Last minute Hiking Mom and Baby Wish List (2018 list)

  • Socks! I love Swiftwick. They keep they feet dry better than any others I’ve ever tried. They have wool and non wool. My favorite are the Aspire in the 2 (https://amzn.to/2EjZKZg) height to keep debris out but not be too tall. The Hikers are my favorite wool ones.
  • Baby booties! I found these on Amazon for around $10 buy big so they last. Help keep little one’s feet warm (https://amzn.to/2rp6b4P)
  • Warm Hat! Carhart (https://amzn.to/2EiHUG5) makes great ones for the wee ones that stretch and are thick and warm. By far our favorite. For well I kinda like everything. Biggest thing is I want my ears covered so I tend to lean towards men’s or ones that I can unfold the fold up. I often just wear an ear band. I love shopping local and my favorites are all from Runner’s Roost Lakewood (https://runnersroostlakewood.com/).
  • Water bottles! Hydrapak (https://amzn.to/2L1DjZz)makes my favorite soft flasks with bite valves. They come as small as 10 mL (https://amzn.to/2Uu6VmL)for the little ones (makes a great sippy bottle) and in a bunch of other sizes. Some even have straws (https://amzn.to/2UmFFq2).
  • Whistle. Everyone should carry and emergency whistle. They are cheap and effective and have many uses(https://amzn.to/2EbXRx9)
  • Bear bell. Again cheap effective and everyone should have. I have one on each of packs and each dog.(https://amzn.to/2UpUnN1)

Happy Holidays!

Cameras and Hiking – My Thoughts and Recommendations (repost from old page)

Once upon a time I used to hike with a big digital SLR camera. Then I downgraded to a little pocket Sony, which I still use on long trips, but now I just use my phone.

Unless you’re a photographer, or photography is seriously your thing, there is very little reason to carry a big camera and gear – especially when you’re already carrying a baby. Most cell phones today have very good cameras. They can take still shots, live shots, videos, panoramic pictures, and even have filters that can be applied while taking the photo. If you’re a social media sharer, it’s way easier to share directly from your cell phone than to download then upload photos on your computer. There are even extra zoom lenses that can be attached to cell phone cameras now. And cell phones are much easier to carry and fit in the hip pocket of most carriers and packs. Most smartphones are very water resistant as well.

If you’re thing is video check out Go Pros. They can be worn, so you don’t have to carry them. I don’t currently use them, but I think it could be cool.

If you really want a separate camera but to keep it small, little digital pocket cameras are great. My little Sony was $75 at a Black Friday sale when I was in middle school and I’m still using it. Downside is I must really watch it in the rain, and I have to pre-charge and carry and extra battery. My iPhone takes better video, but my Sony has better zoom.

And if you’re going to go big, talk to a professional who does photography in the middle of nowhere. Check over reviews on weight, special considerations, gear required, ability to hold up to weather, cost, and how much you’re willing to carry with a baby.

Hiking with Your Cell Phone, Or Not…? (repost from old page)

You’re hiking to get away from technology, to unplug, and be in nature. The idea of carrying a cell phone may seem kind of silly when hiking. There are lots of reasons to carry your cell, and plenty not to. There are also a few alternative options. Personally, especially when hiking with a baby, I highly recommend you carry your cell phone.

Reasons not to carry your phone:

It’s heavy

You want to unplug and disconnect

You don’t want to break it or lose it

You’ve never carried it before

Reasons to carry your cell phone:

Most smart phones have pretty good cameras these days. A cell phone with a good camera is smaller and lighter than even small travel cameras.

You may get spotty service in areas which can be lifesaving in an emergency

In the US, ALL smartphones with GPS are required to have a feature where if you call 911 and do not have service it will ping your approximate coordinates to emergency services. This can drastically reduce the time it takes for rescuers to find you. (see emergencies)

You are hiking with a baby, having the possibility of calling for help is important

In the worst of situations, a cell phone’s parts can be used for a variety of survival tools

If you are found, your info and ability to contact family is in your phone

Maybe you want some music

You wouldn’t know it from this picture – but I had just called for someone to help me pack out of a failed attempt at a backpacking trip.

