By Patrick Keavney, Crew Leader, Trailkeepers of Oregon A lot of us see trails that rarely get a good brushing as we’re out hiking. At a recent TKO fundraiser, a hiker asked me the best way to…
By Megan Zabel Holmes, Board Member, Trailkeepers of Oregon
After a new baby arrives, it feels intimidating to get out of the house, let alone out on the trail. These little humans seem to require so much in the way of supplies and accessories, not to mention what it takes to soothe their unpredictable temperaments. To the uninitiated, hiking with an infant might seem like undue torture. But it doesn’t have to be! With the right plan and attitude you can unlock a new level of quality family time. Here are some lessons I’ve learned (most of them the hard way) about hitting the trail with the smallest adventurers.
Work your way up to Dog Mountain — but start with Latourell Falls. Even if you were bagging glaciated peaks before parenthood, a couple of practice rounds will be helpful before you head deep into the wild with your new hiking buddy. Consider a two-mile loop that never has you too far from the car in case things get dicey. This is a good opportunity to test out your baby carrier and packing strategy, make adjustments, and optimize for the next round.
Embrace your new pace.
If you’re accustomed to crushing four thousand feet in elevation gain at three miles per hour, you’ll likely find yourself in a different boat (a much slower one) after junior has joined the squad. You’ll be making stops to change diapers, refuel, and touch the conk mushroom. Sometimes you’ll need to stop for reasons only your child understands. The sooner you embrace this new speed, the more fun everyone will have. You, too, get to smell the moss and touch the bark. Watching your kiddo’s curiosity bloom—and rediscovering your own—is worth the downshift.
Reconsider what “success” looks like.
Once, after an hour of preparation and packing plus another hour in the car, we got to the trailhead to find gale-force winds. Lousy weather plus critical errors related to nap and meal timing were insurmountable. So we just went to the brewery instead. It happens. We still felt like winners. If you can trick your attitude into gleefully rolling with the punches, you’ll find ways to have fun with Plan B. And Plan C. And . . .
Go. Go anyway!
Sometimes it’s hard. It won’t always work out the way you planned. But sometimes, it will! And when it does, it’s magic. There’s no greater joy than sharing your love of the outdoors with your child, and watching that sense of wonder start to grow within her, too. So go on, get out there! It only gets easier with practice. Occasionally ending up at Double Mountain instead of on the mountain isn’t so bad, either.
Good first hikes with babies
Megan Zabel Holmes: firstname.lastname@example.org