Mt. Hight, Carter Dome to Carter Notch Hut via Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

I really wanted to label this post,  “Traveling with the Three Stooges” or maybe even “Rocky & Bullwinkle”, but I will stay with tradition and keep it to the Mountains, Huts, and trails.

My reason for the “Three Stooges” is simple, we could not leave the house, nor start our hike without M’s companions. Their real names are Whale, Mr. G and Mickey.  When you hike with a toddler there are days, they will need their own items and crew members. It’s small potatoes to us adults, but true deal breakers for them.  To keep the loving terrible twos at bay and M happy, we brought them. So, I am thinking this is probably the first time in history a whale, giraffe and mouse climbed up to Mt. Hight, then to Carter Dome, to Carter Notch, to the Carter Notch Hut then back to the car to complete the loop.

This is the second time we climbed this route. Our first time was last year, we ended up cutting the hike short and missing Mt. Hight.  I am glad we did this since the weather was cooling and the daylight was falling.

We started at the Nineteen Brook Trail, located off Route 16. If you are coming from 302, Jackson, NH or Pinkham’s Notch, you will pass the Mount Washington Auto Road then travel roughly 5 to 6 miles. The trailhead is on the right side. Honestly, we hiked this last year with M, you can tell it’s the right parking lot because of the cars. It is definitely a popular place to hike. If you are unsure, look for this sign at the trailhead.

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Trailhead Sign

We started this hike around 8:00/8:30 in the morning. If you are hiking in the Fall, I would consider starting a little earlier. The ending of sunlight might cause you to push through some great views. Also, without rest you may ended up hurting yourself. All the trails are marked well and well used. You will walk along the Nineteen Mile Brook for some time. Then you will cross over the brook before the trail splits.

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Brook crossing
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Mom and M crossing the nineteen mile brook

When you reach the trail junction, to head up to Mt. Hight (directly) you will go left and take the Carter Dome Trail. If you are hiking to Carter Notch Hut, you will continue on the 19 Mile Brook Trail.  If you need to take a break, this is a good location to pull up a log or rock. It is a bit more roomy than anything you see face for roughly another two miles.

We went to the left and traveled up Carter Dome Trail for about 1.9 miles to another trail junction. The trail junction continues up to Mt. Hight and Carter Dome or you will take a ‘left’ to South Carter, Middle Carter, North Carter and Mt. Moriah.

This trail junction, this a great place for a break and many hikers use this location for just that. We met a two different groups of hikers here. Of course, they were thrilled and in awe to see us taking M up to the summit.  This is where the game of  “Whale” came about. Our little Miss M is a bit shy and tends to hide behind her stuffed animals and other items. With all the attention, she wasn’t sure what to do, so she created a way to say “hi” with Whale like she was waving, but every time anyone went to shake it or touch Whale, she would hide him. So, now this Whale game took place throughout the hike and carried into our next one. I am sure it will continue, since we cannot leave Whale at home.

After this break with a great group of hikers, we carried on up to Mt. Hight. You will travel along  Carter-Dome Moriah Trail then take a left onto the Zeta Pass to climb up Mt. Hight. The first three-quarters to Mt. Height is pretty normal, but the last push to the summit is not for amateurs carrying a toddler or heavy weight. It requires climbing, some very large step ups onto rock facings, some balancing and without a doubt strong legs. I will say climbing up is safer than climbing down. You can continue on to Carter Dome then take the trail to Mt. Hight, if that works for you.

Mt. Hight was worth the climb and another good spot for rest. We did not take a rest there. We did snap some pictures then headed down to Carter Dome for lunch. Mt. Hight has some locations for children to walk around, but Carter Dome has a larger cleared area.

At the Summit of Mt. Hight
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Mt. Hight Summit, Mt. Washington in the background, Whale is on the attack with Mr. G (giraffe) ready
Mt. Washington from the summit of Mt. Hight

The descent from Mt. Hight to Carter Dome is easy and the walk over to Carter Dome summit is perfect after the climb up to Mt. Hight. Mostly, a straight wooded path.

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Heading over to Carter Dome

By the time, we reached Carter Dome, I heard something that sounded like a little snore with my mirror I saw M passed out. With care and help J,  got me out of the carrier and M was still sleeping. In fact, she napped through our lunch break on Carter Dome.

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Miss M napping, Love this pack!
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Miss M enjoying all the functions of the Deuter Kid Comfort III

We took about a 30 minute break here. We knew the climb down Carter Notch would be challenging. This is where your training really kicks in. Being fit is not about how much you can carry for a distance or how far you can go. Fitness is your rate of recovery. By the end of the lunch, I felt like I was just starting the day on fresh legs.  Thank you off-season training.