Alternative:

There are emergency only phones that are light weight and can ONLY call 911. Overall many do not have good record of working well

Satellite phones. These things are heavy, extremely expensive, and require extra knowledge, but they exist.

Live GPS tracking. There are many GPS devices these days that live track your location back to either a designated person or a ‘home’ device that others can watch you on. That being said, GPS doesn’t work everywhere either, and your phone is one of these devices in the first place.

Ok so I’ll carry my phone, but how do I stay “unplugged”? 

Simple: put it in airplane mode! And if you plane to take lots of pictures or be out for a while, low battery mode is helpful in prolonging battery life. Going for more than a day? Bring a portable charger. These range from the size of a USB flash drive to a small book and hold 2-8 charges. There are also solar powered options.

Add On since original posting:

Thanks to companies like Garmin and Spot you can now also have GPS trackers that link with your phone. I carry an InReach Mini by Garmin. While I can use the device alone, I can also use my phone to send messages and see maps and save waypoints – ALL WITHOUT CELL SERVICE! Just one more reason to carry the phone.

Altitude Adjustment in Babies

Everyone takes time to adjust to altitude. Babies are no exception. In fact babies actually take long to adjust to altitude as a general rule. There are a lot of factors that play into a baby’s ability to adjust to altitude.

Shelf Lake – Elevation just over 12,000 ft
Wee Man’s Highest Elevation before the age of 1 year

Before your baby was even born some of these factors were already at play. Mom’s activity while pregnant will affect the baby a lot. As well as where mom lives while pregnant. This is due to the oxygen levels shared while in utero. A mom who is active at high altitudes will have a baby more likely to adjust easily to altitude. A mom who is less active or lives a lower altitude is more likely to have a baby that requires extra time to adjust. Don’t worry it’s not anything you did wrong. It has to do with the way the body produces hemoglobin, which is the part of the blood that helps carry oxygen around the body. It’s been shown many times that those who live and are active at higher altitudes naturally have higher hemoglobin levels, which means when there is less oxygen in the air, it is easier for them to move oxygen around their bodies than someone who has lower levels. Hemoglobin levels can change rapidly though, which is why acclimation periods and sleeping at altitude can “fix” this very easily. Generally, the more time spent at altitude in low oxygen conditions, the better your body adapts. Just like anything else. This is no different for babies, and generally speaking babies are born with similar levels as their mom’s.

It’s important to understand signs of altitude sickness, for both mom and baby. Adults are more likely to notice symptoms sooner than babies. Altitude sickness in babies can be very dangerous and it’s extremely important to monitor. Sometimes, you won’t show any signs for up to 36 hours after it starts.

In adults symptoms include:

Dizziness

Short of breath

Nausea and vomiting

Diarrhea

Hang over like Headache

Muscle aches

  • These symptoms are common and should easily go away with hydration, food, and lowering in altitude
One of our favorite wilderness areas to gradually build elevation. Starts around 9,000 feet and has options to above 14,000 ft!

More serious signs in adults that REQUIRE medical attention:

Fluid in the lungs (think pneumonia), fluid in the brain- (symptoms listed above that won’t go away, loss of appetite, sleep issues, loss of energy)

It’s important to remember that it doesn’t take being at high altitude to get altitude sickness. High altitude is relative to what a person is used to. Sometimes symptoms happen from going up or down TOO quickly.

In babies symptoms are a lot more subtle and can be difficult to recognize. It’s very important to pa close attention to your baby while going up or down in altitude. Remember that speed in which you change can have a significant impact, for example my little man does great going up hiking but struggles in the car if driving above a certain speed. He also has a harder time going down than up.

In babies watch for:

Extra sleepiness (we still expect your little ones to nap approximately as much as they normally do or a little less)

Spitting up/vomiting – if you have a typically refluxy baby this can be hard to differentiate, you know your baby better than anyone so use your best judgement

Screaming for no apparent reason – hunger, bug bites, too hot/cold, positional comfort have been ruled out

Diarrhea

Refusal to eat- again this can be tricky, sometimes your baby is simply overly distracted-MAKE SURE THEY ARE HYDRATED

Again, many of these symptoms can be solved with hydration, food, and lower altitude. Take it slow, especially at first. Babies symptoms tend to linger more than adults and sometimes won’t appear until a day or two later.

