Melyn­da Har­ri­son is a writer, nat­u­ral­ist, wife, mom, cross-coun­try ski enthu­si­ast, hik­er, read­er, knit­ter, jun­gle gym, nap­kin, Mala­mute lover, kid hauler and head over heels about being out­side with her fam­i­ly. To read more about Melynda’s out­door adven­tures vis­it her blog here.

Thanks to our friends at Out­door Baby Net­work for work­ing with us to bring you this, and future fea­tures from their members.


The oth­er night I asked my hus­band if he could think of any epic fam­i­ly adven­tures we’ve shared. He said, “I can think of a few that felt epic.” That’s the thing about recre­at­ing with lit­tle kids—in our case, 2.5‑year-old Finn and 4‑year-old Anders—it’s easy for some­thing small to turn epic. Epic can be good, think ski­ing into a For­est Ser­vice cab­in; or epic can be rough, like almost freez­ing your 11-month-old while cross-coun­try ski­ing. Our first big adven­ture with a lit­tle dude was hik­ing into Heart Lake in Yel­low­stone Nation­al Park.

I had an inter­view with sci­en­tists study­ing microbes in back­coun­try hot­pots, but couldn’t leave the baby I was nurs­ing. So we cart­ed five-month-old Anders along on a 15-mile day hike in griz­zly coun­try. We didn’t see any bears, but were swamped with mos­qui­toes so thick that tox­ic DEET couldn’t keep them away. Anders was most­ly safe under a bug net sur­round­ing the back­pack we car­ried him in.

Photo courtesy of Melynda Harrison

Still, he cried for the last five miles on the hike out. Walk­ing through a for­est of mos­qui­toes with a baby scream­ing inch­es from your head—that’s epic. The fol­low­ing Novem­ber we were cross-coun­try ski­ing near West Yel­low­stone. We start­ed out under blue skies in 15-degree tem­per­a­tures. On the way back the mer­cury fell. Anders, rid­ing in the trail­er, start­ed cry­ing. We didn’t know why. In ret­ro­spect, it’s obvi­ous he was freez­ing, but we were ski­ing hard and hadn’t real­ly noticed the cold. Those ear­ly out­ings taught us a lot.

Pho­to cour­tesy of Melyn­da Harrison

My hus­band and I were both accom­plished out­doors peo­ple, but two lit­tle boys showed us that we had a lot to learn. By the time Finn was born we had fig­ured out a cou­ple things. I skied with him in a front pack under a down jack­et. We plan our trips around mos­qui­to sea­son and scale back our adven­tures to pre-school size. Our five-mile hikes can take four hours, but see­ing them through the eyes of our boys always makes them epic. Our out­door buck­et lists grow every year. Before we know it, we’ll be run­ning to keep up with the kids.


If you have an out­door sto­ry you’d like to share with our mem­bers, drop me an email at