June 29th, 2016
I came up with this crazy idea to take my three children (10, 8 and 2), niece (12) and nephew (10) backpacking BY MY SELF! Ok, not really, I brought my dog who is completely undisciplined when on any trails. I know this is crazy, but I also knew how much fun this would be for the kids.
I picked Lodge Lake, a short two mile hike with about 600 feet of elevation gain. This is a pretty neat hike that starts at the Summit of Snoqualmie ski area, climbs up a small ski hill and descends deep into the terrain. This is also a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, but it is so close to I-90 and it’s resources (convenience stores, hotels, etc.) that it is overlooked as a stopping point.
We departed from the trailhead at 10am and instead of making it to camp by 11-ish, we made by 1-ish. With a short trek, I decided it was time to let my 2 year old set the pace and hike the entire two miles to camp. The older kids were very excited by the idea of Little Red hiking on her own and didn’t mind going slow and helping her.
The trail is pretty straight forward and we stayed together and talked about the important stuff: Pokemon and Minecraft. Eventually we made it to camp and the kids accepted the challenge of setting up camp. We brought a 4 person tent, a two person tent and two hammocks. After tents were set up and hammocks were hung, the kids all took off for the lake.
The lake was very pretty, but very buggy and didn’t have a shore, unlike the last time I visited. This time, the mosquitoes were in full force and the only way to the lake was through 6 inches of mud trail. Very disappointing. The lake was just too cold to jump in, so the lake destination was somewhat of a bummer. However, kids are creative and enterprising. They retreated from the lake and continued exploring the area.
They hung out all afternoon/evening and after dinner, everyone was settling down for the evening. The two older girls decided that they would sleep in the hammocks and the boys slept in the 2 person tent (this ensured no girls were allowed). Myself and Little Red made a great sleeping area in the 4 person tent knowing, we would eventually have company.
As the sun set, my daughter had enough of hammock life and asked to sleep in the tent…..”of course, there is plenty of room!” My niece held out as long as she could and came strolling in the tent around midnight and she brought the dog. “Ah, just the 5 of us!”
Sometime around 8, everybody woke up and seemed to be starving. I couldn’t get water boiling fast enough for oatmeal. We finished breakfast and had a great time taking group pictures of our survival of the night. Eventually, I talked everyone into packing up so we could head out. We took a few final group photos and headed out around 11-ish.
This trip has sounded too much like “The Sound of Music.”
Enter soul crushing music……remember 5 kids and a dog…….catches up to you.
We departed camp, walked along a short trail that met up with our main trail and began hiking back down the trail. Within ten minutes…complete meltdown by all 5 kids in domino effect:
“My chest hurts and I can’t breath, I can’t hike anymore”
“I’m tired and don’t want to hike anymore, I quit”
“This backpack is SOOOOOO heavy, I quit”
“This dog keeps pulling too hard, I quit”
“Mommy, carry me”
They all just quit on me, some with tears, within a few minutes of departing camp and 2 miles from the car. I was outnumbered and they went on strike. That’s when I realized….I am crazy…this is why you don’t take 5 KIDS AND A DOG!!!
I am not a perfect parent/aunt and this was not pretty. I told some children to “suck it up” and told others “just take your time, it’s really ok, you are not going to die.” Little Red also got her way and I picked her up and set her on my shoulders….there was no way I was going to spend three hours listening to this crew fall apart over and over. We marched on.
After a mile and a half, everyone sat down at the top of the hill that overlooks I-90 and took a 15 minute break. I was just grateful that I could see the parking lot and I was so close to caffeine. After break, I gave a quick motivational speech that sounded like a plea bargain and we headed out. We made it to the car and survived with out incident.
Was it worth it?
Yes! (with energy drink in hand) even through the five kid meltdown. We made a lot of great memories together!