We are currently in the beautiful state of Washington! Balmy days, cool breezy evenings, nature at ever turn, trees the size of giants and gorgeous lakes characterize this picturesque state. Being a family who absolutely loves national parks we couldn't miss out on Mt Rainer – a gorgeous dormant volcano towering over the Seattle area. Our sweet friends who we are visiting also love the outdoors and so yesterday we set out to hike from Sunrise (one of the visitors centers in the park and not actually at the crack of dawn). On the way there we started speaking to A about the upcoming hike and how she was coming close to the age where we can no longer carry her on our backs for entire hikes. So far we have always just kept the girls in carriers and carried them along on hikes which is super convenient for us since we can keep up a brisk pace and don't need to really pick kid friendly kids all the time. Up to this point we usually let them run around and stretch their legs at picnic areas or walk on short trails to a waterfall or the like but actually hiking for a long period of time … this was something we were kinda hoping would still be in the future. However, at four and a half we knew the time was coming when carrying would become impractical – so we started to plant the seed. To our surprise when we got to the start of the trail – a 6.5 mile easy/moderate trail at a 6000ft elevation – she announced to us all that she was going to hike. We went along with it, knowing full well that this enthusiasm would last a 100ft at best but we got her a junior ranger scavenger hunt sheet from the visitors center to keep her engaged and set out on our hike. As predicted, at the top of the first (pretty steep for a four year old) stretch we heard the first "but I'm tired" .. I was ready to call it quits at this point and put her on our back, but daddy knew better. He distracted her with the scavenger hunt, reminded her how awesome she was to be hiking like a big girl and so they continued on, searching for a rock that was bigger than her. This went on for at least a mile. We then had lunch which also served as a little break for little (and our not so little) legs. As we continued on, little sis decided to hike too .. so with their little pink keens they continued on. The most endearing part of it was seeing how other adult hikers responded to the kids. People would stop and comment on how awesome they were, how they would climb mountains someday and how they were so strong. One solo hiker, who was carrying what seemed to be a super heavy pack, even stopped and had a little chat with them about what she was carrying and how the more they hike the stronger they will get and will be able to camp out in the wilderness. It was so heart warming and I thank all these strangers who took time to notice my little hikers. Little do they know the impact they had. A ended up hiking half the entire hike on her own .. that's over 3 miles. I cannot start to explain how proud I am of my baby girl. The big and obvious milestones may be behind us, she can walk and talk and feed herself, but there are still so many magical moments ahead and this moment yesterday was one of them. Tomorrow we'll be hiking again and even though she still asked me to bring the carrier along (because she did take a good 30 min nap half way through the hike to see her through to the end of the hike) , she also turned to Kel and made sure he knew that she would definitely do most of the hiking herself again tomorrow!