Archive for the ‘Backpacking’ Category

The Well Filmed Trip

P8300746Once upon a time, my kids journaled when we went adventuring. We have notebooks of their words and drawings on our shelves, and I love how those can take us back to a trip as the kids experienced it. Nowadays, my son is completely into filmmaking, so it is camera and tripod, not pencil and paper, that travel with us.

On our last weekend-long backpacking trip, his equally into filmmaking friend came along. This led to the rest of us feeling rather well documented, as the boys each had a camera. And they spent a great deal of time with one filming, and the other calling out director notes.

This backpacking trip, on the heels of our 12-day bicycling trip which also included the son’s video camera, are getting me used to adventuring with a film crew. I suppose I need to modify our packing lists now, to include his video equipment. Or maybe I don’t. I doubt he’ll ever forget to pack it.


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The Weighty Truth

P8300759The kids’ backpacks were packed and weighed while I was at work. Then the parents not working on Friday hit the trail first with the girls and the two of us who worked that day came later with the boys.

Thus I did not know until I met up with my husband at camp that my son’s backpack only weighed 16 pounds. Funny that the son did not volunteer this information. Knowing that, I gave him the tent (another 6 pounds) to carry on the way out, bringing him up to 20% of his body weight.  Looks like we need to buy him a bigger backpack so he can take on a share of food and group gear. After all, he weighs 110 and is growing fast.

At age eleven, Dana carried 12 pounds, again lighter than I’d expected. She doesn’t weigh 90 pounds yet, but could still carry 17 pounds, if we stick to the 20% guideline. More important than the numbers however, is the fact that they didn’t seem weighted down. They picked blackberries, moved well on the trail, didn’t seem tired, and hiked for over an hour with water breaks but no pack-off-sit-downs.

Two families plus a friend, weather that held, great swimming, beautiful mountains. What a weekend.

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PB162499We’re planning a little backpacking venture this weekend. We’ll hike 3-4 miles in, set up camp, and then swim in the alpine lake and scramble the ridges above for a day or two.

This is a place we return to almost every summer, so I know the kids are very capable of the trail. But I wonder how much more of our gear those very capable kids can help carry. Of course, I googled it. Looks like there are percentages like 10-15- 20% out there, mainly in regards to carrying backpacks to school. For backpacking specifically, I found 25% of their weight.

I know my kids carried heavy packs in Mexico, walking for short periods as we traveled on and off buses and set up camp in different regions. At that time they carried everything they had: clothes for a week, a book, souvenirs. No way do I want them to carry that much on the trail. I want them to still be smiling even after an hour of hiking.

This week, we’ll watch the weight. And I’ll find a scale and weigh those packs, and report back here.

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P7310543Four years ago, I was leaving the grocery store a few blocks from my house and noticed a guy waiting outside with two backpacks. He looked like he’d been hiking. Figuring the other backpack belonged to his partner who was probably inside the store getting food, I strolled over, and inquired about his trip.

Turned out that Mike and his girlfriend Emmy had just hiked the Pacific Northwest Trail across the North Cascades and hitched a ride into town. I promptly invited them to my home for showers, dinner, use of our washing machine, and a tent spot in our backyard.

They accepted and we walked to my house – where I introduced them to my family, my husband covering his surprise at sudden guests. Interesting and interested college students, they were fun visitors and headed off the next day by bus towards Seattle to eventually get back to their college on the east coast.

They were among the first travelers we’ve had stay with us, followed later that summer by a bicycling Dutch couple, and most recently our first warmshowers guest this past June. And in turn, we have met people while adventuring who have shared their hospitality with us.

This week we came home from a swim at the lake to find a note and a bottle of wine at our door. Emmy and Mike had stopped by, “just passing through on our sailboat and remembered you and your kindness.” They left no phone number or directions as to where they might be moored, so we didn’t have a way to thank them. I’m so sorry we missed seeing them, but we’ll just have to enjoy the wine and toast them, travelling, and saying hello to strangers.

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P7270485Climbing Snowking Mountain this week involved the hottest buggiest approach I’ve ever experienced. Smartly, my friend Liz had brought her headnet. I have never worn one except on a 4-day backpack in the Talkeetnas in Alaska, and that one was borrowed. Watching Liz, I’m sold on the usefulness of it. If you can just know ahead of time what the bug factor will be.

The approach was biting black flies, but at the campsite elevation, the bug population switched to mosquitoes. We watched them swarm outside the mesh of the tent and were thankful we hadn’t gone with bivy sacks rather than the tent. The mosquitoes even came along on the climb the next morning – across the snow and to the rocky top. They  only disappeared towards mid-day, either it was too hot for them or their siesta time. We were thankful because that allowed us a much needed dip in a cold cold lake.

I kept wondering how I would have managed the incredibly buggy situation with my kids. Actually, I didn’t have to wonder that long. We’d have retreated. Much as I love being out, being bugged is just no fun.

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P7120430My annual gal’s trip into the mountains got weathered out. After a glorious hike in, we spent an exciting evening in a fire lookout with an electrical storm flashing all around us. Then it rained. And stayed gray for two days.

We hiked on anyway, but the traverse and the glacier travel we had planned wasn’t such a good idea in such low visibility. Eventually, we elected to head home early and I tried not to be disappointed. It just works out that way sometimes. So now, I’m studying maps, watching the weather, and trying to get out again.

Meanwhile, we’re also looking at maps and weather for the next family trip. We’ll plan as best we can, but have to stay flexible and know we can change our itinerary if the weather, terrain, or people dictate. It is good practice to balance our plans and what develops. And to remember that the weather is beyond our control, and that’s a good thing.

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100_2315_1 With both parents educators, you would think we would have a wide expanse of  summer in which to plan backpacking, bicycling and kayaking trips. And while we do, already it feels like not enough as I draw lines through sections of the calendar for events and trips.

There’s two weeks penciled out for a bicycle trip with our Canadian tandem pals, a five-day stretch for my gals’ backpacking trip, Tom’s Dadventure, and two 3-4 day trips we plan to do with folks new to family adventuring. They’ve never done a bike or backpacking trip before. We get to introduce them to it, which will be double the fun.

And we haven’t even planned anything involving our kayak yet.

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