Thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail with a one-year-old
March 10, 2017 8:40 AM   Subscribe

 
When you break it down like that, the couple’s logic starts to make a weird sort of sense.
Not to me, it doesn't. Neither of the parents is a doctor. Should the baby develop any kind of health problem, it will likely turn into a serious health problem before they can get to help.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:57 AM on March 10, 2017 [15 favorites]


How much weight will that be for each of you?
DERRICK: We weighed everything the other day, and it’s about 35 to 40 pounds per person. Ellie weighs 18 pounds…


They're gonna want to bring that down a bit …
posted by Kabanos at 8:59 AM on March 10, 2017 [5 favorites]


"Twelve-month-old Ellie isn’t walking yet, still loves to ride in the child backpack, and naps reliably for long periods of time while being carried."

And a six month hike? Has no one told them the vast difference between a 12 month old and an 18 month old in mobility, temperament, and opinions. Best of luck to them though and I hope they have a plan for medical emergencies.
posted by wilky at 9:05 AM on March 10, 2017 [19 favorites]


Yeah, breastfeeding 6x a day doesn't mean less food to carry. Momma's got make up those calories somehow or she won't make the trip. Babies take up to 500 cal/day from mom.
posted by frecklefaerie at 9:12 AM on March 10, 2017 [7 favorites]


"Plus, she’s still breastfeeding six times a day, which means less food to carry."

Uh, that energy still has to come from somewhere, unless the mother is solar powered.
posted by HighLife at 9:13 AM on March 10, 2017 [43 favorites]


I wish them luck and I don't think they're going to get very far.

One of the things hikers do is hitch a ride into town to get supplies and mail drops. How are they going to do that without a car seat? That's just one of the many, many challenges they'll face. Bugs, sunscreen, food, diapers. It's their kid and I'm sure they've thought this through more than I have but... I dunno.

I did a lot of hiking with my kid in a backpack. Nothing too tough. Kids need to get out occasionally. Keeping them in a pack for eight, ten, twelve hours at a day is... I wanna say not good for the kid? What is sitting in pack all day going to do to the kid's development?

I'm trying not to be judgy but I'm having a hard time with it. It feels to me like they're putting their own needs before the kid's. Part of having a kid is making choices and accepting that your priorities have changed. I'm not saying it's impossible or absolutely wrong to be doing this with a kid but, let's be honest, they're doing this for themselves.

I can't wait to hear how they get through Mahoosic Notch. It's hard enough with just a regular backpack. And getting across the Presidential Range in New Hampshire can sometimes be... well... life threatening for even the best hikers.

Again, good luck to them. I trust they will keep the safety of their child their highest priority.
posted by bondcliff at 9:17 AM on March 10, 2017 [17 favorites]


This is fascinating and brave, probably foolhardy. But no matter what it is it is an effort I'd rather read about after it's finished than fret about in advance or alongside.
posted by chavenet at 9:19 AM on March 10, 2017 [10 favorites]


Yeah, breastfeeding 6x a day doesn't mean less food to carry. Momma's got make up those calories somehow or she won't make the trip.

It's worse than that, even. Human milk production is about 80% efficient, so it means carrying 20% more food than if the child were weaned, all else being equal.

All in all it seems a serious, unnecessary risk for a child who cannot possibly begin to consent and who very likely won't even remember any of it.
posted by jedicus at 9:21 AM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


Have you gotten any pushback from people who don’t understand why you’re taking a baby backpacking?
DERRICK: Not much.
Except for here! On metafilter!

That first 100 miles where family is near will be very useful for them in deciding whether to proceed with the rest. They also have the flip-flop point to decide whether to run north. This is way better than them starting out at Springer and getting stranded.
posted by mochapickle at 9:22 AM on March 10, 2017 [12 favorites]


This blog post has a screen shot where they're calculating out calories for mom per day, including 500 calories for breast feeding.
posted by damayanti at 9:28 AM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


I mean as ways to endanger a baby go, at least this one is a potentially enriching experience right
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:33 AM on March 10, 2017 [8 favorites]


Should the baby develop any kind of health problem, it will likely turn into a serious health problem before they can get to help.

For the most part babies do not develop life-threatening illnesses in a matter of hours. I'm not sure it's any riskier for the baby than it is for the parents. That said I hope they have a plan to get off the trail ASAP if the poor kid does come down with something. I think the biggest concern is that the treatment for most baby issues is to take it easy and rest for a while which gets back to the get-off-the-trail-now plan. Like, what if the poor kid gets thrush? Unpleasant for both mother and child.

But all that said, most babies are healthy most of the time and kids that age don't do a heck of a lot one way or another.
posted by GuyZero at 9:34 AM on March 10, 2017 [7 favorites]


The one thing nobody thinks about when they start at the southern end is hitting Maine when the Moose are in rut.

And what bondcliff says above. 13 of us got through that stretch with only one broken femur and one concussion and it snowed on us in August.

That said, I'd go for it. I did questionable things with mine. He says things like "I remember that. I wasn't sure if it was real."

His mom's mom when she was still healthy but knew she was toast dragged a little baby through all kinds of adventures and my ex treasures those pictures.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:35 AM on March 10, 2017 [8 favorites]


Good luck to them. I hope they don't end up the subject of a Jon Krakauer book.
posted by Atom Eyes at 9:40 AM on March 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


There certainly have been babies that survived long treks with less planning and vastly fewer resources (omg huns invading, leave now) and if they take a sat phone evac from anywhere is hours away.
posted by sammyo at 9:47 AM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


This is the sequel to the people that sunk their own boat when their kid got an earache, right?
posted by fluttering hellfire at 9:56 AM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


One thing to keep in mind though is that very few sections of the trail are isolated. You're almost never a few miles from a road or trailhead. Even the 100 Mile Wilderness in Maine is a very narrow corridor with bailout points. It's not like you start at Springer and are in the woods until Katahdin. So issues with the baby getting sick aren't really that big of a concern. I'd be much more concerned with falls and stream crossings. So much of the trail is very, very rugged.

Not to mention when it rains for two weeks straight or snows. Or even worse, rain with freezing or near-freezing temperatures. Hikers stay warm from hiking, but a baby sitting in a backpack is going to get pretty damp and cold.
posted by bondcliff at 9:57 AM on March 10, 2017 [8 favorites]


I hike a lot with my baby. We started when he was two or three months old and still do it now, at nine months -- no longer than about two hours, maybe three miles at a time, though. He seems to enjoy looking around at the trees until he inevitably falls asleep thirty minutes or an hour into it. So I get it when they think their baby will sleep through a lot of their days. But then she'll likely be up all night in their tent, and that won't be fun for anyone.
posted by liet at 10:03 AM on March 10, 2017 [9 favorites]


liet has a point

What about when they're sharing the overnight shelters with other thru hikers? Imagine putting in 15 rugged miles and having your sleep interrupted when the baby gets fussy at 3 am. Yikes.
posted by bwvol at 10:11 AM on March 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


But then she'll likely be up all night in their tent, and that won't be fun for anyone.

That's another concern of mine. A lot of the camping on the AT is communal. You're not always off alone in your tent. Some is in lean-tos, some in hostels, some in closely-spaced tent sites. Much of the AT is well-used trails with strict rules about where you can camp. It's bad enough when someone is snoring in a shelter, I could not imaging what it would be like with a crying baby.
posted by bondcliff at 10:11 AM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


I say good for them. They don't appear to be idiots with a death wish or blinded by romantic ideas of a struggle-free commune with nature, they appear to be preparing well for being successful at this.

