We’ve got big plans for Little Bear as the weather warms, starting with a backpack and packraft loop down in Utah a few weeks hence. Lots of know unknowns when it comes to taking a baby on such a trip, so we’ve been training and sorting logistics and gear as conditions permit.
Some things, like plenty of fleece for warmth in the pack, and extra socks as tamper-proof mittens, we figured out a while ago. LB did outgrow most of his hats, necessitating a new one, and the blue Micro D crew in this photo is 12 month size.
Other things, like how to carry 4-5 days of adult food and baby diapers, packrafting gear for everyone, and said baby (who is now ~23 pounds), all in two packs and on two people, has been subject to a learning curve.
For the last decade of trips M has carried a somewhat to very light pack, something which is coming back to bite us now. My number one advice for aspiring parents who will want to get their offspring out deep and often is to get stronger and more competent than you think necessary at all of the anticipated family activities. I reaped those benefits skiing all winter, and in the near future will benefit enormously from the last two+ years of heavy hunting packs. In short, we found out quickly that the heavy, lurching LB and the good but not exceptional Osprey suspension and harness were not a combination that M could carry all day. Therefore the easy plan for her to carry baby and me to carry everything else was discarded, in favor of her carrying the lighter stuff in the Divide 4500, and me carrying the baby and the heaviest stuff in the Poco AG and whatever additional pockets I could think up. I have a good solution almost in place, but it will mean a heavy and unwieldy load. Which is why we’re doing a trip which is half floating, in the first place.
Another very large unknown is/was getting LB rigged up, and getting all three of us into the Double Duck, properly packed. Thankfully we had warm weather, and grandma in town to help.
After one practice trip we now know some useful things. For one, LB has outgrown his infant life vest, especially when layered up under his Oakiwear suit. For two, we do all fit in the boat, though for ideal legroom (and kid wiggle room) we need to get the packs a little further out on the ends (new tieouts are curing in the garage right now). Open questions include how many shore/play breaks he’ll need during 25 miles of desert river.
Most excitingly, we have a functional system that will allow for all sorts of great, mellow water trips in the immediate area. And those will only get simpler as the snow melts and air temps rise. LBs level of interest in all things, and the ways in which he can physically and verbally express them, have grown enormously in the last month. He puts my appreciation of sunlight reflected in water, which I though quite sophisticated, to shame.