Sep 4, 2011 at 1:13 pm #1278907
I am interested to hear about other moms that take their kids out backpacking. I hear a lot about dads taking the kids, families going out together, but how about just moms and kid/kids? And how about mothers and daughters?
During my outings with my girl, I have not come across this combination and I am both wondering why, and hoping to find other women that have done this. I find it a very empowering experience for girls to be out in the mountains and particularly if mom is the one that takes them there. My daughter and I have crossed glaciers together, been through a whiteout searching for a refuge, roped each other across ice fields…. She may well never want to do this when she grown up, but she will not believe that she can't do it.
I would like to hear from other moms and maybe even get a trip together.Sep 4, 2011 at 1:56 pm #1775988
Don't hear it about it often, but it's awesome that you do it. Lucky girl too.Sep 4, 2011 at 3:13 pm #1776009
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
I took my granddaughter (age 9) on an overnighter last Thursday and Friday. We had a ball, especially "grazing" on ripe huckleberries along the trail!Sep 4, 2011 at 4:03 pm #1776025
My oldest has been hiking with me since he was a year old – he will be 14 this month. The summer of 2002 when he was 4 1/2 was when we started doing longer hikes (10+ mile days) and the next year he started backpacking with me. For a very long run we were often out most weekends backpacking, hiking, snowshoeing.
I backed off when he got around 10 and let him decide if he wanted to come – he was old enough to choose. I had Walker when in Spring of 2010 (he is 17 months old) and I am 4 1/2 months pregnant right now. So currently not doing much outside of dayhiking (I cannot carry Walker).
In a few years I hope to be back where I was with Ford with the little ones. Will we do the crazy stuff I did with Ford? Maybe. Maybe not. I have mellowed a bit and Ford was special in ways – he has a talent for hiking unlike few other kids I have walked with – and I don't expect the other siblings to be like him. So if you have that one cool kid who hikes well – milk it for all you got!
But as for why? I took him because A) I like my son's company and B) I knew he could do it but most of all is C) Without him going I barely got out – I had no one to watch him. So I started taking him to save my sanity, get exercise and see the places I wanted. As he got older I did leave him home if I wanted to do a crazy 20 mile dayhike – because he just didn't enjoy those.Sep 4, 2011 at 5:52 pm #1776049
Sarah, is/was it just you and the kids or was dad there to? That was my original question. I hear of family outings, I just don't hear moms taking the kids out without dad. Did you?
Mary, good for you and your grand daughter.Sep 4, 2011 at 6:06 pm #1776056
Oops, sorry ;-) Yes, it was just Ford and I. I was a single mom from about halfway through my pregnancy and then until I met my husband when Ford was 5. Kirk worked for a company for years where he was on call all the time so we'd head out without him. And even with Walker in the first year, it was often just him, Ford and me out hiking. Kirk likes hiking in the cool fall/spring and not up in alpine (he is a redhead and burns easily)…so we go without him.
And oddly enough I actually love the hikes of just me and the kids! I am short so I walk slower. With my husband he walks so much faster I get stressed out keeping up. Our hikes together I prefer ones that are different. Btw, I also hike with another mom who takes her two kids out without the hubby. It is nice to be able to get out with her – or with yet another mom I know who has a daughter about 6 months younger than Walker – she hikes as well, husband doesn't like the outdoors.Sep 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm #1776089
@detroittigerfanLocale: Ann Arbor
I do! I hike with my son, who's now 13 and it's something I really, really treasure. He's a natural on the trail and I don't think of it as me "taking" him anymore. We're really hiking partners. He carries his full share and we carry about the same weight. Logical since we're about the same size.
My son's a pretty typical teen, involved with sports, music, friends, girls, etc. but he's still really enthusiastic about our backpacking trips. His teachers tell me that he "brags" about backpacking with his mom, which I think is kind of cool. I mean, what teenage boy brags about doing something with his mom? :) I don't know if his attitude will change in the next few years — I'm trying to be prepared if it does — but I hope not.
Kat, I think it's great that you hike with your daughter! None of my women friends backpack. I might talk them into camping, but only with the promise of flush toilets and showers…Sep 5, 2011 at 6:02 am #1776125
Mom didn't take us backpacking but took us hiking. That is to say none of us wore a backpack. It was great because our dad was disabled so we still could get out in the woods.
Good way to learn about trees,plants, and bugs without even realizing you are learning stuff..haha
Thats also why social group are really good for kids.
The Scouts or even Church Org.Sep 6, 2011 at 3:58 pm #1776627
Thanks for the replies. I have more questions for the moms out there doing this.
Do your kids get the "huh, your mom is taking you backpacking"? Mine does, and she does not mind, but she noticed that most kids find it unusual to say the least. Not that I want to start a movement of backpacking moms….but wouldn't it be nice to have more of us doing this? I understand that in most families, dads are the ones doing it, if anyone, and that is great. Maybe most moms are not interested but maybe it is something left up to the dads.
