REIDVILLE Hiking is hard enough, but try it with a baby on your back.
That’s what Katherine Easton has been doing since June, utilizing a child-carrier backpack she and her eight-month-old daughter Erin received as a christening present back in May.
Easton has been selecting different trails to hike around western Newfoundland with little Erin on her back and looking over her shoulder. Since June the pair have hiked 18 trails for a total of approximately 120 kilometres and Easton says she’d like to have even more trails hiked before the winter hits.
“She’s getting a little heavy now though, I may have to leave her behind for some of them,” Easton joked about her growing baby. “I love being able to take her along. She’s great company and there were times when I might not have been able to do it without her.”
Easton is an adventure tourism student at the College of the North Atlantic and is an experienced hiker. She was stranded in a snowstorm when she was pregnant with Erin last year in the Lewis Hills area with a group of other hikers.
Not wanting to repeat the experience of being lost with a baby outside her body, she goes on hikes where the trails are well marked and she always carries a cellphone. On the more difficult hikes, like when the pair climbed Gros Morne Mountain, she brings along another adult to share the baby-carrying duties.
Easton got the idea from her daughter’s father, Stephen Noel, who had heard about other hikers doing the same kind of trips across the province. When she received the baby carrier, she started out on the easier trails. Baker’s Brook near Rocky Harbour was the first, and gradually progressed to trails like Copper Mine, Cape Trail in York Harbour and Little Port Trail, Bottle Cove.
“There’s really something different about each hike, some of them I did twice,” she said.
“I’ve gotten to the point where I can identify a bird by its call or identify most plants, but doing this with my daughter made it so much better.”
Most parents would wonder about bringing such a small child out hiking and what might happen, but Easton said it wasn’t a problem for her.
“The happiest I’ve seen her is when she’s outside,” Easton said. “I never have a problem with her getting fussy or crying and I’ve never had to turn back and go home because of her. She’s a great hiking buddy.”
More importantly to Easton, she was able to introduce her daughter to outdoor life in the province at a very early age, something she hopes stays with Erin her whole life.
Easton heads back to school in January. She hopes to be able to utilize her eventual diploma in a career that sees her working in a park as a ranger or interpreter.
The next trail she hopes to do is Corner Brook’s Man in the Mountain, preferably in the fall she said, to enjoy the autumn foliage.
Little Erin giggled in agreement.