Posts Tagged With: backpacking

A Series of Fortunate and Unfortunate Events at Navajo Lake

May 19th, 2012  –  5pm Navajo Lake, Lizard Head Wilderness elevation: 11,155′         

“Maisy.” I find her in the tent.  “If we have to hike out of here can you suck it up and get it done?”  She doesn’t hesitate for a second and looks me in the eye.  “Yes.”

That’s my girl.  With that I start packing up the giant mess we had made only an hour earlier at our 11,150′ campsite, scrambling to get tents, sleeping bags, pads, kitchen stuff…god there was shit EVERYWHERE…stuffed back in the backpacks.  Did all of that gear really fit in our packs?  Somewhere in there I even found a few seconds to heat up another cup of water to finish the cooking process on our Backpacker’s Pantry-sponsored dinner knowing that if we all didn’t eat something before hightailing back down the trail, it was not going to be pretty.  Hurried eating and packing complete, Todd and the girls started down the trail while I filtered enough water to get back to the truck.

Hiking up the Navajo Lake trail

It had been an unnecessarily rough day already.  Picture-perfect weather after a cold front had come through opened up the high country with just a few scattered clouds and so we decided to pack up and head out for an overnighter at Navajo Lake in the Lizard Head wilderness.  This is one of those great local hikes that gets you into beautiful territory quickly.  That’s not to say it isn’t a little bit of a butt-kicker but it’s so beautiful you (kind of) forget about those wretched switchbacks towards the end.  We hoped that the snow was gone enough to reach the lake.

the Lizard Head Wilderness welcomes you. even you, Addy.

The kids were…challenging…from the minute they woke up, screeching and fighting about stupid crap and then carried that onto the trail where Addy decided the payback for all of the wrongs ever inflicted upon her (you know, like when Maisy wouldn’t let her use the red marker and when I told her she couldn’t have popsicles for breakfast) was to hike .074 miles per hour.  Husband’s note: Although Addy’s pace may at times seem incredibly slow, that little kid averaged 1.4 miles per hour over 5 miles with about 2,000 feet of elevation gain. She’s a tough and strong little monster.  Wife’s note: Note the use of the word MONSTER.  She was in a bad mood, taking great pleasure in torturing her sister, perfecting her whine…all with an accompanying evil grin.  Hey, I get that she’s 3, and a pretty amazing 3 year old at that.  On this day she was exercising her right to be a very challenging 3.  Lunch time brought a momentary reprieve; food seems to improve everything, at least for a few minutes.

momentarily placated with calories, the girls get big air at lunch

I have gotten so used to the kids being awesome on hikes that this scene caught me off-guard and I immediately began to question the madness of the August Wonderland Trail trip.

ah, those lovely switchbacks

I always assume moments like these present themselves for a reason.  Anyway, we inched onward, upward.  We invented a jelly bean hiding game whereby Maisy and Todd hiked out ahead and left jelly beans along the trail for Addy to find.  This helped pick up the pace.  At long last, after putting together enough baby steps, we finally arrived 2200′ higher at the lake.  Even on the best days this is a tough hike for a kid, but they did it.

Once camp was set up Addy proceeded to use the brand new, decidedly delicate-seeming Big Agnes tent and my sleeping pad as a bouncy castle.   Every time I asked her to stop she just grinned and invented new ways to make me crazy.  The kids didn’t want to wander around and explore; they just wanted to eat non-stop which I am coming to find out the hard way must be accounted for (a fourth meal) in backpacking trips.  On top of that the heat of the sun would start to overheat everyone just enough that we’d peel off layers and then a cloud would come by and drop the temperature by what felt like 60 degrees.  We were a grouchy hot mess, and in such a picture-perfect setting.  I said I’d be honest in this blog.  There you have it – it ain’t always pretty.

room with a view

Hoping that yet more hiking would distract the kids, we walked down to the lake.  No one wanted to go swimming which I thought was too bad since it would have made for great pictures what with the giant chunks of ice in it.  Todd continued around the lake while I brought the kids back up to camp and immediately remanded them to their own corners.  I started making dinner as everyone was hypoglycemic from the militaristic rationing of food (something completely foreign to the Gardiner household…we’re enthusiastic eaters) – again, lesson LEARNED.  More food.  Got it.

