My kids first backpacking trip is coming up this weekend!
This weekend I'm taking my boys on their first backpacking trip! I'm very excited. They've done camping before, (Drive up drop the tent out the back and setup.) but this will be their first time hiking and camping.
We're headed down to Deam wilderness down around lake Monroe. (Southern Indiana.) Because it's their first time and and all three are under ten I'm going to take it easy on them. We'll hike about 2.5 to 3.0 miles each day and we'll only be gone overnight.
I'll carry most of the weight, but I'll have them carry about 5 lbs or so each. Hopefully we'll get a chance to climb the look out tower while we're in the area to.
I'll be sure and post lots of pictures when we get back.
We're back from our trip. Everyone is still alive and they really enjoyed the trip. Time to start planning the second trip.
07-27-2010 09:09 PM
Cool! Looking forward to your report on this! I've taken my kids (13 and 11) on a couple of short trips, but I need to really get them out on more overnights... Well done!
That is awesome! My daughter is 3 and we will be getting her out with us soon, probably next season. Still breaking her in to camping and dayhiking.
Also looking forward to pix and a report. I have been taking my boys on longer and longer hikes this year. Maybe next I'll do an overnight backpack trip as well.
Let me add a bit of background before diving into my review. I spent my teen years in Wisconsin backpacking and camping regardless of the season. (Yep, I've seen 10 degrees F from my tent.) Later my family moved to Indiana and I continued to camp when I could. Then right before I turned 20 everything changed. I got married. I love my wife, but she's not a camper, so my camping days slowed down a bit. Then along came our kids and my camping slowed down a bit more. After several years I was going slightly nuts unable to breath the city air. So I began to hatch a plan. If my my wife wasn't an outdoors person, I would just have to brings as much of the indoors to the outdoors in order to get her to come with me.
I bought a small bit of land up in Michigan. (Fairly short drive for us.) I then started buying various camping comforts in an attempt to woo my out of the city and into the country. I bought a portable toilet, propane shower, screened in dining tent, fold up table and chairs etc. I even rented a bobcat and cleared out a section of the woods so we could drive right up drop all the stuff out the back of the minivan and start camping. Nothing like listening to your kids laughing and shrieking as they run through the forest around you while you cozy up to your sweetheart next to the bonfire.
Or spot in Michigan is great, but it has also rekindled my desire to really hit the trails again in earnest. I started thinking about the day when my kids would be old enough to join me. I've done quite a bit of hiking, but this trip would be especially exciting for me because it has reminded me of the joy of my early days of hiking and I get to share it with my three favorite guys!
And now, onto the review as promised.
My wife gets away every year for a mini vacation with a few girlfriends. It was all the excuse I needed to plan my first expedition with the boys. I choose Hoosier National Forest mainly because I know it pretty well and it's only about an hour so from our house. Grubb trail is just south of Monroe lake and starts in the Blackwell campgrounds. There are several small, interconnecting trails, but this length is only about 3 ½ miles long and goes from the campgrounds up to the lake. I decided to leave later in the day on Friday so that we could beat the heat and also so we wouldn't have several hours to fill at the camp site. I also decided that the boys should learn to pull their own weight. (No pun intended.) I had them load their school bags with their food and water, and I divided a small dome tent up among them to carry. (One carried the poles, another the tent, and the third the rain fly.)
We loaded up the truck and set off for great adventures. I turned into the campgrounds and found it to be a rather small, but well maintained, primitive camp. We pulled off to one side and parked the truck and started putting our packs on. I discovered my first mistake. I thought the fuel for my stove was in the back of my truck, but had inadvertently removed it while making room for our bags. Oh well I thought I still have my trusty matches to make a fire so all is good. My second mistake would be discovered on the trail ahead.
We hit the trail a little after 6pm and the boys were full of adventure checking everything out. I took the lead. Dominic my oldest was behind me, followed by Giovanni the youngest and then Dante, the middle child, brought up the rear. I'm not sure what to think of Dante in the rear. I swear, he swears, he saw every animal in the forest as we hiked along. I'm quite certain that we made way to much noise for any animals to be within a mile of us, but either due to his imagination, and or tall tales, he saw a few deer, a rabbit, and I don't even know what all else. I didn't want to kill his enthusiasm, so whatever. I made a conscious effort to set an easy steady pace. About a mile into the hike we took our first break and then my second mistake became evident to me. I had miscalculated how much slower the boys pace would be. At our current rate we wouldn't arrive at our campsite until pushing dark. Silently I decided that we would just keep going and see how it went. I didn't want to push them too hard and sour them to hiking so we'd just press on and make camp sooner than our planned destination as needed.
