Glacier National Park With A Little Tyke

Outdoor Kids

Me and my Adventure Tyke

Me and my Adventure Tyke

New parents are often times told that their outdoor lifestyle will come to a complete halt once their tyke is born. This opinion is definitely not providing any support, boosting anyone’s confidence, or helping new parents maintain their lifestyle. That’s one reason I created Adventure Tykes. I want new and established parents to know that they can still adventure with their tykes.

Three and a half years ago, I wrote a post over on Adventure Tykes about adventuring with your tyke and how it can be done. I think that post is still valuable today for all parents.

Here it is…

Fourteen days on the road, 7 days camping, 2 nights at a backcountry chalet, 50+ miles of hiking, 1 boat ride, 1 flat tire, 4 grizzly bears, 1 black bear, numerous mountain goats, 2 bighorn sheep and an enormous amount of huckleberry ice cream. Who says you can’t do all that with a 16-month-old? (Other than the guy at the chalet, but more on that below.) We did all that and relished every moment of it. Granted, it was difficult at times but sharing the joy of the outdoors with J-Man was worth it.

We just got back from Glacier National Park and what a beautiful place it is. I know that our son will not remember the hikes, the animals, the yummy huckleberry ice cream or the trip for that matter, but that doesn’t stop us from sharing it all with him. We take him on these adventures not just for him but for ourselves, too. We find great happiness in showing him new places and what they have to offer. After all, you can’t see a mountain goat or grizzly bear in Moab.

We did some amazing hiking while in Glacier, and one hike in particular was long and grueling. It was 13.4 miles round-trip with 3,300 feet of elevation gain. Not so bad for a day hike if you’re only carrying 10 or 15 pounds on your back. But it makes for a loooong 8-hour day when it is 40-plus pounds of a tyke, food, and gear. This hike takes you to the Sperry Chalet, where most people hike up or ride horseback to stay the night. Not us. We made it a day trip and, three-quarters of the way up, we were wondering what we were thinking. We aren’t ones to start a hike and then, halfway in, turn around and head back. Many, many, many times I wanted to, but I also wanted to complete the hike. mountaingoatSo we kept on trucking, sometimes at a snail’s pace, but we kept our legs moving. J-Man did great during the hike. We let him out for lunch and let him hike a bit of the trail; he ran around the grounds of the chalet and then babbled practically the whole way back. That is one hike we can check off the list and not have to do again. Ha!

The stay at the Granite Park Chalet was wonderful. It is a 7.5-mile hike in on the Highline Trail with 1,400 feet of elevation gain and follows the Garden Wall. This time, there was definitely more than 40 pounds on my back and—coming at the end of the trip and considering all the hiking we had already done—my legs were sore and tired. We had friends join us on this portion of the trip and they were great company. As we hiked along the Highline Trail we were road-blocked by a mountain goat and greeted by other mountain goats, crossed numerous waterfalls and streams, and passed a few dozen friendly hikers. We got kudos from hikers passing by seeing J-Man on the trail. The comments went something like this: “Great, start ’em early,” and “Go Mama,” “That’s great,” “Good for you,” and on and on. It is so nice to hear encouragement and positive thoughts since it is still uncommon to see such young tykes on the trail.

The stay at the chalet was a treat. There were rustic living quarters, but that’s OK. It was all about the experience and experiencing it with J-Man, although one guest of the chalet didn’t think he should have been there. The guest was overheard saying that it was “unsafe” to have J-man there. Not sure what he meant by that but it sure got under our skin for the rest of our stay. We are experienced outdoorsmen with safety and medical backgrounds and we would never do anything to put our son in harm’s way. If he was referring to the bears, believe me, we were prepared. Regardless, the Chalet was a wonderful ending to our trip.

Melissa carries her toddler in a backpack carrier and hikes along an exposed and cliffy section of the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana.

Melissa carries her toddler in a backpack carrier and hikes along an exposed and cliffy section of the Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, Montana.

After we returned home, I realized that some people aren’t equipped to take a young tyke out into the wilderness and that I shouldn’t let comments like the ones the gentleman at the Chalet spouted off bother me. If I let that comment—along with all the other comments about our adventures ending when J-Man was born—get to me, we wouldn’t be having such wonderful adventures with him.

So, the next time you doubt whether you can take your tyke on a hike, a camping trip, or even a road trip know that you CAN. There will be a little more planning involved, a bit more gear needed, and you might have to go at a slower pace but just think of the fun you will be sharing with your child and the memories you will be making.

Last modified: April 28, 2014

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