Navajo Lake, by Todd

Todd returned from his Happy Moments Away from the Bickering Children and Wife About to Lose Her Mind, I pointed to the boiling water, grabbed the camera and started up the rocky scree slope above camp.  I had been gone all of 5 minutes when Maisy started yelling something.  Finally the wind brought it up to me clearly.  “Dad is HURT we need you NOW he burned his LEG”.  I see Todd in a snowbank trying to put out the heat from the boiling water.  When I finally made it down I saw that skin was shedding from his ankle.  Not good.

So it’s 6pm, we’re all tired and hungry.  There is shit everywhere.  Todd’s leg is melting and feeling really pretty horrible and we have to make the decision – wait this out till tomorrow morning or get the hell out of there.  The only good news is that the 5 long-ass miles in to the lake are all uphill.  We had gravity on our side on the way out and Maisy said she could do it.  Addy didn’t have a choice…I was going to haul her ass out of there but really I think she was so taken with the idea that this situation meant she could sleep in her bed and wake up to cartoons and have a popsicle somewhere in there.  What’s to complain about?

beautiful Maisy

We decided that poor Todd wasn’t going to be able to sleep, we didn’t have a huge pile of clean dressings, and the last thing I wanted was a 175-pound immobile, feverish husband at 11,000′.  I’m strong, but I’m not that strong.  So I stuffed spoonfuls of food into the girls while helping Todd wrap up his burn with goods from the added-at-the-last-minute first aid kid, he shoved the rest of the gear in his pack and we were out of there.

After I finished filtering water I looked up and saw that Todd and the girls were still just 200′ away and of course wondered why they weren’t a half mile down the trail.  When I caught up I found Todd talking with the only other campers there, a group of guys that had been up on the 14ers in the neighborhood that day.  One of them volunteered to help shoulder the load down the trail for a while.  Unfortunately for poor Tim, I am at a point in my life where I no longer stubbornly refuse any and all help and so I tossed him my pack, put Addy on my shoulders and we started cruising down the hill.  I let him follow us down the trail for about a half an hour and then begged him to return up the hill.  Without his help up and over that first hump we probably wouldn’t have made it back to the truck before dark.  As it was, the four of us got back to the trailhead right at 9pm as the last usable light had disappeared.  We had headlamps, of course, but that just complicates things when you are trying to dodge little creeks, snow drifts, rocks and giant bunnies on the trail.  Headlamps make you feel completely separated from reality which is not good when hungry, exhausted and in pain.  Or a child.  Anyway, thanks Tim.  It was the perfect amount of help at the end of an already long day for you and we are thankful.

the fading light of day on the evac hike out

There is a silver lining of course, besides finding a really nice person who was willing to help – walking out of there at twilight meant getting to see critters…I was just waiting for a big old black bear to really make the night interesting.  But instead we came across elk in one of the meadows, got to see the last light of day light up the mountains in their most glorious and got to witness the greatness both of our kids possess.

a crappy picture of elk in evening meadows

There was not a single complaint in that 2 1/2 hours of evac – Maisy put in a solid 10-mile day and Addy hiked at least a mile or two of the way out giving her a solid high-altitude 6.5-7 miles.  No meanness, no whining, no nothing – amazingly they just knew what had to be done and did it.  Todd mentioned that maybe in the future he would just pour boiling water on himself before every hike.  Maisy got into the truck in the darkness with a huge sense of accomplishment as well she should.  That kid is amazing.

mini-me

But here is the final dilemma.  Within a matter of 4 hours I went from total insanity to total awe of what our kids were able to do when they had to.  Our packs are down to 30 pounds including water, food for two days, magazines, beer and wine and we figured out that, when we need to, we can haul gear AND 38 pound Addy up and down hills.  No problem.  Was there a little adrenaline involved?  Sure.  But we are strong and stubborn and that’s a good combo.  So I guess we’ll continue to assess the whole Wonderland thing.

a bit of a post script -it’s 12:30am and Todd just called from the emergency room (he was able to drive himself down there) and they found his burn to be substantial enough for some follow-up treatment.  Apparently he’ll do just about anything to earn a few guilt-free hours in his chair watching golf.  Here is what it looks like today (the next day).  Nasty.  Glad we hiked out.

gross. anything to get out of making dinner, I swear

Lessons learned this time around:

so glad I put that good first aid kit in at the last second.  we’ll never be remiss about packing one again

when it seems like I’m packing too much food I’m going to add another 2 pounds

hiking sticks make awesome crutches.  glad to have a pair along in this case

occasionally my kids kick some serious ass.   my husband is a pretty tough creature himself.  I mean seriously…look at that mess.  ugh.

