SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore

Posted by: Nemoralis

SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 07/10/16 02:53 PM

My son is 16 months old and I've taken him on one backpacking trip in central Florida (plus car camping trips). It was a quick 4 mile overnight round trip and I think it was a success. I'm currently in Vegas right now with my SO and had been planning to go to Zion National Park for a few months now. I got ready to leave today and suddenly my SO had reservations about me going, so I canceled the trip. My plan was to drive up to a lesser used part of the park and hike maybe a mile or two from the car and camp for two nights.

He thinks that it's highly unusual to take a baby out into the wilderness where I may not have cell reception and if I get hurt (break a leg, hit my head, etc) then it could have disastrous consequences for our son. He recently went hiking with us and has also come to the realization that hiking in and of itself is often too dangerous for me to be doing alone with our son. He says flat ground is ok, but anything much more than that is too much.

His main concern is me going alone. He says he would be ok with most of the trips I want to do as long as another adult is with me. I understand this concern, but I spend a lot of time alone and don't usually have someone to go with me. Of course I could just not go unless I have a partner, but that really cuts down on my options. Plus, I really enjoy it being just me and my son.

That's the brief version of our argument. I'll include more if I need to. I'm just looking for other opinions as I'm quite upset at the moment. Am I crazy for taking a baby out into the wilderness alone? In my mind, I have tailored these trips to my son by a huge amount, considering the types of trips I would be doing if it weren't for him. In my SO's mind, I'm pushing the envelope really far and doing something that's not worth the risk.

Opinions?
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 07/10/16 03:49 PM

Pretty soon, if not already, your son is going to be just too heavy to carry along with a full backpack, and you'll need a second "porter." It will probably be 1 1/2 years or more before the boy can walk the full distance. Even more important, the youngster will need full-time supervision by more than one person, once he's capable of running off and disappearing every time your back is turned (he may be there already!). Been there, done that, big panic, fortunately others helped out and the 3-year-old was found! I'd be more concerned about that than by the possibility of something happening to you. Why can't your SO go along?

In the meantime, I strongly suggest a Personal Locator Beacon, a SPOT or a Delorme Inreach so that you can summon help if you need it. With the second two, you can send messages to reassure your SO. My PLB has so far kept my grown children off my back when this 80-year-old granny goes out alone, as I frequently do.

Lots of us have taken our babies and small children out in the wilderness with no problems, but the toddler/preschool age does require extra supervision! Hopefully you'll hear from Wandering_Daisy who has done a lot more of this than I have!

On the home page of this site is an excellent article on backpacking with babies and small children. On toddlers, the author says: "For most families, it works best to have one adult completely committed to the task of watching the kid, while the other one does camp chores."
Posted by: aimless

Re: SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 07/10/16 05:44 PM

Am I crazy for taking a baby out into the wilderness alone?

Each of your positions has merit and can be reasonably defended. It's not a matter of who is right and who is wrong, or whether your plan is crazy or his alternative of having another adult is unreasonable. What's missing is your both taking the final steps to a compromise solution you can each agree upon. This impasse may be based on the feeling that this one trip sets an important precedent for many future trips, so giving up on any point now means giving up on it for a very long time. I can sympathize with that.

If you do have some anxiety over this arrangement being permanent, try to let it go, along with any resentment you might have over your SO appearing to thwart and obstruct your plans. He's doing his best and so are you.

You may need to get your alone time camping in the wilderness and your together time camping or hiking with your son on separate trips, either camping together within cell range, or else with another adult along. Reassure yourself that all these arrangements and compromises can be changed as circumstances change. The accommodations you make now don't have to be chiseled in stone.

My wife and I have had to make many similar compromises over the decades in regard to my need to solo backpack, our need to hike and camp together, while balancing these with the urgent care requirements of a medically fragile child and all the other responsibilities that come with a family. You just have to stay flexible and work together to meet everyone's needs. Not every good choice feels good.

Good luck! smile
Posted by: Nemoralis

Re: SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 07/10/16 09:55 PM

I'm sure we can come to some sort of compromise situation, but what I'm more looking for here is a confirm/deny that backpacking or hiking solo is reasonable with a young child. Is this something commonly done or is this something that no one does and I'm just mistaken?

