Let me preface this by saying my way of wandering into BPL last spring was trying to figure out how to lighten up my gear load so that I could tote my baby girl's gear as she began to go backpacking. I love reading the big mileage trail reports, etc...but it isn't in the cards for me at this time in life. I am trying to be LW to help my family get into the wilds more and for longer periods of time. I am only posting this report in case their are others in the forum like myself.
My wife, daughter (3 yrs) and I drove up to GSMNP on Thursday with the intent for 3 days and 2 nights of backpacking. In my mind my little girl is a decent walker, I have no basis for comparison though. She can do 2 or 3 miles flat or down hill and about a mile with any elevation gain. I am amazed at how much even the slightest hill effects her.
The main purpose of our trips are to explore and have fun at this point. I like getting away from campgrounds though. So we chose Campsite 65 on the Noland Creek trailhead for our first night. It was a 1.3 mile hike with a slight elevation gain.
We took our time going in stopping often to look at butterflies on horse p**p. This was quite amazing to my little girl. It took us roughly 45 minutes to reach campsite 65. I was warned it was a dump and my impression wasn't much different. Lots of evidence of horse camping and the bear cables were unusable.
For most of us backpacking is about different things, time of life will dictate what we desire. High mileage days, big views, waterfalls, etc...Backpacking with a three year old and your wife is just about time. Time spent walking and talking...checking out each and every little thing. My daughters excitement about all things backpacking is an energy that seems almost contagious.
"Daddy, can I help find wood?" "Daddy, can I help hang the bear bag?" "Mommy, can I help get the tent ready?" "Mommy, can I help you go p.p.?"
Unfortunately for my little girl she was so tired within five minutes of climbing into her bag she was a sleep. My wife and I however got quite the firefly show. It was awesome.
The next morning my little girl woke up with a bit of a tummy ache, so we decided to turn the trip into a 2 day 1 night adventure. She was a trooper walking all the way out. She evened helped clean up camp and found time to throw a few rocks in the creek.
In retrospect we probably should have pushed on, but at this early stage I want her to only have positive memories of the outdoors with mom and dad. So I erred on the side of caution.
It really was a great trip. I can't wait to get back. Both my girls slept all the way home.
Gear wise this was my inaugural trip with a neo air. Very comfortable, but it was a bit noisy. Also, it was muggy last night and I felt like I stuck to it at times.
I also got to break out my V-day gift Ti Tri Caldera Cone with Esbit fuel. I was impressed by it. Didn't need it! But thought I should test it out before a trip my wife and I have planned later this summer.