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Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Trip Reports | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Gear Review: the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo

Here we go with tent #3, the Six Moon Designs Lunar Duo.  When I read on Brett’s Blog that four grown men were able to sit in this tent playing cards while riding out a rain storm on the Wonderland Trail I had to see it in person.   Especially since it comes in at under three pounds (41 oz without stakes or poles).  It does require 4-6 stakes so add another couple of ounces if you’re counting.  Another 4 oz if you’re not using hiking poles and want to buy the optional carbon fiber poles.

This tent is able to deliver massive interior space by using only two small spacer poles curving at the roof and relying on two hiking poles (or optionally two carbon fiber poles that can be purchased separately for those that don’t hike with poles) to be the bones of the tent.

Similar to the Double Rainbow this is a single-walled tent meaning that the mesh sides are sewn directly into the silicon-nylon roof.  It has a bathtub floor, gets staked out at the corners and by adjusting the height of the trekking poles you can create tension where you need it instead of with your tent-mate since there is enough room for the whole family.  You will likely want to add a few guy lines to this set-up; there are two guy points from which you can add some stability.

While the Lunar Duo doesn’t have a porch option like the Double Rainbow, it does have vestibules on each side large enough for gear.  I would be curious to know how this sheds water and wind with its surface area being so large, but it is the same surface area that creates such a huge and comfortable interior so I guess there are tradeoffs.  With good staking there is no reason to doubt that this tent can hold up to quite a bit of abuse.  Again, a great comparison review has been done of this tent and two others here.  All in all this seems like a fantastic option for claustrophobic backpackers who want to make everyone around them envious of their living space.

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) the Tent is $310, optional carbon fiber poles are $30 each, optional seam sealing is $30, a Tyvek ground cloth is $12, and a set of 6 stakes is $10.50

Preliminary Pros

Massive.  No complaints about the size of this tent.  It is the largest of the three reviewed.

Easy to set up once you get the hang of it.

The zippers are the sturdiest (#5s) of any of the three tents.

Made in the USA

Preliminary Cons

Unless you have good firm dirt to plant your stakes in, keeping it tensioned might be a problem.  I guess that’s where rocks come in.

Relies on hiking poles or extra carbon fiber poles which add to the weight by about 4 oz.

Click HERE for my review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

Click HERE for my review of the Tarp Tent Double Rainbow

Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Gear Review: the Tarptent Double Rainbow

I found this tent via Brettonstuff.com (a great site for ultralight backpacking tips and trip reports from the NW) who mentioned the Lunar Duo in a Wonderland Trail trip report (my review of the Lunar Duo).  His mention of the Lunar Duo led me to THIS website which does a way better job of reviewing the Lunar Duo and Double Rainbow than I will here.  Why reinvent the wheel?  I’ll just add my 2 cents.

Tarptent has been lightening the loads of backpackers since 1999 and they are still a cottage industry gear supplier; all tents are made in Seattle.  The Double Rainbow is their mid-sized two person tent and, in my humble opinion, brilliantly designed.  It has one pole that runs lengthwise in an arc, through a sleeve.

With the four corners staked out it is just about set up.  Two vestibules on either side have the options of being simply tied up for maximum air flow on beautiful days, staked out for vestibule area, or set up with hiking poles into a porch option.  Two doors make getting in and out easy and the interior feels positively palatial compared to the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 (my review is here).  6’2″ Todd was much happier in this tent; plenty of extra length in it.

The floor is a rectangle instead of the tapered design of the Big Agnes.  Here is a shot of the Big Agnes footprint laid on top of the Double Rainbow floor for comparison.  While it doesn’t look like a big difference, those 4-6 extra inches in width at the foot SEEM like a lot.  Maybe it’s the mammoth head room that helps complete the feeling of grandeur.

