Backpacking is a major dream of mine. I went to Big Bear and stayed in the hostel this spring just so I could get to know the PCT hikers and find out how they made their trek possible. I got to be a trail angel and drive hikers back to the trail and then hiked about ten miles with one hiker who was injured and trying to get back on trail. He helped me realize that I am totally meant to do this one day. We had one large thing to differentiate us. No one I met had any children. I have one small child. I am a single parent and my son's dad would be more than willing to take our son during my trek, but there is still a large guilt factor there. I'm not sure if any other parents leave their children back home to go backpacking. Do I wait? What have other parents done?
The last two years, I have donated several months of time helping a research team on the ice sheet of Greenland. It is important to me to give back to our global community. My wife takes care of our children while I am gone and I communicate with them via Satellite phone almost daily so that they realize I am part of their daily lives still. It's been one of the hardest things I've ever done. My heart aches for my family while I am gone. With backpacking, I have spent a week away from my children at a time. I think about my family much of the time that I am gone. Honestly, I think this is a personal thing and what I do shouldn't affect what you do. I can't weigh the impact of what it does to my life and directly compare it to your life or judge you for it. We often say around here, "HYOH" Hike your own hike. It's not my place to judge you for how much time you spend in the woods away from your children. As long as you weigh the impact and are careful in your decision, you're doing the best you can.
Becoming a parent meant my hikes became shorter and smaller because I've taken him with me on most of them. The few hard hikes I've done without him have been short in duration, not because of guilt, for he was well taken care of by my husband and/or grandparents who love him to pieces while I was gone, but because I myself miss him too much when I'm gone. I don't think I've missed out on much, the hikes will always be there waiting for me, and what I've gained in the meantime is tremendous. Taking my son with me on my treks has been one of the greatest joys of my life. Seeing the natural world through a child's eyes is priceless. And time flies, he's nearing 5-years-old and can hike 6 miles by himself! I'm immensely excited to be raising a boy who has become my favorite hiking partner
My kids went on long day hikes as soon as they were out of diapers. Overnight trips with me carrying most of the gear started at 6. Longer trips with them carrying a full-size pack, their own clothes, sleeping bag and snacks started at 8.
We did a lot of 2-3 night trips, and some longer destination trips. I wouldn't trade those memories and experiences for the world.
I would recommend putting off the long distance trip until your child is older. That day will come soon enough, but HYOH.
“Pay no attention to what the critics say. A statue has never been erected in honor of a critic.” – Jean Sibelius
Thanks everyone! So interesting and enlightening, and I'm glad to know that it is a no-judgement zone. HYOH. I like that. Not only have these answers given me more voices of reason, but I think the pangs of guilt I feel kind of answer my own question. I raised my son in Hawaii for his first two years so he has hiked with me since 6 months old, and now hiking in the ADK, I am still determined to be the carrier of him in a pack and he's three. I think I'm concluding to start with my own three or four day treks while he is at dad's to gain confidence, knowledge about proper gear and enough experience. And once that happens I do agree that it would be most unforgettable to just bring him with me. My motto with my son is, "Just me and you, kid. Just me and you." So it definitely rings true to us to continue on that path.
Yeah, I didn't do the poll because my answer is that we modified our hiking and backpacking so we could take the kids from the start. That led to a variety of things: one-night trips with a baby in the carrier, and multi-night base camps when we had 2 too small to hike. When they got too big to carry, we hiked however far they could and we carried their stuff.
Every year we could go farther and they could carry more.
I admit there are two key things that made this work: there are two of us so we had a parent for each kid (and some ability to split chores and so keep an eye on the kids). The other is enough money to pay a horse packer when needed in those early years.
With our nest about to empty we are now thinking about longer trips again (more than a week), with or without the boys. (They like backpacking but seem less interested in long trails than we are. Maybe they would be more into it if they didn't hear us wondering how far we could go before our aging bodies break down?)
Post by absarokanaut on Dec 3, 2016 9:58:47 GMT -8
Unless you're an Amazon the carrying him in the pack thing will likely be done before you really know it with him already being three. Pick cool, entertaining short walks. Build on distance quite gradually. Before you know it you'll have a conservationist that will be grateful for the love of your time the rest of their life.
I'm not a parent, or a shrink, so I can't "judge" either but here's the opinion and it appears you are already thinking this direction. Pursue your passion, but put off thruhiking for QUITE some time. A couple of weeks let alone a month is an epoch for a child. Follow the plan of doing your own shorter adventures. The investment of time with the little one now will make that longer trail exponentially more rewarding in a dozen years or so. I realize you are younger yourself and and that seems like forever, but that's childhood for yah. Again, just an opinion young lady.
You live near th 'dacks? The ADK Mountain Club has been here hikining the last 4 years. The ADK inspired some of the greatest conservation of our history. There are so many awesome things for you to do there. I did several of the higher peaks, more experience in the White Mts. Gotta love deciduous paradise and there's plenty of it in the Northeast.
HYOH indeed. May the trail rise up to meet you and your little one tidesandpines,
A couple of weeks let alone a month is an epoch for a child. Follow the plan of doing your own shorter adventures. The investment of time with the little one now will make that longer trail exponentially more rewarding in a dozen years or so.
True. Though there are always a few kids who are amazing and totally into it and manage to do long trails with their parent(s). So go ahead and work on sharing that love, and maybe you'll get luck and the two of you will be doing half of his 4th grade from the trail!
I am going to move this thread to the Hiking with Children section, to keep it nearer the top so that @tidesandpines will hopefully get more input on hiking with the kids and possibilities for longer trips. I'd love to hear from someone who's taken a kid on a hike of over a week.
Post by swimswithtrout on Dec 3, 2016 22:09:59 GMT -8
Because we'd done many short overnight trips/ 3 day weekends with my kids as they were growing up, by the time my youngest was nearly 5, and my oldest 8, I started taking then on 10-17 day trips in Wind's. On several trips, much of it was off trail as well.