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Hiking Season Starts: Carrying an Infant

My wife and I have always liked going for hikes in the Black Hills. With a plethora of options for trails to go on, we've enjoyed going to new places and finding new natural treasures and whether we've gone on new trails or went back to ones we've done several times, we always pack for things we might need as a precaution.

That involves some light or easily packable snacks, sunscreen, bug spray, ponchos, and a change of socks since wet feet can ruin an excursion in a hurry if the trail is wet or a slip above a creek or stream results in a submerged foot.

With the birth of our daughter last summer, we've needed to add something of an uncertainty to our trips we plan to go on this summer, now that she's nearly a year old--our daughter herself and the number of things we need to anticipate for while on the trail!

The first problem of carrying her was solved before she was born, as we were gifted a very nice hiking pack intended to put an infant or toddler into with plenty of room for storage. The fun part begins when trying to pack things that she will need for sure and what we think she might need while we are out on the trail.

As first-time parents, we usually anticipate about anything and bring everything besides the usual formula, diapers, and wipes. That includes sunscreen, bugspray, a few toys, changes of clothes, extra diapers in case we run out, extra food packets, hats, sunglasses (that she removed immediately), etc.

As we have the Crazy Horse Volksmarch coming up (6.3 mile hike up to the arm of the monument), figuring what we need to bring for her and us and still carry most of it in the pack has been a bit unnerving.

We needed some practice runs to get used to carrying her and her "accessories" along with our gear, so we've done a few shorter hikes on a trail system within city limits. After a bit of adjusting to her weight and getting the pack to where we need it depending on if my wife or I are carrying her, we've gotten a pretty good idea of what it will be like for the most part and the rocking and bobbing motions of the trail have put Aurora to sleep on the hikes we've done so far so she may end up sleeping through some of the Volksmarch, which may not be a bad thing.

The march will prove a challenge as we've only had time to hike about half of what it is, but it should be fun and educational experience for our daughter, who will be coming on this annual hike with us for years to come.

I'm just hoping that her out-of-shape dad survives this first one! So, for those who are starting their own hiking seasons with their infants/toddlers in tow, determining what you need to bring is entirely up to you. No one is the same, but preparation is key. Hopefully we all figure it out so we can survive our hikes, myself included! Enjoy the season!

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