I love to hit the trail with my baby snugly strapped to my back—hikers laced double—water bottle at the ready. The earthy smell of a forest trail transports me back to my outdoorsy life before motherhood. But now, I’ve swapped the daypack and climbing gear for my 20-pound baby boy. And it’s the best adventure yet.
Since moving to St. John’s from Calgary this spring, I’ve taken full advantage of the world-class hiking available on the Avalon.
So imagine my delight when I discovered a baby-friendly (indeed, baby-inspired) hiking club right here in St. John’s. It’s called Hike it Baby.
This group of like-minded parents originated in America’s hub of hip—Portland, Oregon. From its modest roots of one mom looking for hiking buddies, this not-for-profit now boasts 277 branches around the world.
The St. John’s Hike it Baby contingent has more than 700 members on its Facebook page, and hosts many different hikes each week.
Wendy Fisher heads up the St. John’s Hike it Baby chapter.
“I wanted something I could pass on,” says Fisher, currently on maternity leave with her second daughter.
“This club is something that’s shared. Anyone can lead a hike, or become a branch ambassador. So, hopefully this group will continue long after I go back to work.”
There’s lots of variety when choosing a Hike it Baby outing. Some hikes are toddler-led, and adopt an obviously slower pace. Other outings are stroller-friendly, and better described as pond walks or park strolls.
Then there are the carrier-only, faster-paced, and certainly more physically challenging hikes. (YOU try wearing a 20-pound weight vest that squirms and spits up). Many of these more traditional hikes are along stretches of the ever-amazing East Coast Trail.
Each hike is described on the group’s Facebook page and website, complete with a difficulty rating, length description, and details of where to meet and park.
“Everybody is welcome,” says Fisher. And she’s right. This is not a cliquey tribe of crunchy granola mommies.
“We welcome moms and dads, babies and kids, older kids, nannies and poppies… It’s all about getting families out there, and getting out on the trail,” says Fisher.
The philosophy of this group is simple: let’s raise a generation that loves the outdoors.
This is a mindset I can really get behind. And so, I frequently take my place in this baby-totting pack, happily exploring the pathways and trails around St. John’s.
For me, Hike it Baby has been a way to connect with other mamas, and explore my new province. I am extra lucky that my 1-year-old takes his best naps in the carrier. Footsteps along a path seem to be his preferred lullaby.
No hiker left behind is the motto here. Diaper changes, nursing breaks and off-trail toddler trips are all embraced.
No one’s looking to beat a track record or impress with high tech hiking gear. The only hope is to get outside and safely enjoy the natural wonders of our province—baby in tow.
For more information check out Hike it Baby St. John’s on Facebook. Or head to hikeitbaby.com.