Thanks for the encouraging comments! It was a fun article to write, after I got over the initial writer's block. (Don't bother to ask Addie how long she had to bug me about it...)
I tried a tube tent once (!) in the early 1970's. On the Oregon coast no less. Rained on the inside just about as much as on the outside. When the kids tried it in Texas the experience was somewhat more benign. They quickly moved on to other strategies. The kid on the right in the photo is our bivy boy.
Yeah, Bear Canyon is a "bear." There are lots of hikes like it out there, though, and they are often fantastic. I think it can be easy to sell ourselves short. Just have to plan on taking enough time, rest stops, snacks, and water.
My first "backpacking" trip, August 1970, Three Sisters Wilderness, Oregon, involved bare feet, blanket, a shoulder book bag, 5 miles up a creek, food mostly spaghetti brought by other people, a pretty lake, chemical impairment, skinny dipping, and extremely fuzzy recollection of 3 days and 2 nights of knockout scenery and fun. Mercifully, no rain. So by comparison my son's JMT hike a generation later seemed pretty well organized. Although, he did run out of food and have to scrounge the bear boxes near the end--something about an interesting combination of oatmeal and pesto--and emerged with a whopping sunburn. At least going into it he had several years of practice on weekend trips. I do believe just taking these kids out makes a huge difference. And I am grateful to the folks who took him out on trips in the years before I started coordinating the program.