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Backpack Carrier

Started: 2009-10-01 19:29:20

Submitted: 2009-10-01 20:08:22

Visibility: World-readable

Last weekend, Calvin turned six months old, the magic age for riding in the backpack carrier we got for his baby shower. (One might also say that he has half as many experience points as is necessary to gain his next level.) Kiesa took Calvin to his six-month doctor's visit the day before his half-birthday and received the official blessing, so on Saturday afternoon I pulled the backpack out of the garage, tried to figure out the various interlocking straps, and put Calvin in it. He especially liked being swooped up from the floor onto my back, and he seemed enthralled by the experience of being so high above the ground (his head is roughly even with mine, giving him a commanding view of his countryside), so I headed outside (with Kiesa following closely) to see how Calvin did on a short walk around the neighborhood. He enjoyed the 0.75-mile trek, and the backpack felt pretty good. (An eighteen-pound baby is no match for the 60-pound packs I lugged around while backpacking last summer. The baby carrier is rated up to 45 pounds, baby plus cargo. Calvin doubled his birthweight in six months, but according to the growth charts we've studied, his growth rate should start to slack off, and he won't double his weight again until three years.)

On Sunday, we took the backpack on its first real test. I got up early, when Calvin woke up, to let Kiesa sleep in. (Calvin let me sleep in, too, until 07:00.) We timed our schedule to match Calvin's nap schedule; we left home shortly after 09:00, when Calvin was about to get fussy for his morning nap. We drove through Boulder, up Boulder Canyon, through Nederland, and reached Caribou Ranch Open Space after a 70-minute drive. (I tried to restrain my contempt for the other drivers heading up the canyon, whose mountain-driving skills were inadequate. It doesn't help that I've been driving Boulder Canyon since high school, and I've been known to drive the canyon before breakfast.)

Getting Calvin ready still proved difficult. He wasn't as interested in eating as we hoped, and changing and dressing a baby in a compact SUV isn't particularly easy. We eventually declared him ready to go and strapped him into the carrier. I carried Calvin in the backpack, and Kiesa brought the BOB stroller as backup. (Kiesa did feel slightly silly pushing an empty stroller.)

Calvin and Jaeger at the Blue Bird Mine
Calvin and Jaeger at the Blue Bird Mine

Calvin loved the hike, perched with a commanding view of the wooded terrain. The trail wasn't quite as smooth as I remembered, but BOB plowed forward with ease. I pointed out the features as we passed, but it was difficult to directly observe Calvin since he was immediately behind my head. Having Kiesa along as baby-tender was essential. Calvin enjoyed the first three miles of the hike but started fussing as we missed his naptime. He didn't seem interested in sleeping in the backpack. We transferred him to BOB for the last half-mile, but the damage was already done; he wasn't at all interested in letting the soothing motion of the stroller lull him to sleep. (I'm not absolutely sure how well he would sleep in BOB anyway; he'll often fall asleep in the carseat in the stroller frame, but that's configured differently.) He stopped fussing when we got him back to the car and into his carseat, but he didn't sleep on the drive back to Boulder as our plan called for.

Calvin and Jaeger at Caribou Ranch Open Space
Calvin and Jaeger at Caribou Ranch Open Space

Calvin's first real hike turned out to be an unqualified success. (Some qualifications apply.)

Calvin and Jaeger at Caribou Ranch Open Space
Calvin and Jaeger at Caribou Ranch Open Space

(Any expedition that gets us out of the house with Calvin is a success. Doing anything new is just about enough to make it an unqualified success. However, I had hoped that I might be able to get Calvin to sleep in the backpack carrier, extending our range much longer than we could accomplish in a single two-hour nap cycle.)

We ate Japanese takeout at Scott Carpenter Park and went to Boulder Running Company, where Kiesa found new walking shoes while I kept Calvin occupied by pushing him around the store and occasionally looking at the merchandise. After shopping for groceries, I ended up at home completely exhausted from my short hike and shopping.