M slept through getting back on my back and for her second summit picture of Carter Dome. This is where sleeping training for your child and helping them feel comfortable on a hike is worth its weight in gold.

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Second Summit of Carter Dome
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First summit of Carter Dome

After the nice rest at Carter Dome, we headed down to Carter Notch making our way to our next break at the Carter Notch Hut.  You will follow the Carter-Moriah Trail to the hut. The climb to the notch is a simple descent.  At Carter Notch, you will be climbing down rocks almost to the hut.  My free advice is to take your time. If you planned your trip well, took your breaks, this climb is nothing. If you are tired and hungry this can be tricky and lead to injury. There are some great areas to take some pictures and to look out.

 

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Carter Notch

When you ask yourself, “Really, how much more of this before the hut?”. My answer is you are about half way there. Your climb down to Carter Notch Hut is absolutely worth it.

Carter Notch Hut
Carter Notch Hut
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On the Tranquil Mountain Lakes
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Tranquil Mountain Lakes from Carter Notch Hut

We had a lovely time at this hut. The crew at the hut was fanstatic. I suggest carrying some cash with you for some of their treats and meals. Our first step into the hut was like stepping into grandma’s house. They were cooking chili for dinner, had brownies and lemonade. My mouth still waters thinking of the smell.  Miss M was up by the time we hit the hut and ready to eat anything and everything insight.

She enjoyed her sandwich while she talked and entertained the crew and two hikers we met way back at the trail junction at Carter-Moriah and Zeta Pass.

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Miss M eating her sandwich at Carter Notch Hut

The Carter Notch Hut is a perfect place for overnight stays, water refills, bathrooms, food and rest. The above pictures should help you grasp the beauty. You probably want to book ahead for a stay and dinner or you may find yourself without a bed and seat. This link, here, should help you.

After our visit at the hut, we carried on back to Route 16 via Nineteen Brook Trail. After, Carter Notch descent the rest of the hike is pretty easy. The only thing you will may face is your mind kicking in asking when you will be done. Well, you have over 3 miles to go. So, use your break wisely.

On our descent, I needed some time to reset my mind, so I played some low volume music for myself and J. Well, after 3 songs, “Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas came on. I had the iPhone player set to random, I have over 2k songs loaded. I have a membership through MegaBoon.com, 10 cents a song. It beats iTunes, if you aren’t in a rush for the song. Anyhow… the proceeding conversation took place…

“Days Go By” by Dirty Vegas comes on …

J: Hey, do you think there is a Moose out there bee boopin to this song? You know, eating it’s dinner and dancing?

Me: Yeah, I am sure. And there is a Squirrel right next to it enjoying a nut.

J: Oh really, you watched “Rocky & BullWinkle”????

Me: Yes, re-runs…

J: I wonder if M would like it.

A few minutes pass on the trail  then I get the hand signal to turn everything off, quiet Miss M and stay put.  I am thinking is crap we crossed paths with a momma bear and cubs. But no, this beautiful animal walked right on the trail like she heard our conversation.

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Cow on the trail

Well, we had nothing to do but play “follower the leader”.  She led the way for about a half mile then went into the forest to the right. Not far off the trail, we heard her walking and then eating. What an incredible sound. We hung out for a bit. We didn’t know if she had any family in the area. But in about 4 minutes, she walked back on the trail and lead the way for another quarter-mile before turning off into the woods. 

I got nothing. I am Irish, but this luck is purely beyond that.  I am amazed but the cow’s actions and honored that she stepped out on the trail.  We let every hiker we knew traveling up the 19 Brook Trail to be alert for a moose. We are not sure, she crossed paths with them or not.

After another quarter-mile, we crossed paths with a squirrel in the middle of the trail. Yup, you got it, sitting there eating a nut.

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Rocky eating its acorn, in the middle of 19 Mile Brook Trail

I got nothing, again. But I do know J cannot say he never saw a moose or a squirrel eating an acorn.

But, in all seriousness, when you hike down from Carter Notch Hut is basic and very pretty. This trail will lead to back to the first bridge crossing. The location of my first suggestion for a break.

If you hike the trail in the latter afternoon, I suggest keeping an eye out for whatever wildlife that may cross your path.  I never would have thought a Cow would just walk out of the woods and hang out like she did.

