This year we have had the chance to interview so many inspiring humans hiking trails all over the world. 2017 was the year of empowered individuals looking to accomplish the unthinkable. In February, right before I had Patrick, I read a blog post about a couple that was gearing up for their thru-hike with their infant. It was one of the most inspiring stories I have followed on social media and encompassed exactly what Backcountry Momma is all about.
Adventure is possible no matter what stage you are at in your life.
Meet Ellie, the tiniest of humans to complete the Appalachian Trail.... EVER. Starting the Trail at only a year, the Quirin family took the hiking world by storm by completing what seemed to be the impossible. They completed the over 2,000 mile trail with their baby strapped to their backs!
Kanga (Bekah/Momma), Roo (Ellie/Tiny Human), and Sherpa (Derrick/Daddy) had planned for their trek from the time of the arrival of their little blessing. Originally thinking it was going to take almost a year to complete with Ellie, they were able to complete the AT in 6 months time.
Before setting off on the AT, Derrick and Bekah both had extensive outdoors experience, making them feel confident and safe with starting their thru-hike with Ellie. Both having backgrounds in mountaineering/backcountry skills, Degrees in Outdoors Leadership, and multi-day guides in the backcountry, being outside was second nature to them. Bekah and Derrick even completed their Medical First Responder program (which they had completed before as well), so that they would be medically trained for an emergency if one occurred.
Check out Ellie's gear picks below:
Although thru-hikers have to get permits hiking through many parts of the trail, that wasn't the case for Ellie due to her not "walking" on the trail. Mt. Katahdin and the state of Maine (the very end of the trail for NOBO hikers), require children to be above the age of 6 to be above tree line due to safety reasons, but luckily they had a family babysitter (Gamma) for that day so that they could summit.
Being from Virginia, right off of the AT near McAfee Knob, they started the trail from Virginia to Georgia, drove up to Maine and hiked SOBO back to Virginia, finishing the trail right in their backyard.
Ellie was a natural right from the beginning of the AT. She adjusted quickly to sleeping in the tent, having been co-sleeping at home with her mom and dad. Ellie was born a month early so co-slept for warmth due to her low body fat, but Bekah said it paid off for her camping due to the tight space and for cold nights.
During the day they would hike as far and fast as the could for about an hour to two hours, stop and take a 45 minute break for Ellie to get out and play. Due to the long days Ellie was getting less sleep at night than the average baby, but made up for it during the trek. She slept cozy in her Deuter Kid Comfort 3 pack which provided the necessary support for the thru-hike.
When asking what the most difficult part of the trail was, Bekah quickly answered "Maine". Going from their average of 15-22 miles per day to maybe 10-12, was sad to see. The rocky steep terrain made for slower miles. Although difficult, she stated that the views made it worth it!
About half way through the trek, Ellie decided she didn't want mom and dad to have all the fun and decided to walk along with them! Slowing them down a bit, due to her wanting a little more freedom, it didn't hold them back from completing the trail in 6 months.
In September 2017, the Quirin family made history by the youngest thru-hiker to ever finish the Appalachian Trail!
Readjusting to Everyday Life:
After arriving home, Ellie has found ways to inspire other families to get outdoors. The Quirin Family is part of Hike it Baby - Roanoke, in which Ellie leads babies on adventures of her own. Although having a tough time adjusting to sleeping in her real home, Bekah says they are gearing up for their next adventure of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, so she isn't wanting her to adjust too quick!
Bekah wrote on her Instagram, "While we were on the Appalachian Trail we had a lot of time to dream. Thru-hiking with Ellie opened our eyes to a world of adventures that many people (including us) hadn't considered doing with a baby, because uh... baby? Adulting? Parenting? Before thru-hiking we had come to believe many ideas of what these roles look like. We found that these ideas of the parental mold aren't necessarily true. ANYWAY! There are two big dreams developing into a reality for us and we are bursting at the seams to share them with YOU! We are humbled, blessed, and excited to have so many awesome supporters cheering us on.".
Keep on inspiring, Quirin Family. You're opening families eyes everywhere to a sense of adventure! We cannot wait to see what is next for you y'all!
A very grateful,
To see more posts and to follow Ellie on her future adventures, see below:
Instagram | Blog