A Message from a Toddler raising money for “Seek the Peak”

I’m not even 3 years old and I am writing my first post on WordPress in hopes of receiving a little help. I’m trying to raise money for the charitable cause called “Seek the Peak”, which takes place on  July 18th and 19th.  Here is a link to “Seek the Peak”. Short version, I am hoping to raise money for the Mt. Washington Observatory, a nonprofit organization and I will hiking with my mom and dad up Mt. Washington, again. Okay, I will tagging a ride on mom’s back to the summit. 🙂 My first time we hiked Mt. Washington,  I was busy trying to figure out how to untie a string while mom did all the work.

Playing with my String
Playing with my String

But, dad captured the moment when mom and I reached the summit after taking the Jewel Trail.

Summit of Mt. Washington
Summit of Mt. Washington

Yes, it was very windy, but it was awesome! My parents planned accordingly and packed extra clothes for me. I received the extra layer and some play time just before the summit…

Playtime after my change...
Playtime on the range…

Anyhow… After, I finally lost my string, I started talking all the way up and down the mountain. Mom and Dad now call it “Radio Station Mirabel”. Apparently, it is now an inside joke between them. I have no idea what an “inside joke” is, but I am getting the feeling that this joke is not that funny.

Last year’s climb was so fun that I am doing it. I know, I know…. I am so young and I have such high ambitions. But, Mom and Dad will be there to make sure it goes smoothly and safely.

The good news, I have given up my string for a new and improved method, which is known as my ‘navigational pony’. Weather permitting, we should summit in no time flat. We did a test run by climbing Mt. Jackson, where my pony and I called out directions the whole 7.83 miles, again the “Radio Station Mirabel” was mentioned throughout the hike. With that said, dad’s Garmin GPS, which he believes is directed by the Mountain God and can never fail, all the mosquitos, the red fox and a cub (Oh My), provided us hurdles, but my Pony got us through it all.

Me and my navigational pony
Me and my navigational pony

Enough though, my sights are set on hiking Mt. Washington, I need your help. Due to child labor laws, I cannot work to donate money for this great charitable cause.

Yes, this donation is tax deductible, whatever that means. I have been told I needed to remind you all that this tax deductible means that Uncle Sam doesn’t get to claim it. I am not sure what taxes are, but it doesn’t sound nice. Nor, does this Uncle Sam character.

My mom has added a hyperlink that will give you the ability to donate money to this cause.  We are team Death Zone or Bust. I am sure you can figure out how to find mom and dad, if you want to donate to them directly.

Any amount will be gladly accepted. It is not like I am asking you to pay for my college education. By the time I make it to college, tuition could be 275k a semester that is just astonishing. Hold on, I need to resuscitate mom and dad… okay.. that’s better… they are breathing.

My goal is only a $1,000 and I am half way there.

Oh, I am not trying to take the spotlight — Mom and Dad are listed too with personal goals, you are welcome to donate to them, too. But,  I can take on all the donations. After all, I am cuter and more intelligent than them since I am writing this blog at the age of 2 years and 6 months old 😉

In closing, I want to let you all know, Mom and Dad take hiking in the White Mountains very seriously. Even though, this post is in good fun, they will not hike if I am in danger in anyway nor if my ride is …. Oh, I mean my Mom. They will use their best judgement on what summit path is best given the day’s forecast and at the summit will determine the best path for the descent.

After all, we don’t need to climb Mt. Everest to take on similar weather conditions all year around. Mt. Washington Observatory reports help the world understand weather; this is one place in the world that three climate fronts unite. And why Mt. Washington is known to have one of the worst and most unpredictable weather conditions in the world.  White Mountains received their name because its snow in the summer.

Thank you for the help. The cut-off for donations is July 18th, 2014.

Even if you don’t donated, please take the time to review the Mt. Washington Observatory page. The history, outreach programs and studies are greatly impressive. Also, they have their own blog, its very interesting in the winter time to see and learn about the climate.

