Our First Family Hike And The 7 Lessons Learned Hiking With Baby
Find out the 7 lessons learned hiking with baby for the first time and discover what the Man Cheung Po trail is like! We hiked up the steep steps on the Man Cheung Po trail in Tai O on Lantau Island, Hong Kong. It had been a long time since either of us had hiked anywhere and we thought we would visit this hiking trail in our backyard and go see the infamous infinity pool. Little did we know what we were getting ourselves into!
7 Lessons Learned Hiking With Baby For The First Time Up Man Cheung Po!
This post contains affiliate links. This means at no extra cost to you, I receive a small commission to help keep this blog going. To read more please see my disclosure policy.
Be sure to Pin this post for later!
When we set out on this hike we thought we’d be going for a fairly easy hike and be back within a couple of hours. Hubby is the one that planned it through Google Maps and I was just excited to get outside as a family, including the dogs, before it got too hot! May in Hong Kong is already full-swing into summer, but the rainy season was delayed so it was even hotter than normal!
Finding the Trail
The trail starts in our small village of Nam Chung, Tai O. You follow the water’s edge past the fisherman’s homes and cleaning huts until you come to what was, I think, the second fork in the path. It’s the one that’s past the little rocky beach with a sitting area where the houses begin to look abandoned. Don’t worry if you miss it, you won’t be able to go too much further before having to turn around and come back.
In Hong Kong, most trails, are actually paved paths. It’s very rare to have a dirt path hiking trail here. So the first part would be considered stroller/ wheel chair friendly. In fact, if we had continued on that path, we could have hiked all the way down to a waterfall with swimming hole and a honey farm (according to a neighbor). That’s on our list of places to go soon. However, Man Cheung Po trail is NOT stroller friendly. It’s barely leg friendly.
Man Cheung Po Trail- What you need to know
The Man Cheung Po trail is accessed to the left of the paved trail that was following the coastline (mostly). It is marked with a bright yellow arrow pointing back to Tai O and a brown sign with white letters pointing to the steps. The sign claims to be 2.5km and 1 1/4 hours long… I’m not sure where the trail ends but I’m going to say that’s with zero breaks and at a decent pace. But I’m not sure who can do this trail with zero breaks as it’s pretty much all steps. When you get to a flat spot, it’s only a few steps before you’re back going up steps.
The steps themselves are pretty decent considering most of them are made out of natural stone. However, do watch your footing as some of them are a bit small or askew. Also make sure to wear good non-slip soled shoes because those rocks are slippery when wet. And if you go hiking in the summer, it’s rainy season and could rain on you at any moment.
Otherwise, it’s a trail that’s often shaded and boasts some spectacular views and foliage you can only find at these elevations it seems. Just expect to have your health app say you did the equivalent 40 something flights of stairs!
The 7 Lessons We Learned As Beginner Hikers
We’ve hiked before several times, but we were never experts and it’s been a really long time since we’ve last took to the trails. So there are some things we didn’t think about or plan properly. Have you ever hiked with a young child? What was your first time like? Let me know in the comments!
1) Bring More Water
We thought we had brought enough water for the short amount of time we had planned to be out, but we were so wrong. I mean we didn’t plan to be hiking up steep steps either, but that is something we SHOULD have been prepared for. Especially for how hot it is outside and because we had dogs with us. Thank God for breastfeeding because when we ran out of water I was able to still keep the baby hydrated.
Next time I think I’ll follow the advice of Diane over at Mom Goes Camping on how to calculate how much water to bring while hiking.
2) Bring Snacks
Again, we didn’t bring any snacks because we had eaten a decent breakfast and only planned to be gone a couple of hours. That ended up being a slightly dangerous situation though. It was dangerous because of the amount of steps that we did and because my breakfast was pretty high in carbs. So I had a sugar crash fast. I have insulin resistance and so my body struggles to process them like a normal person (hence my weight issues). There was never really a hunger while hiking, it was more the dizziness and the shaking that affected me.
