The second week in August we headed out for our annual backpacking trip with the grandchildren. This year we divided it into two different trips. Our first outing was with the girls. Three girls! Katie C. turned 7 this year, so she joined Sarah and Kat for the annual event. Katie loves reading the Ramona books by Oregon author Beverly Cleary, so when she heard there was a place called "Ramona Falls," she asked if we could make that our backpacking destination.
Grandpa Mark, Sarah, Katie, Kat, Grandma Kathy
(Yes, you heard that right...we had three variations on "Kathleen" on the hike. More about that in a minute...)
carrying one of the red backpacks for the first time!
(This is the spot where we met the PCT through-hikers the next day, on our way back to the car.)
we camped here two years ago. They were excited to share it with Katie!
Using the Sweetwater pump to filter our water and make it safe to drink. After the first day, the pump pretty much stopped working, so we had to boil our water on the second day. Kind of a pain, but not the end of the world. After we got back in town, we stopped in to REI to see if we needed a newer technology. After all, we've had this pump for years. We were heartened to hear the REI staff guy encourage us to simply replace the filter.* He also told Mark about lubricating some of the seals. We've replaced filters in the past, but never knew about putting silicone on the gaskets. Mark tried it, and the pump works like (almost) new! We did buy a replacement filter, but it's still in the wrapper. For now.
*We've replaced the filter on this pump a couple of times already. We just wondered if the pump was breaking down since it was completely nonfunctional while we were at Ramona Falls. We're pretty sure it just needed the lubrication.
One: she's smiling. Love the gap-tooth grin. Usually she pulls a silly face when she knows the camera's aimed at her, so it's nice to see her lovely smile here.
Two: She's modeling one of our favorite cooking methods for backpacking: mix it up in a ziplock bag and throw away the "dirty dish." This is a bag of butterscotch pudding the girls enjoyed together. I just put the instant pudding mix with some powdered milk (not reconstituted yet) in the ziplock at home. Write directions right on the plastic bag (how much water to add in camp). In camp, add the water and mix with the "squishy-squishy" method. (Be sure to seal the top first so the pudding doesn't squish out all over.) Unzip the bag and share with a cousin or two! You take turns dipping a spoon in. Or you can cut off a corner and squeeze it into a bowl or an open mouth. Yum!
Three: She's wearing clip-on earrings. Such a fashionable backpacker! Kat and Sarah brought them to add to my "bag of beauty." The older cousins know that Grandma Kathy always brings a brush and hair elastics along to be used at the "Log of Beauty." Somehow it doesn't hurt so much to have your hair brushed in the morning when it's at the Log of Beauty. The girls had fun being beautiful in the woods.
(Kat, Sarah, Katie)
Our campout was right at the end of the Perseid meteor shower, so after dinner and a campfire with marshmallows, we used our flashlights to hike up to a nearby open space to look at the stars. The Ramona Falls area has these amazing open spaces. They're not grassy -- they're covered in moss. They are wet and springy earlier in the year, but by August they are dry (and still a little springy). We had such a sweet experience with the girls, under the stars. It was getting a little chilly, so they gladly cuddled close as we lay there under the starlight. We told them stories of when we first met them after they were born, and when they were just little. We watched for meteors (saw 3 big ones!) and satellites (lost count) and planes. Found the Milky Way. Talked about our gratitude for creation. And then the girls were cold and tired, and it was time to turn our flashlights back on and make our way back to our tents.
Shadow images of Kat, Katie, Grandpa Mark, Sarah, Grandma Kathy, heading down the trail toward the car and home.
As we hiked along, the girls always greeted other hikers politely. Most of the hikers were adults, and almost all of them were visibly impressed to see the girls hiking along with their packs. True, we didn't hike a huge distance, but what really matters is getting the kids outdoors and into the woods. It is very affirming for children to know that they can be away from civilization, away from electronics, and that they are part of a group, carrying their share of the load.*
*Speaking of loads, our rule of thumb is to keep the kids' pack weights within 25% of their weight, or less. The last thing we want is to make them carry a load that's too heavy, and have them end up hating their outdoor experiences.
We were getting near the end of the trail. One of the last hikers that greeted us commented on how well the girls were doing. Mark and I just grinned and basked in the implied praise. As the man headed off toward Ramona Falls on his day hike, he said over his shoulder, "I just hope you aren't in the red Subaru."
What??!! Of course we were in the red Subaru.
"Oh, I'm so sorry," he said. "Somebody broke your window."
Oh, the thoughts that go through your head at a time like that. Worry about the car. Wondering if someone stole the gas credit card we had secreted away. Hoping maybe there were two red Subarus and ours would be ok. Knowing that it wasn't going to be a happy ending. Wondering how bad it would be.
Ten more minutes of hiking and wondering brought us to this:
Luckily, I had a pair of gloves in my pack, so I pulled on a glove and picked glass into a trash bag. Mark and the girls inventoried the car's contents. Nothing missing from the glove compartment (we know they looked because they left it open). Expensive emergency flasher/flashlight still in the car. Gas credit card still in its secret spot. 47¢ in coins still in the console. CDs still in their slot. Stereo untouched. Just our lunch...gone.
That's all. They vandalized our car to steal the lunch we had planned on eating when we returned to the trailhead.
When all is said and done, it's only things. Just a window and a lunch. No one was injured. We drove home with lots of "air conditioning." Picked up lunch at McDonald's. Called the insurance company and a glass company and had the window replaced at 8:00 am the next day. And a good thing, too! Because the next day we were heading out of town again...for August's camping adventure #2. Stay tuned!