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Mount Crawford via Davis Path

Well, this was a hike for the record books. You know that saying “80% percent of all accidents happen on descent”. Well, it occurred. I am realistic person, the more times you do something the higher your probability increases for something to happen. The great news we were prepared and didn’t miss a beat… just a step — literally. 🙂

But, let’s start with the trail.

Davis Path up to Mount Crawford.

What can I say, during this hike I was forced to think of history. The idea of what it was like to hike during the 1900’s. My father has hiked pretty much every mountain in the Whites and probably has read every book about the Whites. I learned about the history of certain trails from him over phone calls, dinner, runs and time on the couch. Some of the stories made me want to read more about trails we hiked, planned to hike, or currently looking at hiking.

History-wise, what can I say — the Crawford’s set a way for hikers to get to Mt. Washington. They were not the only family to do so, but I’m amazed at what people accomplished during their time.  There are numerous books on the matter. I suggest — all of them. Each book will help you understand different points of views of hiking during that time and how the idea of conquering high peaks was loved by Americans, but also Foreigners.  The first death was a young man who thought he could take on Mt. Washington during the fall season. His name was, Frederick Strickland, a youth from England. Here is a little info on him.

Anyhow, the Davis Path was maintained by Abel and Hannah Crawford. I said maintained, not built. The path was built by Nathaniel Davis, who has ‘some’ relation to the Crawford’s. Here is a trail sign.

Davis Path
Davis Path

 

First thing, outside your normal every day pack. Pack our whatever works for misquotes, flies,  name it and it will come. Plan for it. The insects do not last the whole trip, but for about first half mile or so, they hang around. Then again the last half-ish, if you do a down and back.

The parking lot for this hike is just across the street from the Notchland Inn on Rt. 302. I have never stayed there, but you can check it out here. In addition, you can use it for directions to the parking lot. Just remember it’s across the street.

To get to the trail you will cross a bridge and follow the path. You will see a house to your right that is someone’s property, so be mindful. Keep to the right of the path when it folks.

To the right
To the right at “fork”
Bridge to the path
Bridge to the path

You will travel over a few water crossings, the first is logged and the second two you are solo. So, pick your rocks and go.

Path up to the summit is a mix of earth and rock.

beginning path to summit
beginning path to summit to the middle

 

The mid-point of the trail is mostly rock and some rock stairs. Excellent workout 😉

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Davis Path up to the summit
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Mom doing the work, M taking a nap

 

After the rock stairs… you will come some rock facings and a bit of a clearing. This is a good point for a break or you can carry forward about a quarter-mile to a larger clearing. To get to this larger clearing you will have to ‘go off’ the path. You will guided by cairns, though. It’s a great place for lunch.

Our lunch break on the clearing…

Getting some practice in..
Getting some practice in..
Lunch time
Lunch time, nothing like homemade nut butter and really raw honey. M loves it all the time.

 

The clearing, where we had lunch, seems to be were some folks get lost. We came across 3 different groups of hikers lost on the path. There are white markers on the rocks leading you to the summit. Some of the markers are worn down and you may miss them. The main marker you will be looking for — for the summit is the ‘sideways L’ or an arrow missing its shaft. I give both examples, since J and I interrupt the two connected lines differently.  You will go right and follow the path to the summit. At this marker, if you go straight, you will head to the clearing, look for cairns.

Please, read your maps, being on a mountain is the last spot you want to be lost.

Hiking up to Mount Crawford is very worth the summit view.

Mt. Washington at the summit of Crawaford
Mt. Washington at the summit of Crawford
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Mt. Washington
From the summit of Mrawford
From the summit of Crawford

 

The Descent

Here is where the “80% of all accidents happen on the descent” comes into play.  Whether your descent accident happens from fatigue, dehydration, lack of energy, lack of focus, etc. It is important to avoid all those cases, but to be ready it when it happens. The probability that will happen increases the more you hike and the longer you hike. This is my first injury mountainside.