We ordered the extra liner – not sure how it will work once we’re camping in condensation-making parts of the country but it’s a 4 oz piece of nylon that clips into the corners and along the ridge to form a second wall in a single wall tent.  It adds warmth in the winter and I can attest to it cutting down on the heat from direct sun as when I was setting this thing up it felt like it was probably 150 degrees out.  I’m sure it was more like 78 but my comfort zone is pretty small.  Ask Todd, I do a lot of bitching.  Anyway, once the liner was clipped in it was noticeably cooler in the tent. The liner is decidedly hard to illustrate with a picture but here is a shot of part of it:

The two vestibules and doors are a slam dunk for me.  Camping with kids means they’re ALWAYS moving, having to pee in the middle of the night, spreading their stuff everywhere.  With their own side to get in and out of and a patch of vestibule to keep their stinky socks and shoes so they’re not right in MY face…perfect.  Here is a shot of the profile, vestibule staked on the left, porch out on the right:

And this porch option, how cool is that?  Allows for great airflow, lets you open up the view in a light drizzle…if you’re hiking with trekking poles this is an easy sell.  If not you can certainly guy the porch out with a couple of sticks.  A triangular piece of fabric attaches the two vestibule triangles with velcro to create the porch.  You’ll need a couple of extra guy lines to stake it out from the hiking sticks.

One last cool thing they’ve done is allow you to use your hiking poles in order to make this a free-standing tent.  It should be noted that not all hiking poles will be long enough (my superlight Leki Makalu’s were a few inches too short).  I remedied this by taking the pole repair sleeve from another tent and putting it on the tip of the hiking pole to extend it to the required length.  It didn’t make for the strongest option but would work in a pinch.  With proper length poles, which we had a set of in the garage, it was sturdier.  It isn’t as good an option as staking the tent out but it is there when you need it, if you have hiking sticks.  Options are good.

All in all I think that this tent will prove to be my favorite.  It feels solid when set up, doesn’t require hiking poles, has great doors and vestibule room and is enormous on the inside compared to the Big Agnes.

Tent Specs:

Tent body, pole and 6 Easton stakes: 41 oz or 2 lbs 9 oz

Clip in liner: 4 oz

2 extra stakes: 1 oz

2 extra guy lines: 1 oz

total weight that we will be carrying: 2 lbs 15.8 oz

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) Tent is $275, the Liner is $30, they’ll seam-seal it for you for $30, you can buy a Tyvek ground sheet for $12

Preliminary Pros

Roomy.  Long.  Vestibules. Porch.  Etc.  It rules.

Super easy to set up

Made in the USA

Preliminary Cons

Hmm…

I’ll work on thinking of one.  I guess we’ll see how it does when we get into humidity, but I’m hoping the liner will help with that.

OO, I thought of one.  It’s slippery as a greased-up pig.  Getting it back into the stuff-sack was the hardest part of this experiment!  I can live with that.

Click HERE for my review of the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

Click HERE for my review of the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo

Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gear Review: the Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2 tent

In our efforts to significantly reduce pack weights we have been systematically sending bricks of cash to various gear-makers in exchange for shaving pounds off of our current stash.  Choosing two tents for the four of us has been an interesting hunt and revealed that a lot has changed in the tent universe since I last cared about how much one weighed.

The Walrus Swift that I used in ’97 was a great little tent, but from what I remember that little bitty 1- person tent weighed 3 1/2 pounds.  This time around the goal was to get two 2-person tents under 3lbs each.  Here is the first of 3 preliminary reviews (read: we haven’t started beating the crap out of these things yet) of tents that are in house and under consideration:

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL 2

This is the only one of the three tents that is a traditional double-walled tent, meaning it has the standard mesh/floor body and a separate fly.  It weighs in at 2lbs 10oz with 10 stakes and guys.  The ground sheet adds another 4oz (and $40) so we’ll put the total at 2lbs 14.8oz.  They list the minimum weight as 2lbs 2oz but honestly, I have no idea how on earth they’re cutting out 8oz.  It has one hubbed pole that, when connected, is in a Y-shape;  this shape allows for a ‘freestanding’, if not totally ideal, option.  Yes, it will stand up by itself without stakes but two stakes are necessary in the foot of the tent to make it liveable.  Here is what it looks like in freestanding mode; you can see how the hiney end needs a little stake help.