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Our trails and location of Moose Sighting

 

 

Mt. Washington via Jewell Trail for “Seek the Peak”

First off, I want to say congratulations to everyone that helped make “Seek the Peak” such as wonderful event. We enjoyed our time on the mountain and had a wonderful time that the events put on. So, thank you. We will definitely to do it again next year. And to all those that donated, thank you!

I recommend this event for any hiker looking to be part of something, this is a great event to take part in. You can check out more about “Seek the Peak”, here

Here’s a quick rundown of the event;

The night before your supported hike, you get to pick up your goodie bag if you meet the minimum goal of $200.00, similar to that of a runner’s packet for race, but this goodie bad is loaded.

Goodie Bag from Seek the Peak
Goodie Bag from Seek the Peak

 

When you pick up your bag,  you will have the opportunity to spend time at the Mt. Washington Observatory Weather Discovery Center, have some food and meet with seasoned hikers to help you decide what trail is best. It’s a great Kick-Off Party. You will be asked about which trail you plan to take and reminded to sign in and sign out at the trailhead with the “Seek the Peak” personnel.

The after-party is the same day of the hike and located on the east-side of mountain in the  Mount Washington Auto Road entrance. This is the place with free food, raffles, vendors, etc. Just remember to bring you wristband that you receive when you pick up your goodie bag. 🙂 We didn’t spend too long there, since we had our daughter. After a long day of hiking, it was time for downtime and bed.

We decided to travel up the west-side of the mountain to the summit via “Jewell Trail”.  The Jewell Trail is one of the longest trails up Mount Washington. You can find some more information on the trail, here.  It is one of the easiest trails up to the summit, but we find it also the safest. An added benefit is that we have hiked this path before if poor weather or clouds came in, we had a good understanding of the terrain.

The trailhead starts across the tracks of the Cog Railroad.  This is one of the other benefits of hiking this trail, if needed you can take the Cog Railroad down to your car. It is a little pricey, $45 per person, but worth it. Just remember to bring some cash with you. There is an ATM, but it does run out of money. 🙂  The Cog Railroad is another great piece of history for the Mount Washington area.  Here is a link to their website. You can use that site for directions to the trailhead.

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The Cog Railroad, Jewell Trailhead

One of the big changes, that I love with using this trail is that parking for hikers is now free. As you approach, the Cog Railroad you will see a sign for “Hiker Parking”, use that. If you drive up to the Cog, you will have to pay for parking. You can looking at a 3 to 5 minute walk depending on your pace to the trailhead.

Again, the trailhead starts across the tracks, look for a staircase going down and cross the tracks. Just look out for trains. 😉 The first thing you will have to do is cross the Ammonoosuc River. It’s easy, just use the bridge.  You will start climbing rather quickly, but at a moderate incline. Around the first mile, you will cross over Clay Brook.  The climbing up is rather easy, it’s a good workout but not strenuous.  When you start your first switchback, you are about half-way to breaking the tree-line.

Heading up the Jewell Trail
Heading up the Jewell Trail


As you approach, you will know you are about to break the tree-line when you see a nice little area on your left with a log bench and small fire pit. This is a great location to stop and take a break. 

Break time for Mom & Nap time for M
Break time for Mom & Nap time for M

I may look pretty tired, but I am actually getting focused for when we break the tree-line. I have a love-hate relationship with spending time above the tree-line. Minus the direct exposure to weather, I have a little trouble with heights. Yes, I know one would figure I would find another hobby. Well, that’s not me, I am the person that takes my fears head-on. This is one way to do it and its step one in the process of reaching my goal.

When you break tree-line (around mile 3) you will get to see Mount Washington to your right, it looks like it across the way, it is, but you have a few more miles of climbing before you are standing on the observation deck.  For your second view,  you can turn around and see the Cog Railroad, where you started.

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View back down to the Cog Railroad
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M & me with Mount Washington in the distance

This section of the trail is rock to rock, with some small areas of earth path. Keep to the trail by following blue trail markers and cairns, also read your trail signs.  The Jewell Trail will “end” and you will follow the Gulfside Trail (AT =  Appalachian Trail). There is a nice large flat-ish area after the Jewell Trail ends and you pick up the Gulfside Trail its about 0.3 miles from the end of the Jewell Trail.  Below, is the trail junction sign, this is where we let M out to play for a bit.  Excuse the bee, M decided to bring it along this with “Navigational” Pony this hike.