I do admit this part confuses me: The Appalachian Trail is ten minutes from their backyard in Greenville, South Carolina.

Uhhh, the AT doesn't pass through South Carolina, so I think the writer is confused about that. Their blog says the live in Roanoke, VA now, near family, so I think that's their starting point for their southbound hike.
posted by peeedro at 10:15 AM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


What about when they're sharing the overnight shelters with other thru hikers?

They say they will be packing a tent, so the only time they will be using shelters is in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park where shelter use is required.

Besides, if you've ever slept in a shelter, you just get used to it. It's a dozen people snoring, farting, getting up at 2am stepping over you with a flashlight to pee, and lotsa mice. A fussy baby really isn't too much more too add to that mix.

A lot of the camping on the AT is communal. You're not always off alone in your tent.

When you're on the trail you just have to deal with things like that sometimes. If you don't like being around someone who makes too much noise, you just walk faster tomorrow and you never have to see them again. It's no big deal, it happens all the time with loud drunks or dudes who think they can play the guitar or whatever. A baby in the woods isn't nearly as bad as some of the people you have to share the trail with.
posted by peeedro at 10:25 AM on March 10, 2017 [7 favorites]


There's a lot of grumpy hate in here. That's understandable, seeing as no one in history or present has ever raised a kid while not living in a house.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:25 AM on March 10, 2017 [23 favorites]


While I don't think this sounds foolhardy or dangerous, I do think it sounds miserable. The practicalities of wakeful baby/hungry baby/baby having a week being a dickhead because that's just part of learning how to be human/&c. just seem like they're going to become utterly gruelling after a few days or weeks. But if no-one tried to follow a dream just because it has a good chance of being miserable, the world would be a fucking boring place. So good luck to them.
posted by howfar at 10:27 AM on March 10, 2017 [11 favorites]


There's a lot of grumpy hate in here. That's understandable, seeing as no one in history or present has ever raised a kid while not living in a house.

Sure, people used to do that, but babies also used to die way, way more often.
posted by Aizkolari at 10:29 AM on March 10, 2017 [17 favorites]


On the calories-for-breastfeeding objection: A walking five-year-old would require 1,400-1,600 calories a day, as compared to 500/.8 = 625 calories for the breastfeeder. Good luck getting a five-year-old to carry that, and good luck getting them to walk that many hours a day.

This may be the only time it's practical for them to walk the trail for at least the next decade.

(Reminds me of the couple who canoed partway across Canada - over multiple canoeing seasons - with first no kids, then one kid, then two kids. And a dog.)
posted by clawsoon at 10:29 AM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


What was that, FirstMateKate?

How are they going to keep the kid from running off?
posted by Huffy Puffy at 10:32 AM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


> it is it is an effort I'd rather read about after it's finished than fret about in advance or alongside.

Well, for those who would prefer success stories, here's a story about a successful hike with a 1 year old from Mexico to Yosemite Valley on the Pacific Crest Trail. Here's a collection of blogs from those who have or are through-hiking with kids (including some inspiring blog and group names- Balls and Sunshine? Beanhook? Trees, Tents and Tantrums?), and here's a nice story about some acquaintances of mine who hiked the Washington portion of the PCT with their 4 year old son, and 36 years later hiked the Oregon section with him.
posted by Secretariat at 10:34 AM on March 10, 2017 [9 favorites]


People have also hiked the AT with cats which I only mention because... kitty!
posted by bondcliff at 10:40 AM on March 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


Uhm, Aizkolari. People still do that. Like, to this day. Happening right now, while all the westerners in this thread scoff at something that people call their natural way of being.

Your point isn't even verifiable. There are tons of reasons that people in 1915 died more than people now: war, underdeveloped waste systems, rudimentary medical tools, lack of antibiotics, harsh working conditions, etc. Also, the general populace today is vastly more educated about your average malady and illness. It is a far, far reach to say that the pastoral life was the main contributing factor.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:43 AM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


Uhm, Aizkolari. People still do that. Like, to this day. Happening right now, while all the westerners in this thread scoff at something that people call their natural way of being.

these are white people on instagram though, if we can't slag on them then what do we have left, what do we have left
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:49 AM on March 10, 2017 [37 favorites]


Metafilter: I hope they don't end up the subject of a Jon Krakauer book.
posted by k5.user at 10:50 AM on March 10, 2017 [16 favorites]


Basically what I'm saying is: y'all are reminding me of something that happened while my friend was doing her family medicine residency.

She had a newly-breastfeeding mom come in, and ask if it was okay if she ate Mexican food. It's spicy, and she didn't want to harm the baby. She was sort of taken aback by the woman's lack of perspective, seeing as how there were over 1.5 million babies born that year that were breastfed my Mexican women, living in Mexico, eating Mexican food.
posted by FirstMateKate at 10:58 AM on March 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


What, nobody's mentioned yet that "All 3 of us have been going to the most amazing chiropractor to get our bodies ready!" Because oh my.

Aside from that, I think the thing I'd be most worried about is hypothermia. It's a sneaky condition that even adults have a hard time recognizing as it's happening, and it's gotta be harder to tell in a pre-verbal kid.
posted by rtha at 11:03 AM on March 10, 2017 [9 favorites]


oh good definitely let a quack manipulate your infant's spine, great choice.
posted by poffin boffin at 11:16 AM on March 10, 2017 [10 favorites]


What, nobody's mentioned yet that "All 3 of us have been going to the most amazing chiropractor to get our bodies ready!" Because oh my.

Just read that blog post and yeah. And we just had a baby-cracking thread!

The only reason this won't end in total disaster is because they won't last much longer than a week.
posted by edeezy at 11:20 AM on March 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I agree with edeezy, best case scenario is they get there, have a few miserable nights, and decide "wait not this was a bad idea"
posted by the uncomplicated soups of my childhood at 11:25 AM on March 10, 2017




Something about all these articles makes me think this is all some marketing thing. They already have a food sponsor and they're looking for other sponsors. Nobody gets sponsored on the AT.

I bet they already have a book deal in the works.

"All 3 of us have been going to the most amazing chiropractor to get our bodies ready!"

Respect... dropping. Urge to snark... increasing.
posted by bondcliff at 11:37 AM on March 10, 2017 [18 favorites]


I mean, I have a one year old. I also have a three year old who went through being a one year old. The idea that he'd be happy sitting in a pack for 8 hours a day for six months is... ludicrous. Yeah, there's lovely stuff to look at but baby Ellie is going to want to go go go any day now and then good luck to ya. Congrats on the inevitable book deal, though.
posted by lydhre at 11:48 AM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


Oh man. I have a 16-month old, and the idea of doing this with her makes me break out in hives. We can barely make it on a short flight without wanting sedatives.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:49 AM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


This sounds miserable, foolhardy and dangerous, in that order. The danger is the least of my concerns (not so much "kid dies of a cold" but rather "parents somehow become incapacitated"), but god does it sound like they have absolutely no idea of the misery potential.
posted by soren_lorensen at 11:51 AM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


But in all seriousness, 6 months? Baby's gonna want to move soon, and once she does, that's all her little baby brain will care about. Good luck, and God bless, but I've fled communists and escaped persecution in a boat, and almost dying at sea seems better than trying to confine a toddler to a daypack all day for months.
posted by snickerdoodle at 11:53 AM on March 10, 2017 [35 favorites]


Nobody gets sponsored on the AT.

