3.5 months. Oh my!

Here we are- three and a half months away from the trail. The logistics are full force!

It’s official. We are no longer South Carolina residents and have moved up to our hometown- Roanoke, Virginia. Ok, technically we’re still SC residents because I haven’t been able to brave the DMV yet. We feel like we’re on a holiday vacation seeing our family whenever we want. We haven’t been able to do that in 6 years! It’s so nice to be back home.

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The view of the Blue Ridge mountains out our new living quarter- Derrick’s mom and dad’s beautiful home where they graciously let us stay!

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Moving from our first house in Greenville, SC to Roanoke, VA!

Here’s what we’re doing to get ready:

1- Selling our possessions. A thru hike is expensive and one of the top reasons hikers have to stop is because they run out of money. We don’t want that to happen! So on top of saving extra cash here and there, we’ve also sold a lot of our things. Including our house. This also minimizes our responsibilities while we’re on the trail.

2- Requesting sponsorships/donations. This has been very time consuming, but well worth the time. We are incredibly thankful for our food sponsors and hopefully gear/clothing sponsors on the way. As of now, we have about 1/4 of our trail food accounted for by sponsors. Thank you all so much.

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Who could say no to this face?!

3- Route planning. This is just a rough layout because I’m sure our route plans will change 562,345 times along the way. But in our circumstances, we need to know exactly where we img_3020can have our resupply packages sent, how to avoid crowds so Ellie can get a good night’s rest, and how to time our trip with seasonal weather changes.  We currently live right by the trail in VA. Over this winter we plan to complete a small amount of the local trail in day trips to get Ellie accustomed to being outside all day
long and test out some gear before we head out for 6 months. This will also help us get some miles under our belt in case we take extra long with Ellie. An “official” thru hike is completing the trail within 1 calendar year.

4- Getting physically ready. I don’t suppose it’s a good idea to be a couch potato all winter then put 45 lbs. on my back and expect to feel amazing. This week I plan to start carrying

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Ellie getting adjusted by Dr. Holly!

Ellie in the backpack on my neighborhood walk instead of pushing her in the stroller and slowly add more weight to the pack each week. All 3 of us have been going to the most amazing chiropractor to get our bodies ready! Along with getting physically ready, mental readiness is just as important. I don’t really have any ideas on how to get mentally ready… but birthing Ellie unmedicated is a pretty good test, right?

5- Trial and error. There are still so many things to figure out… cloth diapers or disposable? What kind of dinners should we cook? 2 or 3 sleeping pads? Down or synthetic baby bunting? Is a solar charger necessary? Last week we worked on the diapers… bags of poopy and peepee diapers are going to be so fun to carry around.

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So. Much. Food.

6- Connecting.  Did you know there’s a Facebook group just for those who plan to thru hike the AT next year? And #appalachiantrail2017 is becoming more frequently used. We have been in touch with The Appalachian Trail Conservancy and spoken with other individuals and families who have thru hiked together. I’d love to find other families who have brought a baby on the entire AT, but no luck there. My hope is to be a resource for other families in the future who desire to take a baby to thru hike the trail.

If you’re reading this and have any tips or advice, please comment below or reach out to us! 🙂

10 thoughts on “3.5 months. Oh my!

  1. I’m guessing you already figured out how to store the used diapers btwn trash cans- I would get a food bag that is considered “odor/bear proof” that rolls down and clips. I would seal dirty diapers in freezer ziplocks and then put in this rolltop bag and clip the bag to the **outside of one of your husband’s pack. Being careful to not squash it when you set your pack down on the ground. We love using a zipper top water bag by I think platypus to get water for while in camp and also can be used to pour over yourself to rinse off when needed. Might be helpful to you. Disposable water bottles like Dasani bottles to drink from. Several bandanas for wash clothes- different colors for different purposes- prob one for Ellie’s diaper changes and a wee bit of dr bronner unscented soap to clean it. A lot of women have started using “pee rags” which they actually don’t rinse every day and just hang on their pack to dry. Make water a huge priority to keep your milk going… might want to each carry 3 liters ar least at all times. (“Normal” would be 2 liters per person.) Do you have the Sawyer mini for water filtration? It’s the best!

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  2. Im sure you’ve already come up with your own systems- here are my thoughts, maybe some of them would be useful:
    -scent-proof/”odor/bear proof” rolltop bag (sold as a food bag) for dirty diapers, put them first in freezer ziplocks. Attach to outside of pack and be careful not to squash it when you set your pack down!
    -sawyer mini water filter
    -go above and beyond “normal” on your water so you can try to keep your milk up… I would carry at least 3 liters each. Disposable Dasani bottles work great
    -a water bag- I think platypus makes it, it’s a 4 liter bag to use in camp and very handy for rinsing off by pouring water from the spout (not to be used as a wash basin- but more of a “shower” and handy water collector while in camp
    -different colored bandanas for different purposes- one for Ellie’s wash cloth, diaper change- unscented Dr. Bronners soap. (Many women use “pee rags”- I don’t personally- but the idea would be the same- that you air dry the various wash cloths on your pack in btwn use but being careful to sterilize the poopy one as best you can- could even heat up water at end of day and rinse with hot soap and water.
    -a lot of pct hikers use an umbrella for shade and some models attach to your pack- something like this might be needed to protect Ellie from rain while she’s on your back tho it would be hard to walk through narrow trail with it
    -45 pounds sounds like a lot of weight on your husband :/ don’t forget the “vitamin I”- twds the end of my hike I was taking 9 a day for my knees. You’ve done the best you can buying UL gear… but yeah it’s tough bc those baby carriers don’t have much storage room and I’m guessing your baby already weighs around 20lbs…

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    • Thank you so much for the awesome tips! A roll top bag for diapers is a great idea in addition to freezer Ziploc bags. We are taking a water bladder for sure and that’s what I’ll drink out of. I believe it carries 3-4 liters at a time and we have a Sawyer mini attached to it. I also really like the idea of the different colored bandanas for different purposes. You are full of good ideas! Thank you!

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  3. I’m so envious of your journey!! I’m a new mama who LOVES hiking and you’ve inspired me to want to start a moms hiking group out here in WA state near me ❤ THANK YOU for being my inspiration, showing me it CAN be done, and keeping me on the edge of my seat with your EPIC family journey!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE what y'all are doing!!

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  4. Have you heard about natural infant hygiene, also called elimination communication? It has been a huge help to us in reducing the number of diapers used while hiking and camping. We use cloth diapers with velcro(Softbums) that are super easy to take off and on. We take frequent potty breaks and our daughter seems to enjoy peeing outdoors! I have been able to catch all of her number 2’s because she makes a very distinct face😜 So diapers stay clean and wet ones can be thoroughly rinsed, dried and reused. Not sure exactly how old Ellie is, she may be a little too old to start now, as ideally you would begin practicing before 9 months. Maybe worth looking into…
    Good luck! I am looking forward to following your journey.

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    • Yes I have! I was just talking to another reader today actually! We did this with Ellie with she was 8 months old, but when we moved we stopped and just never got back into it. Maybe we will on the trail! Thank you for reminding me!

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  5. I’ll have to keep an eye on the blog for when you might be getting close to Duncannon, PA. In the square of Duncannon is a place called Doyle Hotel. Many hikers stay there. My cousin owns the flower shop two buildings away, he hiked part of the trail and loves children you’ll have to stop in and say Hi! While you are in this area we’ll be sure to take care of you and support you.

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