Summer's almost here! Ready to explore?

When I was pregnant, my husband and I talked a lot about how we’d take our baby hiking.

Living in Seattle at the time, we were big into outdoorsy stuff — backcountry camping, epic day hikes and 40-mile bike rides.

Maybe we’ll get one of those bike trailer things, we thought. And we’d definitely need a backpack baby carrier.

Well, it turned out that even though we thought we were hardcore outdoorsy, we weren’t all that hardcore once we had a child.

Feeling deprived of sleep — and definitely more risk-averse than we thought we’d be — our ideas about our new life changed quickly. 

Sure, you can throw your baby on your back for a 7-mile hike. But who knows what’s going on in that diaper? And, sure, you can bring an infant 30 miles into the woods and set up a tent and a campfire, but there’s a risk involved: What if he gets hurt? 

As our boy grew older, it didn’t get any easier. 

Oh, great: Now he’s walking. Let’s take him up a craggy peak so he can fall off a mountain. To top it all off, he can have a tantrum at 5,000 feet.

Alas, I’m not here to discourage you. 

Having kids doesn’t mean you can’t explore the outdoors. It just means it won’t be quite the same as when you were a duo. You just have to really want it. 

In fact, many of my friends have put me to shame by bringing their babies and toddlers outdoors without a second thought. They just get out there and do it — diapers and all, come what may, any season.

That wasn’t us, though. We took time off during our son’s earlier years — focusing more on gardening and backyard adventures. 

Now, however, we’re gradually getting back into the swing of things.

Last summer, we took our son, age 6 at the time, camping for two nights. He loved it.

I was sure he’d be afraid to sleep in his own tent, but he owned it and even slept like a champ. The next day, we canoed all around the lake, played in the sand and swam in the lake, too.

This summer, I hope the exploring continues. 

With this issue — our annual Outdoors edition (PDF) — we have tons of ideas to inspire you to get outdoors this summer, whether that’s in your yard for an hour or all the way up to the Boundary Waters for a week. 

I’ll be somewhere in between, I hope, camping out!