Toddlers & Seniors Hit the Trail Together

A few months ago the Little Laramie Hikers, a local kid-friendly hiking group that I started a few years ago ran into another local hiking group at Curt Gowdy State Park.

We were at the Visitor’s Center gawking at the mountain lion and wrangling kids in the parking lot when the Seniors on the Go pulled up.

The were fit, energetic and headed out on a much faster and more rigorous hike than us.

I was curious about the group so I started stalking them on facebook. I learned that both of our groups had similar goals and objectives. And we both hit the trails every Friday morning.

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow-

When I timidly asked if they’d like to team up for a multigenerational hike they agreed. I promised that they could hike at their own pace but wanted to see what it would be like for our children when they showed up at a trailhead just to be greeted by friendly new faces from fellow hikers decades older than them.

Over the past year I’ve been reading and re-reading the book, How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott D. Sampson. In the book, Sampson describes the concept of being a “nature mentor”– or a fellow explorer to children.  I’ve sought out ways to try to be a better nature mentor through WY Outside, an organization that I volunteer with and teaching kids from Beitel Elementary School about maps. But the truth is, I want my children to grow up having nature mentors, or someone besides me or Al who can explore alongside them and teach them new things.

A joint hike with the LLH & Seniors on the Go seemed like the perfect opportunity to start building friendships between the children in our group and adults who value time spent in nature just as much as we do. Maybe some nature mentorships will form?

But I had my doubts.

Would anyone from the LLH show up if they knew we’d be hiking with senior citizens?

Would anyone from Seniors on the Go show up knowing that they’d be chased down a trail by preschoolers with sticks and parents with whining babies?

Would Seniors on the Go want to see wildlife? The only wild animals we ever see are 2-year-olds…

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow- (1)

But yesterday morning, the day of our joint hike, I watched the parking lot at the trailhead fill up and conversations begin as hikers unloaded their gear, hoisted babies onto their backs and headed down the trail. I knew that I was witnessing something amazing.

Laramie hikers were coming together.

We were connecting children with seniors.

We were sharing a passion for hiking and the outdoors.

We stopped together for a photo shortly after leaving the trailhead. Then we split into groups of those who hiked at an adult pace, and those who hiked at the pace of a toddler.

WELCOME

I’ll cherish this photo forever because to me this is what community is all about.

Thanks Little Laramie Hikers, for being awesome. I treasure our hikes together. Thanks Seniors on the Go for letting us join you for a hike, and showing our children that outdoor adventure doesn’t have age restrictions.

Here’s to many more hikes together!

 

Little Laramie Hikers: Come Hike With Us!!!

If you’re on our local trails on a Friday morning chances are that you’ve seen a gaggle of children stopping on the side of a trail to eat a snack, throw pinecones, or climb rocks.

Once a lady we saw on a hiking trip asked if our group was a daycare. Nope, just a bunch of kids and parents…

I’ll admit that one of the best parts of my week is our weekly hikes with our hiking group, the Little Laramie Hikers.

If you’re a parent with children who need to get outdoors.

Or a grandparent looking for something to do.

Or a childcare provider.

Or even if you don’t have kids but are looking to inspire a new generation to turn off the screen and get outdoors I’d like to invite you to come and join us on a hike!

We don’t hike far (most of the time). We don’t hike fast. And sometimes I think we spend more time stopping to play on the side of the trail than actually hiking down the trail.

But our goal is simple. To connect children (of all ages) with trails.

All of our hikes are free.

Most of our hikes are fun (every once in a while we enjoy an epic 2-year-old meltdown) 🙂

We typically publish our summer hiking schedule on our private group facebook page. But since facebook isn’t everyone’s jam I thought I’d publish our schedule right here for all to see.

Little Laramie Hikers

So here goes, the Little Laramie Hikers schedule for the summer of 2016.