Descending was pretty easy until I missed stepped and I fell forward landing on the ground. Not bad, right? Wrong, the center of my knee ended up landing on a rock protruding out the ground. The words out of my mouth were definitely not pretty.  I know those words will come back to haunt me in a few weeks when M repeats them. The good news, M thought is was fun, but more importantly she was 100% fine. The bad news, weight baring was very difficult and pretty painful.

This is why, I always suggest when you hike with a toddler always, always have a hiking partner. If, you missed that blog, check it out here.

We treated my knee and I took some anti-inflammatory and pain medicine. Thankfully, we came prepared. The rest of the descent was hard for everyone. This is the first time in our hiking. I had to pass M off to J.  That’s 2 years of hiking not a bad record. This seems like great idea, but M had a completely different idea about it.  It got to the point that after the large rocky area of the path. I ended up taking M back. The additional stress was totally not worth it. By then, the pain meds were helping and I had a routine for descending.

I was a very happy camper to reach the car and dismount (as I like to all it) all of my hiking gear, place of my flip-flops and sit in the A/C.  Here is the images of my knee from the fall.

Knee Injury
Knee Injury

Further good news, I did not tear or break anything. However, I bruised the heck out of my knee cap and dealt with a ton of swelling. Two weeks later, I am still dealing with contact pain, but it’s pretty much healed up. I did hike last week up the Jewell Trail for “Seek the Peak”, but before that there was no running or long walks. Today, I am back to running and all activities. Thank goodness.

And yes, we made trip to restock our medical kit. And, yup, I am behind on my blog 🙂 lol.

Mount Jackson, Mizpah Hut and down Crawford’s Path, White Mountain Hiking, NH.

Another weekend…. another hike with my two favorite people. We spent our 4th of July at the Mt. Washington Resort.  It is full of history, fun, great service and food. The weekend was worth every penny.  Our visit there will be in another post.

Again, we had a late start for our hike.  We are two-for-two on late starts, I am hoping it will not be a trend for this year. At least, this time it was for a good reason. J needed new hiking boots and EMS (Eastern Mountain Store, located in North Conway, NH) had them ready for us on Sunday at 830AM. We did an in-store pick up via EMS’ website. Thank you, EMS for keeping it simple and efficient. The other nice surprise was a new kid carrier by Deuter — the Kid Comfort III. It’s everything we need and all the upgrades from the Kid Comfort II, we were wanting. I will do another write up soon all. I have read too many poor reviews of the pack because people do not know how to use it and set the straps correctly.

On to the task at hand…. Mt. Jackson, located in White Mountains range of NH. Here are some facts about the mountain.

There are a few places to park, but the best place depends on your plan for the day. The up and back route to the summit (Jackson or Webster) or the Webster – Jackson loop trail, you will be coming back to the same location you started. This means you can park close to the trailhead or across the street at the Crawford’s Depot/Visitor Info parking lot. The other location is up at the Highland Center, which is a great if you are coming down the Crawford’s Path.  Actually, if you don’t mind the short walk from the trailhead (about a quarter mile) I would suggest to park at the Highland Center. The Highland Center has bathrooms, food and drink, lodging, trail notifications, hiker log book, etc. Its a nice hiking center in Crawford’s Notch.

We have had breakfast, lunch and dinner there and surprisingly, it was very good food. They offer discounts for AMC members and those lodging at the center.  My free advice is to plan your route and your back-up route then pick your parking location.  Just beware when crossing Rt. 302, I know you are not a child, but Rt. 302 curves through that area and drivers don’t have a good line of sight for people crossing the road.

When hiking Mount Jackson or Mount Webster you will start in the same location on the path called Webster-Jackson Trail. I know, pretty creative name. 🙂  Make sure you are not taking the Saco Lake trail, which starts by crossing the bridge.  Jackson-Webster Trailhead is the trail after the Saco Lake. That is if you are coming from the Depot/Visitor Info or Highland Center. When coming from Silver Cascades and the Flume Cascades it will be the first trailhead you see.