I would love to see more empowered little girls and also more little boys that see mom doing this kind of thing.
I have never felt left out or put down by any of the men I have backpacked with, so I am not complaining about any sexism here. I would just love to see more of us out there, actively involved in outdoor pursuits with our kids. Do any of you ladies feel the same?Sep 6, 2011 at 8:14 pm #1776744
I try to encourage it in the ladies I know – the hiker ones that is. I think though that it is harder and often women will take too much on/worry too much or have a husband who either doesn't get why she hikes or fears for her safety – and not out of spite but fear he sabotages her by getting her to not go.
But also I know ladies with kids who leave the kids at home and see backpacking as their "me" time. They can go fast, do hard trips, etc.
But all said…My oldest only knows a small handful of kids at his school who hike and even smaller who backpack – and their backpacking is usually Scout like, not what we did.Sep 7, 2011 at 1:08 pm #1776984
Well, could it really be that in the entire BPL community there are only 3 mothers that take their kids backpacking (without dad) and one grandmother? Any other moms that want to share their experiences? How about some trip reports?Sep 7, 2011 at 2:21 pm #1777016
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
There are at least a dozen (or more) I know of who post on our PNW local forums, portlandhikers.org and nwhikers.net (Seattle). Plus a couple (including another granny) who post on backpacking.net.
BPL appeals to a specialized niche of backpackers, so is not necessarily representative.Sep 7, 2011 at 4:14 pm #1777060
You write "I would love to see more empowered little girls and also more little boys that see mom doing this kind of thing." Both my wife and I fully agree with that statement. Where we stumble is your exclusion of the dads. Why do you think that mom alone is more empowering than mom & dad together?
This summer my wife hiked 216 miles with our 9 & 13 year old daughters on the JMT.
Do you think it was less empowering for our girls because I came along? Why would that be?
ManfredSep 7, 2011 at 4:42 pm #1777070
@lopezLocale: San Gabriel Valley
Manfred, I think it's pretty obvious. Mom showing her children that she does'nt need daddy's help is beneficial. Young girls would be empowered by this and young boys would be educated by this. I would love for my wife to tell me one day that she wants to take my girls backpacking without me. Chill bro, nobody is attacking us hiking daddys, she's just encouraging moms out there to lead the pack more and not rely on dad so much. This is a good thing.
BTW, that's an awesome pic.Sep 7, 2011 at 5:08 pm #1777085
@mckittreLocale: Seldovia, Alaska
For myself, I don't think dad would agree to being left behind (and my kids are young enough it'd be near impossible to carry both of them and gear for 3 to boot).
However, my mom did this in my own childhood, ever since my parents divorced when I was 9 or so and my brother was 6. And without the benefit of lightweight gear! We always had a great time and learned a lot. When we were young, it was her + 2 kids, but when we got older, she took us each separately along with one friend. I'm not sure she quite anticipated the adventure addiction she'd start in her daughter, though.
As for why there aren't more? I think the combo of an outdoorsy woman and a non-outdoorsy man just isn't common, for whatever reason (the opposite is super common). So most moms that want to go backpacking have interested husbands, and it's a natural family activity. Many of the women who take kids without dad are single.Sep 7, 2011 at 5:10 pm #1777086
It was easy to take awesome photos of the girls on this year's JMT hike.
I talked to Kat at Henry Coe in February during the BPL gathering and I don't think at all she is attacking us hiking dads. I'm just curious about her perspective.
My wife doesn't need my help in leading the pack (s. photo :), but she likes to have me along. She finds my presence enriching for the kids' experience.
She leads a Girl Scout troop and would love to have dads come along and participate in outings with the girls. We discuss this often and find inclusion of the other gender beneficial for the children.
ManfredSep 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm #1777100
@jennieinmiLocale: Lower Michigan
I've been backpacking with my two sons for about 5 years now – they are now 19 and 21. We used to do canoe camping as a family, because their dad has problems with his feet and can't hike very long distances. As soon as the older son was old enough, I started backpacking with him and then my younger son joined in too. Last year, I did my first solo trip, because I couldn't get either one to go with me (older son was injured and younger?). The solo trip was empowering, but I love having my kids with me. Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, I will do another trip for 4 or 5 days out with my 21 year old son. It's been really nice going with them. They are very responsible and do any of the work that's need for the trip – it's very different than normal life with a teenager!Sep 7, 2011 at 8:30 pm #1777168
No Manfred, that is not my point. You don't need it to be just a mom to make it an empowering experience, not at all. I am making a few points all in one post. One is that I would like to see more little girls on the trail. Another is that I never see another mother/child team out there, whereas I see plenty of dads with the kids. Then I also see something special in a mother daughter trip. Just like all the guys that post dad son trip reports and the bonding that happens, well I feel that when I take my girl out, it is a special time. I never said that the entire family outing was in any way less special or empowering that a mother with a child alone.
