If you’re struggling with a fussy child who never seems to sleep, know that you’re not alone. When Anka Trifan’s first son was born, she and her husband, Ezechiel, found that hiking became their saving grace to keeping the calm in their household. “Our child had almost two personalities,” she says. “Indoors, he was very demanding and then we would go outside and he was an angel. I felt like we lived outside more than we lived inside the first year or two of his life. That’s how we got so into hiking.”
Anka wasn’t a stranger to hiking pre-baby, as she tells stories of climbing huge hills in her town just to get home after school. Looking back, she says that was probably pretty good training for all of the hiking she’s gone on to do since Apollo was born, including an all-day 17-miler called Aneroid Mountain that involved assistance ropes to get up, which she and Ezechiel did with Apollo when he was just 2 years old.
“How did we not hike more when we didn’t have kids? Probably because we weren’t forced to,” Anka says. “What we quickly found was that Apollo would only nap when we were on the go outside hiking, and he only slept good at night if we spent time outside in the day.”
Hiking became such a staple for Anka’s family that she even earned a nickname in the Hike it Baby community, “The Romaniac,” because during the quarterly Hike it Baby 30 Challenges, she would rack up tons of miles and she and Ezechiel would climb amazing peaks around Oregon and Washington that most families would only dream about.
Anka says hiking has become so much a part of the Trifans’ lives that they have now made it an annual tradition to spend the whole day hiking on Mother’s Day. “It’s a better gift than anything my family could get me. We’re busy people and even more so now that we have a second child. When we’re outside, we have meaningful conversations and really connect with each other and our kids are happy.”
Life with a second child is proving to be both easier and harder than with one. The good thing is that she is a better sleeper and napper than her first. The bad news is that Anka says she “sassier.”
“She has no shame when it comes to screaming her head off or throwing herself on the floor when she wants something,” Anka says. “But she loves hiking and the outdoors just as much as our son does. We also have gone camping a lot more since she came around and from a much earlier age than with our first. I guess we finally got an idea of what the heck we’re doing.”
The best and most unexpected payout Anka said she has found from getting on trails with her 4-year-old son from such a young age is that she can see the impact on him and how this translates to the bigger world. “Recently we were on a random walk to the park when my son decided, all by himself, to pick up every piece of trash he was finding along the sidewalk and trail and not just that, when we got home he wanted to separate it in trash and recyclables. That really melted my heart! Well done, son!”
Photos courtesy of Anka Trifan.
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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.