Nothing gives me more joy than having the privilege of sharing my passion for backpacking with my daughter. I am truly a lucky man to have daughter who can see the same beauty I see when I am exploring our local mountains.
When a friend of mine posted that he was taking his daughter to Third Stream Crossing, I jumped at the chance and asked my daughter if she wanted to go. Originally, the plan was to stay home and watch TV while she, most likely, will be playing games on her smart phone all day long. I responded to my friend and said that I'm 50/50 and that I will let him know if I was going or not.
Thursday evening, coming home from work, not even dropping my laptop bag, I hear my daughter from the bedroom,
"Daddy! I want to go backpacking with you this weekend!". Do you even realize how that's music to my ears?
"Are you sure?", I said.
"Yes, I want to go...I already picked out the stuffed animals I'm bringing", she excitedly said.
Warning her I said, "Ok, well, I'm letting everyone know that we're going to be there...you can't back out last minute"
"I won't, I want to go...", she replied.
After hearing this, I couldn't stand to wait another day but I knew that like me, she's decided to go and she's not going to change her mind.
Friday, after arriving home from work, I start packing our things and make a trip to the store to grab last minute provisions.
6:00 AM Saturday morning, I walk into the bedroom and my daughter opens her eyes and she smiles..
"Time to get up baby, it's time for our adventure", I whispered.
Eyes barely open, warmly tucked under her comforter...in a soft voice she says, "Yaaaaay!"
Bags all loaded, we leave the house by 6:45 AM...off to meet our other friends and caravan to the Lytle Creek Ranger Station. However, before we do, a quick stop for breakfast at McDonald's was in order.
She will need all the energy she can get...Pancakes, Sausage, and OJ should do the trick. Next stop, the ranger station where we meet the rest of the crew.
My daughter gets to meet her hiking buddy for the first time at the station...they hit it off almost instantly and become inseparable.
Shortly after the quick meet and greet at the Ranger Station, we head on to the Middle Fork Trailhead where our hike would start
The weather was really good this past weekend. High 50's, bright sun, and short kisses of wind made the hike tolerable for the kids. The first mile of this hike is unshaded and during the summer time, if hiked then, the kids would have lost their energy quick.
Eager to start, the girls lead and take point while we take the rear. We had beautiful weather for this hike...clear blue skies with patches of clouds. On some sections, you can also see portions of the mountain tops where snow still remained. After the first mile or so, we hit the shaded portion of the trail...it would remain this way for the most part till we reach camp.
The girls were having a great time though the Dad's we're anxious to get to camp. I know I was, the pack I had on my back wasn't getting any lighter. We encouraged our girls to keep going...
"We're almost there baby, you're doing really great!", I praised.
Not sure how long it took us to hike the 2.3 miles to camp but we didn't care. It was gratifying enough to be able to spend time with my daughter in my place of Zen as opposed to sitting on a bench at the mall.
A few turns and a couple of switchbacks later, we arrive at the stream crossing to our camp.
At this point, our group was already at camp. Both girls are tired and they just want to drop their packs, explore, and play.
"Baby, go ahead and drop your pack while I look for a place to setup"
"Ok...Daddy, can I get my stuffed animals out of my pack now?", she asked.
"Ummm...how about you wait for a minute until I setup our tent ok?", I replied.
We found a flat-enough spot close away from the stream with enough trees to break any winds for the evening.
Not long after setting up, the girls unpack themselves and bring out their toys and rest for a bit.
Knowing how hungry she is from the hike, I cook up some Mac 'n' Cheese with Meatballs for our lunch.
Tip: If you want to take your kids with you on a backpacking trip...bring lots of sugar and try to pack foods that they normally eat at home.
|photo by: marvin m.|
The hike to the falls from where we are can be tough enough for adults. I knew it would be a challenge for an 8 year old who has never had to scramble over rocks. Undeterred, my daughter was game.
Climbing at least three-tiers and who knows how many rocks, we made it to the falls. The look on their faces totally makes for this trip. I remember doing this hike 2 years ago and how much I wished I could have shared what I saw with someone...I was finally had the chance and I couldn't have asked for a better person to share this with than my daughter.
We spent a few minutes here to take photos and play. I was really proud of my daughter on this trip. For the first time, she carried her pack all on her own! Not once did she ask for me to take the pack. To date, this is one of her most difficult hikes she's done with me.
After enjoying the falls, we all head back down to camp. At camp, the girls continue to explore and play...it's nice that the two girls were on this hike together and it was also great they just hit it off from the start!
Nighttime falls and the cold comes in. Dinner and dessert for the kids...then time for bed. A day full of activities that I hope my daughter will remember. I hope that she does indeed love the woods as much as I do. My fear is that as she grows and matures, she may lose interest in backpacking with this old man...I hope she doesn't.
The following morning, the same smile greets me just like the morning before. I cook up some pancakes for her and soon we pack up. Sad to leave only because I truly enjoyed my time with her this weekend. I've taken her on other trips but this one was special. I can't put my finger on it but this...this was something else.
On the hike out, both girls take point as they did the day before and the Dad's follow closely behind. They stop every now and then to look at things that interest them both...pine cones, rocks, even a mistletoe.
We arrive at our cars, tired and hungry but full from adventure. I truly hope that my daughter had fun...as much fun as I did on this trip.
As always, I appreciate you all reading my ramblings...
If you have a chance to share your passion with someone dear to you...do it.
Till next time....see you on the trails.