Jeff and my Dad read this book "How to raise a wild child"; and I plan to. I have listened to the author's interview. I really feel it's important to get our kids outdoors, and connect them with nature. However it isn't as easy as it sounds! In Utah it's really hot in the summer, and cold in the winter. I feel guilty sending them outside sometimes. I love being outside for my runs and bike rides, but spend a lot of time indoors myself. This summer I promised myself that we'd go camping more. We started out with this "shakedown" trip --a simple overnighter. The tricky thing was that this was a weekend where Jeff was out of town for a big bike relay race, so it needed to be me and the kids alone. We tried to be as brave as we could, and packed out backpacks up, and headed out. As you can see above, some of us were happier than others about going!
We parked our car in the equestrian parking lot near the mouth of Mapleton canyon, and started hiking up. The book author talks a lot about connecting to wildlife, so I was excited when I saw some. This was a huge slug, right in the middle of the trail. I thought it was kind of pretty in a weird, sluggy way, and pointed it out to the kids,
The kids were kind of mad I parked the car where I did. It's true that I could have brought it up to the top area, but the whole point was the backpacking thing in my mind, and being able to carry everything in and out ourselves. I bought some little packs of jerky, and every time we crossed water, I told them we would stop and take a little rest and have a bit of jerky. This helped attitudes...a little.... until it started to rain on us. Luckily by this time we were pretty near the spot we wanted to set up our camp, and there was no thunder so we could take shelter under the trees until the rain turned back into sprinkles.
A few years ago, Jeff bought this tent hammock thing that he's really excited about. You tie it between two trees, and zip yourself into it. It has a mosquito netting thing on the top, and you can get a rain fly thing for it too. He then bought one for each of us. After this trip, I have to say...I'm not a huge fan. We brought one for each of the kids, but since we'd never set them up ourselves before, I brought our two man backpacking tent for myself. I thought three hammocks would be enough to mess with.
It took some work, and trial and error, but we did get all three put up before dark, rain flies and all. While we were setting up Tia's hammock, we saw another of those cool slugs on the tree trunk we were using. Then we saw two more on the other side. Then we saw a few on the ground. Soon I ....didn't think the slugs were so very beautiful.
Things were looking up at this point. There's something about being out there together, and having to rely on each other, and having nowhere else to escape to, that helps you cheer up and have some good family conversation. We got out our little feather light backpacking stove, and dehydrated dinners, and heated up water and ate. It tasted so dang good when we were so cold and tired and wet. The most delicious partially re-hydrated beef stew in the world (crunchy bites and all). Later we had smores too. The kids were willing to carry their marshmallow roasters in their hands all the way up the trail for smores!.
Here is the hammock tied up. The top orange cord was for the rain fly.
We used "tree hugger" straps around the trunk of the tree, and ran the rope through using an "alien head" knot --which is actually the knot I learned rock climbing in the gym (that and the square knot are the ONLY knots I know). I bet there is an official name for the knot, but you start it by making an alien head, and then poking the alien through the eye, so that's what we called it.
Our "O" rings didn't fit into the carabiners that came with the hammocks, so we knotted the rings to our rope, and then the rings couldn't pass though the carabiner and worked like anchors.
Two times all the way through, then one time through only one ring. Why am I showing this detail? Because originally we only kind of did it this way, and in the middle of the night, Kai's hammock fell down (yes it was raining again), and Ari was trying to sleep with her bum basically on the ground because her hammock had slipped so low. I did not get very much sleep that night people. But we figured out our errors, and the hammocks worked! I have to say, I personally think I'd rather deal with a tent, but we'll see next time, when we know what we're doing, if I change my mind.
They packed up nice and small in the morning. It really was convenient to have each kid be able to carry their entire shelter themselves. We will go again for a few nights later this summer and see how we do.
Maybe with our daddy it will be even better!