Hank Pantier

Raising a Mountain Munchkin

Hank Pantier
Raising a Mountain Munchkin

Thriving in the mountains has always required a certain can-do, independent spirit. It requires resourcefulness. And let’s face it, few people are as resourceful as moms. We do our best to give our kids more than what they need. To teach them more than they need to know. To give them as many opportunities as possible to love, learn and grow.

Living in the mountains, we don’t have all of the creature comforts of urban areas. The number of miles to the nearest Target store is nearly three digits. We don’t have as many opportunities for indoor bounce houses and go-kart tracks or children’s art programs, but we have millions of acres of National Forest to ski, hike, bike and explore. So, we head outdoors.

 
 

When my daughter was born, I resolved to bring her outside as much as possible. She was born in April, so that meant I could take her outside in those first few months without losing her in a bundle of wool blankets and down layers. It was magical to expose her to the trails I love to trek, and it was a better way to lose the baby weight than eating cereal three meals a day.

By age five, she’s had more days on the mountain than most adults will ever experience. But it’s not about skier days or miles hiked. It’s about spending time together. To spend our weekends skiing or biking in this beautiful area we’re so fortunate to live in. To see the look of pure delight on her face as she peels off the ski run and rips through the trees. On purpose. To give her an appreciation for nature and a love of active living.

Necessity is the mother of invention as they say, so raising a mountain munchkin sometimes requires a little more creativity. No kids’ pizza joint with ball crawl? No problem. We take them to the town bike race series and watch as they tear up the trails on their teeny, tiny bikes. Sometimes they even get free tacos. And a free ice pop. Dinner solved. Sure, soccer tournaments mean driving three hours, but those three hours might take you over two mountain passes, around 13,000 foot peaks, past mountain goats and through pretty cool tunnels. And it’s three hours to spend talking with, listening to and just being near your child.

We can never truly appreciate all the things that our moms do for us. Even after becoming one myself, I still don’t know how my mom did it. Raising three kids, managing a career and keeping a household together aren’t easy tasks. But she did it with love, grace and the occasional omelet for dinner. Raising a child anywhere is a challenge. Raising a child in the mountains presents its own unique set of challenges, but also its own unique opportunities and joys. It’s where we find our sense of community, embrace nature and foster an independent spirit. It’s where I truly love raising my child. And I hope it’s a place where she’ll be thankful she grew up.