Ellie Quirin might not be old enough to be considered a hiker, technically.
She’s not yet two years old and kind of just learned to walk.
And she learned while in the middle of the 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail.
At 18-months old, Ellie is the first baby known to have hiked the trail, which she completed with her parents, Derrick and Bekah Quirin, last month.
The Appalachian Trail travels through 14 states, from Georgia to Maine, in its 2,200 miles. “Thru-hikers” – those who cover the entire trail in one go – tend to take five to seven months to do so.
Like the time Ellie met Gray Beard, who was hiking the trail at age 82.
In pictures from the hike, Ellie peeks out from a pack strapped on Bekah’s back or stands, tentatively, with a pair of toddler-sized hiking poles.
Ellie said her first words while on the trip, according to a story in Mother Nature Network.
“Other than mom, dad, and no, ‘backpack’ is her most recognizable word! How appropriate,” the parents reported from the trail.
Previously, the youngest person to complete the trail was five-year-old Christian Thomas (aka Buddy Backpacker) in 2014. So, news of a baby on the trail made news among avid hikers.
Commenters on the AT discussion board WhiteBlaze.net weren’t convinced taking a toddler on the hike was a good idea, or that the Quirins would finish the trail. One called them attention seekers. Another wrote, simply: “I suspect they will not get far.”
Once the family did complete the trail, another WhiteBlaze poster offered, “Congratulations to them. Looks like some of you early posters will have to eat crow.”
“We want to immerse Ellie in the outdoors and have it become normal for her from the beginning and this is about as early as we can manage,” Bekah said in a Skype interview with Outside magazine, prior to leaving on the trip. “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.”
While the trip may look like a fun time out in nature, it was not without its challenges – for instance, diapers.
Everyone wanted to know about diapers, according to Mother Nature Network. The Quirins told them they double-wrapped the diapers in Ziplock bags they brought along just for that purpose. They then carried the bags until they could dispose of them properly.