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  • June 3. Fairy Slippers Wildflower Hike with Seniors on the Go. Location TBA meet at the trailhead at 9 am.
  • June 10. Geocaching Hike. Meet at the Happy Jack trailhead at 9 am.
  • June 17. Lake Owen Hike + Playing in the Lake. Meet at the West Laramie Shell Station (2471 W Jackson St ) at 8 am or the Lake Owen Trailhead at 9 am.
  • June 24. Hike through Soapstone Natural Area in Colorado. Meet at the Barts Flee Market parking lot at 8 am or the trailhead at 9 am.
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  • July 1. Safe Kids Hike. We’ll talk about hiking safety, practice getting lost and teach kids the Search and Rescue ‘hug-a-tree’ method during this hike. Have your children bring a whistle. Meet at the Chimney Park trailhead at 9 am.
  • July 8. Lone Pine State Wildlife Area in Colorado. Meet at the Barts Flee Market parking lot at 8 am or the trailhead at 9 am.
  • July 15. Libby Flats Hike. Meet at the Forest Service Visitors Center in Centennial (just up the hill past town) at 9 am. From there we’ll convoy to the point where we’ll start our hike.
  • July 22. Geocache Hike. Meet at the Vedauwoo Pay Kiosk outside the gate at 9 am.*
  • July 29. Saratoga Fish Hatchery & Hobo Pool Swim. Meet at the West Laramie Shell Station ( 2471 W Jackson St ) at 8 am or the Saratoga Fish Hatchery at 9:30. Bring a lunch & a swimming suit. This will probably be an all day adventure.
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  • Sep 2. Raspberry Picking. Location TBA

A few notes about the group:

  • Sometimes we’ll change the location of a hike based on weather or trail conditions. This schedule is subject to change so come join us on facebook for the latest information and check out our calendar page for other local outdoor events throughout the summer.
  • I’d love to offer weekend hikes, but we’re busy teaching backcountry navigation courses on weekends…and I also work a pesky part-time job a few weekends/month. But often families will come up on our facebook page and invite others to join in on weekend hikes.
  • We try to be prompt with our schedule. Most hikes start at 9, we take a few minutes to load kids into carriers and get settled and we step off by 9:10.
  • Bring along snacks, water, appropriate footwear, hats and dress in layers.
  • Don’t forget your MBNF parking pass, WY State Parks pass or cash for a parking fee depending on where we are going.
  • We hike year round…well, we snowshoe and ski in the winter so come on out!

Questions? Let me know. 

Hope to see you on a hike this summer.

 

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

Last summer we published a list of our top kid-friendly hikes near Laramie.

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

Those hikes include the following:

When I originally wrote this post I thought it was a bit incomplete so today I’m going to add three more kid-friendly hikes.

top kid-friendly hikes near laramie

I hesitated in putting this path on the original list because it’s a paved route, not a dirt trail and we’re all about bonafide trails around here. Just park at Lake Marie in the Snowies and follow the path up to Mirror Lake. This short path is quickly becoming a favorite of my children because they can splash in two freezing-cold alpine lakes and then if we have time cross the highway and walk down (a real trail) to see the waterfall.

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

Once again this is another path that didn’t make the cut with my first post because it is a paved path. But, Box Canyon is another one of our favorites. My kids love that this path goes past several fun caves and rock formations and then breaks into a dirt path, a dilapidated old bridge and mecca for bouldering.  Just park at the Veduwoo gazebo and head on down the path, but don’t feed the chipmunks or I’ll blog about you (you’ve been warned…;)

JUSTTRAILS.COM (2)

Curt Gowdy State Park is growing on me, I’m starting to like it there more than I used to and we hike to Hidden Falls at least a few times every summer. But, sometimes I don’t want to deal with crowds or get in the way of the mountain bike crowd. So, we’ll start hiking from the Visitors Center. There’s maybe a mile or so of paved and dirt paths across the prairie. The wildflowers are amazing here in the summer, the views spectacular since it’s so high up, no one is ever on these trails and you can park for free at the Visitors Center.

3 More Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

What are your top picks for kid-friendly hikes near Laramie?

 

How To Climb Medicine Bow Peak With Kids

 

Last week a friend posted this question on the facebook page of our local kid-friendly hiking group.

Any tips for a family hike up Medicine Bow Peak? Best trailhead?

