When I was pregnant with our first child, I was browsing in a local used bookstore, and came across a book about Backpacking with Children. The cover was a black and white photograph of a family backpacking. They had an older child, a younger child, and a baby. As a dating couple we had enjoyed some amazing backpacking trips together. So in my first pregnancy naivete, I looked at this book and thought, “Cool! Maybe we can keep backpacking now that we’re parents!” HA! What a joke. Over two years later, with a toddler and a baby, I could look back on my younger, optimistic self and just laugh and laugh. Car camping became a lovely and practical reality in our lives. While ideas of backpacking with our younglings could easily bring on nightmarish feelings of exhaustion and anxiety. More power to any parent who safely goes backpacking with a baby or toddler. I can’t fathom how that would be even possible much less relaxing.
Anyway, short story long, we took our 8yo and our 10yo on the first backpacking trip of their lives last weekend in celebration of my 35th birthday. It was truly exciting, fun, challenging, and rewarding.
The hike was 3 miles, all uphill and downhill. It was hot. And smoky too, because of the nearby River Complex Fires. Brother and Young Son carried their own packs, with a sleeping bag, their clothes, one cup, and a little food. As my mom used to say, they were troopers. We hiked out on Saturday, stayed the night and most of the next day, and hiked back on Sunday. So back-to-back days of hiking; it was rigorous. Definitely not for the feint of heart. In spite of the heat, and the climb, and the long, long hike, they kept walking and didn’t complain. Family Man and I were so proud.
Our camping spot, in the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area, was along a beautiful, secluded turn of a crystal clear river, along which the swimming holes are numerous. The swimming was the big payoff for all the hard hiking; the swimming there was delightful.
We had a nice sandy spot just big enough for the two small tents. A ring of flat rocks for a floor level kitchen. A branch on which to hang our hat. Perfection.
All weekend, the boys kept asking me which day was my birthday and telling me they hadn’t bought me a present. This is my present, I kept explaining, this is exactly what I wanted and I am so happy we are doing this all together. Thank you for this, I told them, and gave them a big hug.
Seriously. These kids are so awesome. I love them to the end of the Earth and back.
It doesn’t get any better than this. This is the highest height. The most joyful joy.
We made it! The above photo we snapped just as we were reaching the end of the hike on our way back to the car on day 2. Tired, worn-out, satisfied, happy champions of the trail.
WOW! Backpacking isn’t just for grown-ups anymore…