Today is Labor Day and my last day of summer vacation (I begin my internship tomorrow). We went on a last-minute whirlwind of a family backpacking trip yesterday, not leaving until late afternoon and arriving back home before noon today. P and I love the outdoors but have only gone camping as a family once--and that was two years ago. Camping was one of the things on our summer list we didn't get around to doing (we figured we'd postpone until autumn), so when we received a last-minute invitation to go on a short backpacking trip with some friends, we decided to go for it (despite the possibility of rain and the short lead-time).
P managed to fit the tent, a camp stove, cooking supplies, two sleeping bags, and two Thermarests into his pack, while I carried Mei in a front-carrier and loaded my pack with extra clothes, additional supplies, and food. The big wildcard was whether or not Bee (who is not quite 4) would be able to hike all the way to the campsite. Up to this point, she inevitably ends up on P's shoulders, but with P's heavy load, we had to count on her to be able to carry her own weight. The more minor wildcard was whether or not Mei would be able to fall asleep in a tent--she generally has to be shut in quiet room in her crib in order to fall asleep.
Well, it ended up being a resounding success. The campsite was two and a quarter miles from the parking area and Bee managed to hike all but half a mile to the campsite by herself yesterday and made it the WHOLE way back on her own this morning. We were so pleased! Mei was also amazing; she curled up on my lap in the tent and fell asleep, allowing us to sit around the camp fire for part of the evening. She did end up waking up again when the rest of the family crawled into the tent, but aside from her wild tossing and turning throughout the night, everything was great--no tears, no fussing.
We had breakfast by the fire and then left the campsite to hike back around 9:30 AM. We were home by 11:00.* It was just perfect--short, sweet, and such a wonderful end to the summer. I am so proud of the kiddos and look forward to tackling more challenging backpacking trips in the future!
*There are times when I am reminded of how lucky we are to live here. Our house is only ten minutes away from the beginning of the trail.