The Webster-Jackson Trail will probably be wet rock, mud and puddles. We hiked the trail two days after rain. It’s all passable, so no need to pack a boat and paddle. It does dry out when you get to the spilt of the trail. At the trail spilt, left leads to Mt. Jackson and right leads to Mt. Webster. Before the trail splits, there are some good inclines all rock and a nice cliff to view your progress up the mountain.

The cliff is called Bugle Cliff, the walk is about 0.1 miles (if that) away from the trail. The cliff overlooks Rt. 302, you can see the Highland Center along with the Mt. Washington Resort and Bretton Woods.  It’s an awesome location for fall hiking pictures, you will capture the fall foliage, perfectly. Here are some images from the cliff…

Cliff outlook, Rt. 302, Highland Center and Mt. Washington Resort
Cliff outlook, Rt. 302, Highland Center and Mt. Washington Resort
Mom and Daughter on the Cliff, Kid Comfort III
Mom and Daughter on the Cliff

The cliff is about a half to three quarters mile from the split.

Here is an image to help you get an idea of the climb to the trail spilt.

Rock stepping up Webster-Jackson Trail
Rock stepping up Webster-Jackson Trail

At the spilt, we took the Jackson trail, which is about 1.1 miles from the summit.  You will face climbing that is not for novices. It’s a good climb with rocks and log steps, but the final 750 ft is true climbing and the incline is at its toughest. You will be climbing up rock facings. There are locations to place your feet and hands and at times there will be no helping points. At those points, your own strength and balance will be needed. Just know what you can handle and what you are capable doing, if you have to turn back, do so.

This is the incline report from our hiking Garmin GPS.

Mt. Jackson incline report
Mt. Jackson incline report

On the Jackson Trail, we crossed over the Silver Cascades. Depending on the season, this crossing can be tricky or not passable. After a good rain, the cascade will be running higher than normal. There are several locations to cross, so pick your location and cross. Hopefully, you do so without getting a boot or two wet. 🙂

As you continue upward, you will start to face, rock and log steps with a few switchbacks. Ironically, the song “Stairway to Heaven” was on repeat in my head during this part of the climb. It’s rather fitting, so just keep stepping up. You will know you have reached the last switchback when you come across your first warm-up climb onto a rock facing.

And yes, it is just a warm-up, the rock facing right after is your biggest challenge. Both are doable. At the second rock facing climb, I ended up moving a rock, so I could step up on the rock then onto the rock facing  and use a nearby tree to pull myself up. Remember, I am carrying a 41lbs pack and it moves.  With the guidance of J, I ended up turning so my back so I was using my legs to push up and onto part of the rock facing.

After, those two climbs, its all rock facing to the top.  The summit is just around the corner. Either walk right on up or do some hand-over-hand climbing. I did the latter, since M gets a kick out of it. Plus, it was windy, about 35 to 45 mph. In the winy condition, I find it easier to be closer to the rock.

The view waiting for you at the summit is amazing….

Mom & M at the summit of Mt. Jackson
Mom & M at the summit of Mt. Jackson
Webster Cliff Trail Post
Webster Cliff Trail Post
Whistle Practice, still needs to learn how to blow harder but we are off to a good start.
Whistle Practice, still needs to learn how to blow harder but we are off to a good start.
Mom and Daugther at the summit Mt. Jackson
Mom and Daughter at the summit Mt. Jackson
Mt. Washington is the clear for once!
Mt. Washington in the clear for once!
Checking my gear with Mt. Washington in the background
Checking my gear with Mt. Washington in the background

After our lunch break and re-coup time. We decided it was best to take the trail to Mizpah Hut then down Crawford’s Path. Our first plan was to hike the loop, but with the high winds we decided the best and safest route for us was to take the path to Mizpah Hut.

The descent from Mount Jackson using the Mizpah hut is the easiest of all three trails (Webster Cliff Trail, Mount Jackson Trail and Mizpah Hut). A few minor rock facing descents and into the forest you head. The trip to Mizpah Hut is rather simple and not too exciting. After your climb up Mount Jackson, it is a walk in the woods. (No pun intended) You will pass over some bog bridges and rolling hills nothing hard on the legs. It’s a nice break after your climb and before you get to Crawford’s Path. The hike to the Hut is a little over a mile. Mizpah Hut does offer lodging, bathrooms, drinking water and food at mealtimes. There is a location for tent camping, too. The hut takes reservations for lodging then its a first come, first serve. If you are using the Mizpah Hut plan accordingly.

