November 12, 2014 / Comments (9)

When “Hike Your Own Hike” Doesn’t Apply


In August 2013 I hiked Mount Katahdin and created the video below:

Mount Katahdin from allison on Vimeo.

What I didn’t include was a clip of a couple hiking with a baby in tow on the Knife Edge. I didn’t want that to be the focus of the video or look like something I think is okay. I have decided to post the video to begin talking about hiking safety, especially with winter around the corner.

I will, if I see fit, try and help a hiker out if I notice that he or she may not be making a wise choice. For example, it’s autumn and I’m almost done with a hike. A hiker is heading up the trail to do a ten mile roundtrip hike after 3:00 pm. I may greet them and ask where they’re heading. If they are confident and look to have the necessary gear and knowledge, I say farewell and continue on my way. If they seem unsure or are clearly not carrying the essential gear, I will ask a follow up question. An example may be, “Oh, are you planning on camping out?” I may end up explaining the terrain and distance as well as the approximate sunset time. Of course, all of this is based on each experience. I’m a big fan of night hiking and other more unconventional hiking practices so if the hiker looks to be doing just that, I’m rooting for them. But if I can help another hiker make a smart choice, I will. I appreciate when others do the same for me.

Back to the Katahdin hike…

This is a clip of the couple and baby on Mount Katahdin’s Knife Edge:

I had just started off on the Knife Edge trail. Once you begin on this trail, there are no alternative routes. You’re committed for the full mile. They had hiked at least two-thirds of the trail as they were coming up the trail. There is a very difficult chimney section that they somehow climbed up.

Knowing there was a ranger at the summit of Baxter peak put my mind at ease. There was nothing we could do so we just said hello and continued on our way. Baxter State Park has certain rules and children under the age of six are not permitted above treeline. See the complete list of rules and guidelines for hiking and camping in Baxter State Park here. The parents were most likely cited and expelled from the park. We overheard them talking with a ranger back at the Roaring Brook Campground later that night.

Be safe out there!

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen hiking? Leave a comment below.

Last modified: September 2, 2017

9 Responses to :
When “Hike Your Own Hike” Doesn’t Apply

  1. What’s the deal with the rule about no kids above treeline? Is it just because of the nature of the Knife’s Edge, do you think? Because my kids are above treeline in the Whites with me all the time. And, if it were not against the rules, I would absolutely hike that route in Baxter with a baby in a pack. Not with little kids walking, hell no!, but pack baby, sure. What is it you don’t like about it?Far as I’ve seen, people don’t routinely plunge to their deaths up there. As long as they were dressed right, sober, and paying attention to the trail, it strikes me as fine. But I am curious about dissenting opinions.

  2. Hey S. Courchesne- BSP is more strict with rules and regulations all around with limited camping, hiking permits, no dogs, etc. I’m not sure what prompted them to create these specific rules. If others know, please chime in.

    As far as the baby carrier ordeal, I was very careful myself going across, but would feel very unsafe and honestly, irresponsible bringing a child across. I am definitely for parents bringing their kids hiking and someday hope to do the same! However, there are some very narrow and difficult sections that are nearly impossible to do with a pack on. It is also considerably more dangerous in bad weather. High wind or rain along that route is asking for trouble. I actually did Hamlin first, across to Baxter, and down Knife Edge because of the weather. It had rained the night before and it was very wet. It also rained significantly the following day so we had a very small window. I would definitely not be comfortable carrying a child across that.

    You may be interested in one of my good hiking friend’s blog: http://www.trishalexsage.com/

    Alex, Trish’s older daughter, just finished the Trailwrights 72 list!

  3. Just added her blog to my feedly–thanks for the tip! I love a good hiking blog!
    I’m guessing it is the very tricky nature of that route that prompted the “no kids under six” rule then. I can see the sense in that, and I’ve never hiked there myself, but yes, if there are places where you have to remove the pack to get past, then that could indeed get sketchy. I will have to do some more research into the reasoning behind the rule.

