I love hiking. But I don't love hiking with toddlers and small children. Sure, it's sweet fun for the first few minutes, then one hears "I need to go to the bathroom." "Will you carry my bag full of stuff that you told me not to bring but I brought anyway?" "I'm tired. Can we stop and rest?" "May I have my snack now?"
And if the hike has any dangerous dropoffs, I sound like this: "Stay away from the edges." "Don't climb that!" "Stay right by me." "Don't drag me! You're pulling me off balance!!!" I'm very acrophobic. Combine a fear of heights with a mother's constant concern for her offspring, and the result is an oddly-pitched, cringing sound for someone who's supposed to be enjoying a fun family outing.
Then the children hit an age where they can find their own footing on a rocky trail without holding onto my hand. Where they carry their own water and remember to grab their own hats on the way out of the house. When they climb heights bravely and make it higher than their shaky mother. When they say that a Saturday hike was the best part of their birthday.
That makes the early outings--made with the hope of teaching a love of nature and the outdoors--all worth it.