No mere babes in the woods

  • Article by: KERRI WESTENBERG , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 14, 2011 - 10:29 AM

A Minnesota couple took their 1-year-old daughter on a six-month hike across the American West, and they want you to know that you can do it, too.


Rachel and David Liechty, with their daughter Hazel, in the Ansel Adams Wilderness on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Photo: JIM LIECHTY, Special to the Star Tribune

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Consider walking part of the mountainous Pacific Crest Trail all the way from the Mexican border to Yosemite Valley. Then, imagine doing it with your 1-year-old daughter on your back.

That's just what David and Rachel Liechty did with daughter, Hazel, in tow from April (just one week after the child's first birthday) to September. Along the way, Hazel took her first steps, became "potty" trained and spent every minute of every day with her parents.

To the University of Minnesota graduate students, the outing in the woods wasn't about setting records (though they are the first family to hike the trail that far with a baby-turned-toddler). It wasn't about gaining attention (a sporadic blog was meant for family and friends). It wasn't about single-mindedly hiking the trail in its entirety (when they encountered ice, they diverted, unwilling to risk dangerous conditions).

All the two really wanted to do was watch Hazel grow. Fresh air, few distractions beyond rocks and streams and sharing a passion for the outdoors with their daughter were added perks.

The trip was such a joy, they returned wanting everyone to understand how simple such an endeavor can be. "Really a series of four-day hikes," David said. They'll make that point, offer tips and talk about the importance of sharing the outdoors with children next weekend at Midwest Mountaineering's Outdoor Adventure Expo.

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  • ADVENTURE TALK: DAVID AND RACHEL LIECHTY WILL SPEAK NEXT SUNDAY AT 1 P.M. AT THE U OF M HUMPHREY CENTER, Cowles Auditorium, as part of Midwest Mountaineering's Outdoor Adventure Expo, Nov. 18-20. Details at

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