It just happened to coincide with some other questions we’ve been asked lately regarding taking kids to the top of the peak. So, I thought it’d be a good time to talk a little bit about climbing Medicine Bow Peak with babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. 

How to climb Medicine Bow Peak with Kids

Medicine Bow Peak is the highest peak in the Snowy Range at 12,013 feet. It is part of a rugged ridge line that towers over several alpine lakes and forest below. There are several different trailheads that will take you to the summit.

The Lewis Lake Trailhead is very scenic at 1.6 miles offers the shortest route to the summit.

The Lake Marie Trailhead offers a generally more gradual, but longer climb (3.6 miles) which is just as scenic. It will also take you past an old lookout cabin.

No matter your route you will hike through some very steep sections and very rocky sections but there is hardly a spot on the trail that doesn’t offer a stunning view.

Here’s a video of the hike to the peak. I think it does a good job of showing the terrain that you’ll see on the climb.

I think the beauty of Medicine Bow Peak is that it is a peak that the entire family can bag together. But it’s not an easy hike and I would say that when it comes to outdoor family adventures it’s one that needs to be approached with caution.

This might not be the hike for your family if you aren’t comfortable with heights, altitude, and unstable rocky terrain.  Or, if you aren’t comfortable carrying a baby or toddler on your back on a steep climb. Or if thinking about your children standing on a rocky summit without good footing makes you nervous. Instead of a summit attempt I’d recommend a waterfall hike or a scenic trek to Gap Lakes instead. 

How to climb Medicine Bow Peak with kids

Usually, I’m comfortable taking risks in the outdoors with kids, in fact probably a little bit too comfortable.  But I did try to summit earlier this summer alone with both kids and turned around just a few hundred feet from the summit when the terrain got a little bit too difficult to manage by myself with a 4-year-old and a 2-year-old. If you do hike with kids know that it’s okay not to summit. Part of being savvy in the outdoors is knowing when to call it a day.

With that being said, we frequently see families on this peak and there’s no better family holiday photo than one that’s taken at 12,013 feet.

Here are a few tips for the hike.

  • Food and fluids are essential for both you and kids of all ages at altitude. Pack more than you think you’ll need and don’t forget to stop often to replenish your bodies. The good news is that no matter where you stop you’ll be able to find a nice rock to sit on and you’ll be able to enjoy a spectacular view. 
  • Get an early start. The parking lots at both Lewis Lake and Lake Marie fill up quickly and you’ll want to avoid afternoon thunderstorms and lightning.  Try to be moving no later than 7:30 or 8 am.
  • Save this trail for August and September after the snow melts and before the snow flies.
  • Some parents find hiking with a child in a framed backpack carrier is challenging on this trail since there will be some bending over to scramble across the rocks. If you do hike with a framed carrier make sure that your kiddo is securely fastened so they won’t fall out of the carrier or choose a soft carrier–like an Ergo instead. A soft carrier will keep the child tucked snug against your body and help with your center of balance. If you want to use a backpack carrier take your kid up to Vedauwoo and practice a few scrambles while wearing the carrier before tackling the peak.

Framed backpack carrier.

  • Choose your trailhead carefully. I always recommend the Lewis Lake trailhead for families because it’s shorter. I know that after 3 or 4 hours on the trail my kids are done so the least amount of mileage is usually better for my family. But if your kids are bigger and can handle a longer day you might want to go the Lake Marie Route, the trail is easier until you reach the gap. No matter how you look at it, the final summit push is going to be tough and there’s no way to avoid it.
  • Be prepared for crazy weather. We consider a raincoat and a winter hat essential items on this hike no matter what the season. The summit will be windy and cold even if the weather in Laramie is downright tropical. Also don’t forget sun protection, even on a cloudy day.

Kid on the summit.

  • Break out those trekking poles, the extra support is awesome if you’re carrying a child.
  • It’s okay to reward yourself on this hike…this is a hard hike for adults. It’s even harder for kids. But I’ve heard of 5 and 6-year-olds summiting without any help–and I can’t wait for that day. Maybe you keep a stash of jellybeans in a pocket or promise ice cream in Centennial on the way home. 
  • Tell a few stories to keeps little hikers motivated. There is some fascinating history around the peak. You can talk to your kids about the time an airplane crashed into the mountain. Or the women who kept watch for fires from the peak

If I haven’t talked you into attempting to climb the peak by now here are just a few more reasons and of course, you can check out our trail page and download a free trail map right here. 