Hubby took over carrying the baby at that point as it was safer. I knew I needed something like juice, fruit, or this trail mix to help stabilize my blood sugars for an immediate effect. Unfortunately, we had brought nothing and so all I could do was take it slow and rest more. Which brings me to point number 3…
3) Know Your Limits
I don’t like giving up… ok scratch that… I’m more stubborn than a mule. It may take me twice as long and I will seriously hurt the next day, but I generally push myself to complete whatever it is I’m doing. However with a lack of water and a lack of snacks to help stabilize my blood sugar, I had to call it quits. I was willing to press on if we had been close to our destination, but we weren’t. I had actually sent Hubby on ahead while the rest of us took a break to see if we were close. To see if it was just that one last hill we needed to climb, but it wasn’t.
I realized I wasn’t going to be any good to my family if I passed out, fell down, or anything else. Admitting it was best to turn around than get myself in a bad situation. However, I might have been able to avoid the issue altogether if I had listened to my body earlier, and not Hubby’s eagerness to continue on. I needed to take more frequent breaks. So remember to know your limits, trust your body, and take those breaks!
4) Bring a Dog Dish
Obviously, this only pertains to if you have dogs lol. But I could see a little collapsible dish being useful in other ways, so it couldn’t hurt to bring one along anyway. The dogs were so thirsty, their tongues widened. We tried everything we could to get them to drink. Putting water in our hands. Pouring water into an indent in the rock. As a last resort, we even cut up one of our water bottles to use that as a bowl! Bear would still not drink. At one point we were opening his mouth for him and pouring some water in just to make sure he stayed hydrated.
Of course, taking more breaks would have helped them as well.
5) Use a Hiking Stick
I used to think hiking sticks were for those walking dirt paths. They are, but they’re useful for for hiking in general as well. The hiking stick could have been useful going up as I could have used it as leverage, but going down is where I really needed it.
I’ve always been pretty clumsy when it comes to going down steps. When I lived in Philadelphia I fell down no less than three sets of steps. Once at the opera where I knocked a little old lady over! Needless to say I have a slight fear of steps… Mix in the shakiness of my legs from the low sugar and all the climbing and it was a recipe for disaster. Luckily for me, Hubby had found a good thick stick on the trail and I was able to use that to steady myself while walking down those steep steps.
6) Wear Your Toddler On Your Back
Maybe it’s because I have a lot of weight on my front, and so it balances me out. I don’t know the science behind it. But I can tell you it for both Hubby and myself, it was so much easier carrying him on our backs then our fronts. Carrying on your back also allows you more ease of maneuverability as well. Basically it’s like carrying a backpack verses being pregnant with dangling legs!
We have a Lillebaby Airflow 6-in-1 Carrier that we love. It allows us to wear him on the front (facing in and out), on the side, and on the back. The mesh helps whatever breeze does exist to come through, and our heat to escape. I think for the person who doesn’t hike a lot a soft structured carrier like this is perfect. If however, you go out a lot, then a specialized hiking carrier may be what you need. The hiking backpack pictured is perfect for the longer hikes because it keeps your bodies separated (think heat and body sweat) and has additional storage and even a sun-viser.
7) It’s About The Journey, Not The Destination.
Even though this hike was more difficult than planned. Even though we never did find the waterfall and infinity pool, we learned a lot. We learned it’s ok to change direction, to back track, to even give up. It’s ok to give up on a goal if that goal is no longer a priority.
It’s not a failure if you learn from the experience.
What was more important was the journey. We learned that there’s no need to rush on our adventures. There was a realization that it’s ok to sit and rest while the baby plays in the dirt. That through these difficulties we’re learning and growing as a family. The memories of this hike and what we experienced together will far outweigh seeing a waterfall or infinity pool. And the truth is we still saw some spectacular views.
So the next time you’re on an adventure with your family, remember to savor the small moments because in the end, those are the ones that matter.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read about what we learned on our first hike with baby. I hope this inspires you to get out and explore your own towns and parks with your family while learning from our mistakes! Have you been out exploring recently? Where are you exploring? Let me know in the comments!
If you want to be kept up-to-date with everything at This Indulgent Life, including blogs, vlogs, and free resources, then please sign up to be a part of the Indulgent Tribe below! You can unsubscribe at any time and I promise I hate spam as much, or more lol, than you do so I won’t be sending needless emails!