“Backpacking Fun!” Friend, July 1982, 18
Backpacking with my family is one of my favorite things to do. I feel grown up because I get to go with my mom and dad and older brother and sister, while my little brother and sister stay home.
It takes us many weeks to get ready. We plan where we will go and how many days we’ll be gone. Then we carefully plan what food to take so we’ll have just enough. Because we carry everything on our backs, we have to weigh it all first. Some things may be left behind if they weigh too much and we really don’t need them, like extra bags of “gorp” (trail goodies consisting of peanuts, raisins, and candy all mixed together).
Before a long trip, we usually take one or two short training hikes. Just before leaving, we waterproof our boots. Good and comfortable boots are important when backpacking. Then we double-check all our equipment, food, and clothing. It’s too far to walk back if we forget anything, and there aren’t any stores in the backcountry!
Once we’re on the trail, there are many interesting things to see. We usually see lots of lizards, birds, and squirrels. Sometimes we see a snake or, more often, deer. On one trip a bear visited our camp every night. We had to string our food up high in the trees out of its reach!
One of the best parts about backpacking is the good fishing. Freshly cooked trout really tastes good after eating dehydrated food. While the rest of us are fishing, Mom usually takes lots of pictures. She likes to photograph the many wildflowers and the beautiful mountain scenery.
I started backpacking with my family the summer I turned six years old. I carried a small pack that had a change of clothes in it and eight rolls of lifesavers—one for each day of the trip! That year we hiked fifty miles. We went over Sawtooth Pass, one of the most difficult passes in the Sierras. It’s 11,700 feet high. A ranger we met said I was the youngest hiker he had ever seen that far into the backcountry. He even took my picture!
On our last trip I was ten years old and able to carry a twenty-pound pack that included my own sleeping bag. We hiked forty miles in seven days and caught lots of fish. This summer we are planning two trips—a short one with my little brother and sister and a longer trip just for us big kids!