Here’s the view as you descend the peak.

Have you climbed the peak with kids? Do you agree or disagree with our assessment of this hike? What would you add to the list?

Top 5 Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie

This summer I’ve been on a mission.

To find hiking destinations with nice scenery, minimal elevation change and trails wide enough to accommodate a jogging stroller because let’s be honest–I’d love to ditch the Chariot but 1/2 mile down the trail I’m usually pushing one child and carrying the other.

5 Kid-Friendly Hikes Near Laramie, WY (1)Sure, I like steep technical trails and amazing views as much as the next hiker but since most of the time I hit the trails with William (3) and Finn (1) I need to go for easy.

I you’re looking to find us on a weekday morning there’s a good chance that we’re meandering our way along one of our 5 favorite kid-friendly hikes.

1. Chimney Park

#chimneypark

The Chimney Park trail system  has four main trails that meander through a forest of Pine and Aspen.

Most of the elevation changes are gentle except for certain sections of the Jelm View and Lodgepole Loops. The trails are wide, stroller-friendly and well marked with blue diamonds along the trail and signs at the intersections. In addition to the marked trails, some old Forest Service roads intersect the trails and provide additional opportunities for exploring and extra mileage for when the kids fall asleep and Mom wants to keep hiking.

You can read more about Chimney Park here.

2. Medicine Bow Rail Trail

#medbowrailtrail

The rail trail is my ‘go to’ trail when I’m hoping that the kids will fall asleep so I can get in along hike. With 6 different trailheads it’s easy to hike a different section of the trail every day. The entire trail is 22 miles long starting from the Dry Park Trailhead a few miles south of Albany and ending at the Pelton Creek Trailhead along the Wyoming Colorado Border.

The trail follows the graded railroad bed of the old Hahns Peak and Pacific Railroad through the Medicine Bow National Forest.

We’ve seen deer, woodpeckers, moose and cow on this trail making it a good one for wildlife spotting and this trail is very well maintained and easy to push a jogging stroller on. One note of caution however, this trail is closed to ATV’s but you will see motorized vehicles on this trail-especially near Fox Park.

You can find more information about the Medicine Bow Rail Trail here.

3. Lake Owen Loop

#lakeowen

There is a nice 2 mile loop around Lake Owen that is not officially part of the rail trail, but still in the vicinity of the rail trail. We love this trail on hot days because it offers several chances to stop and splash in Lake Owen along the way. You can also see burned trees from the recent Owen Fire. Every time we go back there’s evidence of new growth and I like being able to talk to my boys about forest fires and the regrowth period after a fire.

There is a small section where the trail mysteriously disappears into a marsh near the campground which is annoying but you can still push a stroller through the grass. It’s easy to pick the trail up back at the campground.

We don’t have a trail map for this short trail but you can get to it from the Lake Owen trailhead for the Medicine Bow Rail Trail, just follow the loop around the lake.

4. Pole Creek Trail

#polecreek

While I like starting our hikes from the Tie City or Happy Jack trailheads (especially on days when we only have an hour or so to hike) they are frequently busy with mountain bike traffic. When I’m with my kids I feel like we take up the entire trail and get in the way so we drive down the road from the Happy Jack trailhead to the Pole Creek campground and start our hikes from there.

This trail is rarely used, wide enough to push a stroller and there’s a cool little bridge about 1/2 mile down the trail. It’s another place where we like to stop and splash around in warm days.

You can find out more about this trail here.

5. Bear Lake

#bearlakeThe trek to Bear Lake in the Snowy Range is technically not a trail, it’s USFS Road 396. The parking lot is just past the turnoff to Sugarloaf and below the scenic overlook. But, the hike across Libby Flats is gorgeous! The road is open and you’ll see 4 wheel drive vehicles on it, but it doesn’t see a lot of vehicular traffic during the week.

