Backpacking With Children: Our First Time
On May long weekend we loaded up 5 backpacks, the kids, their dad (Jason) and headed for the mountains. It was raining lightly, but we’d already booked The Point for two nights, and I was determined that all my planning and packing was NOT going to waste. So off we went, stopping for brunch on the way to let the rain blow over somewhat.
Bellies full and spirits high we arrived at the trail head, and the sky was mostly clear and the ground was dry. Hooray! Everyone strapped on their packs, grabbed their poles, and we set out to cover 4 kms of mostly flat and gentle trail.
We took our time, and went at a pace that suited the group. This was Jason and the kids first trip, so the goal was FUN, not setting land speed records.
It took us about an hour and a half to get to the campsite, which wasn’t bad at all. The weather was cooperating, and so we were able to set up both camps without getting wet. The site where Mike and I were camped had several residents already, but they didn’t seem to mind us squatting on their front lawn.
Once we’d gotten settled, put the tents up, and unpacked the bags, we built a good fire and eventually made supper (mmmmm ribs, I know, I know, excessive, but…meat) and had marshmallows. Normally we don’t take a tarp, but in this case I am glad we did, it provided protection from the sprinkling of rain we got, and shade in the sunshine.
We also discovered that having mini cocktail weiners is awesome and amazing. Not like having a whole hot dog, they are the best over-the-fire snack food since smores.
Everyone was pretty pooped after such a big day and so much food, so we all turned in rather early. Jason and the kids slept at one camping area and Mike and I took the one next door (backcountry sites at The Point are really only designed for one tent). I read to Mike for a while before we fell asleep, looking forward to a day full of adventure.
We got up early the following morning, and started the day with a good breakfast of coffee, oatmeal, and turkey bacon. The turkey bacon was not a big hit, so I think next time I will pre-cook some regular pork bacon and just wrap it up tight for re-heating in camp.
Then it was time for a day-hike to a nearby waterfall! Everyone had a lot of fun and the weather was quite nice for us. The waterfall is only about half a kilometer from the camping area, but we wandered far and wide, exploring the area around the river.
We saw some elk tracks, and goose prints all over the river bank. There is still plenty of snow in the high country, but the river was definitely higher than it was the month before. Spring has come to the mountains to be sure. We heard the occasional sound of avalanches high up the mountain, and you could see where the water was running down the rocks near the summits.
After our hike we had some lunch and then it was time to collect and filter water. We rounded up all of our water containers and hiked down to the lake. The kids played and wandered and threw rocks into the water while the adults filtered and filled all of our bags and bottles.
We rounded off our day with more fire, playing cards, making popcorn, and having a delicious supper of bacon-wrapped steaks, scalloped potatoes, and marshmallows for dessert. While taking so much meat is not practical for long hikes, it was SO FREAKIN GOOD. Grilling steaks over an open fire, while enjoying a glass of wine, is definitely a luxury I don’t mind packing in.
One of the kids favorite camping traditions is having a “glo-stick rave party” once the sun goes down. Jason brought a package of glo-bracelets and a little speaker for his phone, so we listened to music and broke out the glo-sticks as the sun went down. We had a ball, and ate way too many marshmallows and cocktail weiners. Everyone went to bed thoroughly satisfied and worn out, and the kids hung up all of their glo-bracelets in their tent (which is actually a lovely night light for kids who aren’t super used to sleeping in the woods).
Hike-out day is always the saddest day of any trip, but waking up to gorgeous clear blue sky certainly helped cheer everyone up!
We had breakfast, gathered clean water, enjoyed our last fire (normally we do not have fires in the morning, but we made an exception, because kids) and leisurely packed up both camps. The sun allowed us to really dry all the condensation from the tents before putting them away. We didn’t have to rush, since we didn’t plan to leave until after lunch time. So, we lazed and basked in the sun, wandered around the area, and enjoyed our last hours of camping.
When it was eventually time to go, we all geared up and headed out, saying goodbye to the mountains for the time being, with promises to be back soon.