Can’t say enough about how much fun we had taking our grandgirls out on their first backpacking trip. Since pictures are worth a thousand words checkout the Gallery tab in the header or click here for 22,000 words in photos.
We thought for several reasons it would be best to take the girls backpacking up in the Northwest, closer to their home. For one, we wanted to outfit them in Portland where we could have numerous choices and their bodies for fitting, also to show them (and ourselves) backcountry that was close to their home, and lastly we could outfit them with ultra light gear for the same price as flying them down to Durango.
In an effort to make it fun for them and us, we opted to set them up with ultra-light gear that we’ve been enjoying. Choosing an 18-ounce 30-degree sleeping bag, 9-ounce pad and 18-ounce backpack enabled us to get their base weight down to 5 1/2 pounds. (Base weight is all gear on your back, excluding consumables like food and water). Happy to furnish spec’s on our choices if you’re interested. Portland’s outlet stores and discount outdoor gear suppliers made it easy to find clothing to layer up with, at extremely reasonable prices. They carried all their camping gear (excluding a 3-person tent), clothing, rain coat, water, dish and spork, plus one meal each. Oh, and plenty of snacks for each day. The girls hardly knew they had anything on their backs and rarely took off the packs at rest stops.
We only took a 3-person Warmlite tent and my single-person ultra-lite tent, plus three days’ food, extra snacks and cooking gear, over and above our ultra-lite gear, so it was an easy trip for all of us.
We lucked out on the “dart-throw choice” of both our itineraries. We chose the Olympic Peninsula Quinault River for the first adventure, hiking up 6.5 miles to O’Neill Camp. We made it easy by starting in the afternoon and only having to hike 2.5 miles uphill the first day. Next day was 4 miles to O’Neill and from there we hiked out 6.5 miles back to the trail head to re-supply. The mosquitoes were the only detriment to that hike, as at least one of the girls got over 60 bites on her forehead alone. We were constantly in awe of the height and girth of those tall trees in the Olympic National Park. They’re often well over 100′ high with branches that don’t start for 40 or 50 feet. Real hard to hang your food away from the bears on branches that high. If you haven’t ever hiked among those giants you’re missing a great wonder.