but I did….
(but I’m not telling you to)
Despite growing up in AZ I had never actually hiked into the Canyon. After having Tag and feeling great post birth (and in the best shape I have been in in a long time) I decided I would put everything I could on my “to-do” list and make adventures happen. Having limited time away from him at least half my training for my races has included hiking as steep an incline as I can find while wearing him. He has been quite the trooper and really taken to napping while we hike (which can be a bummer on a day I’m not feeling like hiking!).
I have hiked a lot while baby wearing, 13 years of baby wearing for me at this point. The biggest question I get is “aren’t you afraid of falling”. Well, yes I am. I used to live in a 3 story town house when I had only 2 little ones and I would constantly be scared of falling down the stairs with them. Curbs scare me when I’m holding little ones. Basically my fears come from the “normal” things in life. The things you aren’t normally thinking about, that is when accidents happen. When I am hiking I am very aware of every step and overly cautious. No, I am not going to stand on the very edge of the Canyon and stare over the side, but as long as I am conscious of what I am doing and paying attention, the likelihood of tripping is less then normal day to day activities. Plus when you are wearing (as oppose to holding) you have 2 hands free to catch yourself!
So the plan was set to do a Rim-River-Rim with baby Tag. Despite everything online telling you to not try to do it in a day, 18 miles seemed doable for me while baby wearing (totally not for everyone). I didn’t have many reservations but as the day grew closer and rain was in the forecast, I became a little concerned. I HATE being cold, and I really couldn’t worry about myself as much. I had to be sure Tag was comfortable. All this meant was some online shopping for the perfect baby gear.
Waking up the day of our hike I was reminded how difficult it is to get yourself AND a newborn ready for a big adventure. Waking up a baby to get him ready, having to pee, it being cold outside, trying to plan when I could nurse before we started, how I could not make everyone else late (we started at the same time as some other friends) and trying to make sure I didn’t forget anything… Exhausting! But it worked out and Tag (such a trooper) allowed me to get us both ready, nurse him, and he slept the entire way to the South Kaibab Trail head.
Honestly, it was a pretty uneventful hike (that’s a good thing!). My sister joined us on minimal training and we took our time into the Canyon. Down to Phantom Ranch took almost 4 hours with no stopping just slow walking. Tag nursed a little on the way down but mostly slept comfortably. There was a drizzle of rain but nothing too crazy. At Phantom we took a 45 minute break where Tag was awake and playing. He hung out, made friends, and had a diaper change in the fresh rainy air. Putting him back on to head out, he fussed some but went directly back to sleep.
Heading up Bright Angel the rain picked up some but Tag was unconcerned. As long as I kept the boob out, he had no worries in the world. I did not enjoy the cold boob or rain drops in my cleavage, but baby always wins. If you saw me in the canyon that day there is a good chance you saw my nipple, sorry about that! There were plenty of nice men I played leapfrog with on the way up (I would power up then wait for my sister. I was “that” annoying hiker but Tag needed me to move!). I got a lot of questions about how Tag was doing (what about mmmmeeee??) and my answer was almost always “sleeping”. At one point Tag was screaming and a couple of runners (dirtbag runners I believe) came by, “Are you ok?”… Me “Oh yes he just lost the boob”.. Silence…. I must have not thought about my audience for that one!
We made it out of the Canyon with a totally time of about 11 hours which included resting at Phantom Ranch and 2 other diaper change stops. Could I have done fast? Yes. I promised myself (and my sister) that there would be no time goals and no plan. Just a long walk all day looking at a beautiful place. Even with the rain and fog (that settled in as we were almost of the canyon) the Canyon is amazing. Don’t ask Tag about it though, he wasn’t very awed….
So let’s talk gear!
Sleeping- Camping with babies is always a pain. They move, sleeping bags move, they need to be warm! I bought Tag the Frosty Freeze Bunting by Columbia and was so flipping happy about it! We slept in the car and he slept on my chest. At one point as he woke up to nurse I reached in to feel his body temperature and he was on fire! I had to unzip him to cool him off some. Now with the fluffiness of it, if I didn’t co-sleep and have him touching me the entire evening, I may be slightly uncomfortable with him sleeping in it, but it worked perfectly for us.
Wearing- I am huge into more “traditional” carriers. I use mei tais, ring slings, wraps, nothing with buckles. A while ago a friend suggested a Boba Air and I decided to have it as a “keep in the car” carrier. Not only is it awesome in how little space it takes up, but I can wear a baby on my front and my hydration pack (Ultimate direction Jenny Vest) on my back! With how minimal the Boba air is (unlike a ergo with padded straps) the pack fits like normal and I was not uncomfortable at all, over 11 hours of baby/pack wearing and I felt awesome. I did end up with a small side blister from the Boba which I found entertaining more than anything. At no point did I feel it happening and only noticed the next day when I went running shirtless!
What Baby Wore- When I ordered the sleeping bunting I also ordered Columbia bugababy interchange bunting, oh my greatness! Tag was wearing a short sleeve onesie, a long sleeve footsie onesie, smart wool socks, and the bunting. He was dry and warm the entire time! I was actually jealous every time I put my hand in to feel how warm he was! My Northface shell is great but by the end I was cold and wet, not Tag! One thing I do regret is I bought 0-3 month and when I was wearing him I couldn’t pull the cuffs over his feet to keep them dry as well. I ended up wrapping a dollar store poncho around my waist to cover his feet which worked out just fine. I am so stocked with both my Columbia purchases and how well they worked for my little guy!
All and all it was a Grand adventure for the 3 of us! Do I recommend heading out the the Canyon right now for everyone? No. But with my experience and the time I took preparing both baby and myself, we were ready and had an amazing day together! Start with a small victory, a small mountain, a short trail, just get moving! Eventually your perception changes and anything is possible!
What a grand adventure! Both of my babies got taken on backcountry adventures when they were little, but I did get a little over zealous on a trip with the second. Luckily there was an easy escape route the second day when rain and overtired legs made heading on not a smart idea.