What do you do when your serene day on the mountain is interrupted by the sounds of screaming babies and whining kids on the trail?

Or worse, what if those screaming babies and toddlers belong to you?

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If you’re sharing a trail with my family you’ll be able to hear us long before you see us. We know what you’re thinking as soon as you hear the high pitched sound of our baby screaming.

“Thank goodness we’re not stuck on an airplane with that family!”

Yes, those noisy little serenity destroyers. We had that same thought before having children.

But now we’re “that” family. We hike with a four-month-old shoved into a front baby carrier. He usually spends the good portion of a hike screaming because he’s trapped and can’t shove his little toes into his mouth. Then there’s our 2-year-old throwing a tantrum because he wants to drink milk from his green sippy cup, not water from the blue one that we’ve brought along. Or he’s crying and demanding to be held because he’s suddenly developed a weird and unhealthy fear of birds and grasshoppers.

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The bits you might not realize is that we were once like you. But the peaceful zen-like hikes we enjoyed before having children are gone, a faded distant memory of the life we had before diapers became an essential item in our daypacks.

Motherhood brought noise and chaos into my life. I’m okay with that. I made the decision to have kids. But, the last thing other hikers want to hear are my kids screaming and whining our way up a mountain.

For those of you who grit teeth at the sound of us, let me offer this: If you see us, or any other group of haggard-looking hiker parents schlepping our way down a trail, overloaded with gear and slobbery screaming kids, think of us as a part of nature. You’ve just had a rare encounter with a wild wilderness family. We’re making an effort to get our kids out in nature and one of the side effects of that endeavor is noise. If you’re so inclined, over beers at your campsite you can tell your buddies what you saw on the trails and make a pact to never have kids.

If you’re curious about whether or not you’re ready to start a family and are contemplating the effects that it will have on your outdoor adventures let me know. I’ll send you an audio recording of my baby screaming and my toddler whining. You can take it to the most serene and peaceful place you know, turn up the volume and listen. One push of the play button and you’ll know if kids should be part of your future.

I guess at some point I’ll be dragging moody teenagers out on the trails but until that day comes I’ll keep climbing mountains with the two wild and loud children that make every hiking trip a grand adventure. Teaching the adventure young is important to us and there’s no better time to start. We’re taking our path down the proverbial path.

The folks we pass along the trail who ignore our noise and simply say, “good for you,” seem to understand why we’d rather spend the day on the mountain instead of inside the house watching Elmo’s World. And we appreciate those of you who do.

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