I do think that a girl or boy that sees a mother take the initiative to bring them outdoors and experience the benefits and challenges that come with it, is a good thing. Just like I teach my reluctant daughter to change a tire, light a fire, check the oil and other things that will make her less dependent on others, just in case she does not want to be.Sep 7, 2011 at 9:13 pm #1777190
we think alike on many levels. And I totally get your desire to bond with your daughter and have that special one-on-one time with her.
My kids have to bike themselves to school and they have to fix their flat tires by themselves etc. My daughters are empowered in the same way as my sons – be it around backpacking or around fixing a flat tire.
The bonding on a parent/child outing is really special. I don't think it is a father/son or mother/daughter thing. It is really a parent/child thing. At least for me the outings with my daughters are as special as they are with my sons. In either case we backpack and fish together. Being out there for several days or even weeks without the usual distractions of every day life provides great opportunities to grow even closer and bond through our shared adventures.
This summer we met several women by themselves with their children on the JMT. We also met women who were leading a Girl Scout troop (btw. we met the same troop last year too). And we met several families with their children. I think the children benefit in all cases from being out there, carrying their own pack and gaining lots of self-confidence along the way. We also met a teenager who walked the whole JMT solo and was roughly once a week re-supplied by his father – that was very empowering to see for our teenage daughter. So what is really empowering these kids is that we enable them to go backpacking in the wilderness. Whether its done by mom, dad, both or a scout leader – they don't even need to come along, they just need to believe in the kids, enable them and support them along the way.
ManfredSep 7, 2011 at 9:19 pm #1777192
Yes, all of that. I am glad you saw so many kids, moms, families out there. I don't see it much and I have not seen a trip report of a mom and kids, so I am just trying to bring it up, trying to encourage more moms to get out there. Not taking anything away or even comparing, just hoping to see more of it and this is one way to put it out there.Sep 8, 2011 at 7:42 am #1777282
Ah…well….I don't have any girls. I have boys.
I don't think it makes much difference when they are little though IMO. I bond with them just the same as a woman with a girl would.Just with no purple, pink or doing pony tails. Not much of a difference when they are little.Sep 8, 2011 at 7:51 am #1777288
My thread was not meant to take anything away from dads, boys and families. Given the smaller percentage of women that are out on the trail , I thought that showing women, moms and girls would be encouraging, that's all. I don't come down on threads about "man trips" or all the dads and kids on the trail. It's good to inspire our girls and moms taking them out does not mean anyone gets left out. It's just a rare combo and more of it would be welcome by me. Celebrating girls in the mountains does not mean putting down anyone else. This was supposed to be a thread that might inspire someone to do this or to share their experience and maybe even a trip report.
Ps Not a pink and purple mom here, if that had not come throughSep 8, 2011 at 9:35 am #1777337
@harry-nLocale: Western US
It's rare, though I've seen girls/young women out on the trail in groups of approximately 10 or so. I've met a number of female-led parties of girls/young women backpacking in the Gila and neighboring Black Range. Most seem to be organized by educational institutes (public and private). Exchanged pleasantries but not enough to find out if there were any relatives (mom-daughter, aunt-niece) before heading our separate ways. Some things are changing but not enough to counter our increasingly busy work schedules.Sep 15, 2011 at 6:35 am #1779754
@sim1ozLocale: Melbourne, Australia
You probably won't see me on the trail (I live in Australia) but I am a mother who takes her two teens hiking. Sometimes Dad comes along too. When I rediscovered hiking my husband was very supportive but I thought he was just humoring me. It turns out he is enjoying it as much as me and the enthusiasm has infected our kids. In terms of role models, when it comes to hiking, my kids turn to me. I research all the locations, organize the trip, and the fun surprises as well.
My son is at 'survival' camp with school this week and I laughed when I saw the huge size of the packs they were being provided with. I know I am going to be appreciated even more on our next hike when he is back to his small light pack. Mind you, my son rebelled against their suggested quantities (eg. clean clothes for each day) in the gear list so his pack should be half empty.
I have seen some of the comments made above in action here too. Even though it's just personal experience, all the women I know who enjoy hiking have partners who do as well. The same cannot be said for the reverse.Sep 20, 2011 at 6:40 pm #1781393
@becca-rLocale: Alexandria, VA
I only have one son (so far). He is almost 3 and we've done a lot of hiking alone together and one car camping trip alone. We will eventually go backpacking alone, hubby likes it ok, but in good weather I always want to go more than he does. I can't wait till this is an option.
I know lots of moms that genuinely like to hike, but I don't know that many moms that love backpacking enough to plan and go on a trip by themselves.
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