After my son was born, I felt like a completely different person. In some really amazing ways…and some really disappointing ways. It seemed as though—all of a sudden–I was this frumpy person that looked only vaguely familiar. As a makeup artist, I was used to being able to slap on a bright lip color and lots of mascara to feel “good.” That just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I also couldn’t understand why nursing my baby wasn’t melting the pounds off of me and why I felt so bummed.
Fortunately, I met Shanti Hodges in a new mom’s group in Portland shortly after our babies were born. She had just started organizing some hikes for new moms. For months, I was too intimidated to join because I was in such terrible shape. Eventually, I didn’t care anymore—I wanted to get some exercise, I needed some new mama friends, and I couldn’t stay couped up with a newborn by myself any longer.
The first hike was tough, but it started a personal revolution of sorts for me. It made me realize that I wanted to cultivate a life where I went on hikes and was this active person. I also wanted my son to grow up thinking being active and outside was just a part of life. Additionally, I became a part of this amazing community—Hike it Baby! Soon after, we decided to move back to Nashville, TN to be close to friends and family. By that point, the sense of community we had found in Oregon was a neccessity to me. At the time, there were a few branches of Hike it Baby that had started popping up around the country. I started Hike It Baby Nashville in July of 2014. There are now over 45 branches across the world!
Hike it Baby is a national organization dedicated to getting families out in nature. We believe that our world would be a better place if we all stepped outside at least once a week for a walk in nature. Hike it Baby was created to get everyone outside from the new mama who is only comfortable doing urban strolls with her stroller to the hardcore mama who wants to hike 6 miles with her baby in a carrier. One of the most amazing things about Hike it Baby is the sense of community. We use our trail time for therapy, social interaction, baby nap time, and a mild workout. Not only do you and your baby benefit mentally and physically from the time outside, but connecting more with nature has been proven to combat anxiety, depression, and obesity—which are all common issues new moms and dads face. (I know I did!)
Another beautiful thing about Hike It Baby is that it’s free. We all take turns leading hikes and urban strolls, so this allows the group to grow and new mamas to come in and take part in following or leading. The reason we don’t pay guides is that we find by each mama (or papa) leading hikes, we all learn about trails we may never have found on our own and often trails that aren’t in the guide books. We are an all-inclusive group. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and friends are all welcome. We even allow dogs on any dog-friendly trails! Our hikes usually run about an hour, and on the hike calendar, there are details explaining how long the hike is, where it is, what kind of hike to expect, and where you can find more info about the trail.
Hike It Baby is dedicated to getting the whole family out, so if you have an infant and a 3-year old, please feel free to come. We do like to ask, however, that you pay attention to whether or not the hike is good for toddlers. Some of our hikes are specifically for carrier-only mamas.
We are a “leave no mama behind” group. On every hike, we ask for someone to volunteer to be the caboose. This means that person will stay at the back of the group, and if a mom needs to stop to nurse, change a baby, or take a rest, she will have company through the end of the hike. We aren’t in a hurry to get anywhere, so no mom should ever feel she is a burden to the group!
Hike It Baby isn’t just about hike, either. The private facebook group as well as the web site offer tons of advice on getting into the outdoors—from camping with your newborn to how to pick trails. Also, there are discounts available from companies who have hike-friendly baby products. Hike It Baby Nashville is still ramping up. We have 2-3 regular hikes going on every week in different areas inside and right outside of town. The goal is to have at least 5 hikes per week in 2015, in all different areas and times to accomodate all families. So jump on the website to find a hike, and join the Facebook group. Hope to see you out there! Happy trails!
For more information on a national level, contact [email protected]
Local contact: Katie-Laine Thornton
Katie-Laine moved to Nashville 13 years ago for college, and it became home. With a wandering soul, she has moved around the country in the last few years but always comes back to Nashville. A year ago, she gave birth to a beautifully wild baby boy named Rutledge, while living in Portland, OR. The last few years of her life have been a wondrous adventure with multiple moves, an incredible home birth, and becoming more of the woman she has always wanted to be. Katie-Laine is a makeup artist and considers herself a new hiking enthusiast, since finding Hike It Baby. She also spends her time researching natural remedies and teaching essential oil classes. Currently, Katie-Laine lives with her family in Lafayette, Louisiana (on a cajun adventure) but spends as much time in Nashville as possible. She is making peace with being a work in progress.