When working on altitude adjustment I always keep track of the elevation we are at. It can feel very skewed out on the trails and I never want to push too high too fast.

Ok, you know what to watch for, so how do you actually help a baby adjust to altitude?

The same you would an adult – slowly and over time.

It’s best to start hiking about the altitude you are used to before you ever attempt any altitude with a baby. Before heading up to altitude make sure your pediatrician clears them. This is especially important if your baby was premature, born with any lung problems, or ever required oxygen support. Once you have the clear start slow.

Since going up fast is the hardest, you’re best off starting by parking lower and walking higher. As you and your baby do well, try parking a little higher every few weeks (if hiking regularly, if not this will take much longer). Pay attention to how they handle the car and remember they cannot pop their ears like an adult can. It’s OK and highly recommended that you make stops on your drives up and down until you are certain your baby can handle it. Start with slower roads, under 60 mph overall speed. If you go up any passes go extra slow, the people behind you will get over it.

Once hiking, an altimeter can be helpful if you aren’t sure how the elevation climbs. Take extra breaks and offer your baby your breast or bottle regularly. Remember it’s not recommended to give them water before 6 months of age. (see feeding your baby). When hiking your baby’s hydration level matters much more than calories. Make sure they are still peeing regularly or even a little extra. Just like with driving, if you both do well, you can push a little higher every few weeks.

Above tree line it always feels like you can see forever away.

Other factors to consider:

What altitude you live at versus where you plan to hike.

How often you go up.

Are you going alone or with people?

Are you experienced or is this new for you too?

Be smart. Pay attention. Take it slow. And it’s ok to not make it to your goal destination.

Cold Nipples Suck… My Tips for Successful Breastfeeding on Winter Hikes (repost from old site)

For those of you who breastfeed, know that it can be super easy and convenient to breastfeed while hiking because you don’t have to prep bottles. You don’t have to carry extra things. It makes hiking a lot easier. You can just whip your boob out when you’re ready, feed baby, and be on the go. That being said, it can be a little tricky in the winter. 

My very first time breastfeeding my son on a hike was actually in the winter. It was December 13, last year. So just over a year ago, and it was like 40 degrees out at the highest, If you were in the sun and there was no breeze. There was snow on the ground. So it wasn’t freezing cold, but it was pretty darn chilly. I made a very big mistake that time and I wore what I would normally wear to hike for that temperature. But I didn’t consider the fact that I would be freezing to death when I needed to feed my son. 

First time breastfeeding on the trail in the winter. I forgot that to feed him I’d have to take off all my layers! FREEZING

Since then I’ve learned a lot, and my favorite thing that I’ve learned is a different way of layering. I found sports bras that are easy to nurse in. I don’t have very big chest. I like one that I can just pull aside versus a snap-on-snap-off one, but there’s tons out there that are super great that snap on and snap off, if that’s what you prefer. I just like to wear a regular sports bra and pull it up. It’s more comfortable that way, and for me that’s more important long term. I also have one that’s more like a deep V-­neck sports bra, by Ice Breaker, and that one pulls off to the side very easily. I love it.

My Favorite Bras by Icebreaker Are:

To keep my body warm, I found Merino Wool, which is known for keeping you warm or cool without getting you too hot and sweaty. It’s great stuff. Definitely look into it if you have never heard of it. I like to wear a cami, which is just a really lightweight tank top. Camis don’t really provide a whole bunch of warmth by themselves, but they’re a great base layer. I like them because they’re easy to pull out of the way to nurse, but they don’t get overly hot or sweaty when you’re hiking and have all your stuff on. And then when you pull your shirt aside to nurse, you’re not freezing to death because there’s still a layer of clothing on your skin. The Siren Tank and the Siren Cami by Icebreaker are great merino wool base layer options.

