While most tots only see the outdoors from a stroller or bike seat, 15-month-old Ellie Quirin will have hiked 2,200 miles by the time she attends nursery school. Along for the ride as her parents trek the Appalachian Trail, this Virginia baby is poised to be the youngest person to ever complete the arduous hike.
Setting out on March 21 to travel the famed route that stretches from Maine to Georgia, Bekah and Derrick Quirin — along with Ellie — began the journey with a flip-flop approach, reports Mother Nature Network. Beginning in their home state and heading south, this popular course allows for adjustment to the thru-hike in fairer weather and conditions, before eventually going north.
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While some first-time parents struggle to take their little one out for errands, Bekah and Derrick set out on the trip with confidence, knowing that now is the perfect time to show Ellie the great outdoors. And seeing as Ellie is content to ride in the child backpack and take long naps, both parents, who are former trail guides, knew they could make it work.
“Time flies so much faster after you have kids. People always say, ‘I wish time could slow down.’ This is the best way I can think of to do that.” Bekah told Outside.
The family of three are amongst roughly 2,650 adventurers who set out annually to conquer the trial, according to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy.
But while most Appalachian Trail hikers finish the journey in six months, the Quirins are taking a full year to complete the excursion. This flexibility allows for unexpected circumstances that would make it too troublesome to travel with a baby.
The Quirins are not the first hikers motivated by the old saying “no rain, no pain, no Maine” in pursuit of shattering records while conquering the trail. Andrew Thompson holds the record for fastest trip (just 47 days) in 2004, and Mike Hanson, who is completely blind, journeyed the trail in 2010. More recently, a man named Gary Sizer completed the trek, then showcased the dramatic before-and-after photos of his physical transformation, which went viral in 2014.
Celebrating holidays, birthdays and milestones like Ellie’s first steps on the trail through the next year, Bekah and Derrick are taking “adventure parenting” to the next level as Ellie begins her childhood in the wild like no other.
They’re also avid bloggers, so anyone interested in Ellie’s adventure can follow the Quirins on their blog or Instagram.