I have been slightly obsessed with the concept of backpacking for a very long time. In high school I was convinced I would thru-hike the AT after graduating, and obsessively researched everything about it. My dad got me a bracelet for graduation (I still have it) made with stones found along the AT. Years went by, and my interest continued, but I never took the chance to just go.
A couple years ago I started subscribing to Backpacker magazine and I would read every issue front to back. My dad asked what I'd like for my birthday several (maybe five?) years ago, and I said a hiking backpack. Although I'd never used it for an overnight, I lent it to a friend last summer who was going backpacking up north for a few days.
Dan and I take the kids camping several times a year (we have a pop-up, which is so fun) but I really really just wanted to go backpacking... to be out in the woods, traveling by foot.
So this week I decided I might as well JUST DO IT. (Maybe it was the "She turned her 'can'ts into can's and her dreams into plans" quote I saw earlier this week that kicked me into gear... I don't know...)
Dan is gone M-F at training all this month and next, so I knew it would be just me and the kids. I got some food supplies, packed our gear, told Will he had to wear my (still never used by me) backpack so I could take Dan's larger pack... and we headed off on the 2-mile hike to a nearby lake.
This was my attempted group selfie by the campfire last night. (It's a family rule that at least one kid must "ruin" every attempted picture, isn't it?! ;))
I set up the tent. Will built a killer fire using his survival matches, and I heated up the chili. Tristan and Hallie found firewood and Livi hopped about, singing and playing. It was lovely.
We squeezed 5 of us into a 3-man tent. It was snug, but not terrible. We went to bed when it got dark, and it started to rain; a nice gentle rain at first, but I awoke sometime during the night to an all-out downpour. I started to get a little worried... but eventually realized that nothing was going to happen that would kill us, so... never mind the creature comforts! It was actually incredibly calming being in the middle of nowhere, tucked in a tent with 4 sleeping kids and rain pouring down all around. (The original "white noise"!)
We had planned to hike around a little after breakfast and head home after lunch, but with the continued rain forecast, I decided we should just head home... wet, cold kids are not happy hikers!
The kids were total troopers. They didn't once complain about their heavy packs or fuss about the "cold" or rain. We made it back home a little before lunch, and although I am tired, I feel good. I am proud to say I've accomplished my 15-year old dream of backpacking! Hopefully next time we will go for 2 nights and have better weather. (The upside is that now I know that it can be done in the rain!)
There truly is nothing comparable to being on your own in the great outdoors.