Between Christmas and New Years, I took our three oldest kids on a backpacking trip - this was L's first! I took Thursday and Friday off work as these days were forecasted to be the only real sunny days of the break.
We set out in the early afternoon on the shady side of a ridge. We soon climbed up this ridge into the bright sunlight and followed its back for a couple miles down toward the river. The winter sun was low in the sky as we followed the river to where we would camp.
There were no established campsites, so we found a nice spot among the oaks on a relatively flat part of a hill (I learned that you can prevent some slipping across your sleeping pad by placing a fleece jacket or other non-nylon article of clothing between your sleeping bag and pad). We set up our tent and made a quick dinner by roasting hot dogs over a twiggy fire (not the typical backpacking fare) followed by Swiss cake rolls (to keep us warm, you know). It soon became dark, and we retired to our warm sleeping bags to visit and read scriptures before going to sleep.
I slept amazingly well (after following the inspiration to use my jacket to prevent the downhill slide) as did the kids. We awoke to a white, frosted world. The icy rain fly glittered in the morning sunlight warning us that it was chilly outside.
After a little coaxing, I left my sleeping bag, put on several layers, and hiked down to a smaller creek with H to filter some drinking water (since a lecture on my first backpacking trip, I've been cautious not to contaminate the "out" hose with the "in" hose). Soon we were heating some water on the ol' Whisperlite for a breakfast of oatmeal and hot chocolate.
As the sun rose higher, the world quickly thawed back into color. We packed our gear and set out on the trail the way we had come. I'm still a little baffled as to why the trail was so much muddier on our way out than on the way in. We stopped to refuel and play at a friendly large oak with low-hanging branches, and we got the closest to a turkey vulture that I have ever been (after a close aerial inspection, he must have decided we would make it out alive and left us alone).
What a great trip. I've been thinking about spring wildflower hikes...
6 months ago