Mizpah Hut
Mizpah Hut
Mizpah Hut
Mizpah Hut

After our little break at the hut, we continued on the Mizpah Cutoff for 0.7 miles until we connected with Crawford’s Path. Again, this trail is rather easy and it can be a bit wet.

Once you hit, Crawford’s Path it is 1.9 miles to Rt. 302. Crawford’s Path is pretty rocky. The climb down can be a bit rough depending on how tired you legs are. When you reach Gibbs Fall, you still have 0.2 miles to the end of the trail.  Crawford’s Path ends/starts across the street from the parking lot of the Highland Center.

This was a longer loop, 7.83 miles, than what was planned, but its a very nice climb and walk down. The Mizpah Hut is a location for hikers to regroup and meet up on the trail.  Below is the loop, we took. You can see the distance between where we started at the Webster -Jackson Trail and where we ended, Crawford’s Path, is not that far apart. We parked at the Highland Center, since we knew we were going to use their facility.

Messages Image(1211782936)

 

 

 

 

Mount Moosilauke Hike, White Mountains, Hiking New Hampshire

The summer is in full-swing in our household. I am sure each of you have your own way to kick off summer. Our family it starts with the first family hike of the season. This year we started with Mount Moosilauke.

Mount Moosilauke is found on the western most part of the White Mountains in Brenton, New Hampshire. There are multiple paths up to her bald summit that gives you a wonderful 360 view of the land below and other mountain ranges. That is as long as it is a clear day, if not enjoy the workout and plan to come back on a clear day.

Here’s a quick link from Wikipedia about Moosilauke .

We travelled up the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit. It is the steeper trail and a more direct route from the Ravine Lodge.  If you want a nice walk up and down take the Snapper Trail and Carriage Road.  The summit is worth the climb, but those two paths are not too hard on the legs. The Beaver Brook Trail per topology maps and word-of-mouth is steeper and more problematic because of cascades.  We have not taken that path, but will be later this summer.

The loop (see below) is about 8 miles or for those that need to be exact is it 7.9 miles.

Mount Moosilauke
Scanned from pg. 35 “AMC’s Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains” by Robert N. Buchsaum

 

 

The Gorge Brook Trail and Snapper Trail to Carriage Road start in the same location and follow the same trail for a bit then the Gorge Brook Trail breaks to the right while the Snapper trail continues straight forward.

You will have some brook crossings with log bridges over most of them are before you turn right to travel up the Gorge Brook Trail.  The only concern is that some of the hand rails are loose, so don’t lean on them too hard.

Bridge Crossing
Bridge Crossing

Shortly, after making the turn onto Gorge Brook Trail, a gentleman coming down the mountain was so excited to see that we were carrying our daughter up the mountain. He had to take a picture of us to show his wife. He did not think she would believe him when he told her that he passed a family carrying a toddler up the mountain. He snapped a picture, wished a safe and great hike and we were on our way. It’s amazes me how unique the hiking/climbing/mountaineering family is always friendly, helpful and well wishing.

We enjoyed the Gorge Brook trail until we were slightly below the “Last Sure Water” (see trail map above), which is at elevation 3,300 feet the path is ‘out’ for certain hikers. I think it is about half a football field south of the sign. It looks like the path was lost to a land slide or tree going down or some combo of both. My husband made it across the path using a rock jutting out from the side. I think anyone that is not carrying a toddler or heavy weight shouldn’t have any issue with the cross.

Here is the sign for “Last Sure Water” and the near by Memorial of Ross McKenney Frost

Last Sure Water
Last Sure Water

 

Memorial
Ross McKenney Forest Memorial

I made it passed the land slide area by climbing up and around. My safety means the safety for our daughter, so that was an easy decision.  My husband did double back to check the area near the land slide to make sure the trees were in place in case I lost my footing. Unless, there is an extremely hard rain before hand traveling up the path 10 to 20 paces and crossing over a downed tree will do.

