Our First Time Family Backpacking

renee's picture
Submitted by renee on

Excitement and apprehension, in equal measure, characterized my feelings going into our first camping trip with backpacks. My anxiety caused to me be, well... anxious. Not to mention I was just plain old tired from a difficult month. So I guess those were my excuses for the pre-trip slightly raised voice "discussion" about canned beans and powdered soymilk. Yep, those beans and soymilk brought me to tears.

Renee Camden Pack

It's funny now, but at the time, 10:00pm on Wednesday night to be exact, those were make-it or break-it pack items. I went so far off the deep end as to suggest to my husband that perhaps I wasn't the right partner for him because I had made the wrong assumptions about... beans.

But where exactly am I going with this?

Ah yes, I was quite anxious about this trip but also very excited. Anxious because we have never backpacked before and excited for the very same reason.

We picked a great place to break in our backs packs. A wood stove heated cabin, located an "easy" (nothing feels easy with that much weight on an initiated back) 2 mile hike in on a relatively flat and wide trail. We did the planning and researching. Ok, Damien did all that and I did all the fretting. But lest it sound like we just decided one day "hey, lets go on a winter backpacking trip" I need to set the record straight.

Damien started gearing us up years ago for backpacking, while I was still somewhat reluctant and uninformed. I'm still rather uninformed, I'm probably better off that way, but no longer reluctant (just don't tell Damien).

Family backpacking with elementary aged children is not an easy, get up and go effort. Although we're working towards making it that way we know these "firsts" will take a lot of work. Work that has been years really in the making. Weekly hikes with our kids to train our bodies and learn what clothing works best for the outdoors. Years of saving and spending our money on quality gear that is light but will still keep our family warm, safe and comfortable. Recipe trials that have been mostly successes but some failures.

This inaugural trip was years in the making but you forget all that when you are up late for a week cooking and dehydrating hummus, crackers, cookies and fretting over powdered soymilk and canned beans. All you feel is tired and cranky and maybe like this whole trip is just too much work.

coming to the cabin

But then you hit the trail head. And your push yourself through that first mile and realize "I can do this". You encourage the kiddos who don't seem to need it as much as you do. Because although their packs are the heaviest they've carried they enjoy the walk and take time to throw snow along the way. And after the second mile when you arrive (already!) and set down your pack and smell the lingering woodsmoke in the cabin you realize you're in for a weekend to remember.

arriving at cabin

And what a weekend it was. Once in a lifetime. Not because we won't do it again. We will and then some. But because you only have firsts once. And this was a first.

First time packing our camping supplies on our backs. The first time winter camping. The first time doing both of these with my parents, who had never done anything like this before either.

Was my husband crazy or what? First time taking not only his wife and kids but his in-laws too out into the woods with everything on their backs.

I know what all you hard core types are thinking "a cabin?" Yes, we did stay in a cabin and not a tent. And yes we did take the canned beans and fresh fruit and not everything dehydrated. But it still was the first time backpacking for our family and I will never forget what a smashing success it was, for everyone. You have to know my comfort loving father (like father, like daughter) to truly appreciate hearing "we need to look into getting gear like this".

The weekend was a success not only for our family of 5 but also for my parents who joined us on this crazy adventure. We all agreed we want to do it again, the kids especially who were the center of everyone's love, attention and care. Does it get any better for kids than woods, sticks, stream, snow, cabin, a fireplace (are all kids pyros or is it just mine?), bunk beds, mommy, daddy, nana & papa? All in one place! The kids wanted to stay a month - literally.

I'm still riding the wave of contentment, pure joy and family togetherness that was this weekend.

Our two day trip was not without challenges. My dad had a cold that together with carrying 50+ lb pack wiped him out on Saturday and Brienne picked up a tummy bug somewhere along the way (eating snow?). My calves are still sore, my hip and shoulder bones a little bruised. But I'm certain those issues will be resolved in future trips.

Maybe that's the greatest success of this trip. That we're already talking about the next one.




Winter Camping

Canned Beans and powder soy milk is all it took??? Hey we all crack once in awhile but we are so fortunate that we are given help mates to help us through these moments of &$#%^%^%^^%$###$%! Hey Damien you really are good! Renee I really appreciate your transparency. I also truly enjoyed the trip and Damien when ever your ready for another I am ready to go. (NOT WINTER TENTING) I draw the line there.
I love you both

You must have been stressed

As I read this blog, the thing that stuck out for me besides all the fun you had,how you and your family are always willing to stretch yourself in different directions,and the way you enjoy each other so much (but I can understand that after meeting you all,is that you must have been under a great deal of stress to say you to your husband, you might not be the right mate for him. I have never met a couple more suitable to each other. I am glad the stressful part is over and the rewards were great. You all deserved it.

It wasn't that bad

There were a lot of things going on that week to raise the stress levels... our son's birthday, fixing-up our basement suite, trying to find new renters, in addition to preparing for our trip. It was one of those times where everything was happening all at once. We really needed that trip at the end of the week to decompress, I think that although it did add extra work, it was perfectly timed to give us a well needed break at the end of the month.


Just curious as to where the cabin is located.... Looks beautiful. It sounds like stuff that I did as a kid with my parents! Keep doing it with the children. They will remember and learn!

Camden Hills State Park

The cabin is located in Camden Hills State Park. It is just a two mile hike in from the parking area, right beside a little creek.

We have no intentions on stopping the hiking any time soon... on the contrary, we are scheming ways to get out even more!


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