Social media is changing that. The youtube hiking vloggers are pretty good at getting gear and products in exchange for talking it up on camera.
posted by peeedro at 11:56 AM on March 10, 2017


When my first baby was born, I didn't have maternity leave at all and I was a bit whiny about it, but I was also working on a huge and interesting exhibition on Inuit life before westernization, so I asked the curators (one of whom is Inuit) how Inuit women back then managed babies and small children. And I learned so much from them. Baby came along with me for work every day, sometimes on my back, sometimes under the table with a wooden spoon*. Because the archives for that museum was in a forest, we did a lot of work outside and also combined workdays with short hikes, because people who work with Inuit culture are like that.
In the end, that, along with advice from a friend who is a midwife, shaped my experience of motherhood and helped me through many hardships. Babies are robust, and being with their parents while those parents work is good.

At the end of the day, most of human development was before the onset of agriculture, and while I am the last person to romanticize hunter-gatherer lifestyle, our instincts are with us when we move about with our babies on our backs, and a lot of stuff works itself out.

Actually, if they consistently carry Ellie on their backs, they probably won't need diapers, because they will quickly learn which motions to observe before taking her out to do her thing. At 18 months, she might even be able to say herself. Even babies are not really fond of wet diapers, and if they can find a way to avoid them, they will. (This caused a minor scandal with baby #1, because she was really fond of doing her stuff in the wild when she finally entered kindergarten, in a very urban setting).

12 miles a day is not stressful, and there will be plenty of time for little Ellie to play on the ground. If the given life for her is to sit in that backpack for some hours a day, she will accept it and live it.

Breastfeeding for 18 months is not something I'd do, but it's hardly impossible, and they say themselves it will be supplemented by other food.

*yes, being a designer and bringing ones baby to work is a privileged situation, very different from if I had been working at McD's. But it is obvious that these young people are equally privileged and in a situation where they can do this safely
posted by mumimor at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2017 [22 favorites]


Ah, new parents. Bless their hearts.
posted by BurntHombre at 12:25 PM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


I'll admit, I've brainstormed at what age I thought something like this, even the AT specifically since I've hiked parts (the worst south of Maine so I hear) of it already, would be doable for a parent (singular, since MsEld would continue working) and 1 kid.

No situation where the kid was less than 3 or 4 years old occurred to me as something I would even begin to consider.

Good luck to them.
posted by RolandOfEld at 12:25 PM on March 10, 2017


Don't ever change, Metafilter. And by that, I mean, cut it the hell out.
posted by thelonius at 12:26 PM on March 10, 2017 [11 favorites]


Hikers stay warm from hiking, but a baby sitting in a backpack is going to get pretty damp and cold.

I agree, but the degree of damp and cold depends on what kind of baby carrier they're using. It's probably one of those big frame packs because they have a lot of storage space to go along with the baby. They hold the baby away from the caregiver's body -- they sit in a little seat, so they're more exposed to the elements, and presumably colder and more wet. But I haven't personally used one of those carriers.

I have hiked with my baby when it's been as low as 30 degrees F (which, I know, is not very cold, but hey, it's cold for here). He stayed toasty warm because I had him strapped directly to my chest in a soft carrier, with a jacket zipped halfway up over both of us. But a front carry like that is less comfortable with a bigger baby. We were also able to get in a warm car and go home to a warm house afterwards.
posted by liet at 12:29 PM on March 10, 2017


My 11 month old might actually find a way to murder me if I tried to keep him in a backpack for that long. Best of luck to these folks.
posted by potrzebie at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


Stunt. Kid won't remember a thing. Meanwhile, mom and dad have sponsors and likely a book/TV/lecture deal in the works. These two are right out of "wholesome Millenniial-hip parents" casting, and they are cute enough that they know it.

I'm not saying it's a terrible thing to do, just that it has STUNT written all over it.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 12:36 PM on March 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


kids that age don't do a heck of a lot one way or another

But they do! They need a lot of opportunity to work on developing their fine and gross motor skills, crawling, climbing, trying to stand, picking things up (which is all related to brain development). Depriving the child of so much time for that would be a big worry of mine.
posted by JenMarie at 12:39 PM on March 10, 2017 [11 favorites]


This does sound like step one of the book deal plan, or perhaps some kind of reality show spinoff.

But my parents took me on extended backpacking trips when I was an infant and I suffered no harm. If anything the dirt and grime will be good for the kids immune system.

Personally the idea of hiking with a small child sounds awful but people do it all the time and babies seem to love it.
posted by Dip Flash at 12:41 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


How can it be a bad thing if they get a book deal and have sponsors? They are both professionals within this field and it makes total sense for them to demonstrate that hiking is for everyone, including families with small kids. I thought entrepreneurship was the American way.

They need a lot of opportunity to work on developing their fine and gross motor skills, crawling, climbing, trying to stand, picking things up (which is all related to brain development). Depriving the child of so much time for that would be a big worry of mine.

And baby Ellie will have more opportunity than most babies in Western households to develop those skills. They will not be walking 24/7 at all, and when she is out playing there will be tons of interesting challenges for her to explore. Much more interesting than those toy stores sell and which are applied in indoor environments.

One of the kids I am a relief mother for (kind of a foster mother, but not all the time) attends a Forest Kindergarten. He doesn't seem to be suffering from the hikes, the lack of educational "toys" or the sub-zero temperatures.
posted by mumimor at 12:50 PM on March 10, 2017 [7 favorites]


attends a Forest Kindergarten. He doesn't seem to be suffering from the hikes, the lack of educational "toys" or the sub-zero temperatures.

I love forest schools! That's different than having a kid in a backpack for hours and hours a day. I agree when they stop the baby will have lots of great things to explore, though.
posted by JenMarie at 12:55 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


They need a lot of opportunity to work on developing their fine and gross motor skills, crawling, climbing, trying to stand, picking things up (which is all related to brain development).

They're planning 12 miles or so per day, which even at 2mph (slow walk) is only 6 hours. I'm old and fat, and can usually average 3+ mph under load -- and I'm in the rocky mountains. Once they get a routine down, and on easier sections, I wouldn't doubt they could do 15-20 per day. Especially if they can get easy resupply every couple of days.

They aren't doing a death march, they've actually set a pretty reasonable goal. I wish them luck.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 12:57 PM on March 10, 2017 [9 favorites]


I'm not saying it's a terrible thing to do, just that it has STUNT written all over it.

I get what you're saying, but what makes a little bit of self promotion a stunt?

I've linked to this article before, it's a quit your job and go hiking story. The ironic thing is that the subject has turned self-promotion into a full-time job to gain sponsorships so he can spend as much time as he likes to go hiking. Other people get jobs at outdoor equipment companies or review gear on youtube to get money to spend more time hiking.

Is the world a worse place if we have one more book deal, or one more instagram feed, or one more youtube channel? Can we get over the fact that we don't have to automatically judge these people and their parenting skills because they have a hobby?
posted by peeedro at 1:15 PM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


I should add to my earlier comment about baby carriers, because in retrospect I thought it might sound judgy: I hike with a lot of other caregivers who use those frame packs, and their babies are perfectly comfortable. I didn't mean to imply that they weren't. The kids just need to be dressed more warmly because they're not sharing a coat with the hiker.
posted by liet at 1:17 PM on March 10, 2017




I have no idea, based on the logistics given, whether this is going to work out for them as well as they think it will.

But I'm really glad they're trying. Why? Because they are going up against an actual cultural stigma.