There was a couple behind us that caught up to us at the landslide point.  They looked like they were in their mid to later twenty. My husband let them know it was passable, but to use caution. The female asked, why I was up off the path.  My husband just simply said, ‘Well she carrying our daughter up the mountain.’  The woman gave the look of wonder and passed the landslide like my husband and the male went up and around like me. Until, the Dartmouth Outing Club fixes the path do what you think is best and safety for you.

Shortly, after the “Last Sure Water”  marker you will face the harder part of the trail that most say is strenuous or extremely strenuous. I would suggest a quick rest before carrying on. There is plenty of room at this spot for whatever you need. What lies ahead is a bit more work than what you just completed. There are not many good spots like this one until you make it to a clearing area near the summit. The incline increases greatly with a rocky path for about a mile or so. During this time, my suggestion is to keep moving, stay focused and take your breaks when you need them. You are only 1,500 and change to the summit and it is so worth it. You will do a small handful of switchbacks to help with the incline but most of it is rock.

One of the incline rock pathway…

Rocky Incline to Summit
Rocky Incline to Summit

Our quick break moment captured:

Quick Break
Quick Break

If you have not summited up the Gorge Brook Trail don’t be fooled by the bald area that is not the summit. This is a great area to break if you need to, but keep in mind that the summit is just through the alpine shrubs and up a little bit.

Follow the cairns to the alpine shrub and just keep walking until the next clearing … look up a bit and you will see the summit. Yes, you are that close.

Here are views from close to the summit.

close to the summit
Close to the summit on a switch back
Close to summit 3
Close to the summit
Close to summit
Close to summit

It maybe about a quarter-mile from breaking the alpine shrub to the summit. There are numerous places to rest, have lunch and recoup before the climb down.  Many people do camp at the top of this mountain. Enjoy your accomplishment, the views and take it all in. Most people travel down the Gorge Brook Tail. We passed 4 groups and 3 singles going down the Gorge from summit after taking the Snapper/Carriage trail up. One group did the Gorge Brook trail up and down.

We like the work hard upfront, rest and then take an easy path down. Keep in mind, I am traveling down  and up with now 45-55 lbs on my back and it moves around. Controlling down on a steep decline on tired legs takes a lot both mentally and physically. I know I can do it, but I am not one to do so when there is a safer way.

Here are some images from the summit, which was pretty busy with hikers enjoying their lunches and rest. The night campers had left, we saw a few coming down while we were going up.

We were informed that the summit sign was stolen and the college would be replacing it. Until then you will see the simple paper stuck to the wood. The flag was being carried back down the mountain that day.

Here are some views from the summit.

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Place holder until new summit post comes
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Summit View
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Happy camper at the summit
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Out walking around on the summit
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Old Glory @ the summit
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Panoramic Shot of the summit

We were glad to reach the summit and feel the nice breeze come across the mountain top. I was even happier to finally get a break and allow our daughter to get out and walk around. Our break and lunch was about 30 or so minutes. Many stayed longer, but we wanted to be starting back down before nap time.  This time the descent was not a nap time filled quiet descent. Instead it was full of two year old talk and noise making. Oh, well… you can’t win the all.

The descent down the carriage path to the south peak is what I would call perfect for tired legs and a first hike of the season. In fact, the descent was one of the easiest I have done since I started hiking several years ago. It is a little longer, but you know the rule you descend faster then you climb. The path down is again a bit rocky, but nothing like the Gorge Path. It’s filled with small rocks and a few step downs from rock to rock, but overall simple.

You will need to keep an eye for the sign to turn left onto the Snapper Trail and back to the Ravine Lodge. The Snapper Trail is pretty much a ‘dirt’ path with roots and some rocks. Again, simple. Before you know it, you will be back to the junction of Gorge Brook Trail crossing the final two log bridges and climbing back up to the trailhead or stopping off at the lodge.

