delivered to our home, offers to help with my daughter, and people to come visit and make days brighter. They have even used their personal connections to get me hooked up with further support.
I’m deeply moved and overwhelmed by all the love and help we are getting when we need it most. It’s hard to admit when you need a hand, and to be lifted by so many pairs truly humbles me and fills me with joy.
That’s what Hike It Baby is and that’s what we do. It’s a place where local families become a tribe. And I’m grateful to be a part of it.