Our friends Dave and Erin booked a backcountry campsite in Rocky Mountain National Park and asked if we wanted to come with them. Sure, why not? We’ve been thinking of expanding our growing camping chops with some easy backpacking of a couple miles.
Oh, it’s 4.5 miles and a significant bit of uphill to get there. Gulp!
It went really well. I made a dramatic U-turn from trying to go as light as possible to Bringing All the Things. Amy and I have decent light-weight, low-bulk backpacking gear, but the kids don’t. Even with the largest packs available, packing was a challenge. Following the rule that you should carry no more than 1/4th to 1/3rd your body weight, Ellie’s pack topped out at 7 pounds, Joe at 15, Amy at a tad over 30 (a reasonable adult load, really), and me… well, something north of 50 pounds.
Actually, it’s been so long since I shouldered the big purple peril, it was a surprising bit of visceral nostalgia the way the hip belt felt and it didn’t feel like 50+ pounds at all. It’s a weight I can carry without too much trouble at my normal pace, but walking at the 2/3rds of a mile per hour with Ellie (who has short legs and a shorter attention span) is brutal.
We made it to Fern Lake with a surprising minimum of grumbling (except after the fact from my hips). The site itself wasn’t anything special, but it was nice to wander the quarter mile down to the lake periodically to throw things in, watch the sunset, sip whiskey (thanks for lugging the flask, Dave!), and generally reconnect with a more minimalistic way of camping than we usually do in the car.
The intermediate day was spent on a nicely un-laden day up to Odessa Lake with an ill-conceived attempt at a circumnavigation there-of. The kids all got an unplanned lesson in Epic Bushwhacking and may have learned a few new additions to their vocabulary.
The trip down was also slow, but, with gravity on our side and with much of the food weight having been consumed, went smoothly enough. It didn’t start raining until Ellie and I were within 100 yards of the car… a hike she had done entirely under her own power and carrying (some of) her own gear.
Having kids was definitely a hit to our lifestyle, but things are slowly coming back to something like normal, and in such a rewarding fashion!