So I haven't posted since September - just after our Badlands trip. Let's just say sending your baby to kindergarten is one of those life events that changes everything! The good news is we haven't had a vacation since, so I'm not behind on blogging in the vacation department...
This trip was the last big hurrah before school started. We went Labor day weekend seeking adventure. We had a fabulous time! We spent 3 nights sleeping in the back country and the days hiking in and out. We couldn't cover too much distance because there's no water, so we had to carry enough for the time we were out - and when you're 2 people carrying water and gear for 3 campers, there are limits!
The first day we hiked to the backcountry to find a place to camp, Noah spotted a porcupine! He waddled off before I could catch him in a picture. We also spotted some larger animals bounding on the prairie in the distance.
The second and third nights, we left from this same parking lot and picnic area. There's something of a trail out here that we thought we could follow to get into a "forest" area. The trail wasn't very clear (we should have done a little more homework, so it would have been easy to follow), but we did make it to the forest we wanted to see.
Can you see the forest now? Figuring out the path to get there was a challenge! Some clouds moved in on this 3rd afternoon so we were happy that we might camp in the protection of a forest - though we didn't know what a badlands forest might really be like!
A few more logistical notes.
Normally we wouldn't eat freeze-dried backpacking food on a trip like this, but we did this time. It was easy, though expensive, to just hit up our local backpacking store and buy the meals-in-a-bag. As I mentioned earlier, we had to carry all of our water on our backs for this outing, so didn't want to plan for dish-washing water in addition to water to consume. The option to add boiling water to the meal worked. I don't remember all those that we tried - spaghetti and beef stew were definitely on the list. I do remember that all were palatable for hungry hikers, and Brian had to pick peas out of one meal.
We hiked out with heavy backpacks full of food and water each afternoon, then the next morning, hiked back to the van with light, nearly empty packs. I believe the MINIMUM recommendation is 1 gallon per person per day - that's a lot of water weight to be carrying around! We regrouped and enjoyed lunch each day at the van. This is how we first introduced Noah to backpacking (before he was willing to carry a pack), and feels like a great way to us to get out into the wilderness with children OR out to a place where water is scarce.
You have to pack a small shovel on trips like this - it is your bathroom. Established hiking trails will often have latrines, but this was backcountry camping. The shovel doubled as a toy/distraction for our young explorer! Here's the shovel, go dig a hole.
Our tent went back to Marmot over the course of winter and they are replacing it under full warranty - this year, we will stay dry when adventuring!