So, what I’ve found is that if I wear something with a deep zipper, like a half zip sweater or athletic wear top that’s long sleeve, it works perfectly over top of a cami and sports bra. I just pull everything over to the side to nurse and pull it back on when I’m done. This way, pretty much all my clothes get to stay on, which is so much warmer than just pulling your shirt up the way I did the very first time, wherein I literally sat there shivering while feeding my son. 

Much warmer! Ok yes in this picture I’m in the car but this is the set up that worked so much better on the trail 😉

So, don’t be afraid of winter if you’re nursing. Yes, it can be a little tricky. And, yes, cold nipples suck. But it’s totally worth it. You just have to figure out what kind of clothing works best for you to layer properly.

My favorite way to go is a merino wool cami tank top, over a comfortable sports bra that’s easy to pull to the side or pull up, underneath a long sleeve half zip, then topped with a full zip coat or jacket. I prefer a full zip coat or jacket because it makes it easy to keep my arms warm, but if I really have to I can take it all the way off, and I’ll still be warm because of all the layers I have on. Obviously, the colder it is the more you’re going to need to layer. Layers are always your best friend. 

November is Prematurity Awareness Month

Did you know approximately 1 in 10 babies is born too early (before 37 weeks)- just in the US?!

Did you know that being born too soon puts the child at risk for more health conditions than you can possibly count – from heart and lung issues to mental and learning disabilities to issues with learning how to walk or eat and everything in between?

Did you know there are babies who are born weighing less than two pounds?

Did you also know that if you’ve met my son, you’ve met one of these babies?

My son the day he was born. Yes he’s wrapped in Saran Wrap – it helps maintain his heat. And his eyes are covered to protect them from the light.

That’s right. My wee man was born weighing a whopping 940 grams at 26 weeks and 5 days. I learned pretty much everything I now know about preterm labor and NICUs and preemies while I was going through it. I was told I was at risk for preterm labor but no one really ever explained what this really meant.

This is an XXS Preemie diaper – it’s smaller than an expo marker but was still too big for my son.

And sure enough my wee man came early- but not for any of the reasons I was at risk. In other words we still don’t know why and many parents never do.

Depending on their child’s health many parents wait days, weeks, or even months just to hold their child for the first time. I was lucky and only waited 7 days but they were the longest 7 days of my life.

So why talk about this? It’s scary and many never need to know this information.

My son’s first bath. We kept him swaddled so he wouldn’t get cold. He’s still so small he fits in a “puke” bucket.
My son was almost 2 mo this old before he wore his first clothes. Even preemie sized was too big.

That’s exactly why. It’s SCARY AS FUCK and those of us who do need to know wish we did before it was happening.

I wish I knew more before it was happening so I could make better decisions (yea I know I did the best I could). I wish I knew before so I wasn’t trying to have to make these crazy important decisions about my child’s life while I was delirious and drugged and in pain. Or over the phone when I got a call from the NICU and wasn’t there to be with my baby. Or while I found myself in the OR at a different hospital than my baby.

Once he could regulate his temperature enough to not need to stay enclosed he got to see a mobile. He was very fascinated.

I wish I knew before I was handed a breast pump before meeting my child. Or before I basically made the decision to live in the hospital.

Going home! Depending on your baby’s weight you have to get a smaller car seat or even car bed to accommodate their tiny size.
These days he’s a mostly healthy, super active, always exploring 2 year old.

There is nothing easy about having a preemie. And No DEAR – no matter how miserable you feel while pregnant it is NOT worth having your baby early. So I hope some of this can help someone.

Thanks March of Dimes, NICU Helping Hands, Hand to Hold, Grahams Foundation, and all our doctors, nurses, and therapists that have gotten us here today.

Trekking Poles…Everything You Need to Know (Including Why You Need Them in the First Place)

All right let’s talk about trekking poles. If you’re like most people I know you don’t use trekking poles because you don’t need them.  But trekking poles are one of those things that once you learn how to use them, and start using them, you never go back.

They have so many benefits and there’s so many different styles out there. It’s almost a little overwhelming. So let’s pause, take a step back, and talk about why trekking poles are so fantastic. 