Just be forewarned it’s downhill to the lake making it all uphill on the way back to the parking lot.

There are wildflowers, moose, and breathtaking panoramic vistas. It’s about 4 miles to the lake which is beautiful and worth every single step. We hiked through snow until mid-July along this road and it is closed to all motor vehicles during the winter. We’re going to try to cross-country ski down it this winter.

Have you hiked any of these trails? What are you favorite kid-friendly trails near Laramie?

Hiking With Kids Is Disgusting

Motherhood is gross and hiking with kids is disgusting.

There are always fat sticky fingers touching me. I constantly fight against bed-head, dirty fingernails, and milk mustaches.

Don’t even get me started on brushing my kid’s teeth, it’s traumatic for all parties involved. So, I don’t do it nearly as often as I should.

I swore I’d be the Mom whose children always wore clean matching clothes. Now I’m lucky if my free ballin’ kids are actually wearing clothes. I hope there aren’t any perverts in our new neighborhood.

Our oldest son turns 3 next month. He wants to be a mountain climber when he grows up. Of course I taught him to say that. He definitely smells like a mountain climber-a mountain climber who just ate a whole can of chili.

Since we have a lot of families with little kids who follow our blog I think it’s only fitting to tell the tale of the grossest hike of my life. I’m not proud of this story, I just want you to know that when it comes to life, hiking and parenthood there’s nothing perfect about us or our children.

So there we were…

A few weeks ago we were hiking at Happy Jack, just me and the kids.

Our youngest was catching a nap in our Ergo baby carrier. Every once in a while he’d look up at me with his big beautiful blue eyes, smile, rip a fart, and go back to napping.

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The blue sky overhead had tricked me into thinking it was spring. But, there was a chilly brisk wind. As a result we had not dressed appropriately for the cold weather. We did a short out-and-back hike and on the way back we were walking right into the cold Wyoming headwind. I just wanted the hike to end.

My 2 year old had other ideas, he wanted to take his sweet time.

So I started bribing him with granola bars, M&M’s, goldfish crackers, beef jerky, water and promises of ice cream after lunch.*

It didn’t work.

He got fed up of my nagging, wasn’t interested in any more snacks and decided to sit down on the trail and declare that he was was tired and he was done hiking.

Curse his Irish stubbornness.

I couldn’t bribe him,  I couldn’t budge him with a stick. He just sat there, wailing and demanding that I carry him.

So I picked him up, hoisted him on my back and proceeded to walk.

Then all of a sudden he started crying…again. As if a free ride weren’t good enough. So, I reached in my pocket and gave him an green apple Jolly Rancher. The only piece of candy left in my bag of tricks.

His happiness returned long enough for us to snap this selfie.

IMG_3070But, the headwind that we were hiking into was still stupid cold.

So, I tried to hustle back to the car as quickly as I could given the fact that I was carrying a zillion pounds of dirt and kids.

Then there was a scream. I thought my kid had seen a mountain lion or a snake. I got ready to fight off a mountain lion with one kid strapped to my belly and another riding piggy-back style. I’m a Mom, I could do it.

But no, somehow my little hiking partner had managed to take the Jolly Rancher out of his mouth and stick it right into my mess of a ponytail.

It was stuck, really stuck.

The loss of his candy was devastating.

He started crying about losing his candy and I wondered what I needed to do to get green apple Jolly Rancher out my hair.

So I did what any desperate mother would do.

I sucked the Jolly Rancher out of my hair.

It took but a few seconds and every ounce of saliva I had but I did it.

Once the sticky green candy was free, I took it out of my mouth and placed it into my kid’s mouth.

He was happy to have his beloved candy back. But he didn’t stop whining, even when we got back to the car.

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So there you go, proof that we are indeed very real. That our children are not perfect little mountain climbers and that sometimes disgusting things happen when we hike with kids. Does that mean that we should stay at home and avoid the whining, bribing and disgustingness that follows us on hikes. I say “no” and not just no but “hell no”–so what’s the most disgusting thing you’ve ever done on a hike? Can you blame it on kids?

