When 5-year-old Ansel was born, he came two months early and was just over 3 lbs. We were nervous because he was so small, but we were also eager to get out of the house. We waited until he was about 4 months old to head outside. For our first outing, we went to Yosemite National Park and got him his first mile hike in.
We played it pretty easy that first time and hiked to Mirror Lake and back. We had such a great time that we decided we wanted to continue visiting the park throughout the seasons. We had never gone out there in November and it was such a different environment with all of the fall colors, so we made a commitment to visit once in the spring, summer and fall.
We also wanted to do a Father’s Day backpacking trip every year, so in June when Ansel was 10 months old, we did our first backpacking and camping trip with him. We knew what we needed for ourselves but we had to figure out what we needed for him. He was only crawling so we knew he wouldn’t wander away. We were just more worried about sleeping at night and if that would work out with a baby. But it went well! We didn’t have any surprises and he really loved it and loved crawling around on the rocks and exploring everything.
Since becoming parents, we’ve had to scale back some of our adventures. Even now we haven’t gotten back up to the mileage we would get on a backpacking trip; and if Ansel is walking, we go pretty slow. We do smaller adventures, but they’re still big in terms of fun and they still scratch that itch to get out and explore. Part of what I like about backpacking is going off trail and finding some hidden spot I can still do that is 2-3 miles. It’s more work to find a place with a special spot when you aren’t going as far but it can still be done.
Ansel pays a lot of attention to the local area that I would have otherwise walked by. The best part about exploring nature with a child is watching the joys of continual discovery that he has. You can see that in other places but in the outdoors, it happens so much more. To Ansel, every stick is exciting. This one is a sword and that one is a motorcycle. They are all sticks, but they are still so exciting. And he can sit by a stream and throw rocks in it for an hour.
Outside time is one of the things that we have focused on with Ansel since he was young and helping him feel comfortable in the outdoors … the outdoors is a big piece of what we love.
And now with little brother Tycho joining the family, I know things will be more complicated and difficult than before, but that’s not going to stop us. We’ve already got our fall Yosemite trip lined up, but I bet this kiddo is going to get his first mile in before that.
What epic adventures has your family experienced? Let us know in the comments below!
Photos courtesy of Ryan Idryo.
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- What does being an adventure parent mean?
Often in the Hike it Baby community, the question is asked what “adventurous” means when you are a parent. And the answer is different for all of us. For some, it’s climbing a mountain with a frame carrier fully loaded or doing a huge backpacking overnighter with a new little. For others, it’s ditching the stroller for the first time and trying a dirt trail, or just letting the kids spend leisure time climbing rocks and jumping in puddles. There are so many levels of “adventure” when you have little kids, and we wanted to share stories of families who have redefined adventure on their terms. We hope it inspires you to get out and have adventures YOUR way too.