 

Trail Junction Sign, located of playtime
Trail Junction Sign, location of playtime
Area for playtime
View from playtime area to Mount Washington
M practicing with Dad
M practicing with Dad

There are few paths you can take to get to the summit. We took the Gulfside Trail then followed the Cog Railroad up to the summit our first time. This time we followed the Gulfside Trail, crossed over the Cog Railroad and connected with Crawford’s Path and up to the summit.  The views looking out from the trail are amazing.

View over my left shoulder
View over my left shoulder

As mentioned, you can hike along the side of the Cog Railroad or across over the tracks. Just be aware of the trains.

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Cog Railroad
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Cog on its way down

At the summit of Mount Washington there are various locations to see and do, such as, the Tip Top House,  Sherman Adams Building, stop by the Observation Deck, of course get your picture at the summit post. The Sherman Adams Building is where you will find a gift shop, cafeteria, Post Office, bathrooms, location to purchase your cog ticket (if needed).  Some areas at the summit are under construction, but this does not affect what they have to offer. You can find more out at this link.

Here are some images for the summit

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Crawford Path Marker
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Mt. Washington State Park Map

 

Just a closing note, inside the Sherman Adams Building you will see a wall that lists out the causalities on Mt. Washington. You may start your hike on a clear and sunny day, but half way through or during your time at the summit a front or low clouds may come through. Please, check here for Mt. Washington summit weather. You can also find a weather report twice an hour on New Hampshire Information radio station, 95.3 FM.

No matter what, be prepared for anything, have plans and routes for bad weather or injury.  Be smart, you don’t want your name added to the list. Plan smartly.

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Causalities of Mount Washington

 

 

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.

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.

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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.

First Race in a long time, 10K

A 10k after not racing or training for about 2 years. I decided to enter the Elizabeth River Run 10k race with only 4 weeks to train. Yes, I guess you can say I like a challenge.

My overall goal was to break 50 minutes, next goal break 52 minutes, next goal at least get a PR which means breaking 54 minutes.

I had to set my goals that way.  With only 4 weeks to train, those in the running world now its more like 3 and half weeks of training. It’s not a lot of time to train for a my first goal of breaking 50 minutes, but if everything else clicks with training then the latter two were definitely possible.

I used a some training that my dear friend sent me. Here is the link. It’s strictly for 10k training. I picked out a few workouts. I did 2 speed workouts a week. I will say my most enjoyable, yet hated workout was the 2 mile repeats at goal pace. Yup, I was cursing the latter way through that workout. But it helped set my mind and body for what needed to be done.  What can I say, I like a working hard.

The race went well or at least rather well. I ended up slowing down on the cobblestone road during the run, which made me sacrifice time. I lost some confidence during that part of the race, which lasted with me for about a mile or so. That was enough to put me behind my first goal. BUT…

I ended up with a time of 51:28, which is a PR of 4 minutes.

Yes, there is room for improvement, but overall I nailed 2 out of 3 goals in less than 4 weeks. Not to shabby…

My next race will be another 10k in October. After 2 and a half months of hiking in the mountains with a toddler on my back. I am hoping to break 50 minutes. I will have about 6 weeks this time to train. I am hoping for better results.

My favorite image from the race…

Moments after I crossed the line...
Moments after I crossed the line…

There is no better way to end a race with PR of 3 minutes then to get a big hug from your favorite little girl in the world.

I placed 7th out of 50 in my age group. Not too shabby.

Ergo Baby Carrier

When our little moved out of the wrap carrier stage, we needed another carrier that would handle high activity and growth. We settled on the Ergo baby carrier.  The carrier can hold a child  up to 45lbs and had multiple carrying positions. The carrying positions are front, back and side. Yes, I said side, it’s a nice feature, when shopping.  There is a pocket to store small items, such as,  keys and cell phone or wipes and a diaper or two. 

The Ergo Baby Carrier does not have a frame like the Kid Comfort II.  This means there is not much support for long hikes. Also, there is no ‘kick-stand‘ to the carrier meaning removing your child from the back position without a partner is a bit tricky and should be practiced over a couch or bed.

The Ergo is great for walking in a city/town or at park. I find myself using the carrier to do shopping and pretty much anything that requires me to have both hands in public or in the house. I have used this in downtown NYC and Boston… Go Red Sox! (Sorry, its my hometown.. shameless plug). Its great….