*{Side Note} Some hiking parents don’t believe that you should feed your children junk food or bribe the to keep them going. I’m not one of them, I say do whatever it takes to get them to move down the trail (but that’s another conversation for another day and why I’ll never be nominated for Mother of the Year). A day of bribery on the trails beats a day inside watching TV.

 

 

Trail’ology: Hiking Was Fun…Until I Had Kids

As parents Al and I often think how easy it would be to plop our kiddos down in front of the TV rather than to make a conscious and deliberate effort to get them outside and on the trails.

So far in our trail’ology series we’ve discussed several obstacles to outdoor recreation. Today we’re talking about parenthood and being brutally honest about how sometimes our very own children (who we love to pieces) can keep us off the trails.

A few days ago we made a spontaneous road trip decision and detoured through Zion National Park at the tail end of our holiday travels. It was so spontaneous that we hiked in jeans and running shoes (gasp!!!) and didn’t even  have our beloved Piggyback Rider with us to haul around our 2 year old.

Tips for Hiking with Children

That didn’t matter, as we spent a day hiking as a family I really tried hard to look at the trail through my toddler’s perspective and put aside my my often impatient “hurry up” mentality. In doing so I realized that the key to making hiking enjoyable with my children is to remember that family hikes aren’t about me or even Al, they are about my kiddos.

Here’s what I learned:

Tips for Hiking with Kids play break new2 fuel distance hand wildlife

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I think the fun part about hiking with children will actually be when they are in college (or hiker trash living in a van) and we can look back to our family hikes and laugh about some of the more amusing things (diaper blow outs, tears, absurd fears) that have happened on hikes. Because after all, if it were easy and always fun to hike with children we’d see more families out on the trails.

What do you think, hiking with kids is it always fun, sometimes fun or never fun? If you have kiddos of your own how do you make hikes fun?

Hiking with Babies & Toddlers: Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve had so much fun the past several months working on our hiking with babies and toddlers series. The response has been overwhelming! Who would have thought that our most popular post would be how to change a diaper on the trail?

In case you’ve missed it, here are the previous blog posts from this series:

How to Hike While Pregnant

How to Dress Babies and Toddlers for Hiking

How to Choose Equipment to Carry Babies and Toddlers on a Hike

How to Pack for a Day Hike with Babies and Toddlers

The Trailhead Routine

Tips for Breastfeeding on the trails

How to Change a Diaper on a Hike

3 Tips for Hiking with a Baby in a Front Carrier

4 Safety Tips for Hiking with Toddlers

As our last blog post in this series we’re answering a few questions from you, our awesome readers.

when-FB

There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to ages. Our oldest son went on his first hike at 6 weeks old, it would have been sooner but I had a difficult delivery and it took about a month before I felt like moving from the couch. With our second baby we went on a nice easy hike up to a waterfall when he was just one week old. I think it really comes down to how well the Mom is doing after delivery, how well feeding the baby is going (is Mom going to be comfortable breastfeeding or bottle feeding on the trails) and how comfortable you are taking a baby into the wilderness. Experienced hikers are probably going to be a whole lot more comfortable taking a newborn into the woods than novice hikers.

overehatingWe do a few things to keep our baby from getting too hot in the Ergo. First, we make sure our baby is staying hydrated and stop frequently to nurse him. We also try to make sure we keep his head covered and protected from the sun (we love this hat, but REI no longer makes it, boo!) and if it’s really hot out we stop a lot, let him out of the Ergo, cool him down with a burp cloth dampened with a bit of water or stick a frozen ice pack in the front pocket of the Ergo.

Q: What advice do you have for backpacking with babies?

A: None! We’ve never had the courage to try it. If you’ve backpacked with babies chime in with a comment below and let our readers know about your experience.

gearGood carriers are the most important thing to have and so is a good trail-worthy stroller like a Chariot. For a front baby carrier, we’ve been very satisfied with our Ergo. We have friends who love their Boba Air so while we can’t vouch for it, I’d look into that carrier as well. Moms in our local hiking group use a good mix of Ergo and Boba so those seem to be the top 2 brands in our neck of the woods.

