The first of many
I always get pretty excited to show visiting friends and family the desert wasteland we live on the edge of out here. It’s a perhaps silly pride of something that’s not at all mine but that is oh-so profoundly special. The sharing last weekend was the best ever.
Introducing Zazie, who’s been itching to get into the backcountry for two and a half weeks now.
Things started off in appropriate fashion at the visitor center. In the 20 minutes it took to pick up a backcountry permit and get things around for the afternoon, we observed multiple high-heels, two paramedic responses, lace gloves up to the shoulders, clown pants, a line of people taking photos of photos of arches in the visitor center, and learned of a woman stuck in quicksand for 14 hours several days earlier.
Walk a shockingly short distance from roads or trails, though, and it’s some of the most tranquil country around.
Only a little disturbed (and less so than her parents) by a lonely 30mph gust of sand…
People are generally a bit dramatic about how much different it is to backpack with a baby (or rather how they think it would be to backpack with a baby), but there were a few things that will require some future tweaks and different thinking. For example, site selection. I’ve basically backpacked shelterless for almost two years, but my own tolerance for potential misery and skills to avoid it don’t mean much to a baby being feasted on by mosquitos. We took a net inner of an old two man tent and it was a rude reminder how little air moves even in mesh when camped on a slickrock slab that’s been heated to 100+ all day. Luckily Zazie was willing to share her evaporative cooling system of wet muslin blankets.
Getting to camp early and having time to thoroughly get to know the surrounding area was an additional treat. Bighorn beds, hidden hanging gardens, and finally flushing a pair of Great-horned owls that had been roosted in the tree we were under for two hours were some highlights.
A little more nitty-gritty: Carrying was a little bit of a conundrum. We have three different carriers (Ergo, Maya wrap, and a ring sling) but none seemed to tick the right boxes of cool and secure and usable with a backpack. I made a mesh carrier that attaches to my pack but it was kinda a last minute project and wasn’t quite ready so we went with the sling. It’s the coolest of the options and worked great with the only knock being that it isn’t as secure as the other options. Easy walking and a short hike made this not much of an issue. Other than the need for a real shelter, out of the norm gear was pretty minimal. Diaper gear is really the only other thing we wouldn’t otherwise be taking.
I’ve always admired people who don’t concede to the “your life is over” view of new parenting. I’m not foolish enough to think it will always be as easy as this was, but practically speaking this was minimal fuss and words can’t describe the rewards. After a crazy spring of one thing leads to another house projects and busi-ness, being out there in the miserable July heat with Autumn and Zazie was pure joy (topped off with a dip in the river, of course).