After Erik and I had such a great time backpacking, we wanted to have the kids at least try it this summer. So we spent a couple weeks amassing the supplies to get a family of four into the back country. We bought the girls nice new kid-sized packs. We found another two-person tent online. Erik found himself a new warmer sleeping bag. I invested in dehydrated eggs, peppers and onions. We got the girls some camp utensils and some inexpensive sporty (wicking) clothes.
Then we made a big ol' mess in the living room as we figured out where to stow everything. The name of the game was lightweight and as minimal as possible. We filled the girls' bags with their sleeping bags, thermarests and clothes, including their life jackets for swimming in the lake. Erik and I carried everything else. Tents, food, fishing poles, etc.
We got up early and drove down the Bitterroot to Bakers Lake, near Trappers Peak. We'd done the hike on a Saturday the week before to scope out the location. The trail was only a little over a mile, but was mostly uphill. We figured we'd take lots of breaks and take it slow and easy for the girls' sake. Almost immediately Lindsay was complaining about the hike. Kera was pretty miserable too, but she hardly made a peep. We stopped so many times to rest. At first I was patient with Lindsay, encouraging her that she could do it, etc. But about halfway there when she kept saying "I can't do it" I got fed up with being gentle on her and told her to "Buck up" or "Put your big girl panties on and stop whining". I wasn't mean, just firm. I knew she could do it and all her talk about not being able to do it wasn't helping her.
Well, it took us a good two hours, but we finally made it to the lake. Once there we hiked an additional little ways around the lake to the other side where we'd scoped out the best camp sites.
Erik and I set up the tents and stuff while the girls chilled out on these big rocks. Lindsay was reading. (Yes, we packed minimally but books are a necessity in this family!)
It was a beautiful day and the lake is just gorgeous.
We spent the rest of that day chilling out. We swam a little, which was great, and ate our snacky lunch and cooked our camp dinner (tuna and mashed potatoes, surprisingly tasty!).
A couple of friends came up with their dogs that night, which was cool. The girls loved playing with the dogs. They had to leave the next day for work, but we decided to hike up to the other two lakes higher up from Bakers.
The beginning of the hike goes through a really moosey creek area.
The hike to Middle Lake wasn't too tough and the lake was beautiful. The girls definitely did better hiking without their packs, although we still had to have a couple "talks" about how there shouldn't be any whining.
Once we got to Middle Lake, we decided to tackle the crest up to Gem Lake.
Scenery on the way
Gem Lake really does look like a jewel. My camera did not do it justice whatsoever. We sat on the grass and ate our lunch with this incredible view.
Then Erik did some fishing.
The water was so clear.
The wind came up and we got chilly, so out came the sweatshirts. I think Lindsay's hat and gloves are leftover from the night before. We hiked back down to Middle Lake,
and Erik tried his hand at some more fishing.
While the girls and I snacked and sang songs together. We played "Bad Singer Idol" and tried to compete to see whose singing was the worst. I totally won.;)
That night some other friends of ours came up, this time another family of four. The girls had fun playing with the boys, who are pretty near their ages.
We hiked up to the other lakes again this day. I tried to take a nap at Middle Lake because I was seriously exhausted. The night before the temps up there dipped down below freezing and both Lindsay and I didn't sleep good. Our bags were not warm enough and we hadn't brought enough clothes. I wanted to cry in the middle of the night and really wanted to go home. But, I decided to push through and enjoy the day with our friends. I did learn from that, though. You can never pack too minimalistic to not include long underwear and/or some wool vests or coats and there's nothing like a good sleeping bag.
We came home and ordered me a warm NorthFace bag so I never have that problem again! There's nothing as miserable as not being able to sleep because you're cold.
The hike off the hill was pretty easy. We had less stuff since we'd eaten for 3 days, so I took a majority of the girls' extra stuff, leaving them with just their sleeping bags and mats. Then, we were going almost all downhill, so the actual hiking was much easier. Lindsay hiked up ahead with the boys and talked the entire time, not whining once. Kera stayed with me near the rear and only complained of her legs being "trembly" at the end, which mine were too (that darn downhill).
All in all, it was a fun and good trip. It's definitely not the girls' favorite form of camping, but there were parts they really liked and so I think we'll probably do it with them again. I'm very grateful to be able to mark this one off my goal list! :)