This cou­ple took their 11-month-old camp­ing for 12 days. Would you?

The Hamilton Spectator - - GO - SAMMY CAIOLA

SACRA­MENTO, CALIF. — Matt and Kim­berly Kin­ney al­ways travel light when they head into the woods, leav­ing be­hind ev­ery­thing but the ne­ces­si­ties and keep­ing their back­packs as slim as pos­si­ble. Two sum­mers ago they de­cided to add one very heavy item to the pack­ing list: their 22-pound in­fant.

In July 2015, Kim­berly, a speech pathol­o­gist, and Matt, a ge­ol­o­gist, took their son Thomas, then 11 months old, back­pack­ing on the 165-mile Ta­hoe Rim Trail. The ad­ven­ture was so suc­cess­ful that they plan to re­peat it this sum­mer, this time adding their sec­ond son James to the mix.

Bring­ing an in­fant into the el­e­ments sounds bizarre to most peo­ple, Kim­berly said, but it felt like a given for the young cou­ple, who have been log­ging miles to­gether for about six years.

“Gen­er­ally, peo­ple were con­cerned about mos­qui­toes and bugs and him be­ing dirty,” she said, re­count­ing oth­ers’ com­ments be­fore they left. “Ev­ery­thing out on the trail and in the moun­tains, for us, gets very sim­ple and very easy. You don’t have to worry about the things you do in ev­ery­day life out there. All you have to fo­cus on is putting one foot in front of the other and stay­ing happy — that’s it.”

While the fam­ily did achieve a sense of tran­quil­ity on the trail, they were fran­tic with ques­tions lead­ing up to the hike, Kim­berly said. How would they all sleep? What medicine should they bring? Where would they put Thomas’ dirty di­a­pers?

While some par­ents have blogged about their back­pack­ing ex­pe­ri­ences, there weren’t a lot of specifics on the web, she said. Af­ter speak­ing with their pe­di­a­tri­cian and do­ing count­less hours of re­search, the cou­ple came up with 46 items to­talling about 95 pounds to cover Thomas’ trail needs and their own. They set up sup­ply boxes every three days to re­stock on food and di­a­pers.

Dr. Michelle Ernst, a pe­di­a­tri­cian rec­om­mends sav­ing long hikes, and es­pe­cially back­pack­ing trips, un­til the child is 6 months or older and can hold their own head up in a back­pack.

Day hikes and reg­u­lar overnight camp­ing may be fea­si­ble ear­lier as long as the weather is nice and you have a way of keep­ing the child warm at night, she said.

When it comes to pre­par­ing for a trip, sun pro­tec­tion, in­sect re­pel­lent and wa­ter fil­tra­tion are the big­gest con­cerns for chil­dren, Ernst said.

Par­ents should be pre­pared to su­per­vise their chil­dren more in­tently in the wilder­ness than they would in­doors.

“You have to be in­cred­i­bly safe be­cause there are bod­ies of wa­ter, there are rocks; gran­ite is very un­for­giv­ing,” she said. “But even just get­ting kids out there and hik­ing, I’d highly rec­om­mend it for every fam­ily. It’s good, qual­ity bond­ing time.”

The Kin­neys fret­ted over ev­ery­thing when it came to pro­tect­ing Thomas on the trail, they said. But in the end, it was an ex­pe­ri­ence they wouldn’t trade for the world.

How to suc­cess­fully camp or back­pack with ba­bies: •Safety Fevers, ear in­fec­tions, hy­pother­mia and heat ex­haus­tion are just a few of the worst-case wilder­ness sce­nar­ios that might keep some par­ents from hit­ting the trail. Wor­ried about emer­gen­cies, the Kin­neys chose a route with easy ac­cess to civ­i­liza­tion and pur­chased a high-end com­mu­ni­ca­tion de­vice to call for help.

Their Garmin InReach Ex­plorer, priced at $450, kept the Kin­neys from get­ting lost in the woods and could have hailed a he­li­copter from any re­mote lo­ca­tion.

“I wanted to be able to hike with a baby and know that I could get out at a mo­ment’s no­tice and be as close to home as pos­si­ble,” Kim­berly said. “The sin­gle thing that kept me sane about my child was hav­ing that de­vice and know­ing I had an out.”

The Kin­neys also at­tached a small mir­ror to the top of Matt’s pack so he could keep an eye on Thomas dur­ing the hike to make sure he looked healthy and happy.

For first aid, Ernst rec­om­mends bring­ing along Band-Aids, gauze and top­i­cal an­tibi­otics. She does not rec­om­mend bring­ing an EpiPen for al­ler­gen ex­po­sure, as they should only be used if pro­fes­sional help is nearby. Par­ents wor­ried about in­sect or other al­ler­gies could con­sult their physi­cians. •Sleep Get­ting a baby to sleep at home can be a dif­fi­cult task, which makes sleep­ing on the trail an ex­tra chal­lenge. The Kin­neys rec­om­mend a “pad cou­pler,” which keeps two adult sleep­ing pads close to­gether to cre­ate one large sur­face for par­ents and chil­dren to sleep on. The pads in­su­lated Thomas from the cold tent floor, and an ul­tra­light back­pack­ing quilt kept him warm, they said.

The Kin­neys gave Thomas plenty of time to crawl around on the dirt and play in the wa­ter once they made camp each af­ter­noon. Then they took off his dirty clothes, put on clean py­ja­mas and piled into their cosy tent. The next morn­ing it was back into the hik­ing out­fit, which meant they only had to bring two out­fits to­tal — a nifty trick for sav­ing weight. •El­e­va­tion Ba­bies should not be taken into high el­e­va­tion un­til their lungs are de­vel­oped enough — typ­i­cally af­ter 3 months. The Kin­neys did plenty of prac­tice hikes with Thomas to see how he han­dled el­e­va­tion, and he did not ex­pe­ri­ence alti­tude sick­ness. If a baby seems un­happy dur­ing train­ing hikes at moder­ate alti­tude, con­sult a physi­cian about tak­ing them higher up. •Di­a­pers Some par­ents use re­us­able di­a­pers on the trail, stop­ping pe­ri­od­i­cally to wash and dry them for later use. The Kin­neys opted for dis­pos­able di­a­pers, pack­ing a few days’ worth at a time and then putting the dirty ones in Zi­ploc bags. Every few days they stopped at a re­sup­ply sta­tion to dump old di­a­pers and pack new ones. They also packed a large towel for chang­ing and plenty of wipes for gen­eral clean­li­ness, which they also tossed at re­sup­ply sta­tions. •Food and wa­ter The Kin­neys pretty much ate what they eat at home, ex­cept with more calo­ries, they said. Candy bars and potato chips were com­mon in­dul­gences, and with a 12- to 17-mile hike every day they didn’t feel guilty about it.

Be­cause Kim­berly was nurs­ing Thomas on the trail, she was care­ful to drink plenty of wa­ter and eat every one to two hours to keep her milk sup­ply up. For wa­ter, Ernst rec­om­mends skip­ping chem­i­cal treat­ments such as io­dine tablets, which are rough on young tum­mies and aren’t guar­an­teed to clear the wa­ter of Giar­dia and other par­a­sites. In­stead, use a wa­ter fil­ter to pump wa­ter from streams and lakes.

Top: Kim­berly Kin­ney and her son Thomas Kin­ney pose on the Ta­hoe Rim Trail in July 2015. The fam­ily back­packed the 165-mile trail over 12 days.

Above: Matt Kin­ney with 11-month-old son, Thomas en­joy­ing the beau­ti­ful view.

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