Type of HikeDay hike
Trail ConditionsTrail in good condition
RoadRoad suitable for all vehicles
It's amazing what a 2 year old can do given enough chocolate. I took my daughter on another solo hike today. She's been asking to go hiking a lot lately. It makes me so happy that we have imparted a love of hiking in her at such an early age. My wife is pregnant with twins and can't go (doctor's orders), so it's up to me to take her out. This was the second time I've taken her out on a hike alone, and I'm starting to get the hang of it. I thought I'd share my experience and what I've learned. I picked Wallace Falls because there are a lot of intermediate destinations and running water. This is the kind of hike I'd normally ignore because it's really crowded and the scenery isn't on par with the hikes I normally do. However, a Daddy-Daughter hike is a special kind of thing with different pay-offs. We enjoyed each other's company and she's building the strength that she'll need in order to hike on her own once the twins are born. She even did alright with the massive number of people and dogs on the trail. We started out with her immediately asking to be carried. Kind of a downer, but I rolled with it. We got to the picnic table just below the powerlines and had a snack. I carried her away from the picnic table, and ~1/2 mile to the little falls loop. There was another bench, so she wanted to get down and sit on it. We had another snack, and she wanted to be carried again. Ok, I guess she's not going to walk. I got out the Ergo (it fits nicely in a compression sack), put her backpack in my pack, and got ready to go. Since I was going to be carrying her I decided that I'd skip the little falls loop and head directly to lower falls. She wasn't too happy about this, so I gave her a choice. She could walk and choose which way we went, or I could carry her and choose. She chose to walk. I rearranged my pack again, and then we got moving. She chose the same direction I was planning on. From that point on she walked most of the way. We stopped frequently for snacks, especially if there was a bench or a log. Each time we'd stop she'd want a different type of food. I learned on my previous hike with her that a variety of real food is pretty important, so I brought a wide variety: pumpkin-chip muffins, bananas, peanut butter & crackers, pepperoni, chocolate, dried fruit, and peanuts. Even with all of that, by the end of the hike she wasn't interested in any of the food that I had left. I forgot that I had cheese and carrots - I wonder if she would have eaten those. At the early stops, we'd share some hot decaf green tea. I love this on a cold hike, and she does too. She spilled a lot of this on the front of her vest. Lesson #2 - always have a bandana easily accessible. Great for cleaning up the peanut butter and chocolate off her face too. We'd walk and stop and walk and stop. Periodically she'd see something up ahead and get excited about it (or I would point it out and she'd get excited about it). Stairs, benches, bridges, trailside waterfalls, big steps. This stuff is all exciting to a two year old. She'd say "go get that bridge" and have a renewed sense of energy. At one point a slightly older boy walked by and she said "go get that boy" and sped up to keep up with him. It was funny to hear her commentary on the trail. At one point she was climbing some tall steps and as she made it up one she said "Strong girl!" I give her a lot of encouragement on the trail :) Lots of people commented on how cute she was or how strong she was. At one point someone said "she has her own backpack" and the she started saying "I have my own sleeping bag... in my pack." Which is only half true. She has a bag, but not in her pack :). She really enjoyed the bridges over the streams and creeks. She'd just stand and look at the water. She especially enjoyed discovering that she could see water below her through the one inch gaps between the boards. She also liked being lifed up to see over the railings. She walked at least 2.5 miles of the 3.6 miles round trip to the lower falls. After the first half mile I stopped using the Ergo. Lifting her up on to my shoulders was much faster and surprisingly more comfortable. It also inspired her to walk more. She'll spend a long time in the Ergo, but I don't think she spent more than 0.5 miles on my shoulders. Toward the end of the hike she was momentarily cranky and had a little tantrum. I had mentioned a boardwalk, and she wanted to walk on it. Nevermind that it was another 0.1 miles down the trail. She didn't want to walk on the ground or be carried. She wanted the boardwalk. Eventually she calmed herself down, and then mistook a slightly elevated gravel section of the trail for a boardwalk. After that she was ok again. When we did get to the boardwalk at the little falls loop she walked back and forth on it several times. Lesson #3 - don't talk about something unless it's in sight - especially at the end of the day when your 2 year old hasn't had a nap. In retrospect she displayed several signs of wanting a nap. I'll watch out for those in the future and bring out the Ergo at that point. She keep saying "up on Daddy" but didn't want to be on my shoulders, she spread her coat out on a log and later on a bench and tried to get on it, she laid down on the bench on top of her coat, and she kept wanting to take breaks but wasn't interested in any of the snacks I had. Knowing what I know now, I probably would have pushed on to the middle and upper falls and then walked back with her in the Ergo so she'd have some time to nap. I'll probably take the car with the more comfy car seat as well for maximum nap time. When we got back to the car she said "go camping" and I had to tell her that Mommy was expecting us back home, but maybe we could go camping sometime in the future. I'm not sure how I'll do that - might have to do some Daddy-Daughter camping trips, as Mommy (and the twins) probably aren't camping this season. 3.6 mi round trip, 7 hours on the trail.