Hiking with kids in 51 easy steps

Sun Valley, Idaho is our happy place.

We fell in love with it 5 years ago and still can't get enough.

We visit each year in the winter and summer, and we take the opportunity (in all seasons) to explore the amazing landscape of the Sawtooth mountains.

Each trip, we head up to Galena Pass (about 40 miles out of town) to hike or snowshoe. The trails are endless and the views are breathtaking.

Once we added the little dudes to our crew, our hiking and snowshoeing got a bit more complicated, but we didn't let that deter us.

We are NOT experts at hiking, actually, quite the opposite.

Before we had kids, Chris famously exclaimed (once we got to the top of a very long hike) "You know what hiking is? Walking up hill!"

So, we are no experts. But that doesn't stop us.

I've found that hiking with kids takes a bit of pre-planning, strategic packing...and a whole lot of improvising. I've compiled a handy list of "easy" steps that I took when preparing and going on our hike- to help anyone else hoping to attempt it.

1. Ask your kids if they want to go on a hike.
2. Tell your kids, they are going on a "really fun" hike (what was I thinking "asking" them).  Use a high pitched voice and upsell the idea that you might see cool animals.
3. Downplay the possibility of one of those animals being bears. Bears = scary.
4. Don't oversell the animals, as there is a good chance you won't see any, and then all heck may break loose.
5. Use the word "maybe" ALOT, don't promise anything (a good general rule for parenting).
6. Find various articles of clothing that your child will consider to be "hiking clothes."
7. Explain that flip flops are not good for hiking.
8. Allow them to wear their favorite superhero shirt on the hike because, so far, the pre-hike preparation is making you tired.
9. Begin the sunscreen application.
10. Chase children around your house with slimy sunscreen hands in a somewhat futile attempt to protect them from the sun.
11. Respond to loud cries for a snacks.
12. Make said snacks, while also trying to pack hiking bags.
13. Making a list of required items is helpful. Write a few things down, then promptly lose your pen and paper to the your toddler who wants to draw.
14. Take the momentary quiet (full mouths and busy hands) to pack the bag with all the items in your immediate vicinity.
15. Realize that the bag you have packed is roughly 45 pounds.
16. You do some quick math: weight of bag + weight of baby + weight of toddler = not going to work. Rethink your packing strategy.
17. Decide that a backpack is the best solution for equal weight distribution-then realize the only backpack you have on hand is toddler size.
18. Figure it's better than nothing and fill it with water bottles, hats, extra sunscreen, snacks, spare clothing, sunglasses and a camera.
19. Realize that the camera is never going to fit- decide to use your phone for all memory capturing.
20. Realize phone only has 32% battery left.
21. Look for phone charger.
22. Explain to your toddler that the phone needs to charge and they cannot look at superhero pictures on your phone right now.
23. Get children cleaned up from snacks, do final diaper checks.
24. Realize that someone has pooped.
25. Drag everyone back upstairs, to change diapers.
26. Encourage the toddler to try to use the toilet- end up with pee on the "hiking shoes"
27. Wipe them off- a little pee never hurt anyone (especially the only pair of shoes that the toddler deemed worthy of hiking).
28. Get kids into car and on the road.
29. Agree to sing "the hiking song" and proceed to make it up on the spot (it sounds a bit like "do you know the muffin man" btw).
30. Answer the "are we there yet" question 500 times en route.
31. Arrive at trail head, race out of the car.
32. Realize it's colder than you had anticipated, attempt to get everyone to put on hats and coats.
33. Get baby loaded into backpack carrier, get backpack on the non baby-wearing parent.
34. Head off on hike.
35. Start looking for animals.
36. Find no animals, find LOTS of animal poop.
37. Answer all questions from your toddler about which poop belongs to each animal.
38. See a scurrying in the bushes and proceed to look for animals who may be hiding.
39. Find a chipmunk, proceed to discuss the differences between chipmunks and squirrels.  Conclude that chipmunks only have puffy cheeks if they are full of nuts.
40. Suddenly remember that potty training still doesn't pause for a hike and introduce the toddler to the glory of peeing in the woods.
41. High five and congratulate said toddler for such a great accomplishment and his 1st outdoor pee.
42. Start to think about lunch, realize it's only be 27 minutes of hiking and decide to keep going.
43. Stop for a snack on the trail- explain that we should NOT leave snacks on the trail for the animals.
44. Start hiking again. Again. 
45. Tell the toddler that he needs to walk on the hike, not be carried.
46. Cave to the requests to carry said toddler.
47. Toddlers are heavy- begin thinking how long it has been since you have worked out.
48. Swap child carrying duties. Put the baby on Daddy's shoulders and carrying the toddler in the backpack. Wish you had brought 2 baby carriers.