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First Family Backpacking Trip

After our vacation to GSMNP in July, I had started researching as much as possible, reading a few books, spending hours on REI.com, campmor.com reading reviews deciding what equipment to buy. I was addicted. It seemed like we recieved packages every other day from countless online retailers. Pretty much everything I got for Christmas was backpacking related. (not sure that will change anytime soon 🙂 ). Here in Indiana last winter we had one of the mildest winter I ever remember, so we took advantage with a few day hikes here and there to test out some of the gear. Now we just had to pick a time for our first trip and spring break was looking like the time. Weather permitting we were going to head out to the Deam Wilderness in the Hoosier national forest for 2 nights.

I spent weeks trying to put together a good gear list for the trip, and then hours trying to organize everything laying it out in individual piles. Food was our biggest challenge, I really had no idea how much we would eat, plus this was going to be the first trip for my son, daughter and my wife so I didn’t want to leave them with a bad impression. We finally manage to get everything packed up and ready to go. We head out to Deam, about an hour drive from our house, the 4 of us plus our dog Peyton. My pack was about 45 lbs, the kids and my wife were each about 25 lbs. The hike in was farily easy about 4.5 miles to a camp site near Monroe Reservoir, and the weather was absolutely gorgeous for early April in Indiana.

After we get camp set up, a few things I realized. Bringing the dog with us on our first trip was probably a mistake, he actually did very well but the few times he decided to pull a little to hard or got under everyone’s feet setting up just added to the stress. I should mention that he is a 100 lb lab so when he pulls or gets under your feet you notice. Even with my list and my attempt to cut back on our gear, I can already see we brought too much with us. Third I realize that I need to cut about another 20 lbs but this I need to cut from my gut not from my pack! Most importantly I realize as we are all sitting around the fire with no cellphones (our kids are 17 and 13) no TV, no ipad, no video games, just the sound of nature and us hanging out as a family that we have really stubled onto something good here.

The second day after breakfast we decide that we would set out for a dayhike to a cave about 3 miles from our campsite, ate lunch and came back to relax around camp. The same theme still stands out, we are really having a great time as a family, even the dog is easier to manage. Although I continue to realize that we brought WAY TOO much food!!! and way too much stuff.

Overnight we had a pretty good storm roll through, and it was good to see our tent setup was successful. The rain held out long enough for us to pack up and head out before the skies opened up and it poured the entire way back to the van.

Over all the weekend was a huge success and great learning experience. We could have cut our food in half and still brought food home. We certainly brought too much with us, even though I read countless other accounts of others that did the same thing. I don’t think you can ever get the understanding you need until you try it out for yourself. Most importantly the family time was absolutely priceless.

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  1. July 20, 2012 at 2:01 pm

    This reminds me much of our first trip! You will bring too much food and too much stuff at first and that’s just part of learning what your needs really are. As an ultralight backpacker I’ve figured out that I need very little, Shelter, warm sleeping gear, a solid cook kit, some light stuff for emergencies and a backpack with a good hip belt and I’m a happy camper. I also got lucky that I’m a very light eater on trail and don’t consume nearly the amount of calories others do. You’ll figure out what works for you.

  1. July 8, 2012 at 10:53 pm

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