The fly attaches to the corners with buckle clips and to the tent body itself so that when the sides are guyed out, the tent is also pulled taught.  Good design.  The vestibule is just barely big enough for one pack and maybe a couple pairs of boots but don’t plan to set your lawn chair up in it.  I’m not sure that you could successfully get two packs in it either but then putting two adults in this tent would be equally tight.  Our plan for this tent was for Addy and I to use it.  Addy is 3 years old and I am 5’6″ which leaves enough room INSIDE the tent for my pack.  Todd (6’2″) found the tent too short; technically he fit in it but his feet were brushing the end of the tent uncomfortably.  Here are 2 78″ long pads to give you an idea of the interior size:

Yes, we have gotten our money’s worth out of that old z-rest.  The other thing to consider, if you are thinking about using this tent for 2 people, is that it only has one door and whatever is in the vestibule will be between you and the exit.  If it’s raining and you have wet nasty gear the vestibule, this will be a pain in the ass.

When you buy the ground cloth you have the additional option of ditching the tent body and just using the fly.  This could be a good lightweight option where bugs or sideways rain are not a concern.  Here is a shot of the pole/footprint set-up before the fly is on and then the view from inside once the fly is up:

All in all this seems like a good little tent and may just work for wee Addy and I.  Because it is lightweight I am sure that durability, both in materials and zippers, is not that of your standard issue canvas hunting tent and only time will tell how it stands up to the abuse of family chaos.

Tent specs (using my scale):

Tent body 14.5oz

Tent fly  11.8oz

Stakes (10 titanium with stuff sack)  and pole repair sleeve 4.6oz

Pole  10.7oz

Footprint 5.4oz

Total weight whole tent (with all stakes)  2lb 14.8oz

Total weight fly-footprint option (5 stakes)  24.5oz or 1lb 8.5oz

Cost: (as of May 18th, 2012) Retails for $369 but saw it recently at REI for $269 on sale.  You can find the footprint for $40 out there.

Preliminary Pros:

Traditional 2-wall design may mean less condensation should we actually go somewhere where things condense.

Sturdy design with the most pole of all three choices.

The tent-body-free option could be great in bug-free, nicer-than-miserable weather situations.

Preliminary Cons:

Least amount of interior space of all three tents.  Two good-sized adults will be tight.

Small vestibule

Only one door

The zippers seem awfully dainty.  I guess we’ll see how they hold up.  This tent will probably not be allowed in Utah where Sand Destroys Everything.

Not made in the US as the other two are

**We’ll report back after seeing what this tent can handle under the tender, gentle care of a 3 year old.

Click HERE for the review of the Tarp Tent Double Rainbow Review

Click HERE for the review of the Six Moon Design Lunar Duo Review

Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Gear | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Gear Review – The Osprey Jib for kids

The Osprey Jib – A Serious Backpack for Kids

I’m not sure why companies like Osprey make real backpacks for kids.  I don’t imagine that the quantities sold can justify the R&D and production but maybe I’m wrong.  Whatever reason they have for doing it, I am grateful because there is nothing that will submarine a backpacking trip with a kid faster than a crappy pack on their backs.

If you’re thinking about taking your kid backpacking here is my advice: get them a REAL backpacking pack, not a suped-up book bag, not a Justin Bieber Walmart special…buy something made by a company that makes the backpacks that YOU would wear.

The Osprey Jib and Ace are essentially full-featured, miniature versions of an adult pack with a frame, contoured air space to keep the pack off of your kids’ back, and a hipbelt that is real, adjustable and essential.  It has a whistle built into the sternum buckle (important for any hiking kid), a built-in rain cover and a stuff-it pouch handy for that stuffed animal that is coming along whether you approve it or not.

It’s lightweight, tough, well-designed and my kid likes wearing it.  Thumbs up, Osprey.

Categories: Backpacking with Kids, Gear, Kids' Gear | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

Canyonlands National Park – Valdereee Valderahh Style

March 9-11th, 2012                                               *hover over pictures for captions *underlined bits are links!

She stops suddenly in the middle of the trail and I nearly run her over.  She turns around and makes that face, fists on her hips.  ‘MOM, my legs aw tie-ode.’  So declares my three year old as we reach the 100-foot milestone of our first family backpacking trip.  ‘SERIOUSLY?’ I say.  ‘Addy, I can still see the CAR.  You hiked 5 miles last Sunday, what’s the deal?’  ‘MOM, I’m HUNGWY.’  This isn’t my first pony ride so I magically produce a fruit roll-up and tell her to get her butt in gear.