In addition, the Ergo has a great head cover that you can place over your child while they sleep. This is great when using the back position because it will stop your child’s head from  moving around. Below is an image of us using the back position and the ‘head cover’

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Again, if you are going to use the back position alone make sure you practice with a helper and/or over something soft. Practice enough to make your little one comfortable with the transitions that go on and for our own self confidence. I practiced, practice makes perfect. My beloved husband was amazed when he watch us go through the routine.  I think it definitely but some worries to rest.

Here are some hiking photos we took in the winter with 10ft of snow to Franconia Falls, NH and in the summer to Franconia Falls, NH. It’s a great short hike with a few good views.

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Next up is Road ID… a simple tag and holds all your critical life saving information…

Helping you pick a child carrier for hiking #Deuter Kid Comfort II

This is probably one of the most important pieces of equipment you will purchase for hiking with toddler.

We purchased two types, the Ergo Baby and the Deuter, Kid Comfort II. We used the Ergo Baby for when our little one was 13 months and under. It was the winter, when she was one year old. The comfort of being close was good for her, but we NEVER passed 4 miles in a day. Longer hikes, you need something stronger with more storage and frankly for us hiking with an infant, should be done with caution. Again, that’s my family and my own views.

We will start with the Deuter, Kid Carrier II…. AKA Toddler Carrier (in our view)

My advice is for you and your hiking partner to try on as many carriers as possible and do your research on each.  I suggest going to a specialized retail store for outdoor activities. We found our carrier at Eastern Mountain Store (EMS), in fact, we do ALL of our outdoor purchases through them. (I am not an employee or receive any sort of endorsement from them). We have found their service and knowledge is well above any of their competitors.  We found this out during our first trip into their store. Our first purchase was our Deuter Kid Comfort II.  At the EMS store we went to they have a wonderful and knowledgable sales employee that actually went to a “class” where she was able to bring her child test out the carriers and learn about each of them. This knowledge was extremely helpful when purchasing our carrier.

As a side note, coming from the retail world, I was excited to hear that from her. It’s an another reason we stick with EMS. It benefits so many, not just the gross profit line, but for consumer’s buck, too.  I have always recommend them for any employee interested in a specialized area or just wanting to learn. Overall, it was about passing along knowledge to the consumer to help them make the best purchase for their needs — not what our retail store wanted.  Back on track….

It is really a good idea to have your hiking partner and your toddler with you when trying on packs. Most places have a dummy doll that will simulate your toddler, but there nothing like doing it for real. Seeing how your toddler sits in the pack and moves in the pack is helpful. A dummy just doesn’t seem to make those moves.  Yes, they will react in some manner. Most likely on the scared side. It’s outside their norm, so bare with it. Do it after nap time or well before nap time. It’s definitely a stressful time for them and our little one as been in a carrier since she was brought home.  Two Dogs, a husband that travels and no nanny nor family in the area makes child carrying a must unless you don’t like getting things done. But that’s another story….

We went with the Deuter, Kid Comfort II…. here is why…(the below image is the carrier)

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1) The seat where your child will sit is the largest of all carrier. What does this mean for your child? It simple, their legs will not lose circulation as quickly as they would with other carriers. No matter what carrier you choose, you will need to schedule breaks for your child to come out of the carrier and walk around. When doing so, keep in mind, they need a little time to get their legs situated to stand/walk. In the beginning, the process maybe a little out of sync, but you will learn to read your child needs as you take more and more breaks. Just think of your most recent long lecture, boring meeting that would never end, you probably got to adjust yourselves, especially your legs. In a carrier, your toddler doesn’t, so give them a little time. 🙂

2) The carrier has a very large storage pocket under the child. Please, view the picture above to see lower storage.

KidComfortII

I guess it depends on what and how you pack. It’s a big pocket, though. Here is what we can pack inside this pocket; 4 to 6 diapers, a pack of all natural Huggies wipes,  2 adult long sleeve tops, 2 adult pair of socks, 1 pair of child socks, 1 long sleeve shirt, 1 winter/wind pants and 1 jacket to fit a 22 month old, the Deuter KC Rain Cover,  first aid kit for both a child and an adult and a hand towel. I would say that pocket can handle a bit. If you pack smartly you can pack for at least 3 to 6 day trip.

3) There is a location for a 2L water bladder.  We use a camel back model. Deuter does not seem to have a bladder designed for this carrier or at least not that we could have locally. It’s great because you can use it, but so can you child. However, we purchased a 1.5L waist camel back that we attached to the back of the Deuter that is just for our child. Again, we plan for the worse case so the more water the better. We found in the summer, the 2L bladder was empty by the end of a 8 to 10 mile hike. This does not leave room for error. So, we created a way to make it work for us. The design of the Deuter allowed us to make this adaptation without compromising the structural safety of the carrier. It helps that my hiking partner is an engineer.

