With two parents who fell in love hiking the Appalachian Trail together, our kids never had any choice but to be a part of that world.
In looking back through all the photos of us hiking as a family, I found that almost all hiking photos look the same, but it is fun to see the kids changing and growing up on the trail. So here are some photos of us through the years on the trail.
As good a way to start as any is when Dave and I hiked Mt. Katahdin while I was pregnant with Nathan in 2004.
After we had Nathan in 2004 we found it was relatively easy to bring a new-born on walks and day hikes but we were a little wary of backpacking with him. This is Dave and me with Nathan in the front carrier inside Dave’s jacket on one of our many day hikes the first winter Nathan was born.
When Nathan was 5 months old we had the opportunity to sail with my parents from Australia to New Zealand. This was a once in a lifetime opportunity that we could not turn down and it forced us to figure out how to travel and adventure with kids.
While we were in New Zealand, we did our first backpacking trip with kids. When Dave and I take vacation we want to hike and see the backcountry -we want to see wilderness, days from the nearest town. So we had to figure out how to do it with an infant. Dave retrofitted his pack to incorporate our babybjorn front carrier and managed to carry both Nathan and his pack. We did a 5 day trip and were surprised by how well it went.
We didn’t to have to bring any extra food for Nathan (just for me) and he slept a good portion of the time.
Once Nathan was walking and it was harder to keep him in the front carrier, we decided to try out family bike trips as a way to get out camping without having to carry all of our gear and our kid. We had been given both a tandem bike and a kid bike trailer for our wedding, so in the spring of 2006, when I was pregnant with Maddy, we did a 5 day bike trip around Lake Okeechobee in Florida.
Once Maddy was born in 2006, we were back to day hiking and slowed to the pace of a two year old who did not want to be carried. This was around the time we decided to switch to car camping for a while. We camped and did day hikes in Baxter, Acadia, and Camden Hills.
In 2009, we found a great car camping spot in the 100 mile wilderness in Maine right near Gulf Hagas and White Cap Mt. and we have camped there every year since. We do the same hikes there every year, the Gulf Hagas loop and up and down White Cap, but every year is totally different as the kids get older and we get to see how much more they can do on their own. We have also been joined by many of our friends for this trip.
We also got more into cross-country skiing trips. We had ski attachments to our bike trailer and could seal both kids in the trailer with some hot water bottles and they were set for a few hours of skiing. Once the kids got old enough to ski on their own we could always tow them when they got tired.
Our first real backpacking trip as a family with everyone walking on their own was a trip on the AT at Mahoosic Notch in 2011. My brother joined us for this 3 day trip and we had a great time. Climbing through Mahoosic Notch was the best playground the kids could imagine.
Since then we have done at least two week long backpacking trips a year and a few other long weekend trips. Many of these trips included stints on the AT.
Wild River Wilderness area 2011
In 2011 we also did a 4 day ski trip into Baxter State Park, staying at Katahdin Lake Wilderness Camp. We have been doing this trip every winter since.
In 2012 when I broke my toe and couldn’t hike, we canoed the Allagash.
Grafton Notch Loop Trail 2012
We continued to do bike trips, adding another tandem to the mix. In 2012 we biked to Acadia for some camping and hiking.
In 2013 we brought our bikes and gear to France and did a bike trip ending at a friend’s wedding.
In 2013 we canoed the Moose River with some friends.
Bigelows again in 2013
Dave and I even did a trip without the kids last summer in Glacier National Park
Hiking Mt. Katahdin has always been a favorite for our family. Dave and I have fond memories of beginning our through hike there in 2002 and it is the closest “big” mountain to us. We have hiked on Katahdin as a family 5 times since our hike while pregnant with Nathan.
In 2007 we hiked up to the Katahdin Stream waterfall during a camping trip there with some friends.
Last summer in 2013 we hiked it with some other friends. I stayed below tree line with a friend’s child who wasn’t up for the whole hike, but Dave and Nathan and Maddy along with the rest of our friends all summited. Nathan was far too speedy and left the top with his buddy before Dave and Maddy made it up, so we only have a photo at the summit of Dave, Maddy and a friend.
We are all looking forward to the next big adventure together on the AT and hopefully another summit of Katahdin at the end.