Lonely Planet Writer

Meet the couple who will hike the Appalachian Trail with their baby

Hiking the Appalachian trail is an ambitious endeavor for even the most experienced outdoors person, but it’s especially impressive with a baby in tow. On 20 March, Bekah and Derrick Quirin will embark on the 2185 mile trail with their one-year-old Ellie along for the adventure.

The family are ready for the challenge.
The family are ready for the challenge. Image by Ellie on the AT

Not surprisingly, both Bekah and Derrick are experienced hikers. After meeting in high school, the couple’s first few dates were hiking local trails, and later they both studied outdoor leadership at South Carolina’s North Greenville University. They’ve guided backpacking, mountaineering, and whitewater-rafting trips for at-risk youth in Spokane, Washington, as well as day trips around the Blue Ridge Mountains.

“Not only has our entire adult career revolved around the outdoors, but so has our personal time as well,” Bekah told Lonely Planet. “Our vacation days are spent exploring various National Parks around the US. Two of our favorites (so far) are Yosemite and the Everglades.”

Ellie is already a big fan of nature.
Ellie is already a big fan of nature and ready to be the Appalachian Trail baby. Image by Ellie on the AT

The couple always wanted to tackle the Appalachian Trail, and after researching and talking with other thru-hikers, realized they could still make the dream a reality with Ellie. “If you think about a baby’s basic needs, they’re pretty simple,” said Bekah. “She needs to be fed, clothed properly, have diapers changed, get good sleep, feel safe, and be loved. With a keen sense of awareness, these are met just as easily outdoors as indoors.”

Still, Bekah and Derrick plan to monitor safety issues and stay indoors if and when necessary. While the Appalachian Trail hike can typically take six months, the couple says they’re in no rush. When the family finishes, Ellie will be the youngest person on record to complete the trail.

She looks ready to be the first Appalachian Trail baby.
Ellie is already used to being outdoors. Image by Ellie on the AT

Bekah and Derrick have been planning the hike for the past ten months, and have sold their home and most of their possessions. With only a few days to go until they embark, the gear is packed, including Ellie’s cold-weather wardrobe, diapers (an eco-friendly cloth brand with compostable inserts), and food like quick cook meals, nuts, jerky, and freeze dried baby food. And while the couple are eager to get started, Bekah says they’ll miss their families, and she will miss the rocking chair she uses to soothe and nurse the baby. “Sitting on the ground won’t quite be the same!”

Gear choices are obviously very important for the trip.
Gear choices are obviously very important for the trip. Image by Ellie on the AT

Since documenting their plans on the blog Ellie on the AT, the couple has been surprised by the flood of support and encouragement from people who have undertaken similar adventures. “There are also families who aspire to go on more family adventures together and we are inspiring them to get out together as a family.”

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