I know what you’re thinking – on a blog about hiking with a baby, why is she highlighting the greatness about hiking without one? Well, I’ll tell you why, because it’s just as hard.
Growing up, when I’d roll my eyes at my mom about some ‘dripping with love’ statement she’d make, she’d say, “Just wait, you’ll understand how much I love you when you have children of your own.”
Never was that more true, than when my husband and I said good-bye to our son for our first nights away from him to hike the outrageously beautiful mountains of northern Maine.
I turned 30 this past month. While I honestly don’t have an issue being in my 30s – we realized I spent the last six amazing months of my 20s focused appropriately so entirely on the little man who took our duo to a trio. Date nights haven’t made their way into our routine yet and workdays seem to seep into long nights of teething, rocking, and growth-spurt-feeding: All things that undoubtedly bring us closer together each day.
But after six months of ongoing sleep deprivation, you’re bound to start forgetting what it’s like to sleep eight – who am I kidding – four hours straight. We needed a night – OK three nights – away.
So off we went on a late night flight to Maine for a three and a half day adventure hiking in a state we’d never been before. We were not disappointed.
We drank wine, talked about our son – yes, we talked about our son! It’s OK to talk about your child when away from your child even if that’s all you talk about when you’re with your child. We planned future family vacations and laughed and went to bed early, and we ate normal meals at a normal pace.
Acadia National Park is incredible. If you’ve never been, go. If you’ve gone before, go again. We certainly plan to. It’s peaceful and rejuvenating and simply breathtaking. It’s not, however, a great place to bring a baby. You would absolutely need a hiking carrier for the hikes you could actually do with one on your back (there are hikes that involve boulder climbing or steep cliffs where I wouldn’t recommend it at all).
So this is one that I would leave the young babies at home. Depending on your child’s abilities, we both agreed that seven would be the youngest we would bring, but 10 year olds and over would probably be best. They can go for longer, carry their own water and gear, and will appreciate just how cool the place really is.
Many sites will say you can’t do Acadia in a weekend. You certainly can’t do all of Acadia but you can cover enough to make you fall in love. We did at least two major hikes a day and enjoyed Bar Harbor at night. We stayed at the perfect little cabins 10 minutes away from the town and enjoyed every blissful, SILENT, minute of it. For us, Acadia was just the weekend we needed.
We’re well since back now and have no regrets about taking the long weekend away for ourselves. The baby had a great time with his grandmother, and we got some time to reconnect.
Even if you can’t do it for an overnight trip, I would highly recommend finding a sitter – or eager family member – to stay with your child/ren and heading out to the trails every once in while for some time with just the two of you and nature. Don’t forget you in all the wonderful and appropriate attention you are giving to your precious little one.