For a toddler, a good backpack carrier, we have an older Kelty Journey and it’s not the best. I’ve been lusting after an Osprey Poco but I haven’t tried it so I can’t vouch for that one either. And we definitely LOVE our Piggyback Rider.

For pregnancy and baby carrying we recommend the BBFit jacket adapter.

screaming

Yes, we’ve been there and we still are there. I guess at the end of the day I’d rather hear my baby scream outside where the screams aren’t quite as loud and piercing than inside our house. It’s hard taking a fussy baby into the woods, and it’s even harder when you’re on a crowded trail and people look at you like you’re either a bad parent or totally out of your mind. I recently wrote all about this very topic over at Seattle Backpackers Magazine, you can read the article here.

snacks

I like to stick with snacks that are easy to prepare, easy to eat, semi-healthy and fun. Our kid loves it when I hand him a box of raisins (he calls them fruit snacks), apple slices, apple sauce in those fancy tubes, or pieces from a pre-peeled orange. We also eat granola bars, and goldfish crackers but I try to really get him to eat fruit to help him stay hydrated.

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There are several things that I didn’t cover in this series including how to hike carrying both a baby and toddler (yes, it can be done!), tips for hiking with a stroller,  what kind of sunscreen and bug spray to use on wee little ones, tips for encouraging a toddler to move down the trail, and fun games that we play on the trails. I left these topics out on purpose because (drum roll please…) we’re getting ready to publish a ebook with even more exclusive and detailed information on hiking with babies and toddlers! We’ll let you know when we’re done with the final edits and are ready to release the book and shoot, we might even through in a bunch of free copies to our loyal readers. So stay tuned!

4 Safety Tips For Hiking with Toddlers

4 Safety TipsWe’re back with our hiking with babies and toddlers series. Today we answer a question from a reader about how we keep our toddler safe on the trails when he isn’t being carried in a backpack carrier.

Our 4 tips are:

1) Keep your toddler within reaching distance. We like to let our kid wander as far as we feel comfortable. This means on a wide open trail in a place without too many hazards he has more room to roam than on a trail over challenging terrain with more hazards. But, we never let our toddler wander so far that we can’t quickly grab him, even if we have to sprint for a second or two to reach him.

2) Keep your toddler where he/she can be seen. If I’m hiking solo, my kid walks right in front of me where I can see him. If we’re hiking with a group we like to keep the kids in the middle, between adults, so they can’t wander too far ahead of the group.

3) Dress kids and adults in bright colors. A lot of people will say it’s important to dress your kid in bright colors (if possible) so you can see him/her. I would argue that it’s just as important for parents to wear bright colors so that our kiddos can see us too!

4) Be aware of your surroundings. I don’t like to generalize or to treat each trail or hiking trip the same. A thin layer of ice can turn what is normally an easy trail where I’d let my kid wander into a challenging trail where I’d like him to hold my hand. So, the most important thing is to always be situationally aware and try to look at things from your toddler’s perspective.

I’m not going to go into things like what emergency equipment to pack in your toddlers pack and how to teach your child about survival, because honestly my 2 year old is a social guy who likes to be with the group. He doesn’t like to wander off…yet. These are things that we’re going to have to figure out next summer so stay tuned.

What safety tips do you have for hiking with toddlers?

 

Tips For Hiking with a Baby in a Backpack Carrier

We’re back with another episode in our hiking with babies and toddlers video series.

Today we share a few tips on hiking with a baby or a toddler in a backpack carrier. You may notice that in this video our carrier tends to push my neck and shoulders too far forward-that’s a disadvantage of getting a screaming deal on a used carrier.

What tips do you have for hiking with a baby or toddler in a backpack carrier?

And in case you missed it, here are links to our other videos in this series.

How to Hike While Pregnant

How to Dress Babies and Toddlers for Hiking

How to Chose Equipment to Carry Babies and Toddlers on a Hike

How to Pack for a Day Hike with Babies and Toddlers

The Trailhead Routine

Tips for Breastfeeding on the trails

How to Change a Diaper on a Hike

and

3 Tips for Hiking with a Baby in a Front Carrier