raising little ones in the great outdoors

Baby Steps

We’re on a grassy bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. The wind howls around us. Try as she might, my wife Laura just can’t seem to get her sweatshirt tied around the backpack carrier in a way that will comfort Levi. He screams and pants as if the wind makes it hard for his 7-month-old lungs to get their fill of air. He’s never experienced this kind of wind before and he does not like it. We’re one and a half miles into a 7-mile hike along the cliffs of Los Osos State Park in central California coast. It’s going to turn into a 3 mile round trip for us, but I’m stoked anyways – Levi went on his first hike today.

To be honest this is the first time I’ve been hiking in a few years. When I was growing up in Montana and Washington State I’d hike frequently with family, friends, and youth groups. I remember the Cascade’s awe-inspiring glaciers, and the Bitterroot Mountains cold rivers. After I moved to North Carolina, I got out of the habit and now that I’m in California hiking has fallen by the wayside. I’ve always loved being outdoors, but getting out to do anything other than surf or snowboard just seems like a chore at times.

Hitting the trail with Levi

Hitting the trail with Levi

Now that Levi is around it’s different. Surfing is still my main goal, and the center of my outdoor life, but it’s a solo activity for now. It may change when Levi is older and able to paddle out with me, but for now being out in the water just doesn’t feel as right knowing my family is on shore. I’ve been working 60 hours a week lately. With so few remaining hours, it just doesn’t feel right to ditch Laura and Levi on the beach so I can surf. We needed something that we could all enjoy together. With the baby backpack, hiking is almost a no-brainer.

We took it easy this weekend. We didn’t camp, or stay in the Jeep, but it was a start in the right direction. “Baby steps,” I reminded myself. We hiked across windswept bluffs overlooking the Pacific. We walked down to a beach where the only company was the gusting wind and the group of weather-beaten science students from UC Santa Barbara taking a break from their research. We kayaked across Morro Bay and learned that if you don’t pay attention to the tides, you will get stuck in the soft mucky sand in the shallows.

Skirting Morrow Bay's tidal zone.

Skirting Morrow Bay's tidal zone.

Every parent has heard “you’ll never get to do that again now that you have kids.” I’ve realized over the last 8 months that it doesn’t need to be like that at all. I’m reminded of this on a regular basis through the stories I find of a family traveling around the world with two small children, or the mother and father with their two-year-old traveling the length of New Zealand over four months. Most of us aren’t in a position to travel for months on end, but as I’ve discovered on this trip, we can do more than we think post-newborn.

In the “modern” world we live in a time when everything we supposedly need can be delivered with the dialing of a phone or the click of the mouse, but something so easily attained seems unfulfilling in comparison to the experiences available to us outside our doors. There’s a beautiful world out there to be experienced right in our back yard. I hope my family can one day

Father and son flex off...I don't know Danny. Levi may have you beat.

Father and son flex off...I don't know Danny. Levi may have you beat.

travel the length of New Zealand, surf the tropical waters at an unknown reef in Bali, or paddle the channels and inlets of British Columbia. Today, I took a cue from Levi and made my first baby step.

— Danny Maynor

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2 Responses to “Baby Steps”

  1. Sounds like you are really enjoying life! And you baby is adorable

  2. Steve says:

    Way to go. The hardest part is overcoming the inertia of how much easier it can be to just stay home. Especially if you tell yourself that it’s hardly worth hiking for such a short while. But just like you said, baby steps turn into toddler steps, which turn into bigger and bigger steps. And before you know it, your kids are wanting to hike big trails. It’s a great journey.

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