With that said....we recently had a big event! After our summer camping road trip, and seeing the Appalachian Trail, the girls started talking about backpacking. They had shown interest before, but living out of a tent for a week really got them amped up and talking about big backpacking trips. We tried to explain the differences between backpacking for any distance and always being in a campground, and that just seemed to encourage them.
Right after Christmas, I was itching to get away for a little while and we decided maybe it would be a good time to take the girls out for a backpacking trial. This was also a bit of a trial for Josh and I. Since you don't want to load kids up with too much weight (10-15% of their body weight, and we've got small kids), most of the equipment carrying fell to the adults, which meant we were each carrying our own gear, plus added kid gear. We had to spend some time with all our gear spread out in the living room figuring out what we could pack where.
Once we figured out it would doable, we started searching out a good location that would allow us to get away from the car to a primitive site, but didn't require more than 1-2 miles of hiking. We didn't want to force the kids on a miserable march, just wanted to do something very short and see how they did. We settled on the Turkey Creek area of Big Thicket National Preserve. We were thinking maybe we'd start at the Pitcher Plant trail and hike south.
While Josh talked to the ranger about our camping plans, the girls and I had fun checking out the visitor's center
Checking out the snake and alligator display
Taking turns flooding a cypress slough
More wildlife lessons
Giant pitcher plant model
A window to see what the inside of a pitcher plant looks like
More hands on fun in the kids' education room
Baby's first backcountry permit!
I learned a few lessons about handling three girls learning how to go to the bathroom in the woods. First...we have entirely too many girls. I swear I was tromping off behind a bush with somebody every 30 minutes. Second...a preschooler isn't going to understand the concept of not peeing on her feet. Thankfully we only made that mistake once and I had packed extra clothes for her. I figured out what worked best for her was to hold her so that her feet were straight out in front of her. This left me holding all of her weight though and sitting over a log probably would have been easier had I been able to find a suitable one. I used to make fun of those stand up to pee devices, but now I'm thinking we need several.
When it was time for bed, everyone gathered in the tent for a few games of spot it. Us girls were in slumber party mode and I think this is when Josh had his own little, "we have entirely too many girls" moment. Nighttime had a little drama when I confidently declared there was minimal slope to the ground under our tent and I would be fine sleeping with my head down hill. We are nearing the limits of our tent space and have to sleep head to toe to fit comfortably now. Well, the slope was not minimal and I was overly confident and I woke up feeling like my entire blood volume was behind my eyeballs and I was going to die. I sat up for a long time, I insisted on turning the kids so everyone was uphill, and I generally wreaked much havoc in the middle of the night. But we eventually all settled down again and slept until morning.