5 Tips to Backpacking with Children

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Earthroots founding director Jodi Levine-Wright with her daughter in the Sierra Nevada Mountains

A lot has happened since my last blog update… Earthroots purchased 39-acre Big Oak Canyon, I had a baby, our program offerings have expanded and our staff has grown.

Having now graduated two years of
participants in Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series, it is a proven success.  Yes, we are taking kids of all ages (with their parents) into the wild to experience being fully plugged into nature! The outcomes are incredible.

Just returning home from my first backcountry trip with my family (including my one year old daughter) I can tell you that it was one of the most challenging things we have done together, and also one of the most rewarding. I give a huge thumbs up to everyone who takes their kids backpacking, it is a big undertaking.

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Gone fishing! Photo by Jeannie Lee

So why rough it?
One of the most satisfying elements of spending time in the backcountry is connecting with oneself, family and travel companions without the distraction of cell phones, computers and cars. Where we live, fully unplugging from technology is nearly impossible, yet completely enjoyable! Being fully present with those around us is what life is all about, right? Additional rewards of plugging into the wild include being surrounded by mind blowing landscapes, pristine lakes to swim in, new sights and sounds, fresh air and moments of deep relaxation. Totally worth everything it takes to get there. Read on for an inside scoop to make your next backpacking trip a success.

 

 

 

5 Tips for Backpacking with Children
by Jeannie Lee and Jodi Levine-Wright

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series                 Photo by Shelly Mead

1. Keep the mileage low (2-3 miles per day) and plan on an hour per mile. Hiking at elevation and with weight is much more strenuous than hiking around your local hills. Before hitting the trail, we planned on hiking 5 miles that first day. After a few steps with a weighted pack (the toddler, a bear canister full of food, water, rain gear, diapers!! and miscellaneous gear), it was pretty clear we would be stopping at the alternative site just 2 miles in. Thank goodness for planning ahead with options! We ended up keeping that site as our basecamp for three nights and going on day excursions from there. It was a total departure from our plans, but was exactly what we needed.

2. Allow plenty of time for exploring in the woods. That’s why we make the effort to get into the woods in the first place! Kids need downtime and playtime. They will also make incredible discoveries with their innate curiosity and keen eyes.

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Taking it all in, Cottonwood Lakes.                        Photo by Jeannie Lee

3. Keep children’s backpack weights low (if you want them to want to do it again). Jeannie’s 7-year old carried 2.5 liters of water, snacks, raincoat, warm hat, down vest, whistle and whatever rocks and sticks he’d collected along the way. Yes, the grown-up gets to carry everything else.

4. Bring food that is varied, nutrient-dense, and fun.  Cheese, carrots and shredded cabbage pack well, as do seeds, nuts and dried fruit. But no need to stick to “trail food”, Pita Pizzas were a massive hit! (We will share that recipe soon!)

5. Positivity is key. Expect the unexpected and go with what is. Between weather, elevation, weighted packs, and new challenges, your itinerary may not unfold the way you had originally planned. Keeping a positive attitude will go a long way to making the trip enjoyable and encourage interest in future backcountry excursions for the whole family.

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Earthroots Family Backpacking Training Series

Want to know more? Join  Earthroots Family Backpacking Training series starting September 19 – you’ll learn everything else you need to know and taste a backpacking meal every hike! This series meets once a month for 8 months and includes 2 backcountry trips to get you and your family ready for adventures to come.

See you out there!
Jodi Levine-Wright

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