Ellie’s Gear Picks, Part 2

The second part of Ellie’s Gear Picks includes all of her clothing and layers. Quick note- these layers will change as the seasons change- summer clothing isn’t included here! This cold weather system has worked great so far, but as always, suggestions are welcome!

Diapers: We are excited to use gDiapers on the trail. They have a unique design- a thin cloth outer shell with a detachable plastic pocket that snaps inside. This holds disposable inserts in place. We will be taking 2 cloth covers, 4 plastic liners, and 4 disposable inserts per day. We’re using Seventh Generation disposable wipes, repackaged for 5 per day. We have used cloth at home from day 1 with Ellie, but the thought of washing diapers on the trail was more intimidating than carrying out disposables.

Base Layers: Two sets of Ella’s Wool Base Layer Set. These are made of merino wool and the bottoms are footed. The second set are not only in case a blow out happens, but are also her “pajamas”. This ensures that we are changing her clothes fully every single night to check for ticks(if you have any tips for ticks and babies, PLEASE CONTACT ME!).

Mid layers: Tube pants made from merino wool, also by Ella’s Wool. These pants are DURABLE. And their design grown with the baby and will last for 2-3 seasons and then be ready for another kid to wear. Her mid layer top is a Patagonia Micro D fleece.

Warm hat: Ellie wears an adorable alpaca wool hat also by Ella’s Wool. It ties under her chin so it stays on at night.

T-shirt: Patagonia Capilene Silkweight T-shirt

Bunting: Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater Bunting. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible for Ellie to get cold in this big guy!

Socks: Warrior alpaca wool purchased from amazon.com. We were so impressed with the alpaca wool hat that we went with alpaca socks, too! We only need one pair since her base layers have feet in them.

Shoes: Robeez soft leather sole shoe, also from amazon.com. These are the only shoes that will actually stay on her feet! She’ll switch to something like Keens when she is walking.

Rain Jacket: Patagonia Torrentshell one-piece.

Tip- for anything Patagonia, we try and first get it used, and if that doesn’t work, we look for past season models that have been replaced by new designs.

The countdown is now at 6 days! Let’s go already!



Ellie’s Gear Picks, Part 1

To start out, we have been blown away by the amount of support and encouragement that has flooded our way as we are just 1 week away from starting our family’s big adventure. Your kind words are going to keep us going on a rainy day- thank you!

Ellie hand picked each of these items, so no hating- it’s what the baby wanted! But seriously, if you have suggestions we definitely want to hear them!


Shared Family Gear 

Tent: ZPacks Triplex Tent Cuben Fiber. This tent is designed for 3 people, and it fits our 25 inch pads very comfortably with extra wiggle room for all of us to spread out. It is held up by our trekking poles.

Sleeping Pad: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir 25 inch pad. This sleeping pad is straight luxury! Both Derrick and I have boney hips, so keeping off the ground is important for a good night’s rest. The few minutes it takes each night to blow it up is worth it. Our pads are connected and covered by a Synergy Coupler Sheet(also Therm-a-Rest), which essentially turns 2 pads into 1, creating a double sized bed for the three of us to share. Ellie will sleep between us.

Sleeping Bag: Vela HD Down Quilt by Therm-a-Rest. While Therm-a-Rest isn’t commonly known for their sleeping bags, this quilt fits our needs to a T. It’s a 35 degree double quilt that attaches to the Synergy Coupler Sheet, creating more of a bed feel than sleeping bag feel. It also cuts down on volume significantly and is the same size as 1 standard down sleeping bag of the same warmth rating. Sleep is gold to us with a baby, and this sleep system (so far) has been superior!

Food Bag: Sea to Summit 20 liter E-vent dry bag. Keeps the rain out and is easily able to be hung away from bears at night.

Cook system: Evernew 2.6 liter titanium pot and a MSR Pocket Rocket stove. Our means mainly require just boiling water, and the Pocket Rocket does a great job at boiling water super fast. We plan to all eat out of the same pot at each meal, so the 2.6 liter pot fits our need and is lightweight at 13.6 oz.

Water filtration: Sawyer Squeeze and Sawyer Mini. The squeeze connects to water bottles and filters as you drink. The mini attached to my water bladder(Platypus brand) and filters as you drink. Ellie and I will primarily drink from the water bladder because it’s easy for her to hold and drink from.

Trowel: The Tent Lab. What can I say, it’s 0.6 oz!

Beacon Device: SPOT. A necessity as we hike with a little one! This is not only for emergency purposes, but also will notify family when we are doing great yet have no phone service. A peace of mind for those on and off the trail.

Repair Kit and First Aid Kit: homemade! We put together a basic repair kit specific to our gear. First Aid Kit includes baby Benadryl, band aids, thermometer, alcohol wipes, ointment, and gauze.

Trail Guide: AWOL’s The AT Guide. The most compact, yet packed with important information. Updated every year!

Trekking poles: Leki Jannu for Bekah and Leki Makalu for Derrick. These double as our tent poles- 2 for 1 deal!

Thanks for reading and happy trails! Check back later for Part 2- Ellie’s clothing picks!

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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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! 🙂

AT Thru Hike Announcement!


Ellie here. Pounding out 40 words per minute on mom’s laptop.


Ellie at the summit of her first solo expedition. Or maybe it’s her first backpacking trip with Ma and Pa.

For real though. As the title of our first blog post reveals, we’re about to head out on an incredible journey next Spring. Our family of 3 will be the first family to take baby on the entire Appalachian Trail- making Appalachian Trail history. We’ve been dreaming about this trip for almost 10 years. We’ve spent the last 5 months planning and preparing for this
adventure, and will continue to do so for the next 5 months until we step foot onto the trail.

In the mean time, we have some other big news. We’re moving from the beautiful state of South Carolina and going back to our roots in Roanoke, Virginia. That’s right- coming back to family dinners and cousin sleepovers! Our home in Greenville, SC is currently under contract and if all goes as planned, we’ll close on the house mid November. We’re giving the farm a break. (don’t worry, it’ll probably come back someday). It’s a bitter sweet time as we


Our sweet home in Greenville, SC for the last 20 months.

leave our dear community who have become like family, leave our college town, leave a beautiful area, leave our enjoyable jobs as outdoor guides, leave the place we raised a foster child for a year, and leave the home our daughter was born in- literally. It might sound like life is simply too perfect to move! While life is so sweet here, we’re looking forward to getting back home. Roanoke is a pretty awesome place- especially for adventurers like us.

This transition time of moving from one state to another and leaving one job to find the next has given us the perfect opportunity to fulfill our dream of thru-hiking the AT. And even better, we’re getting to take our 12 month old daughter with us.

Let the adventure begin!