Monday, July 05, 2010

A Little Backpacking With A Little Boy

You're never too young to learn the joy of the wilderness! That's at least what we thought as we headed out a few days ago for a little overnight backpacking trip. The unusual part: along with all our gear, we'd be toting along our 10 month old little boy. A little crazy? Perhaps, but lots of fun!

We started the trip with a 6 mile hike along the Appalachian Trail. The AT is an ideal trail because it's so well marked and has far more amenities (shelters, springs, marked water sources, plenty of hikers) than a typical trail. We also picked a section without too much in the way of elevation changes or other hazards.

The plan was to have Shira carry her gear and the boy's, David would carry his gear and the community stuff (tent, stove, etc.) and I'd carry my own gear and the kid himself. While we have a Kelty kid carrying backpack, we decided to use the Moby Wrap for transport instead. The Moby is lighter than the Kelty pack we have, and with the kid mounted on the front, it seemed to be a more stable option for the potentially rocky trail. Add to that the fact that we'd probably need to bring the Moby to help put the boy to sleep, and that the Moby is just fabric so it has multiple uses, and it was a winner. The main concern about the Moby was heat. We happened to pick days when the weather wasn't so terrible, so heat didn't turn out to be all that big a problem.

Our little guy spent most of his time either sleeping on the trail, or chattering away. What a sight we must have been, 3 backpackers wandering through the woods singing nursery rhymes. We came across a Thru-Hiker (that is, someone walking all 2000 miles of the AT) and he was astonished to see us. Giving a unique sight to someone who's walked 1000 miles of trail is a feat in itself.

After our 6 mile hike in, we made camp at Tumbling Run Shelter. We chose a campsite next to the little creek, which made for one of the most picturesque campsites I've ever spent a night at. While we busied ourselves making camp, our little one explored the forest and picnic table. I don't believe he ate all that much dirt, but any dirt he did eat I'm sure was the healthy kind. He also got to oggle a toad, lots of daddy long legs and various other bugs. Thankfully, the mosquitoes seemed to leave us all alone.

With camp made, we decided we'd trek up to Chimney Rocks to see another 1.2 miles of the AT. It was all up hill, and David carried the little guy this time -- which makes him the Best Sherpa Ever.

Once back at camp, we all dipped our feet in the creek, which was quite cold but also just what we needed.

David and I naturally built a fire. We started it, and yes I'm bragging here, by using a Fire Steel (and yes, we cheated - we also used some dryer lint). But still, starting a fire with essentially flint in steel - that's gotta earn me some Man Points.

By 8:30pm, dinner had been made and the boy had been asleep for an hour. We were all exhausted ourselves, so we headed to the tent to all call it a night. That's when things got interesting.

As soon as I lay down, I started to cough. Normally, this wouldn't be a big deal, but of course, it woke up the The Boy. So we'd soothe him back to sleep, only so I could wake him up again when I put my head down. Finally, I said forget it, grabbed my sleeping bag, pad and an emergency blanket, and threw them down a few feet outside the tent. I then spent a wonderful night under the stars, with no rain and with air chilly enough to keep the bugs away.

We seriously underestimated the amount of space our little guy would need in the tent. Whenever we eat at a restaurant, we have to clear the area he can reach of pretty much all items. The result is that he gets half the table, while the rest of us stack our plates and such on the other half. The same needed to happen in the tent. We should have planned to give him a nice big area to roam. Oh well, next time.

The next day, we were up at 5am, broke down camp and hiked our way out.

While the adventure was tiring, it probably only took a a good 26 hours to complete. Still, it was tons of fun. And seeing our little one explore a new world and take in the sights and sounds was such a treat. Some pictures below.

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