Since May, almost every other weekend was spent putting multi-digit milage hiking/climbing days in. In August alone, I had hiked/climbed almost 120 miles. I reach far places with incredible views, but I always realize one thing at the summit….I’m witnessing something amazing and beautiful without my family. Of course, I resolve this by saying, “someday, I’ll bring them here.”
However, I do miss my family. I love seeing the smile on their face as they climb small peaks, jump in alpine lakes and get completely dirty. As Labor Day approached, I started planning for a family backpack trip. For the past three years, we have always gone on a multi day backpack trip with the kids. This year was going to be special though. I had invited Jonathan’s parents to come along. They don’t hike much, but I knew if they came that this would make the trip so much cooler. I mean what kid has memories of both of their grandparents throwing on a 25 pound backpack and hiking out into the wilderness with them. Additionally, I found out a week prior to the trip that my niece and nephew would also be joining us.
After many destination changes, I chose to hike to Mirror Lake. After an hour and a half drive to the trailhead, we started our hike at 12:30. First we had to walk up an old rocky abandoned road for quarter mile. Eventually, we found the trail, and we descended in to the woods headed for mirror lake. After a half hour, we stopped at Cottonwood Lake for a short break. This was a nice enough lake, however, some other hikers said that Mirror Lake was amazing. So on we trekked up the side of a ridge and eventually to an open meadow. The meadow led us right over to Mirror Lake. Amazing.
We followed the trail around the lake to the many campsites that lined the lake. The best campsite was taken, however we found a nice camp spot large enough for three tents. We dropped our packs and I began to make lunch for everybody…..honey and peanut butter tortillas with Spiderman fruit snacks.
After all tents were set up and sleeping bags in the right tents, we made our way over to a fire pit up the ridge a little. Jonathan made a fire and we all hung out. The kids put on performances and played charades. Eventually we all climbed into the largest tent and hung out for a little while as the sun went down. Jonathan had brought his Ipad and the kids played some games. Then, we all went to our own tents and fell asleep. The next morning, I got up and made everyone oatmeal and hot chocolate. It was a brisk morning, so the hot chocolate was a nice welcome.
After breakfast, we all went over the ridge to find a waterfall we had heard about. It was really beautiful. A short cascading waterfall with fungi growing all around it. The kids had a blast playing in it. After the waterfall, we decided to pick huckleberries. These were nearly as nice as the ones we found near High Rock, but they were nice enough. We collect about a quart. From what I heard, they were great inside the pancakes the next morning.
After a few hours of berry picking and meeting PCT Thru-hikers, that were almost done with the 2600 mile journey, we headed back to our campsite to pack up. After a hour of organizing and packing, we were loaded up and ready to head back to the car. We stopped one last time to filter water and take a group picture.
We hiked back to cottonwood lake and stopped to take a break. Each of the kids decided to jump into this lake (it was warmer than mirror lake). This was a fun way to end our two day adventure. After a half hour, the kids were dressed again with packs on and headed down the trail again. A half mile later and we were back on the rough, rocky road and headed back to the car. What a treat to be able to go backpacking with family (even if it was only one mile each way)!