My life has changed a lot since the summer of 2009, when I found out I was pregnant with Walker. I knew going into it, that having more children, that my reality would shift and it was OK the first year, we got out and hiked a lot, after Walker was born in March of 2010. Then came Alistaire, who utterly wore me out. With severe anemia I could barely get out of bed, much less hike. ( I literally hiked one hike after I got pregnant with him in the summer of 2011. I hiked 1 mph and it took days to recover from a 7 mile hike.) Having raised my oldest son (who is now 15) to hike along me, and then hiking with my middle son, I didn’t realize just how hard it could be to plan hiking with two small ones – an infant and a toddler. Especially as I was rebuilding my body, after he was born in February of 2012. I had/have Diastasis Recti, due to how big both my younger babies were (your ab muscles split basically). Due to that wearing a heavy pack just plain sucked and was painful when hiking. It is getting better by the month though. Exercise and time have helped a lot. So has going back to my trainer. Worth the cost. But, it wasn’t an easy 2012 summer.
Frankly? One small baby/child is easy. Pop ‘em on, throw a pack on your front or back and go wander…..
Two small ones, close in age? Not so easy. For me at least. I’d carve out dayhikes where I went with friends and had no kids, and Kirk and I tried a few hikes, where Walker hiked on his own most of the way in the summer of 2012. Carrying an infant that is in the upper 90th percentile in weight/height was/is tiring on the front. But we got out at least. Walker loves hiking and took to it this past summer, doing up to 3 miles on his own. Plenty enough for causal hikes around Rainier!
As time went we got out more. Not anything super hard or long though.
(That is my oldest son, Ford, Walker crouching and Alistaire on me in October).
But I noticed something recently – it is getting easier. Alistaire turned 11 months recently. Walker is nearing 3 years old, and is happy to walk. He does well hiking. I have had many ask what pack Walker has on when we hike. It is an Eddie Bauer Backpack Harness, Black that I found at Target last year for $14.99 (it also comes in pink for the girls). Target has it in 2 new colors this year, a nifty green and a blue, also for $14.99. While it is a “harness” backpack and sold in the baby section, it is a real backpack. The tether strap unclips and ta-da, Mini-Me gear! A water bottle pocket on one side, roomy main compartment, two extra pockets. Full zippers, sewn to last. The “harness” is a double sternum strap, which keeps the pack on tight. It is a real pack, and it is designed to fit from when they start walking and up. I figure he will use it till he is pushing 4 (he turns 3 in 2 months). Oh yeah, and it is very light as well.
- 8 ounces water
- Rain/Sun hat
- Winter hat
- Winter mittens
- Liner gloves
- Plastic bag for those items
- 2 granola bars
- 2 fruit leathers
- 1 – 2 squeeze fruit pouches
- 1 – 2 bag crackers
- Plastic bag for food items
Does that seem like a lot? It isn’t. Kids can and should carry a small load if they are physically strong. Ownership in gear, they get excited to go hiking.
Now that he is walking so well (and running and skipping), suddenly the world of hiking seems bright again. Plotting, dreaming and thinking of where to take them next. Last Sunday I had a wonderful hike with the whole family. Kirk carried Alistaire and Ford hung out with them.
Walker and I putzed along and hiked hand in hand, smiling at his little feet next to mine – in our matching Keen’s. I found a great deal on Keen boots for toddlers and since they were so marked down (crazy marked down!) I bought a couple of sizes at once. He is good to go for a few years, so will the baby when he gets older. I haunt sales for deals – it si why teh boys have so much REI outerwear and insulating layers. A couple of years ago I blundered into a sale that ended being like “buy 1, get 3 free”. I bought vests, jackets, MTS underwear and more – just went crazy!
He really wants trekking poles but I am not for that for another year or so. Otherwise one gets jabbed by them….Ford was 5 when he got his first pair.
Mid-winter family hikes are a wonderful thing. It wasn’t cold, we got out between rain downpours. We all had a great time. And I realized: we were there finally. Walker will be doing 5 mile days by this summer (he can do about 3 now as I mentioned). Only carrying one kid makes the hike so much easier. I look forward to taking them to alpine lakes to play with tadpoles, to watch the bears, to run on beaches.
‘Cause did I mention the baby is already walking? At 10 months he took his first steps and now you can’t hold him back. Maybe I should be picking up another pack soon?