So you had a kid, maybe you went real crazy and had yourself two of them. Pre-kid you considered yourself fairly athletic, maybe you hiked, ran, skied, climbed or base-jumped. You thought your new, sweet and innocent, little skin sack might slow you down a bit, but nothing could keep you from your action-packed life. Or perhaps you thought things would be put on hold for a while until the new addition figured out how to navigate the world a little? Suddenly, you’re neck deep in six months of sleep deprivation and covered in a weird yellow poop and you haven’t been outside once. Your skis are dusty, climbing shoes don’t smell like foot anymore and your Subaru no longer has a thick layer of mud encrusted on the windows. Parenting is hard, especially if you’re being intentional about it. Participating in that new persons life is incredibly demanding and rewarding all wrapped up in one. No one intends on being a couch turd when their little one arrives, but for so many, the turdiness sets in and your former life as a recreational badass gets flushed down the toilet.
Prior to our choice to make a person and begin the insemination process, I expressed my fears of becoming a sedentary. For some ridiculous reason I was convinced becoming a parent meant adventures would seize to exist and suddenly a trip to the grocery store might have well been summiting K2. Fortunately I was able to put those concerns on the back burner and live my life as I had always done. As a disclaimer, for those of you out there in the vast interwebs with your judgement undies on, please untwist them and remove them from the deep crevass of your àss crack because there’s no room for that here. I skied nearly into the sixth month of my pregnancy (only to be stopped by a lack of snow). I ran, lifted weights and hiked the entire pregnancy and on my 38th week, I climbed a 500ft multi-pitch rock climbing route. All of this is mentioned not because I am some epic professional outdoor enthusiast, but because I am the opposite. This is mentioned because while I am a consistently active person with intermediate skills in various activities, I am not an adreline junkie out to “bag summits” at whatever cost. Yes, I was more cautious while pregnant, but stopping all together would have been absurd. Fortunately, many myths of pregnancy are being debunked (we now have alternative facts) and we now understand that eating for two isn’t necessary. Soft cheeses are still off limits, but staying active is incredibly important and is being recognized as critical to a healthy mama and baby. If you didn’t get the memo until now, consider this your prescription for the continuation of your badassery.
When you are a new parent, the smallest tasks (like showering or peeing) might as well be landing a jumbo jet without any flying lessons. Add things like hiking, skiing, camping or climbing to the mix and now you have to land the jumbo jet while blind folded, onto a diving board in a kiddie pool. Every age brings about new challenges and just when you think you’ve got it figured out, it’ll change. The same goes for pursing outdoor activities with your child. Over the the last four years I have utilized five different carrying methods for backpacking to adjust for his physical abilities, weight and patience level. Trips have been canceled half way through. Blood has splattered. Full diapers have been carried for hundreds of miles. It isn’t easy and sometimes it’s downright brutal. However, I promise, with a lot of practice, it’ll be completely worth it.
Here are some helpful and encouraging tips for you as you pursue your adventurous endeavors with your kid(s):
- Keep (insert epic activity -ing) because you’re not getting any younger and bones start to get really stiff when you don’t move them
- Plant the seed of outdoor lovin’ into your little one
- Make adjustments every time you go out based on your past trips
- Slow down, lose the hardcore agenda and smell the pine trees
- You didn’t summit? But little Johnny didn’t fall and break his nose on the jagged rocks? Winner!
- Your back will hurt from carrying a 40lb bag of bones, jump in a cold alpine lake to soothe your muscles
- Crash pads are excellent makeshift beds for afternoon naps
- Become an expert packer
- “Power Pellets” — (sweet treat of your choosing) for preschool aged. Every power pellet has the enough energy to last you twenty minutes of hiking.
- Watch out for the danger police. They are often disguised in multi-pocketed tan hiking pants, puffy vest and dumb floppy hat. They might say things like “it’s not responsible to ski with your baby on your back,” or “taking your toddler into the wilderness for ten days is irresponsible because he’ll be eaten by a bear,” or they may not say anything, but instead look at you cold hand shake their head in a shaming way.
You’ll see instagram accounts filled to the brim with families and their kids out in the wilderness. Let me set the scene: lush green forest, jagged peaks on the horizon, a family in full Patagonia garb with pearly white teeth looking off into the distance (insert hashtag and inspirational quote about wilderness meets man). We’ve all seen them and thought “wow, that down puffy is super cute” or something along those lines. What the hashtag doesn’t tell you is that the scene is missing a few key ingredients; a ton of backsweat, a child with soaking wet pants and shirt from your backsweat, your stink eye because your husband drank the last bit of water and now you’re waiting for him to filter more, a mountain goat licking up the remenents of your child’s smoothie pack that fell from his mouth and bag of four day old used diapers hanging from your pack. If someone sold a filter that turned my scene into the Pataguchi one, I’d buy it in a heartbeat (#seriousnotseriousorami).
If you live in Washington and you’re looking for a list of hikes, skis, climbs, or backpacking routes (from beginner to difficult), feel free to send me a message or comment! I am happy to provide a family pack list and recommendations on gear.