Several weeks ago while planning my upcoming trip to Zion National park Dominic wandered by and was curious about the topo map I was looking at, so I started teaching him how to read one. On this trip we brought one along and Dominic was really starting to “get it” as he compared what was on paper to what was in front of him. It's always cool to see your kids face light up when they get it. Giovanni was just working hard to keep up the pace. Towards the end of the 3 mile hike we pushed along at a pretty good clip to make camp by dark. We finally arrived at the ridge that I had picked in planning around 8:30pm. We got the tents set up and dined on some fruit in a cup and beef jerky. (Dinner had been McDonald's right before we arrived at the trail head just hours before.) I'm not sure if I would call it a mistake exactly, but if you're keeping score I discovered my third in the middle of the night when I kept waking up off and on from the hard ground. I had decided to shave some weight and left my ground mat at home. I'm getting too old, I won't make that mistake again!
Saturday morning came soon enough and after breakfast of oatmeal we headed down the hill to lake and filled up out water bottles. (Filtered of course.) Then I showed my boys the surprise of why I had chose this particular spot to camp. Our campsite was right on top of the opening to Patton's cave. However, due to some government closure of all caves in Indiana I can't confirm or deny that we did, or didn't actually go into the cave. After exploring the area some we decided to head back.
Dante asked how we were to get back I patiently explained the same we got here, hiking. He was a bit dejected, but he took it well. He asked if there were any Leopards in the woods.
“Nope.” I said
“Oh, I was hoping to see a leopard..” He was clearly disappointed.
And so the journey began again. I let the little hikers lead the way while I brought up the tail. It was easier to let them set the pace and me to follow. And to push them a bit as needed, which became increasingly needed by the end. We finally made it back and the kids did just fine. They were all excited to see the truck again.
We piled into the truck and drove just down the road to a fire look out tower. It's there in the area and we still had time for one more adventure. It stands 110 feet tall and is open to the public. My two oldest chickened out, but Gio the youngest has no fear of heights and so we climbed the 123 steps to the top and were rewarded with an awesome view all the way around. (I only wish the sun had been out for a more dramatic picture.)
Kids conked out for the ride home and got the peace and quite to soak in the knowledge that I might just have three new hiking partners for years to come.
Boys at our campsite on Saturday.
Hiking on the trail.
Near Patton's cave.
Dante made a new friend on the trail.
Natural steps near the cave.
Wild flowers on the way.
I really like this picture of a dried out river bed we crossed.
Dominic shows off a geode we found in the river bed.
110 feet and 123 steps. Start climbing.
Giovanni hanging out at the top.
The look down.
Is it better as a B&W?
Awesome! They look like they were having a good time. I think you definitely scored some partners.
Great TR! Yep, I think you've got some more hiking partners lined up now. My son is almost 14 and has been backpacking since he was 6.
Just back this PM from buying food for our two short backpacking trips in Yosemite starting next weekend. My wife loves camping, but she does want to enjoy herself when we're done. So, I made the all-important reservation for dinner at the Awanhee Hotel for the night in between the two trips.
I'd bet once you have your boys hooked on it, and you include some of your wife's favorite luxuries you'll get her going out with you all too.
It is good that warriors such as we meet in the struggle of life... or death. It shall be life. - Ten Bears, "The Outlaw Josie Wales"
Excellent - way to go! Fun read! Thanks for sharing!!!
Excellent report! I have been taking my boys (now aged 12 and 10) for 4 years now on an annual backpacking trip and they make sure it happens every year. They love it and I love being in the mountains with them! I am in the planning stages for this years trip which is going to happen over labor day weekend. I'm thinking about the Bechler River Trail in Yellowstone for next year. 28 miles from point A to point B. We will definately have to do some training prior to that trip.
I am trying so hard to get the guts up to do a backpack trip with my son and my daughter. I have only backpacked once with my best friend and her Dad when I was about 10. I loved it! Anyway thanks for the report. The kids and are I headed out today to Navajo Lake we are taking the little backpack stove to practice doing backpacking dinners as I can not live off of beef jerky. I was hoping to get the trip in before they started school but was caught off guard when school started Aug 11th! I sincerely thought it started the 23rd. Anyway we are going to try and go over Labor Day I think. Only one night haven't decided where yet.