First, they help relieve some of the weight and pressure you have on your knees and your back, especially when you’re carrying a baby. Let’s get some of that weight off your back by putting it into your arms. 

Me trail running with the Black Diamond Distance Carbon Z poles.

Second, they help with balance, another super important thing when you’re hiking with your child. It’s a lot easier to lose your balance when hiking with your baby, and trekking poles can help you maintain your balance. I cannot count the number of times that poles have saved me from falling on my ass or dropping my baby face first down a mountain. Kind of scary to think about, but in reality, it happens. People trip. People fall. Trekking poles can help you to not face plant your baby down the mountain. That, in and of itself, is enough of a reason to use trekking poles when hiking with a child. 

Poles also help give you more of an upper body workout. With trekking poles, you can take a little bit of the workout out of your legs and get more of a whole body workout. The very first time you use poles, do not be surprised if your arms and shoulders are crazy sore and you can’t figure out why. Probably your poles. 

Trekking poles help you to find soft spots in the ground, especially in the winter or after a fresh rain or snow fall. They can keep you from post-holing, whether it’s post-holing into mud or snow. Post-holing, for those of you who don’t know, is when you basically you take a step and your leg goes down and makes a big hole, like you would make if you were digging a big hole for a fence post. Hence, this is why it’s called post-holing. Post-holing is extremely common in the winter. Poles can help you avoid post-holing. Yes, it’s still going to happen in the winter. It’s guaranteed to happen if there’s snow on the ground. But if you live in an area with quicksand, you can avoid post-holing into quicksand. You can also avoid post-holing in soft ground, muddy areas, because nobody wants to post-hole into a pile of mud. So by having poles or you can kind of poke and prod what’s ahead of you. 

Those are the major benefits of poles. There are a few other benefits, but being able to take pressure off your back, maintaining your balance, increasing your upper body strength, and avoiding post-holing are the major benefits. 

Heading down Mt Sanitas in Boulder. It was so windy that day, even with my son on my back, I thought I was going to blow off the mountain.

All right. Let’s talk about the different types of poles, because choosing which poles to buy can be overwhelming. 

There are summer poles. There are walking poles. There are hiking poles. There are ski poles, snowshoeing poles, winter poles, et cetera. 

There are poles that fold down into a three. Those are called Z poles. Those are my all time favorite. We’ll get back to those. There are telescoping poles, which are the most common and least expensive kind that you are going to find out there. For winter poles you’re going to want telescoping. We’ll come back to that one as well.

Poles are made out of different materials. You have poles made out of cork. (Yup, just like your wine corks). You have poles made out of aluminum. You have poles made out of carbon fiber. Carbon fiber poles are my all time favorite, except for in the winter when you’ll want aluminum. 

Poles also have different types of baskets. There are summer and winter baskets, and even different types of winter baskets, depending on snowfall.

So how do you choose a pair of poles?

Start by putting yourself on a budget. Poles range anywhere from about $40 to a $200, depending on what you are looking for.

So, what kind of pole do you need, and what budget do you have? 

Do you want a single pole or a pair? I highly recommend a pair. You can always just use one of the pair. 

And then you want to talk about materials. Aluminum is going to generally be your least expensive. Cork and carbon fiber are going to get more expensive, with cork being the less expensive of the two. Why?

Carbon fiber is super duper light. Carbon fiber Z-folding poles are what I use for ultra running, for when my poles need to fit in my pocket basically. If you’re a super lightweight hiker, where you only like the lightest weight gear, you want carbon fiber. Expect to pay more for carbon fiber. Also consider whether you need a fixed height or if you’ll want an adjustable height. If you’ve never used poles before, I highly recommend you start with an adjustable height. Technically speaking, the handles of your poles should leave your arms at a perfect 90 degree angle, while standing on flat ground in whatever shoes you’ll be wearing when hiking. That being said, you may want your pole height to adjust for different terrains or different shoes. Sometimes you want longer poles going downhill. You may want shorter poles going uphill, especially if it’s super steep. It kind of just varies. I like fixed height because I’ve been using poles for a long time. I know exactly which height works ideally for me, in general, on all terrain, and I know how to adjust my grip if I need to. But this is something that you can only get with practice.

