That's What She Said: Banff with a baby (carrier)
- Dawn Dumont | September 20, 2016
I was listening to a friend pontificate about his upcoming foray into parenthood: “We’re going to stay the same active people. Baby will just come along with us. In one of those bag-thingies”
He was referring to a baby carrier and I remember thinking something similar before I had a child. My baby would not change me. My life would be the same, just with the addition of a couple of thick shoulder straps and a cute head peeking over my shoulder.
But, of course, I was wrong. While never a particularly busy person (I get overwhelmed by evening featuring dinner and a movie), in the last few months, my partner and I have taken being homebodies to a new level. Our couch dents are deeper than the Qu’Appelle Valley. This summer’s highlight was when Netflix released Stranger Things. There’s a few reasons for this. We both work full time, we’ve moved three times in the last year and our baby has the energy level of a tiny hurricane. We deserve a rest but we also needed to break out of our rut.
We headed to Banff for a vacation. I was a bit nervous, because we hadn’t planned anything and on vacation, our goals are rarely in sync. I want massages and walks with a latte in hand. My boyfriend wants hikes deep into the woods where only mobsters would go. With a baby, we’d have to find some kind of midway.
Our first day trip was a bust. We headed to Lake Louise. My partner brought our red hiking baby carrier, a gift from one of his outdoorsy friends. I wanted to bring the stroller but was overruled, “It’ll just get in the way.”
We put the baby into the backpack carrier in front of the hotel. He hated it immediately. His cries suggested that it was a medieval baby torturing device. People stared at us, openly concerned. Other parents passed us with babies in backpacks, their babies smiling and waving. Our baby refused to be talked into it. We gave him high fives and I held his hand but he still cried. After a very tense ten minutes of listening to his cries echo across Lake Louise, we gave up and released him. The baby toddled towards me, his legs slightly bowed from the carrier.
From that moment on, he would only let me carry him. I glared at my partner over his shoulder, thinking of our fancy stroller sitting idly in the hotel room. I could already feel my back muscles tightening up like a snare-drum as sweat poured down my face.
The next day trip was to Sulphur Mountain on the gondola. There’s a trail up there, a network of wood walkways linked together with stairs. The first time I went to Banff, when I was eleven, the trail was a dirt path. I guess they built this walkway to prevent tourists from falling off the side of the mountain and sliding down its slate surface. Because that leaves a terrible footprint on the mountain.
I saw the top of the mountain in the distance and when my partner started walking towards it with the baby, I thought he was joking. I came to the top of the mountain to have dessert. A hundred years ago, being on top of a mountain would normally mean that you were going to die. That’s why eating dessert on top of a mountain is the ultimate “screw you” to nature. By me eating cheesecake I’m basically “owning” this giant hill.
But my partner has a different perspective. He wanted to reach the toppity top of the mountain to prove that parenthood was not holding him back. Not today.
We didn’t have the backpack of cruelty. We had only our arms. But baby wasn’t interested. He walked ahead of me, his little paw in his dad’s hand.
People walked past and smiled at this tiny determined person. His father smiled proudly, I looked into their eyes, searching for confirmation, “Is this okay? Can toddlers climb mountains?” This is the problem with being a new parent, always wondering if what we’re doing is right.
Right or wrong the baby continued up the mountain. He took a break near the top and his dad carried him. But then he wanted to be put down again.
We reached the top of the mountain, which is not a flat surface. It’s a real mountain top with rocks sticking out of it. (For my future visits, I’d like the Banff people to pave it over.) I took a picture of the two of them up there. The baby looks unimpressed, almost as though he wished there were more stairs but his dad looks happy. And tired, which is the natural by-product of parenting.
Oddly enough on the way down, we encountered babies coming up from every direction. Some in carriers, some on foot. It would appear that babies are holding no one back and in fact, perhaps we are holding them back.