Motivation Monday: Backpacking With a 5 Month Old Baby

First off we want to let you know that this story is raw, intense and honest. We really admire Shannon for allowing us to share it with you. These things do happen in life... we all have been through something terrible that we "think" is shameful, but in all honesty we are all broken, no one is perfect. There is only one way to heal, by sharing our stories and giving others the permission to also be free. Sharing our stories allow us to heal and inspire others to feel less alone. Shannon - you are an inspiration. Keep up the GREAT work! -Karla and Phillip


When I was a 12 year old girl, my mom took us on a 4 day dory trip in the Grand Canyon with @oars_rafting. It changed my growing-up-in-the-suburbs self profoundly. I *knew* that I wanted to learn outdoor skills. I wanted to learn how to backpack and go to remote places. 
Three summers after that trip, my life was again changed profoundly when I was raped by two men at a party. My life for most of the next decade was a steady flow of self hatred and self destruction.  Even when I got to college (a campus which was chosen site unseen because it was in the mountains and had a search and rescue team...which I wanted to LEARN)...I wasn't healed and whole enough to bring this dream to fruition.

I got pregnant and didn't return the next fall. I heartbrokenly placed that baby up for adoption (the second baby I gave up for adoption, because my life was such a wreck). Now back on the east coast and locked into suburbia, my dream of backpacking was only hinted at when I would go visit my parents who had recently moved to Idaho. My heart ached and was sick for the mountains, for my children I gave away, for my lost childhood I didn't even know I was grieving.

A couple years later I got pregnant again...and couldn't bare the thought of giving this baby away. 18.5 years ago, my parenting journey began. His dad and I ended up getting married and stayed married for 15 years, having 6 children together. Always having a small child in tow, made me defer my backpacking dream once again. It just seemed like it would have to wait. We didn't even go camping, because it just seemed so HARD. I had terrible postpartum depression with each of my children, and I couldn't face trying to take 6 kids camping by myself. (Their dad wasn't really into going, so it would have been just me)

Eventually their dad and I divorced (we remain good friends, but we were very sucky at being married), and I remarried. My youngest child was now 5. I began going out hiking and camping. I had backpacking back in my sites. I was going to learn this, by golly!! And then...BAM!!! Despite having surgery to have no more babies, I was pregnant with my ninth baby. My heart broke. My dream would have to wait.

I grieved hard the whole time I was pregnant. I wanted to process through my sorrow, so I could be open to joy once this baby was born. Last November my seventh child René Muir was born. I have been overwhelmed by the joy I feel being his momma. I was very unpreparedfor that. But I look at him, and feel a steadfast determination to do all I can to be the best me. I knew this would mean digging deep, getting myself outside, and pursuing my dreams.

I began the year with the @52hikechallenge as a way to set a tangible and measurable goal. After a few months, I realized that I absolutely could go #backpacking. Even with a 5 month old baby! And you know what?? I did!! This picture is getting back to the car after 3 days / 2 nights out, hiking about 10 miles, carrying a pack for me and René, as well as wearing the baby. I have never felt so triumphant as I did standing in that parking lot!!! It only took 30 years. I cannot wait to get back out and learn through failing some more. I cannot wait to go out and I'm perfectly pursue my dream a little bit at a time. 

Shannon Martinez