Seriously. We have a five-month-old, and one of the things that got said to us most during the pregnancy, and still gets said now, was, basically, "Say goodbye to all your hobbies forever!" People took an almost sadistic glee in saying, oh, I bet you're not gonna be able to keep up with movies/new books/restaurants you want to try/travel/fill in the blank. I had someone say to me sympathetically "Oh, I bet you're going to really miss cooking!" Um... we still have to eat...?

And, now that we have the baby, we had to explain gently yet firmly to all the relatives that we still wanted to be invited to holiday parties, people's birthdays, and such-like. They even assumed we wouldn't want to come to Thanksgiving. They were delighted when we did, but they were actively surprised. "But the baby is six weeks old!" Yes. That's why we were very glad somebody else was hosting Thanksgiving dinner, so we could just show up and eat it and see the family we love. Everyone is stone-cold shocked whenever I have seen a new movie, or read a new book.

And when we take the baby out in public, passersby want to coo at the baby all the time-- as long as, and only as long as, the baby is doing their best impression of a Gerber package. If the baby cries for thirty seconds, we get stink-eye, and I mean thirty seconds literally, because I have the baby strapped to me and the baby's bottle strapped to me, so when the baby makes the feed-me noise all I have to do is grab the bottle, take off the cap, and insert in mouth. People have given me expressions of anguished fury during that single arm movement, I tell you what. Even when the baby isn't crying-- I had somebody come up to me in a grocery store once and ask me if I didn't think the baby needed a less overstimulating environment. What I thought is that I needed to buy diapers, thank you.

So I have to build into the energy cost of going anywhere with the baby, which is already high, the amount of time and effort I am going to have to spend fending off people who think either that I shouldn't be there with the baby or that I am doing being there with the baby wrong. And that does keep me from going places. We did the Womens' March, the baby and I, and I was petrified beforehand that people were going to give me shit, and luckily the baby did the Gerber impression the entire march route and nobody did. But I was the only person I saw with a baby strapped to me, which implies that somewhere else there were a lot of people, mostly women, who were not at that march because baby. Something is wrong with that.

Something is wrong with the assumption that, now that I have a baby, I neither desire to be nor should be in the public sphere anymore. Something is wrong with the assumption that I not only should but now want to be in a room somewhere, either alone or with other parent-and-baby sets, away from the rest of the world. I'm not advocating letting the baby bother other people; if the baby is obnoxious I want to get them somewhere quieter as much as everybody else wants me to, I assure you, and I remove them ASAP. I want to do my grocery shopping without getting lectured.

So you know what? Good for these folks. I hope they have an amazing amount of fun and build memories that will last a lifetime. Because they are working against real cultural resistance to do this thing they want to do, and personally I am all for it.
posted by Rush-That-Speaks at 1:21 PM on March 10, 2017 [69 favorites]


Can we get over the fact that we don't have to automatically judge these people and their parenting skills because they have a hobby?

If they incorporate their baby into the hobby their parenting skills become pretty relevant. I would question anybody whose response to the potential negative effects of keeping a developing baby strapped in a backpack for 6-8 hours a day for 6 months is to take their baby to get her spine adjusted by a chiropractor.
posted by edeezy at 1:22 PM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


Me, person on the internet who hasn't considered doing this, knows whether these people should be doing this, and the answer is no, and they should be ASHAMED for talking to people about it.
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 1:23 PM on March 10, 2017


Those of us who do participate in long distance hiking, while never claiming to know, largely think their stated goal is potentially not a good idea for many reasons.
posted by edeezy at 1:29 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


also I guarantee you all that there are real live people right here on metafilter in this very thread who have had bad firsthand personal experience with stunty parental hobbies that involve their kids in a public way and are not just judging for lulz!
posted by prize bull octorok at 1:32 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Hiking with babies while wealthy is doable. Fight the power!
posted by jeff-o-matic at 1:35 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


In the article it says that they both studied outdoor leadership, which I assumes covers wilderness first aid, as well as dealing with wilderness emergencies and generally being a safe and responsible hiker. And yeah, maybe (definitely!) it will be harder than they think, because that's life, but also, these are not just kids/millennials - they are actually already parents who are making a decision based on their experience with their own child and professional expertise so maybe all the hand-wringing is not necessary?
posted by lunasol at 1:37 PM on March 10, 2017 [6 favorites]


Let's see what happens. Maybe we'll all learn something and be surprised. Maybe skepticism will be justified. They are the right kind of people to give this a try, and yes, heavens, others have taken babies on long trips before and the babies have survived. The AT is not the wilderness.
posted by Miko at 1:55 PM on March 10, 2017 [2 favorites]


In the article it says that they both studied outdoor leadership

I used to teach outdoor leadership. I'm also a parent. As I said up thread I don't think this is in the best interest of their child and I think they are doing it for selfish reasons. I have also done parent things for selfish reasons, though it was more along the lines of teaching my kid to say "punch it, Chewie" every time I started the car. But it is also perfectly within their right to attempt this and I have no reason to think the safety of their child won't be their first priority.

I look forward to hearing about their progress and I will be the first to admit I was wrong if they ever reach Katahdin.

I give them 50 miles before they bail.
posted by bondcliff at 1:55 PM on March 10, 2017 [9 favorites]


This is awesome. It's a baby and it'll be fine. What a cool thing for them to do. Off to go do a short hike with my dog now.
posted by Marinara at 2:21 PM on March 10, 2017 [5 favorites]


Normally, I wouldn't engage in this beyond what I've already done, but somehow the argument here is so extremely absurd.
A normal 12-18 month baby in the so-called West spends most of its time in incredibly unhealthy chairs/swings and cots with no physical contact with their parents. The rest of the time, they sit in high chairs being disciplined to eat in the correct Western mode of eating, or playing with commercial playthings, sometimes with parents trying to do pedagogical stuff.
I'm certain that all of the people here on metafilter who have criticized this young family have done far better. But the important thing is that they are doing far better than most of their peers, and they are educated and motivated to doing it right. Yes, they will meet difficulties, but who doesn't? Yes, they may make a profit, but how can that be bad, as long as they are doing better than most 25-yo parents and they certainly are.
If these guys walk 6 hours a day, they still have 18 hours to engage in activities with their child, which is far more than most people do. And they will do it, because this is their life. I can promise you that both the investment banker who leaves her child with a nanny and the tomato picker who leaves his child with his mum or eldest child are not going through Freinet school development principles.
These people have sold everything to do this hike, and they could do it because they are privileged enough to know they will get back to good jobs and everything will work out. They are neither saints or heros. Obviously this choice is not for everyone.
But there is no way they are putting their baby's life in danger, or even depriving her of some basic learning, contrariwise.
One of my students had hippy parents similar to these, and for a large part of his life, he grew up on a wooden sailing ship. He is the best, most disciplined and brightest student I have ever had. Because of his balanced and nuanced relationship with his parents, he has benefited immensely from education - for him there has been no need to rebel against authorities, he is independent and has no need to prove it. He listened and then innovated, moving ahead of us (teachers and parents) because it made sense.
posted by mumimor at 2:29 PM on March 10, 2017 [19 favorites]


Hiking with babies while wealthy is doable.

Hiking with babies while poor is doable as well. Except most of the world calls it going to the market, or going to collect firewood, or going to gather water.
posted by peeedro at 2:37 PM on March 10, 2017 [18 favorites]


My 2nd child is due in early May and my wife and I were just talking a few days ago about how a trip to Michigan to rent a cabin for a week in late July (we're in Iowa) sounded like a lot to put a 3mo baby through.

6 months on the AT with a toddler? Good night! Yay for them because I just can't even imagine.