4) With the purchase of the Deuter Kid Comfort II you receive a sunshade and a rain cover.  Along with a cute little teddy bear for your toddler. The latter was a nice gesture, but the first is what’s important.  Unfortunately, the rain cover given is not the same as the KC Rain cover. The difference is that the KC Rain Cover is a full length cover while the given cover just covers the upper body of your child.

Here is the Deuter KC Rain Cover AKA Full Cover.

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This cover we have used as a wind shield, too. During, one of your hikes in the Franconia Notch, NH (up to Little Haystack, to Mt. Lincoln to Mt. Lafayette and down) we found this very help, bc it was windy walking along the ridge.  Here is one picture from the hike…

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Little one is napping during a break, which happened to be on the summit of Little Haystack. She slept through us placing on the cover. Here is us on Mt. Lafayette…

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The picture below is the sunshade, which you will be given with the purchase of the Kid Comfort II. You will need this attachment whether you use the KC Rain Cover or the given rain cover with purchase. The sun shade is great for those hikes above the tree line during the summer, but do not forget to apply sun screen.  Also, for some light rain.

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Below is the rain cover given with purchase. As you can see, the toddler’s upper body is covered, but their legs are exposed.

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5) From the pictures above, you can see the amount of extra pockets to carry additional items. You can place all your items you will need readily available. Here is what we have handy snacks, bug repellent, surveying tape, our little ones hat and sunglass and sun screen. Our child has learned to reach the side pockets for her snacks when she is hungry.  In addition, there are numerous areas to place d-links. We use our d-links for our emergency whistle, items for our little one to play with, a compass, my hat, a GPS tracker and other smaller items that are helpful to carry within arms reach.

6) There is a small pocket on your waist belt AKA hip fin pocket.  I place chap stick, a cell phone, an extra set of keys and a mirror. The latter I have found to be extremely helpful. The mirror allows me to check on my child whenever I need, too. Also, it gives my child a chance to see me whenever she wants without having to dismount her. We have had numerous conversation with looking into the mirror. This idea is similar to one you may use your car. Here is a picture from our Bald Face hike with me and our little one talking using the mirror.

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7) There is a place for your child to rest their head. This fleece piece can be removed for washing. It’s a quick pull and into the washer machine it goes. To place it back on, just line up the velcro pieces.  It can’t get any easier than that!

8) Its padded! I mean very well padded. I was surprised by the difference when testing out carriers. Deuter took the time to pad it and make it breathable. The EMS employee even got to see the material of the padding, which is one of her reasons for going with this pack, too. This is helpful, because it’s the barrier between you, your child, your water and weight. The weight is more on the weight belt, but there nothing like padding on your hiking pack.

While we are talking about the weight, on the shoulder straps, there is an adjustment, called stabilizer straps, make sure these straps are pulled tightly. We found that is most comfortable for us. It makes the pack closer to your back, but the weight will still be on your waist belt. If its loose, I have found that I feel as though my pack is pulling me backwards. Definitely, not the direction we want to go!

No matter what breathable material and system your pack has to create a movement of air,  you will sweat.  The padding and system made for air flow doesn’t mean you will not get wet from sweat, but without it…. I am not sure I even want to think about what it would be like.

9) It has the 5-point harness strap. The same idea used in your toddler’s car seat is applied here. Connect them all, make them snug on your child. This doesn’t mean he/she will not shift in the pack, but they will be safely in the pack and staying in the pack.

10) The pack can handle up to 48lbs, which 40lbs of a child. This is great because it gives you the chance to hike quite a bit. In other words, you are getting your money’s worth.

Lastly, please, remember if you go with the Deuter. ALWAYS, ALWAYS have the shoulder restraint going through FOUR loops. See, the image below, the red arrow shows you the loops, I am speaking about. This is also where you can adjust the height of the pack. It’s great, because you do not have to dismount your child to make adjustments. I guess that would be reason number 11. This is great for when you switch, who is carrying your toddler. But, no excuses FOUR loops. It’s the safest for the amount of weight of your pack that includes your child.

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Up next,  I will review our Ergo Baby carrier, why we went with it for shorter hikes when your little one was younger and other ways we used the carrier. To clarify now, we use only the Deuter Kid Comfort II for all our hikes. Our toddler loves the pack and knows what it means. She gets excited to go in it…… that makes the cost priceless.

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.