Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Caution: Grandma loose in the woods!

I love taking the grandchildren (ages 7 and older) on backpacking trips every summer. Josh, Sarah, Kat and I managed an overnight backpack trip yesterday and today. We had a wonderful adventure!

Here we are at the trailhead to Ramona Falls (Josh, Kat, Sarah). We arrived at the trailhead about 6:00 pm yesterday.

Because Josh is allergic to mosquito bites, I wanted to take the kids to an area that would be relatively free of mosquitoes, so high-elevation lakes were out of the question. This year Oregon had such a wet spring, that many areas have about twice as many mosquitoes as usual.

Ramona Falls is a lower elevation, and it's mostly running water. We had a few critters nibbling on us, but it wasn't bad at all. AND best of all, it's a gorgeous area to hike.

The kids did great with their packs (Kat, Sarah, Josh). This is Josh's 4th backpack hike with me, and the girls' 2nd outing. (You can click here if you want to see some photos from last summer's hikes.)

Josh is 10; Sarah and Kat are 8.

Too bad...Mark couldn't come with us this time. The kids and I missed him, but I have to confess that it also feels good to know that this is something I can still do on my own when schedule conflicts come up.

I've learned over the years that if we keep the pack weight to 25% or less of the kids' body weight, everyone hikes along pretty well. The kids all carried their own tent (they shared), sleeping bags, sleeping pads, food, and clothes. (Sarah, Josh)

We are far enough north that we have long, late evenings in the summer, but we were still pushing it to get to our campsite before dark (Kat, Josh). There are several established campsites on the way to and at Ramona Falls, but I knew we could camp in a primitive site that would take less time to hike to. Kat was the one who found our site, and it was wonderful! We all want to go back and camp there again.

Kat points out the log we used as a bridge to get to our secret hideaway. She was the one who found the log bridge and the campsite.

We managed to get the tents and sleeping gear set up before dark. Then a cozy campfire was just the thing to help everyone settle for the night. We made some blueberry cheesecake from a dehydrated mix and enjoyed hot cider, then the kids were happy to crawl into their tent for the night. They slept great!

(Even though it was a primitive site, someone else had already made a fire ring there. Otherwise I wouldn't have made a fire in a pristine area.)

The view from my tent this morning. What a beautiful day! We had sunshine the whole time. Our campsite was lovely and secluded, and we felt like we were in the Garden of Eden.

My tent and the kids' tent. Our "kitchen" is off to the right. It was a flat rock that could keep our tiny backpacking stove stable.

Kat and Josh ready for the morning.

We hung our food in a tree the night before, well away from our tents, to avoid conflicts with critters. It was still there this morning!

I enjoyed my morning oatmeal and hot chocolate.

The kids smuggled props in their packs so they could put on a skit for me this morning. (Sarah, Josh, Kat)

The skit involved lots of twirling by Kat.

Kat helped with the chore of pumping water through the filter.

So did Sarah.

Josh tried out the newer, wider log bridge that Kat found this morning. After we cleaned up from breakfast and tidied up our campsite, we headed out on a day hike to the beautiful Ramona Falls.

The kids got a kick out of the bridges along the trail, although they thought they were a little tame compared to the log bridges to our secret campsite. The kids brought walkie talkies from their dad, too. (Kat, Sarah, Josh)

The scenery on the way to Ramona Falls is spectacular. If you live in northwest Oregon and haven't made this hike yet, do put it on your "must do" list. It's a very special, unique place.

Much of the trail parallels a beautiful rushing little stream, filled with little riffles and waterfalls that catch the light.

And everything is lush and green.

Finally, the spectacular Ramona Falls. I could sit and watch this for hours, but we needed to get back to our secret campsite and pack up our gear.

We stopped to play in the creek for just a bit. The kids thought they would be in the water longer, but they changed their minds when they realized it was snow melt! (Sarah, Kat, Josh)

Time to put the tent away (Josh, Kat, Sarah). The kids helped as much as they could, but their hands aren't big enough to really be able to fold up Thermarest pads or stuff sleeping bags into the stuff sacks. So I was the chief Thermarest roller and sleeping bag stuffer. I'll be glad to have Mark along next time!

The kids head out across the log bridge. First Josh...

...then Sarah (she was carrying the tent poles - that's what is sticking up from her pack)...

...followed by Kat, and then me in the rear.

A perfect "bench" for a rest stop. It took us about 2 hours to get back to the car. (Kat, Josh, Sarah)

I love watching the kids hike (Sarah, Josh). It means so much to me to share this activity that I love with the children in my family. Backpacking takes the kids out into places they can't get to in a car, and it teaches them so much about self reliance and cooperating. They learn more about themselves as they are physically challenged, and they get stretched with the problems that invariably come up. These kids felt really good about setting out and creating a campsite out in nature.

Almost back to the car. A beautiful view of Mount Hood as we approach the Sandy River crossing.

Ahhh...time to head home! (Sarah, Kat, Josh, me)

And starting this year, a new tradition! Pedicures for the girls after we get our showers. (Sarah rubbing Maddy's feet - she had to get in on the action; me rubbing Kat's feet.) Later Sarah and Kat got their tonails painted too.

I can't wait for our next outing! The kids were great the whole time. Thanks, Josh, Sarah, and Kat! It won't be too many years before more of the cousins are old enough to join us.


Dorothy said...

I'm trying to picture where your secret campsite is. My favorite secret spot along that trail is a very elevated one...haven't been there in years and years. I wonder if I could still find it. :)

I'm glad you had such a wonderful trip with the kids. I look forward to having grandkids old enough to enjoy our adventures with us!

JuliaKoponick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JuliaKoponick said...

I am SOOOOO glad that you and the kids got to do this hike when you did! The weather was perfect, and the kids had a great time! Thanks for being a grandma that makes such wonderful memories with her grand-kids!

Letia said...

Kathy, your blog is a prime example of why I don't blog. You are great at telling stories and have the patience to write all about your experiences. I enjoyed hearing about your trip with your grandkids. I would have to agree that taking kids out on a backpacking trips helps them learn about themselves, self-reliance, and cooperation. I hope to take my children on backpacking trips someday. Maybe we'll be able to do a trip together sometime...if we can coordinate our schedules.

Ange said...

Thanks goodness for older cousins... my kiddos are in for a treat with grandma. I love learning about Oregon through your experiences. The manicures are a perfect touch, my style. Love you all