This weekend my husband and I took our 11 month babe hiking with us in Drakensberg, South Africa. We stayed at a lovely mountain retreat a four-hour drive from where we are staying, and a trillion miles from civilization.
The views of the dramatic Drakensberg mountains, contrasted at sunrise in different hues of blue, and peering down at the crystal blue lakes and dams from the edge of a cliff were, of course were breath-taking. What really took my breath away, though, was watching my baby explore all this had to offer at such a micro-level. She was much more fascinated by the dirt, horse manure, and rocks than the vistas.
We started our hike on Saturday afternoon with Veda tied to papa in the Moby wrap, but after 20 minutes she clearly felt like she was missing out on the action and insisted on getting down. She had just half an hour earlier discovered she is able to walk all by herself, and she was not going to go another moment without practicing her newly found skill on rocky terrain, of course.
I learned a few things this weekend: 1) dirt can be just as thrilling as a mountain vista and sunset, depending on your outlook in life; 2) expect to set your pace at that of a baby’s just learning to walk that is blazing the trail ahead; and 3) if you can’t stop an exploring 11 month old from eating dirt and licking rocks, it’s best to try to just direct licking attention toward larger rocks that cannot be swallowed (and preferably those not right next to horse manure).
Either way, whether hiking in Drakensberg in South Africa or Devil’s Lake in Wisconsin, it’s a magnificent way to connect with a small child that will inevitably remind us to stop and smell the flowers, and/or to stop and lick the rocks. Life’s just too short not to some rock licking now and again.