Our hike time was 6 hours from the car up the mountain back to the car that includes our breaks and time on the summit. It’s a beautiful hike, well-kept trails and worth the sweat of climbing up.

Only thing now is to plan our next hike this weekend.

Hiking with an Infant or Toddler

There are numerous items to consider when hiking with an infant or toddler. The ranking of an importance is based on each unique family. My family and your family are different, but there are general needs that I hope this article will help to get your family better prepared for your hike. This article is not meant to scare or derail a family from hiking with their child or children. There are many things to consider before heading out the door to climb a mountain and each item should be weighed and considered in detail.

Depending on where you hike, your pack load will be different. My family has hiked in New Hampshire along the White Mountains and Kangamangus, in Virginia in the Shenandoah region, on various plane crashes off untraditional marked paths, and the Black Mountains of NC. I am sure the west coast of the US and other areas, such as, in the Colorado Mountains, the conditions are different. Each area has its own obstacles. I am writing this article based on the worst weather and terrain changes that we have faced throughout our hiking. As a parent and for our family, we plan for the worse case scenario. I hope it will never come to pass, but we rather be prepared for it than not. Without further adieu… let’s get down to business.

First item to consider, if you are a single parent, who will be your hiking partner. Hiking alone with an infant or toddler carries the same classic precautions as SCUBA diving alone. In other words, it is not advisable to do so. There are too many variables that can take place and doing it alone the probably of error is higher. Without a partner, you and/or your child’s survival is at stake. For example, in the White Mountains, the weather can change in an instant, it can and has snowed in August. Also, hiking above the alpine zone, which various by location can make weather conditions worse and terrain more difficult to navigate.

The next question to answer is who will be carrying the child and any additional items in that pack? This is not a gender topic. This is a question of what works best for your child. In our family, I, the mother, carry our child. My child needs to be close to me and we can communicate without seeing each other, but our child needs to see her father. You can always change who carries them, but for us mom does the carrying up and down the mountain. It’s what serves our child’s needs the best. And as her mother, I am physically fit to carry her, which brings me to the next item to consider.

Fitness. How in-shape are you and your hiking partner? You do not have to be a pro athlete, endurance fanatic or a gym rat, but you can’t decide to hike up a side of mountain with your child on your back after spending years on the couch or at your desk staring at the computer screen. I say you can’t, but there are those that have and I am sure there will be more. I am 100% sure the few days after the hike they are in some pain. Hiking with an infant or toddler is strenuous activity, its nothing like running a few times around the block or walking around the neighborhood. There are many trails where you will be walking over roots, crossing over a stream/river/brook, stepping up on rocks, walking on rock facings and at times rock scrambling. It is tough work and if anything happens you need to be prepared to care for the situation. Being in shape helps make the whole hiking experience more enjoyable.

Being in shape is part of the battle. You will need to be familiar with your trail understanding the Hiking Terrain Terminology and color codes in very helpful. This will assist you in making informed decision about what paths to take and the ones to avoid. Those contour lines are not to make the map look pretty. The closer they are together the steeper it is. Always bring a printed map of your hike along with you in a plastic zip lock bag or another map protector, in case it rains and to help protect it against your sweat. Yup, you will sweat.

Always pack two First Aid kit. One for the adults and one for your child. Hiking with your child means carrying band aids, gauges, medical tape, etc. that fits them. In addition to the kits, pack Tylenol, Motrin, or Advil with dosing instructions for your child’s age and weight. When you are tired and hungry,  dosing instructions may be hard to remember. Don’t forget to pack any prescription medication, always pack an extra day or two. Winter hiking usually means a longer rescue period than that of the summer. Pack a blanket incase one is injured. Pack a compass, as in, the old fashion type, know how to make one, and if possible a GPS made for hiking. But do not strictly rely on your GPS device. One item I highly recommend, is RoadID, the information carried on it makes any rescue much easier. For its cost, membership and number of lives it has saved — Definitely, worth it. Several of these items, I will address further in a later.

