Our family has always loved adventure and travel, but it wasn’t till COVID hit that we discovered our passion for hiking and backpacking. Living in Vermont, we are surrounded by trails and mountains. With the pandemic, we were forced to cancel our annual trip to visit our family in Ecuador and we were faced with the question of what to do. We decided to start hiking a mountain in Vermont every week. It was so fulfilling and energizing that we have made hiking an integral part of our life. We are preparing to thru-hike the Long Trail in Vermont this coming summer.
We do not come from a lifetime of backpacking; rather we are new to it, but we see how learning something new and pushing our limits at any age (both for us adults, as well as our kids, Lucas, 11, and Asha, 8) can be so fulfilling as well as inspiring to others.
We are a multiracial, bilingual, immigrant, and mostly brown family. Marco and our two children, Lucas and Asha are from Ecuador. Allison, originally from Washington, D.C., also lived in Ecuador for 10 years before the whole family moved to Vermont in 2014. On the trails we have met many backpackers and day hikers but we rarely see multi-racial Spanish-speaking families like us. We would love to see more families with kids, people of color, and immigrants have more access to hiking, backpacking, and the outdoors.
Marco is a photographer-activist and the Equity, Justice, and Inclusion Director at the Montessori school where our kids go; Allison is a jeweler who makes jewelry to empower, connect, and heal. We both have Masters in Anthropology, are musicians, and have lived in the Ecuadorian Andes and Amazon, the prairies of Canada, and the mountains of Vermont.
Our tips for hiking with kids: It’s great to start getting kids used to the outdoors and to discomfort starting at a young age. We always try to give the kids a heads up about a hike we’ll take a few days before it actually happens. Sometimes they don’t want to go, but it’s not an activity we usually let them opt out of. On the first mile of each and every one of our hikes our kids complain constantly and wholeheartedly believe they will never be able to get up that mountain. But we just push through! We like to distract them with games of trivia that we make up on the fly, or stop to have fun to climb boulders. We always carry chocolate and trail mix as a motivator! After a while, the kids find their rhythm and we are constantly blown away by what they can do. Our kids get really excited about “dangerous” hikes, so finding trails that have some excitement motivates them. Getting the right gear, like good raincoats and microspikes, for our kids has also helped them feel more comfortable and safe in the backcountry.