Spring is finally here! Like, really, really HERE! I’ve been starved of Vitamin D for far too many months this year, on top of having a new baby. Si was meant to be a spring baby but ended up being a dead-of-winter baby. On the bright side, it means he is a little older for the 2017 hiking season and will be ready for the big pack or back carry in the Lillebaby before its over. I’ve been struggling with Si’s 4-month sleep regression for the last week or two, and was feeling really worn down, so Justin decided to take a Friday off for us to do a hike. I chose Barclay Lake, which I’ve seen recommended over and over as a kid-friendly hike and is featured in our 60 Hikes book. The trail did not disappoint, and we had an almost idyllic hike; it was the sort of trip that makes it worth going out again and again.
After last weekend’s hiking existential crisis, I opted for a lower impact adventure for this weekend. My criteria was: short, within an hour drive, easy, and also, short. Something about traipsing around the woods with a toddler and mad baby for 5+ hours has been burning me out a little (I wonder why…). A great weather forecast gave us an excuse for a beach excursion, and we invited some friends who are interested in hiking with their toddler to join us. Their son is about a year younger than T, and just starting to really get his feet under him. Since we were doing a short hike (2.6 miles), we let them borrow our Deuter carrier and had T walk himself.
Hiking with small kids is hard sometimes. Really, its hard most of the time. And not in that “trail-side diaper changes suck haha!” kind of way, but in that “am I doing the right thing?” way. Hiking with two small children is harder than I ever expected, emotionally. When T was small and we first started hiking as a family, sure, there were times where I wondered if he enjoyed it, or times when I wished we could have more time hiking just the two of us. Lately, every hike feels like a forced activity. It feels like something we have to do to utilize the weekend.
Being on the trail was a great escape for awhile, but now the good times are laced with stress and challenges. I guess I just want other people to know that its okay if its not easy for your family. When all you see from people on the internet are nice photos and stories of minor mishaps and adventures, you think you’re screwing it up when shit heads south. You aren’t (probably). There is always more behind the scenes, but people aren’t going to spend as much time talking about marital disputes and screaming babies.
With one last hike for the month on Sunday, we slid through home and hit our 30 mile goal for April’s Hike It Baby 30 challenge. I am really glad we were able to do it Half way through the month, I wasn’t sure we would get there with T taking toddler pace to a whole new level of slow. The challenge nudged me back towards leaving the house each day and I’ve felt a slight return to pre-Si normalcy. There were rainy days where I certainly would have stayed in if not for the challenge.
For the final week of the challenge, I hit all three of my weekly goals. On Saturday, we did a carrier hike in Central Washington (Trail Log: Ancient Lakes), which got us really close to our 30 mile goal. We visited the arboretum for a kid-led walk with my local Hike It Baby branch, and other than the part where I had two screaming children at the end, it was a lot of fun to get out with other kids and parents. Towards the end of the week, the sky was unexpectedly blue, so I took the kids for a stroller walk at the Brightwater Treatment Plant. Taking a walk through a water treatment plant sounds…weird…but the grounds surrounding the buildings have been made into a large park with a few miles of trails.
As of this past Saturday, I was less than a quarter mile from our goal, but I knew we were going to hike the next day. Sunday called for rain showers, so we took a trip to the rainforest. Ironically, it was not raining there, but
I’m satisfied with how we did on the challenge, and I did figure out the whole carrier nursing thing, which has been really helpful for short fussy periods. I still stop to let him out sometimes; I figure it can’t be comfortable to sit in a carrier all day without stretching. I wish we had gotten to more Hike It Baby meetups, I could really use some mom friends right now. I seriously underestimated how much more work it is to leave the house with two kids.
Our final numbers were 36.21 miles and 2,460 minutes outside. I didn’t count time when I released T into the backyard and sat inside drinking coffee because I didn’t feel like it was in the spirit of the challenge, but that probably would have added a few hours. The next challenge isn’t until September and I hope that we can set an even higher goal by then (although probably not the 180+ miles I saw some people finish with!).
I’ll admit to being a bit of a fair weather hiker. Despite living in the Pacific Northwest, I don’t love the rain (do most people who live here?). It means that I spend our late winter/early spring sucking it up or waiting for nice days. I also don’t own a lot of quality rain gear for myself, so its fairly unpleasant if it rains too much. I needed to catch some miles this weekend though, so we chased the sun east, to Central Washington.
I’m not a huge fan of sagebrush country for recreation (I blame being fair skinned and a wuss in the heat), but I do appreciate the geological history of the region. Central Washington has an incredibly interesting prehistoric record carved into its landscape.
Well, I’m missing two goals right now. I didn’t make it to a Hike It Baby meetup this week, and I have a variety excuses for that. The biggest thing keeping me solo is the combination of T being constantly dissatisfied with what he is doing (Walking, he wants in the stroller; in the stroller, he wants to walk), and Si being hit and miss on his pack temperament. The ideal meetups are longer stroller walks, or toddler wanders. But yea, totally doable for me, I am just finding reasons to stay home (traffic, nap time, lunch time, potty training, etc etc). I also haven’t figured out the whole nursing in the carrier thing. Si is a messy eater and I’m not sure that there is a huge benefit over just stopping and taking a break right now. Plus I figure its good for him to get out and stretch and bit.
Smith Rock is one of my favorite places near my mom’s house. I’m sure that its sort of like saying Mt Si is your favorite place near Seattle, but there is a reason these natural wonders draw people in, and I see no reason to avoid it because its popular. Smith Rock State Park is full of well maintained trails of all difficulty levels, plus spots for rock climbing. I try to visit every time we’re in town. I was hoping to get in 5 miles towards our 30 mile goal for April, but toddler pace struck again.
We started in the late morning on Easter, expecting it to be full of people. While a lot of people seemed to have the same holiday hiking plan as us, the trail never felt crowded. After letting T play around on the little climbing structure near the parking lot, we meandered down to the river. If you are just looking to stretch your legs, you could just hang out down here at a picnic table watching rock climbers then head back up, and still feel like you saw something cool. We brought the pack, so of course T had to be in it almost immediately. As soon as he saw the bridge over the river, he wanted out to run free though. We let him pick the way for a bit but he kept trying to lead us up the summit trail, which I really wasn’t feeling up to. After coaxing him the other way, we made our way down the River Trail, one boulder at a time.