That being said, while this is firmly in the "never gonna do that " column for me, I don't see it as child endangerment unless they are truly clueless about what they're undertaking.
posted by Big Al 8000 at 2:45 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


I think they're going to have a great time, whether they make it all the way or not. Their reasoning makes sense to me, that it will only get harder as the baby gets older and as they have more kids. People saying things like, "I have a one-year-old and she's never tolerate being in a pack that much," or "breastfeeding until 18 months? no way!" are forgetting that babies are different from each other and that many, many people breastfeed longer than 18 months.

I had a kid who, at age one, slept 12-14 hours per day. I had another baby who would go to sleep in his sling and, being warm and cozy, stay asleep for much longer than he did when not in his sling. Besides, I would guess that being outside in the fresh air and seeing so much new and interesting stuff will knock the baby right out when sleep time comes.

They're experienced hikers, and seem to have planned well. Anything you do with a baby is full of the unexpected, and while I agree that they are not likely to get all the way there, I don't think there's anything wrong with setting out to give it a try. There's no reason in the world not to wish them well, and no reason not to expect that they're going to have a really good experience even if they decide it's time to come home halfway.
posted by Orlop at 3:00 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


I don't think their baby's life is in danger, I think their sanity is. The endless no no no no NO when that kid wants to get out of the pack and do something, anything, else is going to get real old real fast.

Got nothing against nature, I'd love to send my kids to forest preschool too, if I could (and I can't because they don't think working parents exist, since they only offer two full days a week or four half days over here in greater Boston). Got nothing against hiking or hobbies with kids, either. I just think that the necessary trudging to get through the AT is not going to work with the needs of a 12-18 month old.
posted by lydhre at 3:04 PM on March 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


Kids are remarkably adaptable and resilient but they also kind of respond to the parent. If the parents are comfortable with the activity all the more likely that the kid will be as well, especially at that age. So I suspect that baby will adapt to that camping and hiking lifestyle pretty easily. There will likely not be any need for the endless no, no, no... In fact the baby is likely pretty comfortable outdoors for long periods of time already and probably isn't a runner.

Based on the presented information in the link they appear to know what they are doing and are planning the trip accordingly. Maybe things don't work out? Hopefully, they will allow themselves to walk away from this project if things take a turn for the worse. They know themselves and their child and they presumably know their limits. We don't know them beyond the provided link. I have known many, many parents who have done similar (if less grand) adventures including extensive winter snowshoeing / ice fishing / hunting / camping trips (in Canada where it gets actually cold). Including families with babies as young as 6 weeks. As long as they prepare themselves, are realistic, know not to get in over their heads and when to bail, they'll be fine.

It's not like they are going on a hike where Guy Fieri is the chef.
posted by Ashwagandha at 5:16 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


Best of luck to them all. A week on RAGBRAI is about my limit on sustained physical effort and discomfort, and that's with my going with a charter.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:38 PM on March 10, 2017 [1 favorite]


The response in this thread really crystallized for me just how narrow and unyielding and fundamentally unfriendly modern middle-class white America's attitude towards children is -- it's been something I've been sort of trying to put into words for a while now that we've got a kid who is moving from being a baby to a toddler, and negotiating between the different cultural backgrounds in our family, but seeing all the OMG HOW WILL THIS KID LEARN TO WALK and OMG HOW WILL DEVELOP MOTOR SKILLS and OMG OMG OMG THIS CHILD WILL HAVE SERIOUS SPINAL DAMAGE HOW DARE YOU SUGGEST OTHERWISE IT IS BASICALLY CHILD ABUSE!!!!!!!1 has really helped me put it into words in my own head.

But it's remarkable how so many people in this thread apparently share a very specific idea of child-raising being sequestered from the rest of life, and how it is stressful and frightening, and how it must be done with special tools, and how babies can only develop normally in specific circumstances, and how parents can only parent with a specific attitude, and to do otherwise is harmful to the baby and inappropriate and shameful.

As opposed to, y'know. The idea that after certain basic necessities are met, the most important thing for babies is to spend lots of time with people who love them.

And like, it's a super-white, super-developed-nation way of looking at things. As mummior mentions, human cultures throughout history have taken a much different attitude towards baby-raising. IN fact, the response to this rang a personal bell because I've been wearing my kid on my back for walks because he fucking LOVES IT MORE THAN ANYTHING ELSE, and just this past weekend, I was showing my mom, and she smiled and approved because it's the traditional Chinese way -- and then we were out for a walk, and she noticed how comfy I was and how I wasn't tired at all after about a mile and a half and how content the kid was. And she grinned and called out to me, "It'll come in handy if you're ever a refugee!"

Which would be weird to say, except that in my mother's personal experience, it basically happens every other generation has to do it. Her mother carried my mother's half-brother on her back all the way from Shanghai to Hong Kong when they were fleeing the Communists. My father's mother did it with my father on her back, her eldest daughter walking next to her, and while pushing her mother-in-law in a wheel barrow in front of her because said mother-in-law's feet were bound.

Would I want to do this hike? No. But I'm glad the family has the opportunity to spend this time together, and I wish the very best for them. I hope they go as far as they wish to.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:34 PM on March 10, 2017 [34 favorites]



A normal 12-18 month baby in the so-called West spends most of its time in incredibly unhealthy chairs/swings and cots with no physical contact with their parents.


Cite? I have never found this to be the case, outside of abusive situations
posted by bahama mama at 6:36 PM on March 10, 2017 [11 favorites]


tl;dr: everybody who is super flippin' worried about this should chill out and watch this delightful documentary about babies in different countries.
posted by joyceanmachine at 6:37 PM on March 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


I think they'll succeed and will have a great time. Maybe they'll go around the part with the boulders, or find a stranger to drive little Hazel to the other point. But no need to fret.
posted by morspin at 7:23 PM on March 10, 2017


I am way too out-of-shape to hike any kind of long-distance "trail," but even I can strap a baby to my back in a backpack and go for a day hike and, TRUE FACT, babies love it, from the time they're about six months and can go in the backpack (their necks have to be a certain amount of strong and they have to be big enough to fit safely in whatever backpack you got), until they're fully self-powered. For those months between "toddling" and "fully self-powered," I just took the backpack weighing 25 pounds less than usual and let them walk and run until they got tired, then plopped them in the backpack. I was still carrying the changing pad and spare coats and water bottles and all that I carry in the backpack, so it wasn't like I wasn't going to carry something!

I have a Kelty, I guess an older version of the "Junction 2.0," although it was called something else, which I picked up for $100 on sale (maybe when they discontinued the last model?). Possibly the best $100 I spent on baby gear, and I am not even all that outdoorsy. It's been through all three of my kids, my nephew, and two friends' kids, about a year each, and it's still in great shape. It's also excellent for if you're going to, like, the garden center or the home center and want two free hands and have to push a big cart with lumber or trees in it. Also for walking around the neighborhood because all of my kids have preferred it to the stroller because they're up high and can see people face to face and, I don't know, my oldest would just start giggling madly when we got it out of the closet when he was 9 months old, and giggle the whole time he was in it (until he conked out from fresh air).

Anyway hiking the AT with a 12-month-old also does not sound like my kind of fun, but day hiking with a baby? PRETTY DARN FUN. You should borrow a baby and try it. Or if you already have a baby, borrow a backpack.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:29 PM on March 10, 2017 [4 favorites]


A normal 12-18 month baby in the so-called West spends most of its time in incredibly unhealthy chairs/swings and cots with no physical contact with their parents.

