This little girl is Ruby, and boy does she get around!
She's been to SO many National Parks with her family that it makes me a little jealous! 😉
I'm just itching to get out and hike like Ruby and since I was so intrigued, I reached out to Melody to ask how they got started, advice for someone wanting to also hike, and even her favorite equipment! Read their fun story below!
Tell me a little about your story.
When I found out about Ruby's diagnosis, I thought we would never be able to do anything as a family again. So we planned a vacation and squeezed in 3 National Parks and 1 National Monument (into our trip). I told my husband we had to do as much as we could because who knows when we could do something again.
At one of the hotels I saw a family with a child in a wheelchair at breakfast. So I thought if they can get out with their child in a wheelchair then I can too!!!
My kids have always loved the National Parks. They love getting the stamps in their Parks Passport. They kept saying how much they love going and so we thought why spend money to go to Disneyland when National Parks are cheaper and the kids love it? So we decided as a family to make it a goal to visit as many National Parks as possible.
This past June we planned a trip to Yellowstone and wanted to do a hike (we really hadn't done much hiking up unto this point) and I bought a cheap hiking backpack.
Ruby just beamed and smiled being in that thing!!! It was a great hike and I wanted to try to go again carrying her myself and so the next week I took my boys and we went on a hike and from there I was hooked. Ruby kept pulling my ponytail and I felt such an accomplishment carrying her all that way! And I kept talking to her the whole time about what we were seeing and I realized it was good for her, as well.
The kids loved it and I loved talking with them and listening to them talk to each other. They complain too. They aren't angels. But they have come a long way and have learned to push themselves and are stronger.
We have a common goal and lots of things in our house reflect parks we have visited!
What kind of advice can you give to someone wanting to get out and hike?
My advice is to do research before you go. Learn how to read maps or trail sites. When you have a child with special needs you need to be mindful of the terrain and distance and trail conditions. You have to plan.
Ruby was allowed to be off oxygen for a few hours, so I had to plan hikes around that. She needs to have thickened feedings and the milk has to be warmed and so I couldn't warm it up in the wilderness so I had to plan feedings. And I was pumping at the time so I had to plan that. I learned to read trail maps so that I could choose safe trails for children.
But the best advice is just get out and do it!!! There will never be a perfect trail or perfect weather or perfect conditions, so just plan and go!!! Having a child with special needs requires planning but you can still do so much and do things every family does, with some modifications."
What backpack do you use?
I love my new Osprey pack that is so incredibly comfortable to carry her in!
She's about 23 lbs and the pack is about 6 but it's made so well that it doesn't hurt my neck and back like the cheap one did. She had a special hiking bonnet that we used all summer and that was awesome.
Unfortunately, in the Fall I lost it on a trail but we can't wait to buy a new one!!! The pack has a separate pack to put items you need in as well which is super helpful, especially when I go hiking with just me and her.
- Melody Forsyth, @downwithadventure