In regards to carrying him or letting him walk - right now I am carrying him most of the way. For 1-2 mile trips, it's not too much of an issue. He's a strong walker and can also walk on his own on some trails for a little ways. It won't be long before he can do a mile or two on his own, although it might take all day and that's ok. My SO has, up to now, not gone with me because he's not an outdoorsy person. He's never camped or spent much time outdoors. He is willing to try it out and of course I look forward to that, but his job has him traveling for weeks at a time, which is of course usually the time that I want to get out and take our son camping/hiking/backpacking because we are on our own.

I hear you on the issue with them running away, it's something I haven't thought of before. I'm usually camping in areas where it would be pretty difficult for him to get away, I'd have to not be paying attention for quite a long while. I realize it's still a possibility. But it's arguably more dangerous and easier for him to get away from me on a crowded street and no one ever chastises me for walking in town with him alone.

Thanks for the responses!
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 07/11/16 11:55 AM

This is a bit redundant but expands a bit on my first post.

Lots of people have taken their kids backpacking starting as early as a month (as you know, the kid is a lot more portable at that age)! Do read the article by Penny S on the home page of this site that I mentioned--and have your SO read it! Other posts in this section of the forum may help, too. A local Seattle area forum even has a long thread by parents taking their "littles" out: here's the URL. Lots of links to the parents' blogs there. Do some googling and you'll find lots of blogs from women who take their infants and toddlers out! I tried searching on "backpacking with toddlers" and found heaps of articles even after eliminating the ones obvioously related to budget travel.

Getting several moms and their littles together is a good idea! Or you may have to resort to car camping and day hiking if that keeps the SO happier, or when kid plus gear get too heavy. As I mentioned before, your having a means of emergency communication when out of cell phone range should help reassure the SO, especially with one of the models that let's you send reassuring messages.

As far as danger goes, I've always maintained that your risk is far greater while driving to and from the trailhead (especially coming home when you're tired) than on the hike!

I suspect that Wandering_Daisy may be out backpacking (perhaps with small grandkids), but you can read her older posts in this section of the forum,
Posted by: BZH

Re: SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 07/14/16 06:00 PM

Yup.... Lot's of people take infants backpacking and lots of "non outdoorsy-types" find people like us crazy. What is actually shocking to me in your description is it sounds like your husband is actually concerned with the dangerous part of this trip... namely you getting hurt. It seems like a PLB (or similar device as recommended by OM) would be a good compromise.

It doesn't matter who is right or wrong. The important thing is to talk it out and make sure both parents are on board with what is going on. Best of luck!
Posted by: wandering_daisy

Re: SO doesn't want me going alone with baby anymore - 08/09/16 09:34 PM

You are right OM! I am out backpacking. Just got back from trip #3 in the Wind Rivers. Have a week off then a 12-day trip.

I took my babies backpacking; by myself, with my husband, with girl friends. Best for me was with girlfriends. My husband was little help since once he saw a fish in a lake, I never saw HIM again for the rest of the day. My girlfriends, who had kids too, were very helpful. I tried two kids (2 and 4) by myself and it was a disaster. Did a trip alone with my 5 year old and that worked out very well- we had a horse packer take us in and then slowly walked out 20 miles (mostly downhill). My kids were small for their age so I could carry them in my pack until they were about 2 1/2. I remade my Kelty pack- added a canopy, sling seat and diaper carrier on top of the canopy.

I had no qualms about putting a harness on my little ones and tying a lanyard to a tree so they would not run off while I had to do camp chores.

A good friend of mine took all three of her kids for one-month long sojourns in the wilderness with her two pack horses. She hired a high school kid as a babysitter. Said she would never consider a trip with small children without a babysitter. You may be able to find a qualified babysitter who also backpacks.

One thing to really watch for with a kid in a backpack, is that they are sitting and you are walking. When it gets cold you may be warm but they could be subject to hypothermia. Let them out often and check their hand and feet temperature often.

You also should take a course in wilderness medicine and first aid as well as talk to your peditritian about specifics in first aid for children.

On and on-- but no, it is not crazy to take your kid backpacking.