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Virginia family, including toddler, hike entire Appalachian Trail

Published: Saturday, December 23, 2017 @ 10:29 AM
By: Bob D’Angelo, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

This is one family that enjoys taking a hike.

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The Quirin family -- Bekah, Derrick and 1-year-old Ellie -- hiked the entire length of the Appalachian Trail this summer, The Roanoke Times reported.

The Quirins, who live in Roanoke, Virginia, completed the 2,190-mile trek over a six-month period. They began on March 20, heading south from the McAfee Knob trailhead in Roanoke On March 20, they set off from the McAfee Knob trailhead in Roanoke County and headed south to Georgia. From there, they traveled to Maine and marched back to McAfee Knob on Sept. 30, the Times reported.

“She’s a really happy baby, and she loves being outside,” said Bekah Quirin, who like her husband is 26. “She just flourished out there on the trail.”

Ellie is the first baby known to complete the Appalachian Trail. She technically didn’t hike it, because she spent most of the trek in a child backpack, the Times reported.

Ellie didn’t even know how to walk when the journey began. Her parents carried her in a backpack, but Bekah Quirin said they often let her out to explore. Creeks and streams were her favorite to play in.

“She’d grab sticks and play in the dirt or mud,” the mother said. “She was never bored. We didn’t even have to bring any toys.”

Because of her age, Ellie wasn’t permitted to climb to the summit of Katahdin, the trail’s majestic mountain terminus in Maine. The title of youngest thru-hiker belongs to Christian Thomas, also known as “Buddy Backpacker,” who walked the trail in 2013 with his family at the age of 5, the Times reported.

“We thought about how we could incorporate Ellie into that lifestyle early on,” Bekah Quirin said. “We had to adjust our lifestyle when we had a baby, but we wanted to get as close as we could to bringing her on outdoor adventures.”

The Quirins encourage other parents to get outdoors with their children, although they don’t necessarily need to embark on a 2,000-mile hike.“You don’t need to go on a thru-hike to have great outdoors memories with your kids,” Bekah Quirin said.