I guess my cite for that would be "day care"? I don't think it's a huge stretch to assert this.
posted by Miko at 9:45 PM on March 10, 2017 [3 favorites]


"I guess my cite for that would be "day care"? I don't think it's a huge stretch to assert this."

It's against the law in most (all?) states. The daycare would have its license pulled and staff might be indicated for child abuse. I think it's a very huge stretch to assert.

I suppose TECHNICALLY 12-month-olds sleep on average about 14 hours a day so "most" of their hours ARE spent in a crib if their parents are observing healthy and safe sleep habits at home (at day care they're following the law), but I feel like that's probably not the hair we're splitting here.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 12:15 AM on March 11, 2017 [11 favorites]


IN fact, the response to this rang a personal bell because I've been wearing my kid on my back for walks

Baby wearing is so mainstream now that I have friends with certifications in it. Conflating criticism of "going for a six month hike" with criticism of "wearing your kid" seems like you're probably reacting to your experiences outside this thread and not the words in it.
posted by the agents of KAOS at 12:33 AM on March 11, 2017 [7 favorites]


Eh. I would say who cares and go forth and live your lives, but for some reason, seeing that OF COURSE they have an Instagram account, a short film, multiple videos and a blog annoys the bejeezus out of me.

Now, instead of a badly-thought-out plan that risks the welfare of a kid, I think this is this some badly-thought-out publicity stunt to get their own tv show or book deal or hipster diaper brand. Or these are a couple who have to make public everything they do.

It's the media sharing that's so exhausting; "Look at us! Look at all the cool shit we do! Are you looking? How many likes do we have? Do we have a diaper deal yet? A movie?" Ugh.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 2:22 AM on March 11, 2017


Miko, I have no idea what daycares you have experiences with but that's patently untrue. No toddler 12-18 months old spends most of the time strapped into a swing/chair, wtf.

If all this stems from mechanical baby swings vs baby wearing then that's a whole other argument, and it's an argument regarding infants, but no legal daycare is going to park mobile toddlers in seats of any kind. Nor are the majority of parents in the West, for that matter.

The only time my one year old is in a seat is when he's eating a full meal (let's try to limit the quantity of food smeared on the floor, thanks) or in the car.
posted by lydhre at 4:08 AM on March 11, 2017 [8 favorites]


How do I get one of those toddlers who are willing to be strapped to anything? We gave up on a high chair by the time our current baby was 12 months because she would just spend all her time trying to escape. Her big sister became unsafe in a carrier by the time she was 9 months old because she would throw herself at every dog, car, and man with a mustache that she saw, and tried to take me with her. And their big sister literally never napped unless she was in a dark room with her noise machine and to this day keeps herself awake just to say she can.

I'm sure they know their kid, but I remember myself as a first time parent, and as someone who has now experienced three destructo-toddlers, I just shudder. But with 3 under five, one of whom is currently thrashing on the floor because I won't let her dive over the back of a chair, I just wanna survive. Which, as in most matters parenting-related, says more about me than anything else.

But also, I'm feeling a little sad that so many people have experienced such joyless attitudes and judgement toward parenting. As always, the Toast has your back.
posted by snickerdoodle at 4:33 AM on March 11, 2017


It's against the law in most (all?) states. The daycare would have its license pulled and staff might be indicated for child abuse. I think it's a very huge stretch to assert.

The no contact with parents part.
posted by Miko at 10:21 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


How do I get one of those toddlers who are willing to be strapped to anything?

Kids are all different and other people's kids are always either much better or much worse than your own.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
posted by GuyZero at 10:53 AM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


OF COURSE they have an Instagram account, a short film, multiple videos and a blog

...meaning what? That they have a phone and they use it?
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:03 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


attends a Forest Kindergarten. He doesn't seem to be suffering from the hikes, the lack of educational "toys" or the sub-zero temperatures.

I love forest schools! That's different than having a kid in a backpack for hours and hours a day. I agree when they stop the baby will have lots of great things to explore, though.


I organize a forest school playgroup in my pretty crunchy area and we were all so gung ho to bring the kids outside until we got to early December and the kids, no matter how well wrapped in wool and synthetic unders and thermal rainsuits and snow gear, were just incredibly whiny and miserable and we'd be like, "Let's play! Let's run around! Get that blood moving!" and cue more whining and sniffling and eventually we'd feel cranky too and all go home. Ended up taking a break through the worst of winter. We're starting up again in April.

But then I also had an infant who absolutely despised babywearing, like screamed and screamed in every kind of the many expensive slings, wraps, and structured carriers I tried. She liked it more as a toddler, actually. I'll never forget the instructions of the moby which said that if a baby didn't like babywearing, it was a sign of the adult's lack of confidence. Maybe I'm just a megafail at these things.

Anyway, hope this works for this kid as she moves into toddlerhood. Those things are so hard to predict.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:55 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Eh. I would say who cares and go forth and live your lives, but for some reason, seeing that OF COURSE they have an Instagram account, a short film, multiple videos and a blog annoys the bejeezus out of me.

Now, instead of a badly-thought-out plan that risks the welfare of a kid, I think this is this some badly-thought-out publicity stunt to get their own tv show or book deal or hipster diaper brand. Or these are a couple who have to make public everything they do.

It's the media sharing that's so exhausting; "Look at us! Look at all the cool shit we do! Are you looking? How many likes do we have? Do we have a diaper deal yet? A movie?" Ugh.


But ... so what? Like, there are a lot of people on social media who annoy me but that doesn't make them bad parents or spouses or whatever. Seriously, why does it matter if they like to post things on social media?
posted by lunasol at 6:42 PM on March 11, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah. An absolute ton of people who thru-hike run social media accounts about it. It's one of the most major challenges/achievements you'll ever do - of course, documenting it and bringing your community along with you makes sense.
posted by Miko at 5:22 AM on March 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


I have a 17 month old right now. 6 hours of (strenuous) hiking a day seems doable. They would have to go with the flow and take her down for a bit every now and then but, seems doable.

I have 2 kids and both were/are worn a lot. In my experience being carried directly on the body (eg in a wrap/mei tai/kanga) is different from a framed pack, in that it allows the baby to cuddle and keeps them way more quiet/subdued than other methods of constraining them. The walking and skin to skin contact are like, um, natural valium to most kids! I also haven't observed any 'bounceback' when wearing for hours in a wrap...eg they are not super wired and wiggly the way they'd be after being strapped in a stroller/car seat for hours. They also sleep fine.

I think people are waaaaay underestimating the nomadic nature we still carry within us. Being outside, with their parents, and walking/being worn is how human beings evolved over millennia.

Hope the parents are in good enough shape - that seems to me the most limiting factor.
posted by The Toad at 8:56 AM on March 12, 2017 [3 favorites]


kids, no matter how well wrapped in wool and synthetic unders and thermal rainsuits and snow gear, were just incredibly whiny and miserable and we'd be like, "Let's play! Let's run around! Get that blood moving!" and cue more whining and sniffling and eventually we'd feel cranky too and all go home

This is a bit of a derail, but when I lived in the US with my 3-yo during an extremely cold winter, I was very often stopped on the street because of her winter outdoors thermo-suit. This is 20 years ago exactly, so things may have changed a lot, but back then I was surprised at how few American kids had appropriate clothes for a winter that is a lot colder and windier than ours. Scandinavian kids wear overall suits that resemble ski suits but are much more heavy duty, with a beaver nylon outer skin, then thinsulate and then fleece and they never get cold, even with just normal cotton clothes underneath. Which is good, because most parents would be very angry if the kids aren't out at least 4 hours a day, all year round. It's a cultural thing. When my second daughter was in playschool, the teachers even cooked outdoors during winter. Great fun!
posted by mumimor at 9:51 AM on March 12, 2017 [5 favorites]


It's not like they are going on a hike where Guy Fieri is the chef.