So those are your starting points as you consider which poles are right for you. 

Summer baskets versus winter baskets are pretty self explanatory. Summer baskets are going to be these small little itty bitty things, basically just to prevent you from dropping your pole down into a rock and breaking it. They don’t really do much as far as debris or anything. Snow poles, or winter poles, usually have what we call snow baskets. They’re usually a couple inches around  and have little holes in them. They basically help keep that pole from sinking down into the snow, which is super helpful when you’re snowshoeing or hiking in snow. Even though a lot of times if you’re hiking in the winter your actual trail is gonna be packed, the sides of the trail probably won’t be, so having those snow baskets can help you.

Heading out to a snowy trail in Breckenridge – using my MSR Deploy TR-2 winter poles

If you’ve never had poles before I highly recommend you go with something that has an adjustable height.

Most of those are going to be telescoping, at least partially. You can get an adjustable height aluminum and then get something with interchangeable baskets.

They cost a little bit more but then you don’t have to buy a second pole for winter.

The handles come in different grips. Some of them are what we call a foam. Some of them are cork. Some of them are hard plastic. Winter poles especially are often a hard plastic or even a foam because they stand up longer to cold temperatures and are easier to hold with gloves.

Winter poles are going to be a bit thicker, whereas summer poles can be small and thin.

Basically there’s a whole bunch of variety. So, go to a sporting goods store, such as REI. Ask for some help finding some poles. I guarantee you they will have lots of options and be able to help you find something that you feel comfortable to start with. Also Montem Gear has some decent lighter weight poles for beginners.

Poles can even be used to set up shelters. Some tents use trekking poles instead of coming with pole and any tarp or canvas can be made into a tent with the help of a pole or two. And yes – I slept there completely dry through a rain storm that night.

So, you found yourself some poles. How do you use them? Find your height, where your arms are at a 90 degree angle standing flat on ground, and then you’re going to stick your hand up into the loop and then bring your hand down to the grip. This is so that if you lose your grip while hiking, you don’t lose your pole. You might drop it out of your hands, but that strap is going to keep it attached to your wrist, which means that even though you’ve dropped your pole, you have not lost it. You do not have to bend down to go get it. You don’t have to take five steps backwards to find what your pole just got stuck in. It still attached to you. This is super helpful when you have a kid on your back and you don’t want to bend over.

There are a couple different styles of use. Your ski style usage is where you take both poles forward and then you walk into them. That’s one way to use them. Another way is to use them alternating legs. So your pole hand will go forward with the opposite leg. So if you’re going to go forward with your left arm your right leg is going forward at the same time and you alternate just like you’re walking. For going fast, which is actually what I use the most, you’re going to find what’s comfortable for you. It’s gonna take a couple tries. Both techniques are valid. It just comes down to which way feels most comfortable to you.

Lions and Tigers and Moose…OH MY! (repost from old site)

I want to talk about what happens when you see a moose. Now everybody knows I’ve spent a shit ton of time in the mountains. I’ve lived in the mountains basically my whole life. I grew up in Colorado Rocky Mountains. We’ve got lions and tigers and bears oh my. But really what happens when you get close to a moose moose is scary. There’s only two things I’m afraid of. And that would be mountain lions/bobcats/big cats and moose. I don’t care about Bear. I don’t care about wolves. I don’t care about coyotes but moose and cats scare the crap out of me.

Even in the winter this guy loves hiking!

So yesterday up here in Breckenridge, I was going for a snow hike (was intended to be a snow shoeing but that didn’t happen). Anyway, I digress. Hiking in the snow with my son, I am a quarter of a mile away from getting back to the trailhead and come around the corner and there are two moose. At this point I can’t quite tell. Do we have two cows? Do you have a cow and a baby? Do you have a cow and a bull? What do we have? I couldn’t quite see it, but luckily at this point my son and I had already been babbling and yelling and making all sorts of noise for miles and we did not startle them at all, which is a good thing. You don’t want to startle a moose. That’s even worse.

