Learning to walk along the way, Ellie Quirin became the youngest person ever to all-the-way-through “hike” the Appalachian Trail last month
Bekah and Derrick Quirin sold their house, threw their baby in a backpack and began their trek in Virginia in March. They hiked down to Georgia, picked up again in Maine, and ended up back where they started in Virginia six months later, on September 30.
Hikers and adventurers before their baby was born, they didn’t want the fun to end just because they became parents. In fact, having a baby gave them even more reason to want to hit the trail. It gave them an opportunity to be with her 24/7, in a low-stress environment, where they were both there to witness her first words, first steps, firsts sips out of natural springs and first bites of wild apples:
In an Instagram post on the final day of their hike, the Quirins wrote:
“We watched our daughter grow, take her first steps, say her first words, and play in creeks and on grassy bald mountains. We stared with her at sunrises and snuggled with her into every sunset. We listened to her giggles as we climb above the tree line and were awakened by her imitating owls hooting nearby. We witnessed the pure joy she felt simply being a child in a spectacular and mesmerizing creation. We never missed any of it, not one single moment.”
Unlike so many working mother’s, Bekah was able to continue breastfeeding longer than she thought she’d be able to, and unlike so many working fathers, Derrick got to feel the warmth of his sleeping baby on his back through many of her naps.
And as most Appalachian Trail hikers do, they made plenty of friends along the way, in addition to getting the chance to stop and visit old friends and family:
“We lived our dream, and we have no regrets. We learned how to be parents and still be adventurers. We learned how to love and care for someone else even when everything our bodies felt told us to be selfish. We learned that there are a lot of amazing, beautiful, and good people in our world. And we learned that nature is perhaps where we feel the most at home, and certainly where we feel the most alive. We learned all of this and more, we hope that Ellie did too. This is our story, though it’s not the end, but the turn of a chapter, another to begin. Now go dream of big adventures, and chase them into the wild places.” Instagram, Sept. 30
On October 2, the couple updated their Instagram account:
“The reality hasn’t quite set in yet. ‘Are we really done?’ and ‘Did we really thru-hike?’ are common questions throughout the last couple days. Crowds feel awkward, we are overwhelmed with our possessions amounting to more than what we can carry, we still don’t sleep good, and our feet still hurt. We miss it terribly already.
The family has been nominated for three Best of the Blue Ridge awards. Feel free to vote for them here.