Cragmama "Not all who wander are lost…" JRR Tolkien

Adventuring with Toddlers – In a Nutshell Why It’s Worth It

A lot of times I get asked what makes it worth it.  Why do I put forth so much effort to continue down such an adventurous path now that I’ m a mom?  Maybe because it seems so natural to me that I can’t imagine life any other way, but I sometimes have trouble finding the words to answer that question on the spot.  But as I look back and reflect on how much our family has been able to share together, I know that those memories speak louder than any words ever could…so here’s my attempt to (briefly) address the question of what makes it worth it.  

I carried him in my womb for 9 months, where he learned to feel the rhythm and movement of a day on the rock from the confines of a plushy amniotic sac long before he could see mountains.  A Cragbaby (and Cragmama) in the making. 

C crankin' on the inside at month 8

C crankin’ on the inside at month 8

I then carried him to the base of the cliff, first strapped tightly to my chest, then harnessed in a backpack, where he got to engage with the rock on his own developmental level and at his own pace – at first just observing from the ground, then playing with gear and touching (and sometimes tasting…) the natural world around him.  A sweet little Cragbaby, soaking up the world like a sponge.

6 month old C at the Obed  in fall of 2010

6 month old C at the Obed in fall of 2010

Slowly but surely the backpack rides are replaced by hiking hand in hand to the crag together.  He creates his own boulder problems to scramble up, “spots” his friends while they climb, and can identify every piece of gear that goes on my harness.  An independent little person is starting to emerge, one that can hardly be called a Cragbaby anymore.  (But too late, the name has stuck!)

Showing off his new gear at Crowders Mountain in January of 2012

Showing off his new gear at Crowders Mountain in January of 2012

 
C and his Daddy in Ten Sleep Canyon, July 2012

C and his Daddy in Ten Sleep Canyon, July 2012

There are even times these days when he ties into a rope and climbs as high as he can, just like everyone else.  And as our eyes lock and he flashes me a grin, I’m incredibly thankful that we stayed committed on those days it was hard to get out the door, because these moments make it all worth it.  It’s in those moments that I know that he “gets it.”  He understands why we adventure outdoors day after day, week after week, month after month.  Just as I can’t, he might not be able to put it into words, but that million dollar smile says more than enough. 

Ready to climb in Spearfish Canyon in July 2012

Ready to climb in Spearfish Canyon in July 2012

Roping up at Crowders Mountain on Christmas Eve, 2012

Roping up at Crowders Mountain on Christmas Eve, 2012

From a climbing family, that’s been our experience.  But I’m sure that all of the bikers, backpackers, skiers, and boaters among you all have similar sentiments as you’ve watched your little people learn how to be big people within whatever activities you’re passionate about.  So with that in mind, I’d love to hear a snippet of anyone else’s journey as an adventuring family in the comment’s section.  My guess is each person’s story will resonate with us all! 

 

 

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“Not all who wander are lost.” —JRR TOLKIEN