In the Big Rock Candy Mountains,
there’s a trail to flavortown
where you bathe in streams of donkey sauce
but you can never drown.
You can stuff your face without guilt
cause the food there's off the hook.
It’s cooking for bros,
and sloppy joes,
You’ll be pointing at things
with thumb rings
In the Big Rock Candy Mountains.
posted by peeedro at 11:17 AM on March 12, 2017 [2 favorites]


This is 20 years ago exactly, so things may have changed a lot, but back then I was surprised at how few American kids had appropriate clothes for a winter that is a lot colder and windier than ours.

Many of us have European-made winter clothes--some of the kids are in Reggio or Waldorf schools with large outdoor play components which require purchases of specific outdoor gear. Kids still got cold, whined, and were uncomfortable. Maybe we just raise weak American kids or whatever. I dunno.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:24 PM on March 12, 2017


But ... so what? Like, there are a lot of people on social media who annoy me but that doesn't make them bad parents or spouses or whatever. Seriously, why does it matter if they like to post things on social media?

Nobody is saying they're bad parents. I'm saying and COMPLETELY OWNING as a crochety, old "get off my lawn" person that I find the incessant posting and sharing across multiple sites every.single.thing a person does is wildly narcissistic and totally counterintuitive to my generation.

To me and many other old, crochety people it's the equivalent of watching toddlers screech, "Look at me! Look at what I'm doing!" constantly. Like, go do your thing but why is it necessary for you to have an audience?

I am completely aware this is an old person rant. I'm okay with that.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:01 AM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


Maybe we just raise weak American kids or whatever. I dunno.

It's probably more that in Scandinavia, there is a very powerful cultural consensus that children should be outdoors as much as possible and as early as possible. That means dissent from either children or adults is shut down hard and early. By the time the kids are ready for forest school, there is no resistance. [insert demonic chuckle]

(It's not only that they nap in the cold from infancy, you are seen as a bad parent if you don't take your barely crawling baby to the playground in sub-zero temperatures every. single. day. That's hygge for you)
posted by mumimor at 5:29 AM on March 13, 2017


Like, go do your thing but why is it necessary for you to have an audience?

I think the misogyny inherent in telling a woman and mother to shut up about her accomplishments is reason enough for her to ignore your advice.

But leaving that aside, they've got a few sponsors - which isn't super hard to do these days* - and so building an audience is necessary and can save them a fair bit of money. They're doing it anyway, why not share it? Fewer men could take credit if more women bragged about what they did.

* My wife is a runner, and she's got a few sponsorships. Basically, they send her products and swag and she's supposed to post on FB/IG/etc what she does with them and share the swag with her friends and people at events. She aint getting rich, but it saves her a few bucks on stuff she'd use anyway. It's an excellent arrangement for everyone involved.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 1:18 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


But leaving that aside, they've got a few sponsors - which isn't super hard to do these days* - and so building an audience is necessary and can save them a fair bit of money. They're doing it anyway, why not share it? Fewer men could take credit if more women bragged about what they did.

I don't begrudge them the sponsorship but accepting sponsorships is not a benign choice when you are blogging or chronicling your activities. It locks you into a number of things. For example, you get sponsored by a baby backpack company and it falls apart on the trail. Are you truthful? Have you signed an agreement saying your baby will never be photographed in a conpetitor's product? Etc.

More deeply, sponsors pay to be on blogs that are telling positive, happy stories. If this trip is misery then you can't write that without the gigs drying up, at least the big dollar ones.

If you just run and log your miles, hey. But if you are claiming to tell the true tale of your journey and you warp it to keep cheques and gear coming then that's how we get to where the kitchens are all shiny, the children are always cute and happy, and the cultural discourse is a lie.
posted by warriorqueen at 2:54 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I don't begrudge them the sponsorship but accepting sponsorships is not a benign choice when you are blogging or chronicling your activities. It locks you into a number of things. For example, you get sponsored by a baby backpack company and it falls apart on the trail. Are you truthful? Have you signed an agreement saying your baby will never be photographed in a conpetitor's product? Etc.

It's about truth in outdoor gear journalism.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 3:37 PM on March 13, 2017


I think the misogyny inherent in telling a woman and mother to shut up about her accomplishments is reason enough for her to ignore your advice.

what about the dad can we tell the dad to shut up

is the whole like-and-subscribe-and-tell-us-what-you-want-to-see-our-super-white-upper-middle-class-family-do-on-video-next lifestyle/career just a thing we are collectively supposed to celebrate and not snark at now
posted by prize bull octorok at 3:46 PM on March 13, 2017 [2 favorites]


If we work hard enough we can find a reason to hate and demean them. I believe we can!

As to mumimor and Scandinavian children: It's 100% about norms. For a few years I worked at an outdoor education center in New England that ran winter programing where kids from various backgrounds came and stayed for a week. Admittedly, these kids were older, but they also broke down into whining at first and did not trust their own ability to be outside. We had kids from rich suburbs and kids from poor rural and city schools - particularly in winter, because winter was cheaper. Often, they weren't adequately dressed on Day 1, but we had enough spare/lost-and-found/backstock that we could dress everyone well by Day 2. There was always a lot of whining and I can't do this and I'm freezing and when are we going inside on Day 1. One of the lessons we spent time on was the science of cold and hot, and hypothermia, and why to wear what layers and why it's important what they're made of and why dryness and entrapping air are important and so on. Over the course of the week, the whining mellowed and lessened and they got more and more into the immense outdoor fun we were having, until by the end of the week there was nary a peep about spending most of the day outside (barring meals in the dining hall, bathroom breaks, and pre-bedtime activities). We moderated somewhat when it got below 10 and took more indoor breaks, but we really were outdoors, in snow, on ice, most of the day, with kids between 3rd and 9th grade, all winter long, for a week at a time. With support, and proper gear and careful adult attention, and when it's totally a norm, kids adapt. Always. You have to get through the whining stages, and it has to be clear there aren't indoor alternatives right now, but it can be done. I am sure these same kids whinge once back home when they have to be outside without a good focus and intent and adequate dress, but it's about context. Even just observing the difference between kids from moderate climates and northern ones, or overprotective suburban ones and less overprotective rural ones, shows this. Establishing norms means shrugging at whingeing, and not everyone has the patience for that, especially if the surrounding culture isn't supportive of those norms. But it does work when you can make it happen.
posted by Miko at 7:51 PM on March 13, 2017 [3 favorites]


Nobody is saying they're bad parents.

Some people definitely are! But I realize you are not, so sorry about that.

I respect the importance of a bit of get-off-my-lawn crotchety-ness but I feel like, lately on metafilter, anytime there's a post about young or youngish people doing something interesting and documenting it, like half the comments are of the get-off-my-lawn variety and personally, I just find it kind of exhausting. Probably means I just need to spend less time here tbh.
posted by lunasol at 11:04 PM on March 13, 2017 [1 favorite]


I respect the importance of a bit of get-off-my-lawn crotchety-ness but I feel like, lately on metafilter, anytime there's a post about young or youngish people doing something interesting and documenting it, like half the comments are of the get-off-my-lawn variety and personally, I just find it kind of exhausting

Apologies for coming out swinging. I really would like to understand this level of social media usage because it's so alien to me.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 4:50 AM on March 14, 2017


> Apologies for coming out swinging. I really would like to understand this level of social media usage because it's so alien to me.

