Couple trek across all 50 states with their kids strapped to them in slings


(Picture: PA Real Life)

Jamie and Chet Blotske left their home in Billings, Montana on January 25 and set off on the ‘trip of a lifetime’, with their little ones, Rowen, two, and 10-month-old Berric tucked up in special child-carriers.

‘We both love being in the outdoors and try to get out as much as possible with the kids,’ said Jamie, 37, who describes herself as having a love of hiking ‘in her blood’.

‘But this is something that would go beyond anything we have done before, and we feel that if we don’t do it now – when the boys are still small and don’t have to go to school yet – then we never will.’

Planning to complete the trip within two years, the couple will travel from state to state in their motorhome, returning to Montana every few weeks for Chet to continue working part-time as a self-employed estate agent.

‘Our income might be a little bit more restricted because I won’t be working as much,’ said Chet,31. ‘But that’s something we’ve considered and weighed up.

‘And in the end, we just want to go for it because what we might lose in financial stability we will more than make up in memories to last a lifetime.’

The Blotske’s motorhome in which they will travel to each state before getting out and hiking (Picture: PA Real Life)

Montana-born Jamie and Chet from neighbouring North Dakota first met at a New Year’s Eve party in the mountains of Montana, while on a snowboarding holiday arranged by a mutual friend at the end of 2010.

Immediately bonding over their shared love of the mountains – with Jamie a keen mountaineer since the age of five and Chet an avid winter sportsman – the two fell in love, settled in Billings and were married a year later in July 2011.

‘A big part of our relationship from the off revolved around being outdoors together – going on hikes and camping trips in the National Forests around our home,’ recalled Jamie.

‘We would try to get out as much as possible up into the mountains, going most weekends for 10-mile hikes, and then on longer camping trips sometimes where it would be just us in a tent beneath the stars for two or three nights.’

The arrival of Rowen in April 2016 did nothing to dampen their enthusiasm for hiking and when the baby boy was just over a week old, the couple took him on his first walking trip, covering a mile with the tot placed in a special baby-carrier strapped to Chet’s chest.

He recalled: ‘We always knew that we would want to introduce our kids to this way of life as soon as possible and Jamie even asked the midwife, when she was pregnant, how soon you could go for a hike with a baby.

‘She was a bit surprised and replied, “I don’t think anyone’s ever asked me that before!”‘

Eighteen months later, baby Berric was born and was soon joining his family on five-mile walks across the rocky countryside – with the newborn now in the baby carrier, while Rowen moved on to a special backpack.

The infants sleep for much of the journeys but their parents insist it is an important part of their upbringing and would never consider leaving them behind, even when they grow bigger – and heavier.

The four Blotskes at Bighorn Canyon in Montana (Picture: PA Real Life)

‘I think it’s such a vital part of growing up, to have an awareness of the land that exists all around us, and to open their eyes up to what lies beyond the city limits,” said Jamie.

‘And Rowen especially has really taken to that and complains whenever we start heading home at the end of a long hike and instantly wants to get inside his backpack.’

But now they are heading off on their biggest undertaking to date.

Starting in California, they will then head to Nevada, followed by Arizona and New Mexico, driving to National Parks in their motorhome before heading out on day-long hikes.

Jamie with baby Berric in Paradise Valley, Montana, November 2018 (Picture: PA Real Life)

They plan to return home between every stage – which will comprise around four states – for two or three months each time, before embarking again on their next journey.

The couple accept money will be tight as they will be earning less through the year.

Chet said: ‘We aren’t trust-fund kids and we have a mortgage to pay like everybody else, so we know that we’ll have to be careful with money.

‘But we’re really lucky that Chet is able to be flexible with his work and that we have this golden window of time when we can finally do this.’

Watching their purse is not the only precaution that the Blotskes are taking though.

After a close friend was recently charged by a Grizzly Bear while hiking in Montana, Chet has bought a 10mm Springfield handgun in case they run into any similar difficulties, and the couple also carry Bear Spray.

‘Obviously the risks are there,’ said Jamie, ‘but it isn’t something that you can fixate on too much.

‘We have Grizzly Bears in Montana, but in all the years I’ve hiked there, I’ve never had a problem. You just have to be sensible and not stray off the paths too much.’

As for Rowen and Berric, the pair have been itching to start their family adventure – and Rowen has often being found by his parents inspecting the motorhome in anticipation of take-off.

Jamie said: ‘They’re really excited, and that makes us all the more excited too.

‘We’re just looking forward to doing what our family does best.’

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