The boys and I went backpacking for the first time on Friday. The GPS program on my computer said the trail was 2.3 miles long, Google Earth said it was 2.8. My gps track after we got there said it was 3.5 miles. However long it was to get in there, it took us 4.5 hours to hike in. We stopped for breaks. A lot. But it was a nice hike along a ridge to a place called Emerald Lake. We got in and found the huge rock pictured above, the boys spent most of the time lifting rocks onto the top of the big rock and throwing them in. If you click on the picture to make it bigger you can see a fire ring out in the middle of the lake. Apparently it dries up in late summer. We got to the lake and started to set up camp, but it was bloody hot, so we decided to go swimming instead. The lake is mostly snow melt, so it was super cold. We swam for a few minutes, then decided to get out. I walked back up to camp barefoot and was getting dressed when I noticed blood all over the place where I had been walking. I then was lucky enough to discover a gash in my foot about 2 inches long and 1/4 in deep. Simon (who was very eager to help and very concerned) and I got it cleaned up and mostly held shut with a couple of bandaids (the butterfly bandages wouldn't stick on my foot for some reason). After the emergency room trip today, I discovered that if you come in more than 8 hours after getting a laceration, they won't give you stitches because bacteria has likely established and would have a greater chance of causing an infection. So, steri-strips and a huge bandaid are in my future for the next few weeks. Cue the next picture.
After assisting with first aid, Simon crawled up on the rock and fell asleep.
We brought hammocks and tarps in to sleep in. The blue hammock is mine. It took 100 feet of parachute cord to string up the tarps into a semblance of shelter when it looked like it would start raining. I was initially planning on using the p-cord to make a bear hang for the food, but shelter seemed more important at the time. I ended walking a few hundred yards from camp and sticking the food bag way up in the branches of a tree. We all went to sleep and I was awoken in the middle of the night by a strange noise. As I lay there listening for any follow up weird noises I heard what sounded like something splashing in the water at the edge of the lake. Then I heard a bunch of really strange noises that in the dark that at 1 in the morning I was sure was a bear snuffling around the camp. Turns out it was Dylan snoring and clicking his teeth together in his sleep. As I replayed the noise in my head I thought it sounded like a tree cracking, whooshing as it fell over, then hitting the lake. Thinking that was unlikely, I stayed awake straining my ears for the sound of a bear getting ready to tear us apart. I finally fell asleep again, and woke with the sunrise around 4. I got up and decided to walk along the shore of the lake to see if I could figure out what the noise was. Turned out my first guess was right, a big dead tree had tipped over in the middle of the night and fallen into the lake, the splashing I heard at the shore was branches that had broken off bumping against the rocks at the edge. Crisis narrowly averted.
Here's Dylan asleep in the morning.
Simon won the award for the best camp this weekend. He had the only open spot that allowed the tarp to be set up properly. We started hiking out at about 9, and started up a series of switch backs out of the canyon the lake was in. We stopped to take a break (one of several) and I was standing talking to the boys and looking up the hill. I saw a band of cliffs that we had hiked along the base of on the way in, and it looked like I could almost throw a rock and hit them. I convinced the boys to take a short cut, and we ended climbing 100 feet in elevation over about 300 feet distance (it had been raining and there were some tense moments on a fairly steep rock face), but we ended cutting over a 1/2 mile off the return trip. After many breaks we ended up getting back to the car at about 1 pm. Both kids promptly fell asleep as soon as the van was moving. It was a great backpacking trip. Dylan is a little power hiker, he didn't want to stop at all on the way in, while Simon needed a break every 10 minutes. On the way out they switched roles, with Simon charging down the trail and Dylan needing a break every 10 minutes. It was a lot of fun though, and while Simon is voting for car camping on the next trip, Dylan wants to go backpacking again next weekend. I may have created a monster, but that's OK, monsters are cool.
Edit: The boys named the hike the Pain Gain, after Dylan fell down a couple times on the way in and skinned his knee, I gashed my foot, and Simon convinced himself he had gotten poison ivy while standing the midst of a thimbleberry patch.