On Saturdays we hike

If someone were to shout in my face, "Quick! Name one thing off the top of your head that you love to do with your husband!"

I don't know why someone would ever shout this to me, buuuut, if they did, this is what I would shout back:

"Hike, you sonofabitch! I like to hike with him!" (Because people who get in my face and scream excellent dinner conversation-starter questions would probably make me all sweary.)

I like hiking. Or rather the pre-infertile, pre-IVF weight-gain me liked hiking.

There was always something so peaceful, so therapeutic about following Chris down a precarious path littered with exposed roots that I would inevitably stumble over.

This picture was taken May 2005 at Palisades State Park in Iowa. This was in our first year of dating and the first park we ever hiked at. (This was the first park I ever hiked at, period.) We would go on to hike five more state parks that year alone.

Seriously, look at me back then. Gorgeous. Carefree. What? IVF meds can make you fat? Infertile-says-what? Also, pretty sure I remember Chris telling me he made out with a girl on that sand bar when he was in high school.

I digress.

Hiking state parks is totally our jam. In recent years we were terrible at going because we took up massive gardening and canning projects that would leave our summers and early falls booked. But I remember on those hikes talking about the future, namely bringing our kids hiking with us.

This was our trip to the North Shore when I was 28 weeks pregnant last September. I wrote about it here. Also, it was probably quite cool out. But I was in my third trimester and sweated incessantly so tank top it was.

It was the last hike we did before Olivia came.

This Saturday was 73 degrees and beautiful. We discussed bringing Olivia to a park and Chris found one in Wisconsin that his family was at the weekend before. We packed up the car with a baby, a Cattle Dog and a bunch of crap you need when you hike with a nine month old and drove out to Willow River State Park, about an hour from the Twin Cities. Chris was very kind to turn the car around about five minutes into our drive to get the baby carrier we had forgotten.

We let Olivia swing at the park for a few minutes to transition from the car ride to riding on my back. Then we set off.

She had a great time chewing on the teething necklace I wore as we walked the path. We realized then we actually could have brought the stroller, but overall it worked out. The only thing was my days of slipping and sliding down embankments to get to rivers were long gone with a baby on my back. I had to send Chris down there alone while I stayed up on the path with a disgruntled dog and an oblivious baby.

Olivia fell asleep during the two mile hike to the falls, which was good because that was the only nap she took the whole morning. Plus, she scored some points in general for looking so adorable doing it. But really, awake or asleep, it's impossible for her to not look adorable.

The falls was a beautiful view. Olivia was kind of impressed.

I'm pretty sure I'm laughing hysterically because Olivia was way too distracted by the roaring waters of the waterfall to focus on looking at the camera. Doesn't she understand that family photos are more important than new experiences??

We hung out on the rocks and ate a picnic lunch. I found out the hard way it's a bit challenging to nurse a highly-distractable baby intent on flashing her food source at unassuming passerby while sitting on an uneven rock.

The walk back went well until we were half a mile from the car and Olivia decided she didn't want to be in the Ergo anymore. Thus, kicked off a tense half mile with her screeching in my ear and Chris trying to occupy her by letting her whip his hat to and fro, mostly into the back of my head. But we made it back and snapped one last family photo while leaving the park. 

We made a bet on who would fall asleep first, Toby or the baby. Apparently, the hike took a lot out of the dog. Olivia, not so much. She forced herself to stay away until the last minute, peacefully shutting her eyes and drifting off into what I can only imagine would have been a wonderfully long nap... as we drove down our street.

"We need to go hiking more," Chris told me last night, during a bonfire. And I realized, even with the challenges of hiking these parks with a baby (One, my knees are killing me from the added weight and two, we probably will need to stick closer to home with shortened hikes for awhile until she can go longer in the carrier) how much I missed it. And how much I'm looking forward to doing it again.

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