What We've Learnt From Hiking With Our Parents

toitū founder, Jessie, is fortunate to have a Mum who willingly comes on outdoor adventures with her. Escaping into the wilderness for a few days every year has not only provided Jessie and her Mum with many cherished memories, but taught her a few lessons along the way too.


  1. Unless your parent is extremely fit, or you’re a couch potato, it’s more than likely you’ll have different fitness levels. For me, I’d definitely be thinking twice if my 61 year old mother could run up mountains faster than I. As such, this means there are times when I need to be patient. This often takes the form of waiting at the top of a hill, backtracking to take a literal load off my Mum’s shoulders, or simply slowing my pace down so that we can walk together. These things seem easy enough to do, and often they are, but sometimes at the end of a long day's walk that should have taken 5 hours but ended up taking 7, it’s easy to forget the difference this makes on a trip.

  2. On one week long hike in Tasmania, my Mum and I decided to smash out almost half of the km's in the first two days in order to avoid walking in some nasty weather. It was a big effort for my Mum, especially considering this was to be her longest ever unsupported hike! Safe to say, she was pretty whacked after each of those first couple of days. I tried to do as much as possible when we got to the huts, getting her bed set up and doing the cooking, so that she could put her swollen ankles up before the next day of tramping. It was honestly the least I could do considering she was putting in all this effort to spend time with me, but it reminded me of the importance of looking after each other, not only when you’re exhausted in the wilderness, but throughout everyday life too.

  3. Varying levels of participant fitness can come with differing expectations from group members, but it’s important to always be adaptable and focus on what’s truly important. I find that when I’m hiking with Mum, the most important thing is that we’re spending time together doing something that we both love. If I’m hiking with my mates, my priorities might be similar, but I’m also more likely to have an expectation that we’ll push each other a little harder and try to climb more difficult peaks or go off track a little more. It’s a physical challenge I crave going with someone of a similar age or solo, whilst with Mum I’m more focused on simply spending time together and creating memories. It doesn’t matter where we hike, as long as we’re together.

  4. With 40 years of life separating us, it’s great to spend time doing activities that promote conversations that might not have happened otherwise. Mum once studied horticulture and has a keen interest in gardening, so she often points out things in the environment I wouldn’t normally notice. Flowers, weeds and trees are all highlighted with Mum’s eye for detail, whilst I get mesmerized by the big picture - valleys, mountains, clouds and huts. It’s great to have another set of eyes and source of knowledge to point out things I probably would have missed otherwise.

  5. Mum always says that we solve the problems of the world when we are out in the wilderness. Out of reception with not much to do but walk, read and talk, we chat about literally everything and anything. I’m grateful for these conversations not only because they help me sort out any problems I might have, but because they show me that Mum has just as many worries as I do. When you’re a child, you envision your parents as these adults that know everything and have their life completely together, and then you become an adult and realize this could not be further from the truth. We’re all just big kids trying to make our way in this crazy world.

So thanks Mum, and all those other badass adventure parents, for all the epic memories you helped create outdoors. I know there's never a lesson plan, but somehow we're always coming away learning more than simply how to hike or camp. 

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Great to read this

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