Alaska Winter Hiking with a Baby
know I've said it before but, hiking with a small little person that is
totally dependent on you is a whole different adventure. Aaron and
I have hiked in miserable conditions and never thought much about
it...now it is all I think about! Being responsible for someone
other than myself, a little someone that can't tell me how he feels, is
stressful! However, coming home from a hike with a happy baby and
happy mom is one of the most rewarding things. I spent months
trying to find information on the internet about successful hiking
families with babies. There isn't a whole lot of information, but
I did find some bits of truth that were helpful. My biggest fear
was of course...how to keep him warm.
am writing this as Luke is now a year old. In hindsight hiking was
a breeze when Luke was an infant. I carried Luke for the first 9
months in a front carrier, the Ergo, and loved it. When he was
tiny I used the newborn insert, which offered some insulation on his
backside. Aaron sewed a coyote ruff on the ergo so Luke would have some
protection from the wind. I bought an extra large down coat from
REI that I
could zip all the way around Luke and I when it was bitter cold.
Luke was generally toasty warm since he shared my warmth. I wore only my
wool shirt and then had him and the Ergo on. I would wear my light puff
jacket over him to cover his legs. Luke was usually dressed
in some onesie pajamas and then in a fleece bunting. Our favorite
baby gift was a patagonia synchilla bunting. On windy days or when
it was bitter cold I would lather Luke's face with vasoline to provide
him some protection from wind burn.
I found that on strenuous hikes I would sweat and
worried that the moisture would cool Luke down. I sometimes would
slip an extra article of clothing between him and I to keep him from
absorbing the moisture.
Hiking with a baby on your front takes some getting used
to. Luke was heavy from day one, 9.5lbs. It started getting hard
on my back when he was around 18lbs if I hiked for any length of time.
It requires learning to trust your feet. I remember scaling some rocky
terrain nervously not quite sure where my feet were. I tripped a
few times, but got quite good at hiking blindly.
Probably the hardest part about hiking with a baby on
your front is when they start screaming in your face. Luke would
fuss at times, especially when he was hungry. If it wasn't a good
time to stop, I got an earful in close proximity.
I would change it for the world though. I loved checking
in on him on our hikes. Generally he would be sleeping and making sweet
moans now and then. Little did he know what magnificent scenery
and wild animals he was missing as he slept the day away.
Our coldest day spent hiking was -4 with Luke. He slept most of
the time, but woke about 45 minutes from home and insisted his head not
be covered. His cheeks were pink when we got home, but the rest of
him was toasty warm! Luke was 3 months old on this hike.
Playing around with Dad...photo shoot in the snow! Priceless....
Aaron and I started hiking with Luke a week after he was born. We
started slow, just a few miles and then as we grew more comfortable with
how Luke traveled, we started increasing our miles and time spent in the
field. We hiked through fall so we felt acclimated to the dropping
temperatures. We did some practice diaper changes when
temperatures were in the 30s and Luke did great! He never has minded
cool wipes though.
Ever day wasn't perfect though. There were many days that I wondered
if what we were doing was even worth it as he screamed in my face and I
struggled to trouble shoot what the problem was. It was usually an
easy fix...maybe his eyes were covered, he needed a diaper changed, he
was hungry, or just needed a change of position. Starting hiking
with an infant, rather than a one year old, is the way to go. It is much
easier to hike with an infant in my opinion.
slept for the majority of the time, and when he was awake he didn't need
to be crawling all over exploring.
Luke is like a little heater on my front and I found myself
overheating a lot. Often I would hike like this, with just my wool top
and my big down coat zipped around my midsection to keep his legs
What a huge world it is!!! If he wasn't sleeping, there was always
something new and interesting to look at. One of my favorite views
on any hike!
He was pretty happy at the end of this long day of exploring.
It's easy to keep a little guy content...warmth, love, mom, and milk! :)
the is best way to go if you are planning on doing any season of hiking.
I never had to worry about a bottle and how to warm milk for Luke.
God blessed me with the ability to feed Luke and what a blessing it was!
