It was a beautiful sunny day, but windy as we hiked with full packs south on the AT. The plan was to hike four miles and make camp at the Quarry Gap shelter. The girls kept up a great pace and entertained themselves with songs, stories, and horseplay, while us moms enjoyed the amazing greenery of mountain laurel, rhododendron, and blueberry bushes and talked about life. When we arrived at the shelter, we were greeted by eight tired hikers and two dogs. The girls feel in love with the dogs. We decided to pitch tents at a campsite up trail for some quiet solitude, to the disappointment of the girls. However, we joined the thru-hikers during a campfire at the shelter to hear great stories.
During the night, a gentle rain pitter-pattered on the tent waking us moms to thoughts of, "are the girl's shoes and packs under the fly protected?" Indeed, they were which meant no soggy feet in the morning. The morning brought damp, bone chilling temperatures that hot chocolate and oatmeal didn't warm the soul. We even experienced sleet! The only way to possibly warm up was to pack up and get moving. Our plan was to hike to Caledonia State Park and get a shuttle back to the car but the girls were game for walking uphill four miles back to the car. They led the way and kept a great pace with no complaints because they were finally warm. Upon reaching the car, the girls were all smiles because they had accomplished an eight mile backpacking trip and had fun.
Hiking in the frontcountry (urban and suburbia trails) is a fantastic activity to spend quality time with your children. Backpacking and working together as a family to reach a destination and set-up and break down camp as a team is a great vacation to bond with your children. Here are some ideas to help make your backpacking trips with your children a success:
- Bring a friend their age.
- Invest in the correct fitting backpack that is theirs.
- Go a short distance for the first trip and then choose distances that your children can comfortably handle while carrying their suppliers. The girls carried their clothes, sleeping bag, pad, book, and water bottle.
- Choose the right trail – flat/no elevation or decreasing elevation, physical features or landscape that offers imaginative adventures. The girls created a secret hiding place amongst the huge rhododendron.
- Camp at a shelter – they often have privies, a bear box to store your food, fire pits, and a picnic table.
- Allow them to share a tent with each other. This instills a sense of choice, independence, and adventure. The girls shared many giggles and imaginative stories.
- Let them help plan the menu.