52 Hikes

It was narrow. It was close. It wasn’t exactly what I had planned. But it’s completed. I had planned to make my last hike of the 52 hike challenge a completely solo hike. Going solo anywhere is a bit of a challenge for me, so I thought it would dovetail nicely with this challenge. Then we ended up going to my in-laws for the last weekend. 

The hike was Grant Woods Forest Preserve, which was very lovely. I guess you could say it was solo since Elliot carried Warren and Graham walked the whole time. The woods were lovely. It has been so nice to share our passion with our family. Encouraging others to be more active and enjoy nature is so much fun. Considering how much we have benefitted from this lifestyle, we want to include our family in that as well.

I’m going to continue to post about hikes and we have an upcoming backpacking trip that I need to document. Plus, what I’ve learned! Can’t wait.


Lichen, Liken, Like um?

I didn’t realize how much of a fan I was of lichen, fungi, and mosses. It’s something about these plants that just draws me in. This hike was all about balance for me. We had done a whole bunch of stroller/ adult pace hikes recently. It was raining and miserable. The last thing I wanted was to pack up and hike while carrying kids. So we toddler led. Graham and Warren spent about 20 minutes running back and forth through the same puddle.

This hike was such a blessing. Walking at a child’s pace allowed me to appreciate all the little details. There were moss, lichen, and fungi all over our hike. The copious amounts of rain we had made everything verdant green. I think what I find most fascinating about these plants is the locations they grow on. Most grow on rock or dead trees. It’s amazing how they create a life for themselves. Hike 51 is complete.

It looks like I won’t be doing a solo hike for my last hike. But I do plan to make that a goal for myself.


Dance Me

It is the renewed vigor of challenge that draws me onward. I think we all do a dance as parents and human beings. Just what and how far do we sacrifice? How much can we lose and still be ourselves? In the growth of ourselves aren’t we better beings?

We headed to the Menomonee River in Wauwatosa for a 2.3-mile hike and 1.5 hours in the ridiculous 70-degree weather. The trail was really muddy in places. We also had a brief scramble over not-trail-not-water.

Graham did a great job and hiked the whole time. Warren had fun on me for the most part. He’s very particular about when he walks. And the first part of the trail was so ridiculous that I’m glad he didn’t want to walk. I love that my mom (Nana) has been coming hiking with us. It’s so wonderful to share this passion with my family.Hike 50 is done! I must be one of those people that thrive on deadlines.

Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin
Dance me through the panic till I’m gathered safely in –
Billy Joel


I have 5 minutes

5 minutes in which my fingers can fly. We did Hike 49. That means there’s only 3 left. And I’m not sure we’ll make it. When I said two posts ago that it wouldn’t matter, I was kidding myself. Of course, it matters. It matters because this was a goal for me. This was something that meant something to me.

I knew that I needed to make the effort to add this into my life. I knew it as surely as I know that life isn’t any good without tea. I knew it as surely as Graham’s laugh makes me happy. Hiking matters. My goals matter. I brought out the compromise and thought I can live with that. Turns out, I can’t.

Hike 49 was great. It wasn’t much mileage (hahaha) but I soaked up every ray of the weak watery sunshine. My sons laughed with their friends and spent most of the time attempting to dig holes alongside the trail. At one point it was suggested that a 3 pound rock would make a good hiking companion and would you, pretty please mama, carry this?

So I have about 14 days to hike 3 hikes. I would like at least one of them to be a completely solo hike. Alone but not lonely.

Some things we sacrifice as parents. This isn’t going to be one of them.


Winter awakens all my sorrow, now these leaves grow bare

This title is a little misleading. But I wanted to talk about those hikes that don’t go the way we expect. I was hoping, when I scheduled this hike for Hike it Baby that it was going to be a great hike. The weather would be warm(ish) and that lots of our friends would be there.

But that isn’t how it went. Instead, we drove an hour and a half for about 40 minutes of hiking. We hiked alone. It was freezing. It was windy. At one point Warren needed to be held because the wind knocked him down. (I’m not kidding) And yet, this hike was wildly successful. No one whined. No one. Graham ran around like a banshee screaming into the wind. Warren explored some trees. We found a slightly less windy spot and had snacks. I am eternally grateful for Pouches. We made practically no distance. Everyone smiled. Everyone had a great time.

It’s days like this that teach you how impressive your kids are. All that work we pour into them to help them be resilient and happy, it pays off. It pays off when they can have a good time even if it isn’t what was planned. “hey mama, what are these holes? Oh, mama are we on the ICE AGE TRAIL? hey, mama, I found a stick” the kids being happy has helped me be happier. I have so much to learn.

