My twins were still pretty little when the itch to get back out into the wild began to be unbearable. But as amazing as my double stroller was, it was useless for rugged hiking trails. How was I going to do it? I needed to figure out “hiking by stages.”
I immediately went to the internet and started a ‘googling’ frenzy; I can be pretty focused when I’m on a mission – one might venture to say obsessed even. The thing was, I couldn’t really find anything on the internet about hiking with infant twins. My conclusion was that there wasn’t any information out there, and I was on my own to figure it out.
I’m refusing to acknowledge the possibility that I just completely sucked at using internet search engines.
So, I’m here to share with WHAT I LEARNED about hiking with infant and toddler twins.
HIKING BY STAGES
STAGE 1: infants
- TAKE SOMEONE WITH YOU
- It’s pretty much impossible to go it solo when they’re babies unless you are an Olympic body builder.
- It’s possible to put them in carriers – one on the front and one on the back, but that was way too hard core for me.
- I found double carriers never really worked because by the time I got them both into position one of them would be howling, and I’d have to undo it all to calm him.
- Plus, carrying them both wasn’t comfy, and I still needed somewhere to put the gear – and let’s be honest, twins require a lot more gear than you’d think.
Basically, until they could walk – and walk well enough to manage a trail with roots, I either ENLISTED A FRIEND or stuck to trails where the double stroller could go; the beach became my friend (okay, so the beach has always been my friend, but we’re discussing hiking here).
I’m sad to say we didn’t venture far on our own in those days, because – and this is the IMPORTANT part – I wanted to ENJOY the hike. The hike was for me! They were way too little to get the difference between lounging on the beach and traipsing through the woods.
STAGE 2: toddlers
- LOOP TRAILS
- Loop trails are the best because you don’t have to back track where you’ve already been – convincing toddlers to turn back can be tricky.
- FAMILIAR TRAILS
- I discovered that having a bit of knowledge about interesting things that are coming up was helpful in keeping them moving. One of our favourite trails had the ‘Walking on Log’ and the ‘Broken Tree’ – both excellent inducements for them to keep walking and natural stopping points for snacks.
- Start them carrying their own backpack early. Make sure it’s sized small enough to be comfortable and put only very light things in it at first. Eventually they’ll be able to carry their own water, snack and jacket – this will lighten your load.
- It’s also a matter of safety that they have some warm clothing and water with them in case they get separated from you. Of course, you also need to teach them how to get into their backpack…
Hiking with my twin toddlers, I quickly learned that I needed an incalculable amount of PATIENCE. Expect the pace to feel glacial. Expect them to doddle along looking at every rock and stick. Expect them to want you to carry every rock and stick – set a policy early!!!
The other thing that I learned the hard way was to be very careful about the DISTANCE I chose. It had to be walkable for both of them, because if I picked one up the other one would suddenly be unable to walk any further – this is a phenomenon that still happens today. And I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t carry both of them very far – especially with all our gear on my back.
STAGE 3: preschoolers
- TACKLE SOME ‘MOUNTAINS’
- They’ve built up some stamina – hopefully – so give them a challenge!
The preschool stage didn’t change much for us. We just went a little further, not really much faster, and there was a WHOLE lot more TALKING. If you want to know what my kids are thinking, just take them for a walk.
By this phase, my kids had been hiking for a few years (can you really refer to preschoolers as doing something for years?), and so we hiked a few ‘mountains.’ Sure they were ‘baby’ mountains. People living in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains would probably scoff and call them bumps, but they had Mount in the name, so I think that’s legit.
The twins especially loved scrambling over rock facings. And if there was a summit sign to be found, well…
STAGE 4: school age
- PROJECT BACKPACKING
I don’t have any tips for this stage yet, because we are currently living it! STAY TUNED.
My twins turned six, and I was ready for something more than day hiking. It was time for the next ADVENTURE. It was time to implement PROJECT BACKPACKING.
- Two nights on a beach with only what we could carry on our backs!
- Extra fun challenge: the chosen weekend was while my husband was away (that’s right, I was going it solo with the twins).
I’d never taken young children backpacking before. I’d hiked to Cape Scott (about a 20 km trail each way to the northern tip of Vancouver Island) with my older son, but since he was a teenager it didn’t really count – for the record, I bribed him with a video game.
Despite my lack of experience I did know that there would be some things that I’d need to prepare them for before we headed off.
- Carrying a weighted backpack
- My kids had been carrying a backpack since they were quite little, but their backpacks would need to be heavier than for a simple day hike, and they needed to be comfortable with that.
- Hiking from point A to point B without doddling (this is CRITICAL as, my pack was going to be a monster)
- Most of our hiking experience had been at their pace. We’d stop and play or look at things. With heavy packs, we’d need to keep moving. I knew I needed to teach them the concept of getting to the destination before the exploration begins – tricky, I know! Before twins, I didn’t even know there was more than one kind of hiking.
With these two things in mind, I launched into practice hikes. It was fun, and it wasn’t long until we were ready to tackle an overnighter at Mystic Beach (two nights actually).
Stay tuned for a riveting re-telling of our ADVENTURE.
UPDATED: Read about our trip to Mystic Beach.
Twins make things challenging – especially when they’re little. But there isn’t any reason why you can’t get out there and hit the trails, you just need to make it stage appropriate.
Do you have any suggestions for hiking by stages?
Enjoyed reading? Please help me out and “share” with your friends on your favourite social media sites 🙂
Don’t want to miss a post? Sign up below to receive new posts via email. I promise NO SPAM!