It may seem as though we just got back from vacation, and we did, but the thing about going back to the home of a transatlantic couple is that you spend the majority of your time visiting. You visit sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc. And it’s great! It is great to see everyone, but anyone else who has family overseas or lives away from home knows that going home isn’t a vacation.
So, when David surprised me with two nights in Canmore, Alberta, I was over the moon. Two nights, the two of us and our little man. Our first trip as a family of three.
We’d been to Canmore just seven months ago, technically the three of us. I was eight months pregnant with Jack in the belly. I remember us having a couple of meals where we would repeatedly say to one another, “Can you believe we’re going to be parents?” We couldn’t, despite my growing stomach and the unappetizing side effects it created. Yet, here we were with proof gurgling away in a car seat.
I have forever poked fun at David for a statement he made in passing some three or four years ago. “I’m not a fan of walking,” he said. Poor guy. He only said it the once, but I always find humour in bringing it up. Despite my mocking, he agreed to go on our first hike in the Rockies with Jack.
It’s something that both during pregnancy and since, that I’ve wanted to instil as a value in Jack from the beginning – a healthy lifestyle. Outdoor activities weren’t a huge part of my childhood, and I’ve definitely struggled (and continue to struggle) to eat healthily. This kid… I want to make sure healthy living is a joy, not a chore.
We chose an easy hike to start off his ‘training’ – Grassi Lakes. It was a new hike for both David and I. Scouring the internet we were getting mixed reviews as to whether the “difficult” route was actually difficult or whether it was just more difficult than the easy route. See the distinction? We bit the bullet and went with the more difficult route, conscious to take it easy given the precious cargo strapped to David’s chest.
The trail was gorgeous. Exposed roots made for both a stunning visual and a caution to watch your step. Unprepared and sleep deprived as new parents are, we’d forgotten David’s walking shoes, so he was equipped only with an aged pair of Converse. Not ideal, given that a chunk of the route had you walking through or around running water, but we survived.
If you take the easy route, in my opinion you miss out on the majority of the scenery. We had an epic view of Canmore, the valley around it, and the difficult route allows you to see the cascading waterfall.
The path began to climb, stone steps giving you quite the butt-workout, but like a champ David manoeuvred it well. In fact, I think Jack slept through the entire thing!
Arriving at the lakes themselves, it was a huge achievement for us as new parents. We’d taken on a challenge, we’d chosen the more difficult route and proved to ourselves that it’s worth it to try. Part of my postpartum anxiety has been the fear of trying new things. I’d picture the many ways a scenario could go wrong, but this one didn’t! This isn’t to say that every time we tackle an outing or a new challenge that something won’t go wrong. That’s life. But I’d rather try than wonder what it would have been like.
The view from the top ain’t so bad.
One of the best parts of travelling or hiking with a baby is that people interact with you much more than usual. Particularly our little guy, given that he was in his cozy bear suit. “This is the first bear we’ve seen all day,” said more than one fellow hiker. He was definitely a conversation starter. I’m just grateful he truly was the only bear we saw at Grassi Lakes!
Now for the nitty gritty, what should you pack for a short day-hike with a baby?
- A good carrier! For Jack’s size, we used the Baby Bjorn Carrier One, with him in the outward facing position to keep him entertained while awake.
- Enough formula for double the time of your hike (I like to be prepared!) if you’re bottle feeding.
- Plenty of water for the adult hikers as carrying a baby is no small feat.
- A soother or a lovey. In Jack’s case, if he’s cranky, a soother goes a long way to calming him. I don’t go anywhere without one. For your little one this might be a lovey, a stuffed animal, or similar.
- Diapers and wet wipes. Again I like to pack double what I’d normally need in that time period because… babies like to throw you for a loop.
- A bear bell and bear spray. Particularly with a little one, better safe than sorry.
- A fully charged cell phone, if of course you’re hiking somewhere that has cell range. If not, make sure you let someone know about your hiking plans and estimated return time.
- Appropriate clothing for the baby. You don’t want them to get overheated and you don’t want them to be too cold either. If that means stashing an extra layer in a bag or the pocket of your coat, so be it.
- A camera! You’re making memories. Capture them.