Posted by: Kate | July 29, 2013

Backpacking Baby!

With two successful camping trips (one & two) under our belt, back in June we decided to up the difficulty from car camping to backpacking!

Steve and Eleanor Heading to Annapolis Rocks

We have been to Annapolis Rocks twice before on backpacking-rock climbing trips and we thought the relatively short hike to great campsites with a spring would be perfect for Eleanor’s first backpacking trip. Plus, we could get some great outdoor rock climbing in!

The most difficult part of backpacking is carrying everything you need. This is decidedly more complicated when you are also carrying a baby and their many accoutrements.

We have a nice hiking backpack carrier that Eleanor loves riding in, but it doesn’t have much storage and it was unworkable to fit all our other stuff (tent, sleeping bags, food, stove, climbing gear) in only one pack.

Given this limitation, we made the bold decision to push Eleanor in her BOB stroller while each of us wore our regular packs. Based on our memories of the trail, we were pretty (overly) confident that BOB’s air tires and suspension could easily handle the hike. Plus, now we could load up the stroller basket with climbing rope and maybe even a bag of wine!

photo (50)

Well…the trail was a bit rockier than we had recalled and there was a point about 20 minutes into the hike when we wondered if we had made a big mistake! But with a whole lot of sweat and concentration we successfully carried Eleanor in the fully loaded BOB palanquin, Cleopatra style, over the most difficult sections of trail. It was worth it, and luckily, we were able to push the stroller most of the time.

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The 2.5 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail, took us about 1.5 hours instead of the usual hour, but we were very content to take our time and enjoy the scenery since there was no need to rush.

Upon arrival we chatted with the camp host, confirmed that water was flowing from the spring, and got situated in the best camp site. Soon after that, additional friends started arriving and we went down to catch the sunset from the top of the crag.

Steve and Eleanor set up our tent

Dwyer-Rileys Sunset at Annapolis Rocks

We had a great weekend rock climbing and camping with a group of 22 friends, family, and friends of friends! It was remarkable how smoothly everything went!

Annapolis Rocks: The Crag

We didn’t get too many pictures of the actual climbing while we were also chasing after Eleanor, but the above shot gives you a feel for the rock formation.

Eleanor’s love for camping continues and she did a great job of going with the flow, despite her nap schedule being disrupted. It was also one of the first times that she got to practice walking on uneven ground and it was really cool to see her start to understand that she needs to watch where she is putting her feet.

Eleanor, Sean & Ciaran at Annapolis Rocks

Backpacking with Baby Pro-Tip: Bring a feeding seat for baby.

As an afterthought, we decided to strap a portable seat and tray to the outside of Steve’s pack. This might seem a bit gratuitous but it wasn’t that heavy, made meals much easier, and Eleanor loved having her own spot. Let’s be honest — having a place to sit down comfortably is pretty key for anyone on a backpacking trip, including babies!

Steve's Pack

Steve with Portable Seat on Pack

All in all this was pretty much the perfect weekend backpacking trip: great people, beautiful scenery, challenging and interesting rock climbing, manageable trail hiking, and one rock star baby!

Eleanor Asleep in BOB



  1. Kate- You guys are amazing! To compare, this was our version of “camping”:
    After reading all about your adventures, we might have to go for the real thing someday!

  2. Mary- I love your blog! You have to start somewhere with camping, right? Sounds like you guys will be ready for the next step soon!

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