I'm fifty. A lot of my friends are about my age; a bunch are in their 30s; a few are younger or older. It's not alien to whatever entire generation (is anything?), it's just that different people are different. A lot of my friends live far away, and even the ones who are closer, well, we're busy and/or lazy. So we take pictures of our cats or kids or sunsets or vacations or cocktails and share them on facebook or instagram or whatever so that we can give glimpses of our lives and get them, too.

It's okay if you don't understand it, or want to do it. It doesn't make all the people who do enjoy it narcissists or otherwise immoral or alien. Just different.
posted by rtha at 7:51 AM on March 14, 2017 [5 favorites]


is the whole like-and-subscribe-and-tell-us-what-you-want-to-see-our-super-white-upper-middle-class-family-do-on-video-next lifestyle/career just a thing we are collectively supposed to celebrate and not snark at now

Imagine if you just went back to good old apathy.
posted by GuyZero at 10:43 AM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I'm in my late thirties, so not a millennial, but I am a pretty active social media user, which includes documenting my life to some degree. For me, it's mostly just that it's fun! I'm an extrovert and I like sharing my life. I definitely get some affirmation when people like or share my things, no doubt about it, but I don't think that's narcissistic, I think it's human. I also like rtha have friends all over the world that I don't get to see or talk to on a regular basis, and it's a decent way to stay in touch.

I definitely get why people are weirded out by the whole "let's sell ads to monetize or lifestyle" thing - it's definitely a little weird! But I think that's more about the weirdness of late capitalism and less about the people who participate.
posted by lunasol at 11:10 AM on March 14, 2017


I think there's a difference between sharing your life and packaging it into a product that you're selling, even if your currency of choice is attention. Especially when part of the package is a child who doesn't get a vote. In this case, I think it's a no-harm-no-foul situation, but it's not a choice I would make.
posted by snickerdoodle at 1:30 PM on March 14, 2017 [1 favorite]


Establishing norms means shrugging at whingeing, and not everyone has the patience for that, especially if the surrounding culture isn't supportive of those norms. But it does work when you can make it happen.

I think one of the interesting intersections of the social group I'm in is that most people are really outdoorsy but they're also into gentle parenting and much more likely to validate feelings so if your 2 year old says they're cold and miserable, you're not really going to tell them to buck up. I think it's interesting, I guess, because kids forced to do outdoor things like this at a very young age could genuinely be uncomfortable and miserable. And maybe there are pay-offs! Maybe it's worth it! But when I think about a toddler as young as the one in this article I wonder if it's really fair. I think about consent with small people a lot, and this one is very small.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:29 PM on March 14, 2017 [2 favorites]


Well, there are definitely payoffs. I mean, in a life of outdoorsiness, I've been uncomfortable plenty of times - even "miserable," I guess, physically - but I also feel like the adults that urged me to tolerate it and get it into perspective allowed me to have experiences that are incredibly worth it. Vigorous hiking is hard and sometimes your feet get chewed up. Mosquitos bite. Long-distance canoeing blisters your hand. Winter camping is cold and sometimes you need to de-frostbite your toes. Icy lake water is icy and you might need to leap right back out and shiver under a towel for a moment. But if any of those experiences were allowed to turn me off of the outdoors - or keep me from experiencing it in deep cold or stormy conditions or over lengths of time, my life would definitely be the poorer. I am glad I was taught toughness by my folks, by Scout leaders, by camp counselors, by outdoor-ed trainers, etc. And I think it is a value worth cultivating. I honestly don't think that our urge for constant comfort is really always the best thing to give into. If it were, I wouldn't have hiked the National Parks of the West, canoed the Delaware River, seen the hush of deep snow in a deep northeastern forest, learned to camp safely in winter conditions, etc. I think it's a good thing to know you can endure discomfort and, by moving through it, have peak experiences that you will remember forever (as well as enjoy simple versatility in dealing with a wide range of conditions, and general good health).
posted by Miko at 10:10 AM on March 16, 2017 [2 favorites]


Yes, but we're talking about a toddler who won't remember these experiences.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 6:41 AM on March 20, 2017


Well not remember-remember. There's loads of studies that early childhood experiences, particularly within the first three years, have at least some degree of impact on later developmental success. Nobody really agrees on how much, but there's something very strongly there.
posted by mochapickle at 9:27 AM on March 20, 2017 [3 favorites]


Yes, but certainly the modeling and reinforcing you are doing now about what's an action-demanding emergency and what's a simple, temporary, tolerable level of discomfort is lasting. If a kid is actually cold, it might also be that they probably need more layers and protection. Because when you're properly dressed out in the cold, you don't get cold much. In fact more often you feel too hot, when you're active. A waterproof layer is really key if there's snow, because getting wet ends the fun almost immediately. Not that I don't remember plenty of days as a kid slogging home in soaked socks, dragging a sled behind me, not regretting my afternoon a bit.

This chart of windchill makes for a pretty good guide to what's actually too cold to be out for any length of time (basically, below 0 wind chill).

You might be interested in reading the book: Last Child in the Woods. Also, I liked some of this - the bribery (really, pacing) and buildup advice are good.
posted by Miko at 9:55 AM on March 20, 2017 [1 favorite]


I mean, really, I'm pro kids in the woods. I've read Last Child in the Woods, live in an area where hiking is pretty much a way of life and where free range parenting is the norm for older kids, and I run a forest school playgroup. But we're talking about a kid who can't meaningfully communicate discomfort, who won't be active themselves but confined to a carrier for large chunks of the day during a developmental period when movement is particularly important* and who will have no salient memories of the event.



*Also, I'm pro-babywearing. But babywearing a 14 month old is just different than babywearing a 6 month old.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 4:35 PM on March 20, 2017


But we're talking about a kid who can't meaningfully communicate discomfort

well, I'm going to respectfully disagree with you on this point. The child will make it very clear how they feel about the situation.
posted by GuyZero at 4:42 PM on March 20, 2017 [5 favorites]


I give them 50 miles before they bail.

This news story says they started their southbound hike a week ago at the McAfee Knob parking area, 707 miles to Springer Mountain. They posted on Instagram from the Woods Hole Hostel, 623 miles to Springer Mountain.

That's 84 miles done, you can now print your words in dehydrated mashed potatoes and eat them with a titanium spork.
posted by peeedro at 9:04 AM on March 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Well, good for them. I sincerely wish them well and am happy to have been proven wrong. I'd make a prediction about them reaching Katahdin but that again might sound like I'm wishing for them to fail, which is not the case.

you can now print your words in dehydrated mashed potatoes and eat them with a titanium spork.

I'm at work, and I seem to be fresh out of dehydrated mashed potatoes, but since I'm not backpacking I have a complete set of titanium flatware with me, like a civilized human being.
posted by bondcliff at 9:59 AM on March 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


I mean come on.
posted by mochapickle at 10:36 AM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Man, I hope that baby has had her DTaP, though between the chiro, the natural brand sunscreens, and hinting at homebirth, I'm not putting any money on it.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:08 PM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


oh good grief, we had our kids at home with a midwife and use zinc & titanium sunscreen, we're vaguely hippies, we're not morons. There's no reason to assume that these people are dolts.
posted by GuyZero at 8:39 PM on March 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I also had a homebirth. I know lots of other parents who have, and a lot of them (friends! people I like!) don't vaccinate, particularly the ones who do things like take their infants to chiropractors to prepare for arduous hikes.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 11:12 PM on March 27, 2017


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