Hike 48. Too short to count mileage. Too long to not count.

Winter awakens all my sorrow, now these leaves grow bare; often I sigh and mourn sorely when I come to think of this world’s joy, and how it all goes to nothing


For the Kids

A huge part of my 52 hike challenge journey has been finding the balance between my needs and my children’s needs. While I’ve definitely increased the number of kid led hikes we’re leading, I’m trying to be really mindful of how much adult pace I ask of them. The last couple hikes were mostly at my pace. My birthday hike was a walking pace and pretty long. While the Bong Recreation hike wasn’t nearly as long, we did move pretty quickly to stay warm.

So the kids were due for a full on wanderlust hike. I only urged them forward as little as possible and mostly my requests were that we play in the sunshine. Occasionally, I’d ask to move out of the wind. Otherwise, I left them to their devices as they ran gleefully through the same puddle 40 times. Or splashed the pond to stir up mud. Or tromped over the bridges. We sat peacefully and ate our snacks and watched the geese.

Our mileage was tiny. We might have walked a mile. MAYBE. But we spent almost an hour doing so. And it was perfect. The kids and I both loved it.


I go to nature to be soothed

We’ve definitely been inching along on these last few hikes. I have a confession. Now that hiking is more of a habit than out of the ordinary, it means less “finish” if that makes sense. We’ve walked significantly more than 52 hikes this year. Not all of these were “counted” toward my total. Pretty much without fail we’ve made hiking and outdoor play a part of our life. I’m planning a follow-up post for what I’ve learned about myself through the hiking challenge. And I’m looking at what I need to do to continue to create healthy habits for us. For now, hike 46 is completed. We went back to the Bong Recreation area. The weather was crap. Cold and windy. We definitely needed to get outside. Elliot was grumbling about leaving a warm house but ultimately ended up admitting that he needed the fresh air as much as I did.

I’m so pleased with this trail. It has a little bit of everything and some nice views. It’s 1.8 miles long, which is about perfect for Graham to walk himself. I had to carry him up a few hills, but otherwise, he walked the whole way. Graham and Elliot visited the solarium at the nature center, but Warren was asleep in the car, so I missed out on that. Not really a big deal, since I want to go back to try out their other trails.

I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order -John Burroughs


Happy Birthday to Me

One of the great joys of my adulthood has been my birthday. I love getting to decide what to do. So I roped my neighbors and my family into a 4.5 mile hike for hike 45.

We headed to Lapham Peak State Park to hike a segment of the Ice Age trail. We walked from the Ice Age parking lot up to the observation tower. Then up the tower and back down by a different trail.

This hike was a bit of a doozy. The ground was super muddy. So the trail was a mess. Warren refused to walk much of the way up. We took a straight shot back down, and that was a solid decision. This trail was less beaten up and much easier to navigate. Warren walked part of the way back down. He loved it. Graham walked all but a smidgen of the 4.5 miles.

I’ve never been so happy to have an extra change of clothes in the car. It was pretty hot for February in Wisconsin, 65 degrees. I was in a tank top at one point. It was so amazing to celebrate my birthday this way. Glad I could wrangle the family into this hiking game.


Hike 44

There was a major turn around in the last couple of weeks. All of the sudden I was going out again. Hikes are just falling out of the sky. Just kidding, I still have to walk them. img_6063

We went at Havenwoods for hike 44. It was sunny, windy and chilly but we had a great time. Everything is better with friends. img_6062

The kids played on branches and in the remains of ice. Our weather has been up and down a lot, a sure sign that spring is coming.


Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it

Anytime we dig ourselves out from the trenches it always takes a bit of time. February seems to grab a lot of people and be a bit of a downer. It’s not exactly the easiest time of the year to unfunk oneself. However, I’m really appreciating the slower pace of this month. I’m focusing on getting down on the ground with the kids. I need to walk some miles in order to exercise, so I’ve added a stroller walk into our routines. But the work of being mindful in our explorations is just as important, so we’ve been at a wandering pace.img_6054

In these slower days, I can wait while they climb the stairs. I can listen as the water begins to flow underneath the ice. We waddle like penguins on the ice. We run back and forth across bridges and spend time just staring at what is underneath. I can point out the woodpecker tapping on the trees. I can talk about why hollow trees fall over. I exclaim over and over how good it feels to bask in the sunshine. img_6051

I can marvel at the beauty of the ice. I can walk as slow as my 1-year-old.

Here I am. I’m being slow. I’m embracing how it good it feels.

Hike 43 Done! 1 more mile. 88.5 miles so far!