Hannah – 6 years old – Backpacking Trip #4
For our 2019 summer trip to Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park, we decided to try out a new cabin, the Whitetail Cabin. Since Whitetail was larger than our other cabin, we decided to invite more friends to join us! This year Katie brought along her daughter in addition to her son who has been with us the past two years. Allie, who was pregnant the year before, joined us again with her son. And we decided to introduce backpacking to our friend Karin, who brought her two sons. Karin, of course, had MANY questions for me leading up to the trip, which helped inspire me to start this blog. So four moms and six kids later, we were on our way to an adventure. Map of Porkies
The hike in was only one mile. Each kid carried their own pack, but I also knew that we had two moms carrying food, etc. for two kids, in addition to one of those moms being brand new to backpacking. Keeping the hike short helped us all feel more confident in the trip. We could handle carrying heavy weight for one mile or we could double back and make multiple trips if needed, which we didn’t end up needing to do.
The kids did a great job of hiking and staying on the trail. They enjoyed the cross road we hit and they had to read the signs to find the way to the cabin. When we arrived at the cabin, we unloaded our packs and figured out sleeping arrangements.
The kids then wanted to all go down to Lake Superior to play. The wind was strong that day and the waves were crashing up on the rocks, making them pretty slippery. All of us adults quickly agreed to a “no kids by the water without an adult” rule. Lake Superior is pretty cold still in early June, and the waves are strong. We made sure to discuss this with the kids so they understood how important it was to be careful and to be sure they had an adult in sight.
First Aid Kit and Lake Superior to the Rescue
A few of us started gathering wood to make a fire. One of kids came up from the shore and reached into the fire pit to grab the poker. The fire appeared to be out and was all old ashes. However, the people before us must have had a fire that morning, so the ashes were still hot, meaning the fire poker was still BURNING hot. And thus, the first use of our first aid kit. We happened to have some burn cream in there, along with a very cold lake nearby! We filled a bucket from the cabin with ice cold Lake Superior water and throughout the rest of the night, we had the child occasionally hold his hand in the cold water bucket. Thankfully by morning, his hand was feeling much better.
Up and Down… Up and Down
Day 2: After delicious breakfast burritos made over the fire, we day-hiked back out to our cars and drove a few miles up the road to the Lake of the Clouds overlook. We unloaded the kids and then a few moms went to park a car 4.5 miles down the road to our end destination and brought one car back up.
I had done this hike years ago with Jim. Unfortunately I completely forgot how many times the trail goes up to the top of the escarpment overlooking Lake of the Clouds and Lake Superior and back down to the base. As soon as you got to the top, it seemed the trail brought you right back down. About one mile in, I was worried. Karin was already carrying her youngest son up the steeper parts, and many of us were using bandanas, hats, or headbands to try to keep the flys off of our heads. And the temperature was much warmer than we expected it to be.
How to Keep Kids Entertained on a Long, Hard Hike
I was starting to feel nervous about the hike I had planned and if the kids were capable of making it to the car! This is when the snacks we packed came in handy! We started to dish them out occasionally, saying “At the top of this hill we all get 2 more gummy worms!” Finally reaching a gorgeous overlook of Lake of the Clouds where the gentle wind was keeping the bugs away, we decided this would be a great lunch spot. It was roughly halfway from our destination, which meant there really isn’t any turning back at this point.
After lunch, the kids seemed a little happier and there was less complaining going on. We taught the kids the game “20 Questions” which kept them preoccupied for at least one of the miles. We finally made it back to the car when we realized we still had to hike another mile back into our cabin. However, the short break in the car must have fueled the kids, because they were bounding back to the cabin faster than we could keep up.
Wine and Sunsets
That night, after dinner and more playing on the rocks by the water, we put the kids to bed, which wasn’t hard after all of the hiking we did that day. Each adult grabbed a glass of wine – well, a small plastic bottle of wine poured into a camp cup – and brought it down to the lake while watching a beautiful sunset over the water. The Porcupine Mountains has never disappointed me with its sunsets.
We sat that night, drinking our cheap wine, watching the sunset, and talking about how amazing it was that not one kid asked us for an iPad or any electronic. There is no electricity so it isn’t really an option anyway, but they never were bored enough to even consider wanting one. And we talked about how much we connect with our kids while out in the woods and without the distractions of daily life. It’s so amazing to show our kids this big beautiful world, and it’s even more fun to do it with friends who share my love for nature.
Never trust that ashes are not hot just because you cannot see them glow. And I feel like a broken record on this one, but kids can do more than you think… hike longer, harder, steeper hills than you ever thought they could… all for the promise of two gummy worms.