Monday, May 26, 2008
Backpacking Racoon Creek State Park, PA
Oh, the joys of backpacking! But before I get into explaining how enjoyable backpacking was this past weekend for my family and I at Raccoon Creek State, PA, I have to speak of some of the preparations involved in getting ready for the trip.
Planning begins with laying out a route that 10 year old boys can hike without feeling like a death march. There should be enough miles to hike in 2 days and still have plenty of time to stop, jump in the creeks, or swing on the vines. What "kid food" to buy and to bring that will feed their appetite. Make sure all hiking and camping equipment is in good shape. The kids have boots and a backpack. Make reservations for the camp site in early May. Pack clothes and equipment the night before and the food in the morning. The list goes on but after you survive the 2 hour drive in the car with silly boys punching each other and you set foot on the trail and soak in all the sights and sounds of nature you remember why we came out into the woods.
Before we start to hike the boys find a stream and begin "fishing around" and get their shoes and pants wet. If that's what they want to do to have fun then they are free to be boys and explorer the great outdoors.
We hiked 3 miles in about 2 hours the first day and 5.5 miles in 5 hours the second day. Backpackers typically hike 2 miles per hour which includes a 10 minute rest every 50 minutes but with little hikers there is no set pace. It's not about the hike but the experiences along the way that the boys love to enjoy.
Our campsite had Adirondack Shelters for us to sleep in, rest rooms near by, a well water pump and a bear bag pole. By the pole was a sign explaining how important it is in not "entertaining" the bears with food left in the campsite but to use the pole to string up your food and to get it out of reach from the critters. I had them read the sign so that they can learn some "best camp practices". I think it may have put some scary thoughts in their heads as the sun went down and it was time to go to sleep. We had to speak reassuring words that bears are shy and are not looking to bother us. Besides we cleaned up camp and left no trace of food for bears or critters to find.
We all slept fine.
Yes, there is a lot to get ready for a backpacking trip but where else can boys throw knives, wade in a creek digging up cray fish, swing on vines, and build fires? And that's why we'll be out in the woods again.