With so many upcoming backpacking destinations, we decided to take the kids out in mid-February to begin conditioning them back in to little backpackers. It has been a very restful five months without full little backpacks on their backs. We could have chosen one of the snow covered mountains closer to home, but I wanted to make the first trip of the new year very easy. Essentially, I wanted J-Hawk and Rosabell to pack their backpacks according to what they have typically carried in the past, wear their backpacks all the way to camp, set up camp, function at camp and eventually break down camp and head home. Adding a snowy route and 100% chance of rain to that agenda just seemed a bit much for these two at the time.
The February forecast was not pretty along the coast or in the Cascades….calling for 100% chance of rain, so we headed 150 miles east to the Potholes Coulee Basin in Quincy, Washington. This is unique area of the state of Washington that doesn’t receive much rain. It was cold however…. a balmy 39 degrees as we pulled up to the trailhead. We headed out along the Ancient Lakes trail system. This area was nice and flat along rolling desert.
Within the first five minutes on the trail, Rosabell was noticing how uncomfortable it was to carry her backpack. Of course, this was quickly remedied by removing a 32 oz. bottle of water and tent poles. This left her with only waterproof pants/coat, sleeping bag and headlamp to carry. She felt a lot better. J-Hawk on the other hand was just picking up where he left off from last season. This time we let him hike with our new family dog Cinder.
After a few miles, we set up camp on a little knoll between three lakes and a waterfall. This was such a beautiful open desert area. We met quite a few mountain bikers and other backpackers who all shared our amazing view. And just like clockwork, the kids set the tent up like they had a dozen or so times last season. It was great to see them bonding and laughing about last summer’s memories as they set the tent up. They had truly nailed down teamwork when it came to setting up the tent and sleeping areas.
After camp was set up, J-Hawk and Rosabell began making lunch for everyone. They had recently learned to make an interesting variation of soup using ramen noodles, dehydrated peas and cheddar cheese and were practicing their backcountry cooking skills on trip. They each took turns turning the stove on and cooking their meal. J-Hawk went first and learned a hard lesson on making sure his cooking pot is centered on the small stove. It tipped over when he was stirring his meal. Fortunately, he only lost about half of his lunch and Cinder graciously came over and cleaned up the spill. Rosabell was just as excited to “ignite the stove.” When it was her turn to cook, she quickly assembled all the parts of her soup and started up the stove. She really enjoys cooking at home and this was just a bonus to be “trusted with the fuel and stove.”
After lunch was finished and dishes were cleaned, the kids took off for the rest of the day to explore and scramble up the rocks. The kids enjoyed their trip out to these lakes despite the colder temperatures. The sun was out most of the time and the views were amazing. I feel confident in each of their successes as they tackle their next backpacking objectives. This should be an exciting and rewarding year.