I truly never thought the day would come when I would go backpacking. I’m a glamper at heart. Though I have made great strides to simplify our life and have learned the reward of having less stuff…I still have high heels and at least five pairs of boots in my closet. Don’t judge…one pair of those are my cute purple rain boots. Some might think that is not a big deal…but when you live in an RV…well, let me just say that I am creative with my storage and I have parted with many outfits to have space for those shoes.
My point is….I have always told Chris that backpacking would be a bonding thing for him and the kids. I helped him pack for his Mt. Whitney climb and his trek across Santa Cruz (Channel Islands National Park) with Lexi in 2015….it was not for me.
I was not interested. That was at least…until 2017. Let me tell you…the road changes a girl. The mountains change a girl. All of the sudden I was swooning over mountain destinations and backpacking hacks.
So, with careful research I found a fabulous introductory destination and planned our first family backpacking trip. Destination: Blue Lake near Cascade, Idaho.
Over the last couple of months we picked up the extra gear that we needed for all five of us to backpack together. Thankfully we found an extraordinary sale when we were in Cody, Wyoming where we scored much of what we needed.
The preparation for the five of us looked like this…
I chose Blue Lake for these reasons:
- Its proximity from the Boise area (where we were staying at the time)
- It had convenient trailhead parking
- The hike was an easy one mile in and one mile out…perfect for beginners and an easy acclimation trip for me!
- The destination is gorgeous.
- I had read that the dark night skies were amazing…and my teen is a budding young photographer who was itching to get some night photography experience.
After our fabulous river rafting trip (you can find the details HERE), we headed north up Highway 55 from Horseshoe Bend to Cascade, Idaho. The drive is GORGEOUS! If you ever have the opportunity…drive this!
It was quite convenient that we could simply put the trailhead into our Google Maps and find easy directions. After turning off of Highway 55 and a half hour on a gravel road…we discovered that the last 4.5 miles of road were closed…due to snow. Ugh-oh.
We found a place to park and decided that we had come this far, so we would hike in. Now for us, this is an easy hike. The game changer was that we had full packs. This girl had never hiked with a 45/50 pound pack…although I did gain fifty pounds with the pregnancy of my firstborn. Does that count?
Why such a heavy pack you ask? It was Father’s Day eve! I thought that since we had such a short hike planned…that we should pack some gourmet essentials to make Chris’ weekend trip extra special. Looking back…I wouldn’t change packing the extra goodies. But I do know that the pack was a bit too heavy for me! Good grief.
So we basically hiked on a paved road all the way up the hill. The entire hike, we were on this road…and we had a stunning view all the way to the top!
The higher we went, the more snow we found. By the time we made it up the hill, we were not sure if we would find a dry spot to camp on. You can see just how deep the snow is in this photo below, where the Trailhead and restrooms are almost completely buried. Can you spot the little outhouse in the background?
My kids were troopers. They did an amazing job on this hike. The reward for all of us, was the awesome campsite that we were blessed with. There was a western-facing ridge that was a bit rocky, but most of the snow had melted…so we had the most perfect little base camp for a night.
Obviously we got to camp three hours later than we had expected to…and well, we never did see the lake, nor a viable path to get to said lake.
What we did do….
- We learned how to open and close a bear canister:
- Ate a ton of yummy food. The kids insisted on having dehydrated Spaghetti…but I added some aged gouda and fresh baguettes to the menu, which kicked things up a notch. We even treated Daddy to fresh danishes with his morning coffee.
- Laughed, giggled and grinned happy smiles.
- Admired the beauty of nature.
- Found quiet time for reflection.
- Enjoyed an evening fire and a morning fire.
- Practiced using the coffee press on our Windburner Stove.
- Lexi took her first night sky photos at 2:00 am
This trip was a truly special event for us. I will never forget these images of my kiddos walking down the mountain with their packs, through a field of snow. These are dear memories my friends and I am blessed to experience them and, to be able to share them.
I’ve got the bug…and now the gear. When will we backpack next?