  4. Val says:

    Hi Allison – Thanks for all of the excellent resources here for us NH hikers. I’m a mom who hikes with 2 girls, 8 & 10, who are well on their way to completing the 48 4000 footers.

    If there is one thing I have determined about having kids is that we all have to allow parents to make their own decisions and try not to judge them because we don’t want them to judge ours.

    I have relations that think some of the iffy weather hikes we have done were not responsible. For our family they are a fine decision, it might not be for others. I try to remember that my discomfort with a situation is not someone else’s and vice versa.

    If you look at the video of the parents they are clearly equipped for hiking, the baby seems perfectly happy and warm, etc.

    I encourage you to read through the fabulous blog of the Kallin family, who completed the AT this year. You can see in their trip history that they have been hiking Katahdin since their kids were little: http://kallinfamily.com/2014/03/06/david-emily/

    Sorry for the wordy comment. Again, thanks for the great hiking resources. Just wanted to give a different perspective 🙂

  5. Hi Val,

    Thanks for the kind words and taking the time to write. I actually followed the Kallin family blog of their AT hike when they were in Maine (when I discovered it) and loved their story! I actually have hiker friends who bring their kids up the 4ks and I think it’s great. I hope to do the same one day.

    I do believe the baby was definitely properly dressed for a hiking outing and that’s not what bothered me. I’m not sure if you’ve been on the knife edge, but it’s very different than other trails up the 4ks. It’s actually against the state park rules to have children under the age of 6 to be above treeline there so I think it’s a little different than me just saying it’s something that makes me uncomfortable. If you haven’t seen the knife edge, here’s a video I took that day (I didn’t include the clip with the family)

  6. Val says:

    It is a beautiful hike while slightly vertigo producing for me 🙂

    I’m sorry to question your judgement on the situation. Hiking family are often sensitive as we’ve usually been told too many times by well-meaning hikers that our kids can’t handle some trail we are venturing up. My 8 y/o was told this year that she shouldn’t climb Mt Washington on the way DOWN. Did I mention it was her third day out and she was practically skipping 🙂

    Happy hiking and keep sharing ideas and adventures.

  7. Clearly, this touches on that “hiking with kids” nerve! So many of us who hike with young kids have been criticized on one trail or another by, presumably, well meaning people. In the case of Baxter, there’s the issue of it actually being against park rules, so none us parents can really be pulling the “I know my kid’s/my abilities” card on this one. It’s just not allowed! But in cases other than that, I think having kids of any age along should be viewed the same as any other hiking decision; fellow hikers should feel free to ask questions like you do Alli– “where are you headed? Planning to spend the night? Have you heard the weather reports at all lately?” When someone asks me questions like that about hiking with my kids, I feel like they’re just genuinely concerned and want to check that we’re safe and prepared like any other hiker. It’s the people that jump right to, “Don’t you think you’re irresponsible–bringing a kid out here?” that start to grate on our nerves, so when it sounds like someone’s doing that, hiking parents get worked up. But I still agree with you, Allie–the key issue here is it’s not allowed in Baxter! Moot point!

  8. I totally get your reactions! As a solo female hiker I’m often told the same thing! When I was preparing for the John Muir Trail many people told me I’d fail who didn’t even know me (confidence from being behind a computer screen, I guess). Val, if you don’t already know about it, definitely check out Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Adventure. It’s a book about a mother who did the 4ks with her daughters (mostly focuses on the older one who was 5 at the tike). Both girls finished the list before they turned six and have since gone on many adventures including the Camino, JMT, etc. http://www.trishalexsage.com/

  9. Val says:

    We hiking ladies do have to stick together, I was told I was irresponsible hiking Mt Washington way back when I was 17.

    I just discovered Trish, Alex, and Sage along with your blog a few months ago while searching for info on the JMT, which we hope to hike next year. I wasn’t even searching for NH hikes! Small world. My girls have been following their JMT blog eagerly.

    I may have just requested a Backcountry Ninja skirt for the holidays to hike in!

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