My wife and I were driving to Allegheny National Forest this past weekend, with three 9 year old boys in the car, and when they were acting like silly little crazy boys, we looked at each other and asked, 'and why are we doing this'? We were taking them on their first backpacking experience for the weekend. If we had our druthers we would have been doing our own little weekend getaway trip, but this time was for us to have fun with the boys.
We chose to backpack the Minister Creek Hiking Trail which is considered a family friendly hiking trial. The trail is a 7.3 mile loop. We hiked about 2 hours on Saturday from the trail head to our camp site.
I let the boys lead the pace and if they wanted to stop and pick up hiking sticks, pick up a newt, climb huge tree roots that were growing on the side of a cliff, or jump in the creek it was all up to them and about having fun. I also wanted to teach them some backpacking skills. The first skill I wanted to show them was how to use a water purifier to pump out water from the creek. The only problem was I forgot to bring the filter cartridge. oops. The lesson learned was you almost always forget something on a backpacking trip. We had enough water for Saturday and for Sunday's breakfast but then we had to divided the remaining water among us for the hike out on Sunday. We only had about 4 ounces each with about 3 hours left to hike. I knew we would have to do something to survive the hike. Another lesson I taught them was to be friendly with other hikers especially if you notice a family out backpacking. We did find a father and his son at a camp site and we began to talk with them. We mentioned our water dilemma to them and they were more than willing to let us use their water pump so that we could fill up our water bottles. We were all elated that we had water to enjoy from the mountain stream. And the boys got to see how to purify water from the stream.
We were able to finish the hike with plenty of water and time to enjoy the scenery and the boys got one last time to jump in the stream to cool off and have some fun.