This past week we we spent 7 nights camping in the Carson Pass area south of Lake Tahoe. Hiking to Lake Winnemucca southbound on the PCT, we intersected many thru hikers. This prompted us to reflect on what life is like now compared to 6 years ago when we were thru hikers.
We are no longer the hiking duo with the goofy hats who would hike 20+ miles per day. Instead we are now parents of 2 little ones (Miles 3 years and Ani 3 months) who celebrate hiking 8 miles in 2 days! We still wear the goofy hats though 🙂
Our life is certainly different and we feel it more when in the mountains than at home. We can no longer expect to wake up early, hike all day to an alpine lake nestled in the Sierra at the start of a week long backpacking trip.
Instead of planning backpacking trips near and far we are planning for Miles going to preschool, what we will put in his lunch and who will care for Ani when we’re working.
We miss our long day hikes, moments or hours of quiet reflection and grand backpacking trips, but the joy of seeing Miles climb up a rock by himself, rattle off wildflower names or hike past us with a huge smile makes this all worth it.
Ani is too young to tell us what she thinks but she quiets down when outside, stares at trees and sleeps for longer intervals in the camper than at home.
Having 2 small kids and attempting even small scale backpacking trips is humbling. On this trip we packed in a mere 1.5 miles, had camp all set up by 11am but felt like we had to abort at 7 pm after Miles had an hour-long meltdown. Refusing to eat dinner and having not taken a nap the past two days, we knew we were in for a long night if we stayed. When Ani started crying we threw in the towel and hiked out.
Adjusting expectations and letting go of dreams to sleep under the stars is hard. For us it is one of the toughest aspects of parenting – letting go of the things we love. We aren’t giving up though. We hope to learn from what happened, make a few adjustments and try backpacking again in August.
Life is certainly different and a lot less quiet than it was 6 years ago when we hiked the PCT, but we are grateful that time in nature is still a part of our lives. And that it helps calm the kiddos, even if it’s for a millisecond. Because that makes it completely worth all the trouble, the frustrations and feelings of inadequacy.
Tonight we are grateful for short hikes and our ability to adapt.