An auspicious and not very surprising beginning to the Gardiner Year of the Backpack.

Canyonlands National Park is right down the road, at least by Western distance standards.  In less than 2 hours we can be on the trail.  Saddled with our gung-ho determination to re-enter the world of backpacking with two kids (3 and 8) in tow, we called the back-country office, were told that there were still a few options open if we could drive it like we stole it, threw the crap in the car and crossed our fingers that no one else less than two hours away had the same idea.

Not to worry, we got there late on a Friday afternoon, raced into the office right before they closed and quickly had Big Spring 1 and Squaw Canyon 2 camps reserved.  The nice ranger mentioned that if we were going to head up and over into Lost Canyon on the way out to be careful, that if it was icy we might want to reconsider.  I smirked and thanked her for the advice.  She said, ‘No, really, we’ve had people die in that spot before.  Watch yourselves, especially with the kids.’   More on this later.

Big Spring 1 camp is a whoppin’ 1 mile up the trail which was just fine with such a late start.  It’s a lovely little camp under the pinyon pines and hidden in its own little box canyon.  We set up camp congratulating ourselves on the grueling journey thus far and I followed the kids down to the creek (picture a raging inch of water moving grudgingly downhill).  It took about 7 seconds for Addy’s feet to be soaked.  I didn’t even have time to forcefully suggest that she might want to take her shoes off before she was up to her ankles.  I’d like to say that I have learned not to overly fret about such things since we live in a place that likes to hover around 5% humidity, but that would be a joke.  They were dry before I could properly vocalize my exasperation with her.

We moved on to playing on the slickrock around the camp, the kids scrambling up the rocks like monkeys, me getting nauseous any time they got close to edges.  It must be the too-easy-to-visualize ‘kid falling off a cliff’ nightmare that has broken my brain.  Regardless, no one fell screaming to their deaths, we watched a great sunset and returned to camp to make dinner.

After dark Maisy and Todd went down the trail a bit to use her star chart to pick out a few constellations.  On the way back she stepped on a cactus and sent blood-curdling shrieks through the silence of southwest Utah.  You probably heard her, no matter where you were.  Once she stopped howling I, being the least sympathetic mom in the universe, asked her why on earth she wasn’t wearing shoes.  In the desert. Their brains work differently than ours and I use the word ‘work’ non-contextually of course.

The next day we marched to Squaw canyon, another arduous day of four big miles.  It gave us plenty of time to mess around, have a leisurely lunch and marvel at how much food the kids were packing away in all that fresh air.  Holy crap, if I hadn’t defended the food bag with snarls and bared teeth, I’m pretty sure they would have eaten it all.  I diligently made a note to self to bring significantly more food on the next trip.  Maybe a beef cow on a lead rope.

Between canyons you must go up and over the chunk of sandstone that delineates each canyon.  The big fin that divides Big Spring from Squaw wasn’t too bad – there was a pour-off that required Todd to lower the kids down.  It was a spot on which you wouldn’t really want to make too many sudden movements, but once again, no one ended up broken so that was great.  We continued up the trail, Addy singing at the top of her lungs something incomprehensible, her voice echoing off of the sandstone walls.  I have discovered, through 8 years of research, that children have no inner voice.  If it takes root in their brains there is only one trail for it to take – out their mouths.  Seeing wildlife is never a concern.  But the singing was also a sign that she was HAPPY, something for which I’d trade canyon quietude any day.

We found our next camp and Maisy rolled out her sleeping pad to read one of the books that Todd was carrying as part of the ‘library’ in his pack.  ‘Here I am counting ounces on every piece of gear yet I have 3 books, two of them hardcover, that aren’t even MINE in my pack.’  Dads have it hard.  I told him to stop bitching – at least she didn’t bring Harry Potter in all its 8-pound glory.  I do foresee downloading books onto her iTouch for the Wonderland Trail.

We wandered up the pretty little side canyon next to camp that is also the trail to Lost Canyon.  We found some nice fat potholes and headed back down to camp to grab the water filter.  I returned with Maisy so that I could show her how to use the filter which she found to be a fascinating procedure for about 12 seconds and then was off looking for crawly things in the puddles.

