First Hike with a Small Child
Last week: walking through cactus, yucca, and a sparse desert landscape to a hidden palm oasis. This week: walking along a rushing, clear, and cold river, through tall trees and a totally lush and verdant understory. Quite the change.
We did our first real hike with Mason, who is currently 7 months old. We have done a few other small walks around, mainly in Point Defiance, but this was the first longer trip, both in terms of hiking and the drive to get to the trail. We still kept it pretty short, I think our total hiking mileage for the day was 4.5 miles, but it was beautiful out and it was great to here the rushing water, birds singing, and feeling the sun shooting through the trees to keep us warm.
Mason did well. The first third of the trip, he seemed to be pretty excited -- he looked at the creek, up through the forest canopy to the sky, and leaned to the edges of the Mason-carrying backpack to see up the trail. Eventually, the hiking took its toll, and he crashed out and slept for much of the rest of the trip. It didn't look to comfortable, all slunched down into the backpack, but it seemed to work for him. He did wake up towards the end, looked around a bit more, and eventually started to cry a bit, so I took him out and carried him for the last ten minutes or so. We fed and changed him at the car and all was well again.
Walking with a little child is definitely a new experience. I think you just have to cut down expectations on distance a bit, and aim to take it slower. I can see us taking a break every 1.5 - 2 hours to spread out a blanket or mat, take it easy, and let him roam around a bit so he doesn't feel as though he is a prisoner in the backpack. Perhaps this is lunch time, snack time, photography time, or reading time while we watch the little man.
One other benefit (I suppose) to hiking with a young child, is that every hike is like a backpacking trip. You have to carry quite a bit more of his stuff, along with lugging a now 18 pound child on your back. You definitely get a better workout this way.
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