It turns out that I had come across a cow, which is a female, and her baby. Baby is clearly less than a year old and was probably born this spring. Mom was off in the willows, a good good distance off the trail, so closer than I’d like to be but good distance from the trail, munching down on some willow bark. But baby was like two steps off the trail. Mind you, I’ve got my son on my back. We’re hiking almost back to the trailhead. I’m tired I’m exhausted. I’m sore. There’s snow. The trail itself is packed. But if you step off the trail it’s knee deep. And then the moose are standing in a little creek. I kept talking.

I decide to tell these moose, “Hey I’m here. We’re just passing by. I’m not going to hurt you.” I just keep talking to the Moose. I Show them my hands. You know a lot of people think I’m crazy for talking to animals, but I really think they can understand us. Body language means a lot to me. And so I talk to animals when I come across them because it helps keep yourself calm. It helps to make sure you’re not startling them, and I’m pretty sure it helps them know that you’re not there to hurt them. So I keep talking to these moose. I tell them how beautiful they are. I tell them we’re not going to hurt them, we’re just passing by.

Momma moose

We get past Mom no problem. But baby is really close to the trail. And when we get a little bit closer to baby he decides to take a couple steps towards us. Now even a baby moose, less than a year old, weighs more than I do. If he wanted to he could easily have charged me and hurt me very badly, and mom would have come to his rescue, and mom would have probably trampled me to death. That is usually what happens when there’s a moose incident. Somebody gets trampled because they get in between a mom and baby or a dog goes after the moose. That is how most accidents happen. They’re very rare, but that’s what happens. So baby Moose takes a couple steps forward. I take two steps backwards. And then I just stand still for a minute. I show the baby moves my hands. I tell them again, “I’m not here to hurt you. I’m just passing by. We’ll take our time.” He stops, stares at me for a couple of minutes and then takes a couple steps backwards and turns around. He doesn’t totally walk off, but he at least walks farther away from the trail. While he has his back to us we manage to pass him, always keeping my eyes on him. It’s kind of hard when you’re trying to watch your step in the snow but always make sure you know where you are relative to the moose. Get around him and then keep talking to him. Don’t just stop talking because you manage to pass them. They can move a lot faster than you can.

All in all, it was scary but it was also a really wonderful experience. I’ve actually never been that close to moose. I’ve had lots of close calls with a dog and moose before.

Like I said the number one incident with moose out here in Colorado is that a dog off leash goes after a moose and the moose charges. Most don’t typically run away. Most moose will turn around and charge. They know they are a big huge contraption. So what do you do when you come across the moose? You talk to them. You should never startle an animal. You should always be making sound on the trail. You talk, you sing, you babble with your baby. Always be making some sort of noise. Yeah it’s nice to listen to the birds and stuff, but especially if you’re alone in an area with animals, make some noise. If you do come across some, gauge the distance. The farther away you are, the safer you are. Do you have a dog? Get a hold of that dog immediately. It needs to be on a leash or very well held in your hand. And I really hope that dog is well trained to not chase animals. It’s really hard to do. It’s something you need to train from puppy hood. But get a hold of that dog before it goes after them as you could be in very very big trouble if that moose does decide to come at you. Don’t try to outrun it. You will not win. It will outrun you. It will trample you. That’s just the way it happens. That being said, there are a couple things you can do. You want to protect your vital organs. So if you can get behind a big tree, get behind a big tree, because Moose can run fast. They cannot slow down fast. They very well might run themselves into that tree trying to get to you.

Baby moose

The other thing is kind of curl up in a ball to protect your vital organs. Put your hands behind your neck, tuck your head down, curl up in a ball. You’re still going to get injured if you get trampled, but you’re less likely to die. And yeah that’s kind of scary to think about. But it’s something you really have to know, especially if you’re out there by yourself, and especially if you’re out there with a dog.