Since, we are talking about planning. Let’s discuss the topic of planning what to pack for your child. This depends on the age of your toddler. For example, an infant cannot regulate their own body temperature which means you need to pack various types of clothing for them. Keep in mind, the higher you climb the cooler the weather becomes and the longer the trip. If your hike takes you into the Alpine Zone you will most likely be above the tree line where dwarf trees and other smaller plans live, so you and your child will be exposed to the wind, rain/snow and the sun. This means plan to pack sunscreen and probably a long sleeve shirt and pants to guard against a sunburn and wind burn. I suggest packing clothing that can dry quickly if wet and clothes that will help keep your child warm. Again, be cautious and prepared for the worst weather in the hiking region.

In addition to clothing and the basics, water and food, you will need to pack diapers and wipes. Yes, that means changing a diaper on a rock, bed of leaves, dirt area, etc. So, what do you really need? Let me answer, your question by opposing a few other questions. Honestly, how good of a diaper changer are you? Does your child get an upset tummy easy when stressed? How long is your hike and how many diapers does your child go through in 8-12 hours? By answering those questions, you can pack to what fits your family the best. I have at least a day and a half worth of diapers depending the length, terrain and season of the hike. As for wipes, we carry with us a “travel case” full of them or one of those portable ones you find at local grocery or drug store. Wipes are so versatile so its great to have extra. Since, we change our little one anywhere we find an open area we do not carry a mat sometimes we use a packed towel or jacket depending on the open area. Lastly, there are no trash cans on a hiking trail and I do not recommend littering. So, placing the diaper in something you can carry down the mountain is helpful. We use a Glad kitchen bag scented with Febreze for trash we create.

I know what you are thinking, where are you going to pack all this and carry our child. There are numerous kid carriers with room to store items and some have water bladders. I suggest getting into a store that specializes in child carrying and outdoor activities or at a place that meets one of those requirements. This is a topic that requires its own article, which is what I will write about next. Choose your carrier wisely, know what type of hiker you are or one that you plan to become. No matter what, make sure you test out as many as you can, put your child into each one and place each one on the carrier(s). Make sure to walk around the store to test it out, bend down a few times, step up and step down if you can.

No matter the brand of carrier you go with, you will need to make a few extra stops along the way. All carriers at a certain point will cause some sort of circulation restriction for you child. It’s always good to stop and let them out to stretch and walk around. Plus, it will give you a break and time to recoup. This means adding some extra time on your hike. You will be happy you planned for it. Also, make sure you add some extra time if you plan to summit, so everyone can enjoy what you all have accomplished. Take some pictures!

Lastly, a few items to consider for the end of the hike and the day after. Pack your car with a change of clothes for everyone. There is nothing like a fresh clean clothes after a hike that includes comfy shoes. Plus, a diaper or two. Keep a cooler with water and snacks for the end of the hike. Depending on your drive back home, pack a thermos with coffee or tea. Before you leave for your hike, I recommend stocking the frig with healthy foods. Your body will need to recover and heal itself, keeping healthy foods loaded with vitamins, proteins, fats, etc. will help during your recovery time.Your recovery time is directly related to your fitness level.  Again, this is based on the length and terrain of your hike. But without doubt, comfy shoes are a must.

These are a few items of a long list that should be considered when hiking with your infant/toddler. Each and every family is different and so is every hike, but we all love of child/children, we want the best for them and want to be around when they are older. Hiking comes with its own risks. There are various rescues made throughout the year, so take the time to plan your hike. Plan for worst case scenario in every area. You may hike 100 times before the worst comes true…. at least you will be prepared.

In closing, Conrad Anker, said it best about George Mallory’s climb to summit Everest in 1924, but it is something we all as hikers and climbers should take to heart…..”being a good climber is knowing when you’re at too much of a risk and it’s time to turn back.” No hike nor climb is worth a life. There is always tomorrow. I say that with a handful of hikes in which we turned back due to weather, injury, an upset child, fatigue or difficulty. We were disappointed, but were able to redo the hike.