Even before we had kids DH and I would dream of the times I we could take the kids out in to the backcountry with us for some serious backpacking. Once Noah learned to walk we started counting the days before we could get him out on a hike in the woods.
Now that Lia’s old enough and steady enough to walk over uneven surfaces we’ve taken both of them on longish (for them) day hikes but had yet to backpack. The logistics of taking 2 kids that can’t really carry their own weight backpacking were overwhelming at first. Not only would we need a bigger tent but we’d need sleeping bags, clothes and extra food etc. We’re not light packers by any stretch of the imagination so to figure out how to accommodate all the extra stuff (with the possibility of carrying a child at times as well) without killing our backs was tough.
So we looked for a short hike in figuring we can carry extra weight for a short period of time and if things went south we could potentially bail in the middle of the night (at 1 mile hike out in the dark, though not ideal, is doable). We found a place about 45 min away that was perfect!! It took us two tries (first one was thwarted by thunderstorms) but Sky Meadow State Park has walk in primitive campsites that you can reserve for $15 a night. There’s a non-potable water pump and a few vault toilets back there but otherwise there are no amenities. Each site had a well drained tent pad, a picnic table and fire ring. Some of the sites were right off the trail. Others, like ours, were down a bit from the trail and into the woods. It made it feel like we were really out there by ourselves (well, except for the sounds of campers around you:)).
What was really funny was that when we got there we found out that you could rent a wheelbarrow for $10 in order to carry your stuff back to the site. So, our visions of a rugged hiking path were met with a bike/stroller/wheelbarrow friendly meander through grass lands and fire road. We were already packed up to carry it all in on our person so we passed on the wheelbarrow – but it was nice to know that it was there in case and the kids didn’t care that it wasn’t trail. They were just happy to be out.
The trip was fun and thankfully uneventful (last time we were at that park Noah was stung by a caterpillar). We did struggle to make a fire because the wood was wet but managed to make enough so the kids could roast marshmallows (and smoke out every bug in a 4 mile area). The kids slept terribly as did we but I expected that being that this was Lia’s first time in a tent (plus it was her first big sleep over outside of her crib with all of us and the dog aaaand she had a marshmallow right before bed…to say she was amped up was an understatement). But, the pack-up and hike out the next AM was so beautiful and even though we were exhausted, it was the perfect trip. I can’t wait to do it again!