But the biggest thing is, again, moose incidents are rare. Being well informed, making sound, talking to them, telling them, “hey we’re not here to hurt you,” it makes a huge difference. So yeah, while it was kind of a little scary to be that close to some big moose mom and baby, it was a beautiful experience. I actually got pictures of the moose. I got to see them. My son got to see moose, so that was really awesome. Hey don’t be afraid of animals. Again, just be smart.

Packing for a Toddler With Special Needs (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

The packing has begun!

Normally I wouldn’t even start until a week or two out but with a toddler that’s different. With a toddler with special needs it’s extra different. Then there’s that vacation before the vacation (HEY look! I’ll get a vacation from my vacation haha).

The guest room is currently acting as a staging area for gear layouts.

Clothing layouts are being done, taking a picture to remember, and put away. After all I still need those clothes between now and then. 

Working on first aid kit (don’t forget the pup)

Food..well that’s complicated. I have an idea of what I’m bringing, most of which is set aside I packed in a grocery bag. But toddlers are picky eaters. I have a feeling some of his food needs will change between now and then, therefore requiring a last minute grocery trip to get more goldfish (because #dontforgetthegoldfish ) and some other new snack he’s become fascinated with. I also have to consider his drink needs and that he doesn’t do well on just water or electrolyte drinks. He needs milk of some sort. This part I’ve decided to just deal with. They make his favorite almond milk in single serve boxes – so even though it will suck to carry I will bring 1 per day. He also LOVES chocolate milk and requires probiotics and digestive enzymes daily. Bonus my favorite “recovery” drink is essentially all this in powdered form just add water. Even tastes like chocolate milk and his pediatrician and dietician have both said it’s completely fine for him to have (Thank you Skratch Labs !)

Wee man’s clothing layout.

So the other part… the hard part… what do I bring for him? I’m not talking about clothes or food or basic gear, I mean to help with his special needs. My son is autistic. He has a history of self harm – should I bring his helmet which will be awkward to carry, hot to wear, and he’s never worn on the trail before- eh probably not but I’ve thought about it, especially when there’s a meltdown mid hike. Or the weighted blanket he loves – helps him sleep, relatively small, but weighs five pounds all by itself – again maybe not, that’s the weight of my pack and sleeping set combined. What about a chewy, a special ‘toy’ specifically designed for chewing on – DEFINITELY – we have carried one on every hike and he uses it almost every time and it weighs basically nothing. A blanket to cuddle – of course I mean a small blanket isn’t much, he’s only 23 months when we go, plus there will definitely be chilly nights- why did I even query this one?

tart of gear layouts day 1….lots more sitting there now.

The list goes on. And I haven’t even touched on sorting out diapers. We cloth diaper. Which has actually made so many things including hiking better, but I still haven’t quite nailed down how many to bring (I’ll wash daily).

Definitely coming together but time to step it up and sort out the rest of the kinks.

Last major hike before leaving on our pre backpacking vacation.

Planning Through Set-Backs (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

This trip is HUGE. 90 miles with a kid and a dog. 6-7 days carrying 60% of my body weight. You don’t just go do this without some prep. 

Your body needs some training. You need to plan food. And make sure you have all the gear you need. 

Hospital with pneumonia sucks.

So what happens when you hit a major set back?  Out of the blue I got pneumonia and became septic less than 2 months out from this trip. Was in step down ICU and told to expect 3 WEEKS of recovery. I am missing my race that would’ve been epic and fun. I’m on oxygen support and needing extra physical and occupational therapy. That’s a lot. I need a walker to walk. I have 1 month before we leave for CA. 

I have 1 month to bounce back so to speak. In the next month I need to get back to where I was a week ago before this stupid illness left me in bed hacking up a lung. 

So I how do I keep planning?

I work with my therapists diligently and do ALL my homework. I force myself to eat so my body can find strength. And I work on the rest of the planning that isn’t really physical. 

At least I’m home but still need O2 and a walker.

That is, finalize:

-packing lists

-food plans

-routes

-emergency prep

-pack fitting 

And making sure my son still stays active and gets in his work.

Set backs happen. You have to try to stay positive. It’s hard but you have to or you won’t get there. 

A glimpse into food prep from my last trip.