Appalachian Trail Happiness: My Favorite Little Hiker
As a child, one has that magical capacity to move among the many eras of the earth; to see the land as an animal does; to experience the sky from the perspective of a flower or a bee; to feel the earth quiver and breathe beneath us; to know a hundred different smells of mud and listen unself- consciously to the soughing of the trees. ~ Valerie Andrews
One of my best memories on my hike this summer was hanging out with little baby Liv. I first met her walking into camp in Virginia and I immediately cringed, the idea of having a baby in camp and possibly crying all night did not make me happy. Mom, dad and baby were sitting in the shelter so I decided to set up camp as far away from the shelter as possible. What I hadn’t counted on were considerate parents who decided to set up camp as far away from the shelter, so you got it, we were neighbors for the night.
I love kids and after setting up as almost everyone did I went over to meet the little monster who I’d envisioned would be keeping me awake all night. She was, as you can see in the picture above, adorable. She was also an incredibly happy baby, I would end up camping with them for two nights and being with them another night in a hostel. Over those three days I never heard her cry.
I talked about this with her mom one night and her explanation for the lack of crying and why Liv was so damn happy all of the time really seemed spot on. First, she was getting hordes of attention, every hiker wanted to say hi and entertain her and make her laugh. When they were hiking she was set up high in her pack seat and had a great view of the trees, hikers and vistas, not to mention being high up for long periods of time is pretty rare for a baby. Another thing was a lack of negatively stimulation particularly in terms of noise. No city smells, no loud car doors or alarms and none of the constant urban noise we have.
This became something I really noticed this summer, how unbelievably loud towns are, not just large cities but every town we entered no matter how small. We live in an environment where things are NEVER quiet, even indoors we have refrigerator motors and heating systems, traffic going by, etc… Have you ever noticed that when you turn your TV on early in the morning the volume is really high. That’s the effect of having noise all day, by the end of the day, our hearing has readjusted. Liv was facing none of this and at night, had a really quiet calm environment to sleep in with her parents.
Her parents are also film makers and are writing about their experiences, I just got a note from them that they have posted part 1 of their story on the Appalachian Trials Page, give it a read. Katie also told me that my little friend is starting to walk, so yes my friends, she did 300 miles on the Appalachian Trail before she could walk! You have to love her and I see many happy days in her future ~ Rev Kane