Wildway of Life = Being the first to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail with a baby
Meet The Quirin Family. Derrick & Bekah had always dreamed of thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail, but when they had their daughter Ellie, they thought they would have to put that dream on hold. Little did they know that Baby Ellie loved being outdoors and traveling around in Mom's pack on short hikes around their home in Virginia. So it didn't take long to realize that they didn't have to put their dreams on the back-burner, instead they would embrace life and take on the challenge of being the first family to thru-hike the AT with a baby. They have since sold their house, farm, and possessions, and are about to embark on the journey of a lifetime.
Here is The Quirin Family's story in their own words:
"Our Wildway of Life started when we were both 16 years old. Our first dates were on the Appalachian Trail in Roanoke, VA- hiking and getting to know one another. We haven’t stopped adventuring together since! We strive to serve one another and love one another to the fullest, which is why exploring nature together is super important to us- it’s one of the ways we are able to re-connect after the daily grind of life.
Our resume might as well be joined together. We have worked alongside the other at just about every job since we met. From the ice cream parlor on high school weekends, to a camp counselor sailing on the coast of Virginia, to guiding mountaineering expeditions in the Washington Cascades, to adventure guiding in the mountains and lakes of the entire Southeast. In addition, we both studied and graduated with a degree in Outdoor Leadership and Experiential Education in college. We’ve done it all as a couple and we love having those memories working with one another.
We had plans to thru hike when we graduated college, but as jobs were offered and resources were tight, we had to put off our dream. The years passed and the Appalachian Trail got put on the back burner while the idea of starting a family came. Ellie was born in March, 2016. It was such an exciting time. Bekah became a full time mom and began hiking frequently with Ellie from the time she was 6 weeks old. The hikes kept getting longer and longer. It was at this time that the idea of thru hiking became a reality. We discovered that Ellie was happiest outside in the pack looking around at the trees and rivers on the trail. We took a trip to Great Smoky Mountain National Park and backpacked and camped for the first time. She did amazing. This finalized our crazy idea. We were going to attempt to be the first family to thru hike the entire Appalachian Trail with a baby.
In order for our dream to come true, we had to commit. We had to mentally allow ourselves to say we ARE going to do this and do whatever it takes to get there. We sold our house and most of our belongings- including a small farm consisting of sheep, chickens, rabbits, and an organic garden and orchard. Derrick resigned from his (awesome) full time guiding job. The memories we’ll make won’t even compare to the possessions! (okay… maybe we miss the farm animals just a little already!)
Ellie might not remember the trip, but it will become normal for her to be immersed in the outdoors. Rain, wind, heat, and humidity will be normal. Her entertainment will be leaves and sticks. She won’t know the popular cartoon characters or have a favorite Saturday morning show, and that’s okay with us. We can’t think of any better normalcy for our child’s life. Our hope is that it sets an incredible standard for the rest of her life.
Our goal for this trek is to intentionally spend this time growing together as a family and serving one another as well as others on the trail. Would we like to finish the trail? Absolutely. But it will be considered a successful trip if we have fun, grow together, and serve one another. Completing 2,180 miles is only the side-story."