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I was so excited for our very first family backpacking trip, I could barely sleep the week before the trip. I had so many things to take care of; backpacks to pack, last minute shopping trips that needed to be made, and the rest of our dehydrated meals needed to be put together. So much time had been put into this trip, I was hoping that this didn't turn out to be a huge flop. I didn't want my family to decide that they absolutely hated camping and backpacking, because of a National Lampoon's style vacation. I wanted everything to be perfect, but you never can count on things going exactly as planned when you are taking your family out into the great outdoors! This perfect image in my head would have been a much less memorable vacation, than the one that we actually experienced.
Three days to hike 15 miles with a 6-year-old
While I have tons of outdoor adventuring experience, both the Hippy Hubby and Syfy have never gone backpacking or camping like this before. I was so excited to take them out to where I am my happiest and was hoping they would find that same love and passion that I have for the outdoors. For this first trip, I picked out a trail that I thought would be easy for our whole family to handle. Syfy is only 6 years old and is frequently able to hike 3 miles at a time, so I figured a trip where we hiked 5 miles a day for three days, would be the perfect starter amount for everyone. This led me to the 15 mile Butterfield Hiking Trail in Devil's Den, AR. With plenty of water to play in, caves to explore, and some moderate elevation change, the BHT sounded like the perfect trail for us. How hard can "moderate" really be anyway? We were certainly going to find out for ourselves.
Preparing for a family trip takes more of everything
Preparing for this trip was like no other job I have ever done. Not only did I have to find everything we needed to survive out in the wild, but I also had to make sure I had 3 of everything, and that some of that stuff was tailored to a 6-year-old. Everything had to be lightweight, compact, and easily able to travel on our backs. Last year I bought Syfy a Camelbak Scout 11L hydration backpack for our hikes around town and filled it with his camp toys (a hacky sack, binoculars, and a magnifying glass) and his extra layers. We were able to fit a 1.5L Platypus water pack in place of the Camelbak one he had long since destroyed, and he carried his pack for most of the trail! Not only did I spend hours dehydrating and creating all of our meals from scratch
It was a week before our big trip and the brand spanking new Keen sandals I had just purchased Syfy the week before, were not where they were supposed to be in our apartment. I found one by the door and then tore our entire house apart trying to find the other one. It was nowhere to be found and I was pretty sure it had accidentally landed in the trash pile of boxes that had been by our front door. I still had a few things to check off of our list and excitedly informed the Hippy Hubby that we needed to take a trip to REI to get the rest of the items that we needed. When I say excited, I mean like sweaty pits excited. The thought of going into REI makes me so giddy, I'm like a kid in a candy store. It's one of my favorite places to shop!
I admit, I am a bit obsessive about researching the gear I am about to buy. Sometimes a little over obsessive. As we walked through REI looking for everything on my list, I had already written down exactly which items I was prepared to purchase. Our trusty REI guy listened as I excitedly told him about our upcoming adventure, and then moved quickly to get us a new pair of Keen sandals for Syfy. I decided to ask his opinion on the leading hand pump water filter I had picked out, and then he graced us with his awesome knowledge and suggested we try the Platypus 2L Gravity Works water filter (which was the same price as the one I had picked out). I decided to listen to his sage advice, and let me tell you...that water filter was THE BEST EVER!!! Thanks to our fabulous REI guy, we didn't have to waste any energy filtering our water, and it filtered super fast! I will never doubt my REI guy again! Those REI employees really know their stuff!
I had everything prepared and we were ready to go!
The night before our trip, I had everything we needed and packed it all up in our backpacks. I ended up packing our packs 3 times so that I could get the weight distributed properly between the Hippy Hubby and my packs. Our packs were both pretty heavy because we were carrying enough gear for the 3 of us. I was so excited for the next day that I spent half the night awake with excitement. First thing in the morning, we were off, driving to Devil's Den State Park. Let the family adventures begin!
To be continued...Find out what happens on our first family backpacking trip in my next post!
You can read the Hippy Family Backpacking Trip Part 2 HERE