We all knew this was coming: One day, with my wife running her excellent blog, The Nerdy Wilsons, about our family and me writing about how to have fun in the outdoors, there was bound to be a crossover episode. This post is that moment. It’s kinda like when the power rangers meet the ninja turtles, except instead of defeating an interplanetary evil, we just have to change diapers.
Regardless, if you want to hear about how two parents are desperately trying to not-screw up a human being, go check out her blog. ON TO THE HIKE.
Last weekend, Angie and I set out to answer a fundamental question:
Do babies like hiking?
Actually that is a lie. We really wanted to answer this question:
Would taking a baby hiking be fun for the baby’s parents?
So we loaded up an unwilling test subject, our 3 month old Jack, and took off towards the Mt. Baldy Wilderness of the White Mountains.
The Mt. Baldy Wilderness is amazing. As I covered in my National Parks Alternatives and Summer Hiking Guide, it offers everything someone sick of an Arizona summer could want. Ranging between 9,000 and 11,000 ft, the air is always cool and filled with the summer monsoon rain. Meandering between big alpine meadows and tight fir/aspen patches, there are plenty of big views. And, if wildlife is your thing, wild wolves are working there way back into the ecosystem. The Upper Reaches of the Little Colorado River even hold the elusive and native Apache Trout.
Dreams of native fish in my head, Angie and I decided to throw in the fly rods for the trip, figuring that we would slowly walk and fish our way up to the usual camping site. Between the fishing gear, the hiking gear, the baby, and the photo gear I ended up with a comical amount of stuff.
Despite my best efforts, I haven’t gotten Jack in hiking shape yet. Instead of telling the 3 month old to pull himself up by his bootstraps and start walking, we carried him in the amazing moby wrap. This thing probably deserves its own review, but suffice it to say that my perfectionism and gear-minded nature has had me trying just about every baby carrier on the market, and, for a new born, there is no better option. We’ll, that is if you can deal with two serious downsides:
1.) It is a hippy magnet. Every hippy in every store in the world will want to talk to you about your moby wrap while you are trying to shop. This might be made worse by the fact I drive a Subaru.
2.) It is impossible to take a cute picture of your child while in the moby wrap. This might not matter to you; but, if you want to write a blog post about your cute child going on a hiking trip, its super annoying.
See? All you get to see is the tiniest corner of his adorable little face. It would be criminal to bring you to a blog post about babies without a cute baby picture though. Don’t worry, I’ve got your back:
Okay, now that we have the cute baby picture out of the way, lets talk hiking. As we left the parking lot, we had all sorts of images of the day in our head. Fish! Babies playing with butterflies! Beautiful wildlife! Unfortunate the rainstorm from the night before had left the skies pretty drab and Jack was fully committed to sleeping rather than doing anything cute.
Since cloudy skies usually means good fishing, we pulled out the rods right away. The Little Colorado River is really just a very small stream in this area, and working in the tight space, I found that having Jack on front threw off my cast just enough to keep me from fishing well. Angie was throwing out some pretty convincing shots with the Tenkara rod though:
The fish were fickle though, and Jack seemed to really prefer the motion of walking, so we wrapped up the fishing portion of the expedition and kept heading up the hill.
Near our favorite camp site, Jack finally realized that he had been asleep for nearly 8 hours of driving and hiking. Obviously this was unacceptable to him, so we threw his hat on and headed back towards home.
Since we weren’t fishing anymore, we moved much faster as we worked back to the trailhead. Jack was fully committed to not keeping his head in the wrap anymore, so one of my hands had to support his neck the whole time. Of course, as we made it back to the trailhead, the sun finally started breaking out.
All told, it was a great trip. The Mt. Baldy Wilderness is truly one of the hidden gems of the American Southwest. The West Baldy trail, which we took, is ridiculously easy over the first 3.5 miles, and stays right next to a pristine, stream. If you want something harder, consider the big 17 mile loop. Otherwise, there is really no better option for family friendly summer hiking in the state.
Which brings us back to our questions:
Do babies like hiking? Well, Jack doesn’t have opinions yet, so I’ll speak for him and say: BABIES LOVE HIKING, but probably because they don’t really have a choice. More importantly:
Is taking your baby hiking fun? Yes. Oh my God, Yes.
Want to go? Check out all the details on the hike HERE
Disclaimer: This post, and all posts on LesserPlaces, may contain affiliate links– links that allow me to receive a small kickback at no additional cost to you when you shop through them. This is how we keep the lights on.
Max Wilson is a graduate student studying ecology at Arizona State University. You can follow him on twitter @maxomillions. Don’t forget you can follow Lesser Places by email, or on Twitter, Tumblr, and Instagram using the menu at the top of the page.