What a gift to sit surrounded by God's immaculate creation and nurse my
I would typically wrap Luke in his infant insert, or wrap him in my down
coat, when I'd nurse him. It was a good chance to check his
toes/hands to make sure he was warm enough and make sure his diaper was
I suppose that is another nice thing about hiking with an infant less
than 6 months of age...you don't have to worry about packing meals and
The winter of 2011-2012 was a brutal winter in Alaska. We
had a record amount of snow...and it shows! It just kept falling
and falling...and eventually made much hiking nearly impossible.
It was beautiful though and the dogs had a blast.
The whole state had a fairly snowy winter so ended up staying home
more than we normally do. Maybe that was a good thing for
Luke; it definitely was for our old malamute Kodi.
Tundra and Jarvis on the other hand enjoyed playing in the powdery
Playing fetch with Jarvis! A great way to test how
good his nose is!
We literally ran out of room to put snow. Our parking area got
smaller and smaller as winter continued. The pictures don't even
do the mass amounts of snow justice! We almost had to shovel our
yard...our fence is 6 feet high and the dogs started walking right over
it! We did have to shovel all the way around our fence line to
keep the dogs in.
A day for a hike for a dog and his mom! Jarvis and I went in search of a
little exercise and we found it. We are so blessed with the
Chugach Mountains out our back door. My favorite quick afternoon
hike...just above our house. The snow was packed and hard, making
for easy hiking. Jarvis is always ready and loves joining me
on these trips.
We found a little treasure at the top this time...the hill down was
perfect "butt sliding" conditions and slide we did! Jarvis thought it
would be great fun to try and bite my feet most of the time! It is
always refreshing to catch a little sun before we descend back into the
endless shade on the north side of the valley where we live.
Poor Luke found himself plopped down in the powdery snow...and he didn't
make a fuss! He is growing so much and changing daily!
What a miracle having children is! Welcome to the white and snowy world
the furthest we traveled with Luke in the winter
was probably four miles from the road. Eight mile days were very
doable with him. On the longer hikes, he needed a little break
from the pack at least once.
He was six month old in these pictures...definitely more aware of his
surroundings. Love that smile!
passes every so slowly! It is a treat to have the sun
providing some warmth as spring approaches. My big concerns with
Luke now were protecting his skin and eyes. He wasn't as happy being
covered all the time, so I had to slather him with sunblock and find
some baby shades. He didn't mind wearing mine on this bright day!
Late winter blessed us with many sunny days...a very welcome break from
the constant snow we'd grown weary from. I hiked up this hill MANY
times without Luke just for exercise, but this lovely day warranted a
family outing...well almost the whole family, old man Kodi had to stay
at home. We hiked straight up the basin from our house, a good leg
burner for sure. Tundra was exhausted, and well Luke...he just slept
through it all! A short brutal hike to some spectacular views!
We are blessed beyond a doubt!
was talking with my husband the other night about making this webpage
for other families wanting to hike with little ones. I was trying
to think of all the advice that I was searching for in the beginning,
but couldn't find. Trial and error for us! I know that every baby
will be different though, but I figure the basics of comfort will be
generally the same. Aaron brought up a good point though...in the
beginning we were constantly checking Luke to make sure he was
was covered and tucked in close to me with his head against my chest.
Sometimes when he slept his face would fall forward into me and I
constantly had to watch to make
sure I kept his airway free. It wasn't hard, just something to be
mindful of. We have a friend here in town that had a friend that
accidently smothered her infant while doing similar outdoor activities.
This became less of an issue after he was three months old...but I still
found myself checking on him regardless.
These sunglasses did the trick. They are always right side up, they hug
around his head, and he doesn't seem to mind them. We got them at
REI. They are the brand Julbo.
I sure hope that as Luke grows up he finds enjoyment
in these outdoor activities. The challenge will be to slow down
and let him learn to love it. There are so many things we look
forward to sharing with him. He seems very happy and calm when he
is outdoors. There is so much to explore and experience.
For now I will treasure the wonderful memories we've
made in the last year, and hope he is agreeable to going on more
adventures in the future. We are looking forward to more trial and
I plan on updating the 2012 Outdoor Living page with
more adventures and our 2012 Spring Hiking page.