On Camping and Hiking with Baby

Both J and I are completely exhausted today and the house is a mess, but that’s okay.  We went camping last weekend and it was absolutely worth it.

The camping trip was actually the second one we’ve been on since our baby’s birth.  We took JC (more frequently called “Little Guy” around here) camping for his first time when he was 2.5 weeks old, and it worked out really well.  JC sleeps pretty well at night and usually goes back to sleep fairly quickly after each feeding and diaper change.  During the day he can be more fussy, but he is most easily calmed down by being put in a sling and carried around.  This makes him a great baby for camping and hiking… at least for the moment.  I hope as he grows we will continue to find him so easy to manage on our favorite summer weekend activities!

This weekend we went to the Idaho Native Plant Society Foray out in a remote corner of the Owyhee River watershed.  The Foray itself was nice — we got to hang out with some great folks, and J (who is by profession a botanist) was able to get together with other professional botanists and do a little informal networking.  Neither of us actually got to collect many plants during the event, however.  I didn’t because I had Little Guy, who gets fussy with stop and go activities, especially when they involve repeatedly taking him in and out of his car seat for 5 or 10 minutes of looking at plants.  J didn’t collect plants because the group he went out with had a car accident while driving out to their hiking location.  The vehicle he was in rolled when a girl with limited driving experience took a corner on a gravel road too quickly.  The van was totaled but thankfully everybody was okay.

On Sunday the Foray broke up, but we decided to try and hike the mountain J and his group had been trying to reach when their vehicle wrecked.  It was just our little family group this time — J, myself, JC and Ziggy.

When we got to the mountain I admit I was not enthusiastic.  Wilson Peak has some trees on it, but it’s part of a desert range, mostly dry and open, and the day was shaping up to be hot and cloudless.  We started our hike up a graded dirt road leading to an abandoned mine site.  It wasn’t particularly scenic at the outset and we had to stop frequently to give Zig water and let her cool down.  Little Guy seemed to be staying comfortable enough in his sling.  I had draped a lightweight swaddle blanket over him to keep him shaded, and as we walked I held it up a little to let him feel some of the breeze that was keeping us from melting as we walked.

Halfway up the mountain the hiking improved when we left the road and followed a spring-fed creeklet along our drainage.  Lunch was spent sitting in the shade of a serviceberry alongside running water.  That perked everybody up, especially Zig.  From there we reached a saddle in the ridge, and it was a short slog from that point to the summit itself.

J collected plants at the top while I found and signed the summit log:

June 29, 2014  from Boise, Idaho.  J (34 yrs), W (32 yrs), Ziggy (8 yrs), JC (1 month).  First summit hike with baby.  Clear sunny day in the Great Outdoors.  Feeling thankful for family and free time.

And that was about it.  We got back down the mountain just as the sun was setting.  Zig was doing well.  The baby wasn’t fussing too much.  J found some interesting plants to collect.  I was enjoying the sweaty high of having climbed a big hill and the feeling of having my body back again after 40+ weeks of growing a baby.

When we got back to the road I left the others and jogged the remaining mile or so to retrieve the car.  As I jogged (and alternately walked) Wilson Peak turned red in the last light of the evening.  A dozen cows decided that the  heavy-breathing person moving slowly up the gently inclining road was indeed a threat, and stampeded along the fenceline in front of me until we reached a cattle grate.

The long dark drive home through the empty desert country (we didn’t get home until 2:30 a.m.) was peaceful and familiar, like any number of other late night drives after any number of other hikes.  It was nice having all the family gathered together in the car, either sleeping or driving.  It was comforting to know that the outdoor life was still there, still within reach, and that evening I felt a lot lighter emotionally than I have in some time.

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