It was a cold night, getting down to 20 degrees.  In a sleeping bag rated 20 degrees 15 years of abuse ago I was made to realize that it was time for a refurb.  The kids and Todd were all just fine of course; I, on the other hand, dug through the clothes bag in the middle of the night and woke up with Maisy’s skirt on one leg, her hiking shirt on another, two pairs of socks…whatever I could make fit on my body.  Todd and Maisy slept under the stars and woke up completely covered in ice.  Coffee and oatmeal never tasted so good…which is saying a lot because oatmeal pretty much sucks.  I’ll give my kids credit for not even noticing that it was cold.  They are tough little buggers and in their element Out There.  Happily the sun was shining on camp within an hour, the gear dried out and we were on our way back to the car via Lost Canyon.

We ran into a volunteer who seemed genuinely confused to come across so small a creature as Addy out there in the back of beyond so early in the morning.  He told us that the trail into Lost was ice-free (and therefore we probably wouldn’t die) and that there was plenty of water in Lost Canyon should we need it.

Soon enough we came to the second big fin crossing that led to that Place the Ranger had warned us about.  Once I saw it I thought ‘shit,  that lady wasn’t kidding’ and proceeded to wish I could just close my eyes and forget where I was.  I’m not normally overly neurotic about exposure but there is definitely something about exposing your KIDS to exposure that had my hackles at an all-time high. Luckily Todd’s wits were intact and he without hesitation went through the sketchy part, dumped his pack and came back for the kids one by one before I could even get the rope (15 year old p-cord) out of my pack.  Then he made the three of us sit there on the exposed ledge for a pictureI should have thrown up for the picture – it would have been a genuine capture of the moment.  Oh, and he took a video.  Sadly the video shows nothing of the sheer 200′ drop that is below ‘right here’.  Don’t plan on any trip reports from the  Hillary step in the near future.

The day was hot and the rest of Lost Canyon was lovely.  It is a trail that, in all our years of exploring Canyonlands, we hadn’t been on.  It was shady, the water was significant – I had no idea that much water existed anywhere in the park.  The last miles after lunch were hot and dry as we slogged our way back to the car.  Up and over two last humps of sandstone and we were back, alive, thirsty and still speaking to each other, Addy with a new personal hiking record of a 6-mile day.

That silly old rule of ‘hike your age’ is officially out the window.

Categories: Backpacking, Backpacking with Kids, Trip Reports | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Bringing Crazy Back to the Backcountry

While Travelblog is a wonderful home for our international travels we needed a new place for the next chapter of Crazy we think we’re entering into. We noticed last fall that our 3-year-old was suddenly willing and able to hike 5 miles. Somewhere in there we talked about doing the John Muir Trail some day and that quickly became a desperate need to get back into our backpacks ASAP. The Wonderland Trail jumped out as something that maybe, with a lot of medication and deep breathing, we might be able to bribe the kids around. I mean really, it’s only 93 miles.

We dove head-first into our 1200 square foot gear emporium and started digging out the old backpacking gear which, since our 8-year-old was born, has largely become a spider-infested compost pile.  She and I had been out on two overnight trips in the past two summers which were awesome reminders of What I Love and led to tiny discoveries about backpacking with a child. It was also a reminder that my gear is old, smelly, and in the case of my beloved ancient Whisperlite, a bomb waiting to go off.

This blog will be dedicated to the tales of taking our kids Out There, not only on family backpacking death-marches but also documenting the rafting and hiking that we have done with them for years and what we have learned from those experiences.  There will be gratuitous jumping pictures.  Who knows, maybe Someone out there will find it marginally useful or inspiring as they too decide their once-mobile and adventurous lives don’t have to be re-explored only when the kids bounce off to college.  More likely, if I’m writing it honestly, it may serve as a dire warning to just stay home and vacuum.

We are not uber-adventurers, just semi-rad parents that don’t feel like retiring the idea of doing what WE love to do because we happen to have kids that (occasionally) don’t always have the same Idea for their weekends.  We’ll admit our failures, carry on about our successes, put in disclaimers when there was lots of crying and yelling, and review gear that sucks or doesn’t suck.

And it will evolve from there.

Categories: Backpacking with Kids, Other Drivel, Rafting with Kids | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

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