Monday, June 2, 2014

Our First Backpacking Trip with Baby

We just returned from our first backpacking trip with Johann, and thought we would document a few notes for anyone who is interested. Spending time outdoors, in the heart of nature, recharges us in a way that not much else does. Not only does it provide some R & R, it lets the unimportant things and distractions of daily life fall away so we can fully appreciate God's creation all around us. For us, getting outside is a form of worship. And this is a key family value that we want to impart to our baby, Johann.

I had done some reading about backpacking with babies. We knew it was something we wanted to do as a family, and were happy to find that there are a lot of others who feel the same way. I gleaned some wisdom and got inspired by blogs and WTA trip reports I read about other families who backpacked with babies.

We chose a hike that we were familiar with and thought it would make an easy backpacking destination with baby. Barclay Lake is a small, quiet sub-alpine lake in the Mount Baker National Forest, reached by a 2.25 mile hike with an easy grade.

We had a bit of a bumpy start as Johann had a "blow out" while we were still at the trailhead, just getting our gear ready to go, forcing us to do an outfit change when we hadn't even left yet! Good timing, in hindsight.

When we reached the lake - being the only ones there - we had our pick of campsites. We chose a secluded, beautiful spot by the lake and set up camp.

Our private campsite by the lake

While hiking, Johann was happy to ride in the Ergo, either napping or enjoying the scenery. At camp he had more freedom, so it was a little more challenging with one of us watching him pretty closely at all times. He is not yet crawling, but still got into some mischief! He entertained himself with things like mugs, spoons, and dirt - of course. I was more relaxed when I realized he was going to keep finding the dirt, no matter what. He was especially fascinated by the inside of our tent.

Fascinated by the tent

But we had a few challenges.

Sleep was by far the biggest hurdle. He was content to stay up with us until 10 pm, when the light faded, and woke up EARLY, with the sunrise, ready to start the day at 5:05 am! The cold was another challenge, as overnight temps dropped into the low 40s. It was a bit warmer inside the tent and Johann was pretty bundled up inside Ryan's sleeping bag, but we were still worried. Tasks that went easier with two people, like setting up the tent and stringing up the bear bag, were also a bit of a challenge. Finding a way to keep Johann occupied was not the easiest, so we had to do things in short stretches of time.

Entertaining himself with a spoon while we cooked breakfast

Overall, he was kind to us and seemed to enjoy all facets of the experience - exploring with us (a lot!), sitting on the beach, gazing up at the mountains, stars, and the magnificent forest canopy, smiling sweetly at the few fellow backpackers who we ran into later, all the birds and various nature sounds.

Exploring with Daddy

The north face of Mt. Baring

Barclay Lake looking east

Ryan and I had distributed our pack weights so we each carried 38 lbs, including Johann whom I front-carried in the Ergo. We had definitely overpacked, but we figured that was safer than leaving an essential item behind the first time. We didn't end up needing more than half the diapers we had packed (we used disposables for the trip.) We did not skimp on diapers, clothes/extra layers, and food for ourselves. Johann is breastfed so nothing extra to carry there. We packed two thin burp cloths, but decided we can make do with our bandanas and washcloths next time. If the weather is dry, we can wash and dry them in time for reuse.

On the whole, we had a wonderful time, loved the sense of accomplishment since this was a big goal for us, and returned recharged! The lake and vistas were gorgeous, and we enjoyed the peace and quiet.

Mt. Baring at sunset
Barclay Lake at sunset

The reflection of Mt. Baring in the lake at sunrise

We are glad we did this before Johann started to crawl, and we will be doing it again soon. I'm sure a crawling baby will bring a host of new challenges so it will be interesting. We'll be sure to share anything new that we learn.

P.S.: Neither my husband nor I know anything about taking pictures, but we thought these turned out rather nicely. None of the images have been edited in any way.


Susan said...

Glad you had a wonderful time! When we tent camped with little ones, we did not use hike in sites and brought out exersaucer or something for them to sit in once they started crawling. Things like that take up a lot of space, but it made life easier when cooking dinner, etc.

Sandhana Avi said...

Truly inspiring Niha!

niha said...

Thank you both! I'm sure the crawling stage will be interesting...and very challenging.