Matt has been nervous since Arden was born. Nervous that we’d never trek again.
The summer before I got pregnant we hiked 200 miles across Spain in what was the most challenging and most thrilling thing either of us had experienced at that point. (And to date it’s probably a toss up between the Camino and childbirth for the most thrilling/challenging/awesome thing we’ve ever done. Of course childbirth was more rewarding, but it couldn’t have been a whole lot harder…it only lasted about a tenth of the time and I was never offered an epidural in Spain.)
While Arden has rearranged our life in some pretty significant ways, it’s been wonderful (and quite a relief) to see him acclimate to some of our routines – like Saturday brunch at Foode, frequent trips north or south along the 95 corridor and frequent strolls and hikes.
Hiking with a baby is hard, though – unlike a normal pack which gets lighter throughout the day (as you consume supplies) babies are getting heavier every second. Since we’d like to tackle some more ambitious treks as a family we decided to upgrade from the Ergo carrier (which I still use for trips to the grocery store and when afternoon clinginess coincides with dinner prep) and purchased a fancy Deuter Kid Comfort carrier.
We think Arden approves.
We spent Sunday afternoon on the 6.3 mile loop around the James River. It’s a lovely walk that feels a bit European route as pop in between views of the city’s squat skyline, seemingly dense nature, the gorgeous river, multiple cemeteries, and active train tracks.
Aside from being a thoroughly enjoyable outing for all three of us, Matt and I learned a few things about hiking with a baby:
- It’s not the sameAs a hiking pair we like to haul ass, generally shaving an hour or two off a trip’s projected duration. With a kid: get over that. Not only is there a freeloader to carry and all his supplies, there is the need for frequent stops to feed or change or reapply sunscreen.I thought this change of pace would be especially hard on Matt (who at the end of a 15 mile day would probably lament not making it an even 20) but with 25+ lbs on his back, he was not complaining about the ample breaks.
- It’s not the same You’ve got your kid with you who is seeing the trees and the river and the trains and the ducks for the very first time. If that doesn’t make you want to slow down and smile what will?
- Stay HydratedIt was pretty hot when we were out on Saturday and we realized quickly that I’d have to feed Arden more than every two hours in order to keep him well-hydrated.* Luckily, I didn’t have a problem feeding whilst standing in the dump behind a cemetery (incidentally, those are the saddest dumps).
- Be adventurous We’ve learned this from past trips: don’t be afraid to deviate from the plan. When we ventured into a lonely ancient cathedral in Spain we ended up getting a tour of the relic filled attic entirely in Spanish. When we opted to stay in an abandoned hostel, we made friends with a group of middle-aged Valencians, one of whom we almost named Arden after.While it’s good to have destination goals, we try to be of the “getting there is half the fun” (or MOST of it) mindset. The James Loop wasn’t quite as exotic, but it had a few surprises like the opportunity to walk through a drainage tunnel and happening upon the RiverRock festival and scoring a free Body Armor SUPER Drink…which Matt loved…he said he really needed the antioxidants.
We had a great day, Arden was amazing, and we can’t wait to do it again.
*We realized shortly into the walk that we should have brought a baby bottle filled with water. We’ll do it next time.