Where It All Began
Bringing a baby along on outdoor adventures. Sounds scary right? Well, it DID sound scary for me. I wanted to have children but never expected to actually have one. The balance I had a hard time understanding was how was I going to give up the outdoors to raise a family?
Within such a short period of time, I was planning for my girlfriend, now wife, to have a baby. All while I was planning my six-month long trip to hike the Pacific Crest Trail. Kelly and I had only been together for a short period of time, I wasn’t expecting much. What I didn’t know was how much an eight-pound, six-ounce baby would change my life.
Then, September 20th came along.
I had no idea that in an instant I would become a parent. I. Was. Terrified. One moment I’m hiking in the mountains and the next, I’m holding a baby in a hospital. I didn’t know what to do with him. I just stared at him. I wanted to run, hide, and throw up all at the same time. I didn’t even know what to do with him. I started to panic.
Then something magical happened.
He smiled at me. Just a few minutes old and he’s smiling at me. Giving Kelly a moment to relax, I was holding this tiny being and he’s talking and smiling at me. All I kept thinking is “HOW IS HE ALREADY SO HAPPY?”
Just like that, I was now responsible for another being’s life. A part of me still wanted to stay outdoors and travel around the world. I had to figure out how to do both. Weeks after we brought him home and settled in, I was reading through Facebook and found an article on a mom hiking the Appalachian Trail with her young baby. That’s 2,190 miles with an infant.
That’s all I could think for days. I remember looking at Ollie and thinking, “look at that poor kid, he is now my new hiking partner until he’s eighteen.”
Getting on the Trails
It didn’t start off for us so easy. Ollie was awesome but Kelly and I couldn’t get it together. Don’t forget, we are the hot mess moms. Packing for our trips took forever! Getting the diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, stuffed animal, binkies, basically everything in the nursery. By the time we finished packing for him, the whole house was packed in the car.
We were getting ready for our hike longer than we were actually hiking.
Kelly and I also had to figure out how to carry him for a few miles at a time or how we were going to feed him and change him. We were stopping every few minutes to make sure Ollie was okay and that he was comfortable. It would take us thirty minutes to go half a mile. Just thinking about it makes me stressed.
It was a mess at first but then…it got easier. We started packing less and the time to get out of the house significantly decreased. The time on the trails got longer and faster. Ollie was needing less and was wanting to explore more on his own. (No worries, not literally on his own 😉 )
It has taken us almost two years to get to that point, again, the hot mess moms. We were finally able to find two hiking packs that worked perfectly for us (we will go over that in another blog). We figured out the best times between naps, eating, and we can change a dirty diaper faster than you can blink. Everything seemed to fall into place.
It has all been worth it. Watching him look out at the world from the top of a mountain or watching whales play right in front of him. All things I hope he will grow up to one day really appreciate and love. Now I can’t even imagine my life without Ollie in it. He’s grown into being the best hiking buddy and he’s helped me to reconnect with nature by slowing myself down and really enjoying myself.
All I can say for the mothers out there longing to get out into the wilderness, it does get easier. Come up with a plan (as all mothers have to do) and expect something to go wrong. That way when everything goes right, it’s a pleasant surprise! Always pack more than you need, bring plenty of snacks and sunblock! Don’t forget, just to take a second to stand in the middle of the wilderness and just breath. It’s all worth it!
For You Ollie:
I hope that you grow up and take on the world. I hope you set foot on every trail possible, see hundreds of sunsets on top of mountains, and explore every depth of the ocean. Take thousand of pictures and create millions of memories.
I can’t always provide the best shoes or the most expensive pieces of technology, but I can provide adventure for you. Our hope is to send you out into the world with enough love and respect for what’s left of the planet that we have.
Ollie, you were born to explore! Your first ‘hike’, you were only a month old. We bundled you up and took you up to the mountains. You smiled so big trying to look at the world around you. Never let the hard times in life stray you from strapping on your hiking boots and getting out into the wild. May it be your escape from the harsh world you will grow up in.
Remember to always look around you. The blue skies, the birds in the trees, the smell of the flowers around you and the colorful fish in the sea. Always take a moment to stand still, take a deep breath and think about nothing. I mean nothing. Leave all your worries behind and enjoy yourself.
Even just for a second.
So, Ollie, I hope one day you are reading this, knowing how much you are loved. Know the world is one big adventure and explore all that you can. Life will be tough, but know that there will always be a place to escape.
Two PNW Mommies
“We must take adventures in order to know where we truly belong.”