I’ve been thinking about my “hiking backstory” recently. I’ve been hiking literally longer than I can remember, so I went straight to the source (my parents) to gather information about my early hiking days. We all had a good time going through family photos (warning: this post will be photo heavy) and reminiscing about hiking trips of old.
Travelling in style during my earliest hiking experiences
My first hiking experiences began at the age of 5 months, although I’m not sure those really count seeing as I rode along in a pack carried by my dad. Early hiking excursions included trips to Awenda Provincial Park here in Ontario, Grand Manan Island in New Brunswick, and Mackinac Island in Michigan.
My first ever (self-propelled) hike! Now my little brother is in the backpack.
My first real hike, walking on my own two little legs, occurred at age 3.5 on our yearly camping trip to Awenda, on the 5km Wendat Trail. However, my favourite trail in the park was probably the Beaver Pond Trail, a 1km trail that my mom says I loved so much I would often run around the whole thing twice (I was a bit of a hyperactive kid).
Family activities frequently involved spending time outside
My first ever experience in true backcountry was at age 9.5, when we took a family canoe trip in the gorgeous Killarney Provincial Park. Our backcountry activities were always canoe-based, as my parents were never really into backpacking (they tried a backpacking trip once and were not overly impressed). This trip also marked my first ever attempt to hike The Crack, but we didn’t make it to the top because mom was concerned we would get up there and be too tired to walk back down. We made a second canoe trip into Killarney four years later, when my dad and I successfully hiked to the top of The Crack. I clearly remember the gorgeous view, and feeling of accomplishment. Ten years later, I made my much-anticipated return on a solo backpacking trip of the La Cloche Silhouette Trail, only to be disappointed by terrible weather and completely fogged in views (but that just means I have to go back again!). Backcountry canoe trips remain a favourite summer staple for our family to this day.
In Killarney, during our first (unsuccessful) attempt to hike The Crack (2002)
A triumphant return in 2006!
Hiking has taken our family to both ends of the country, from our first ever real family vacation to Alberta where we climbed a (very) small mountain and hiked in gorgeous locations such as Jasper and Banff, to a trip out to Newfoundland where we walked the otherworldly Gros Morne National Park and seaside Skerwink Trail. Hiking has brought me through 6 different Canadian national parks, 10 Ontario provincial parks, 5 Canadian provinces, and several countries.
On top of Tunnel Mountain in Banff, Alberta
Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Battling gale force winds in Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Skerwink Trail, Newfoundland
Hiking the Cinque Terre path in Italy
Hiking in Grand Canyon National Park
Hiking and spending time in the outdoors has played a huge role in my life since the very beginning, and I am so very grateful to my parents for providing me with so many amazing opportunities to get outside and instilling in me a deep love of nature. Spending so much time outside has definitely shaped who I am today, in the best way possible, and if I ever have children of my own, I will try my best to pass this love and appreciation for nature on to them as well.
Snow couldn’t keep us down!
Neither could mud… (we LOVED mud).
Eternal props to my parents for taking small children into the backcountry. That sounds terrifying.
Family camping and hiking trips continue to this day, even with two adult children.
That brings us to where we are today. I’ve spent a summer growing from a camper and day-hiker to a solo backpacker. From being lugged through the woods in a backpack, to planning a solo 2650-mile trek through the wilderness.
Bring on the next adventure!!