My goal was to take three particular cousins (all different parents) backpacking because they were all boys and close to the same age. Plus, I’m kind of partial to these three boys. One of them was my son (11), one was my nephew Sam (11) who has hiked with us often, and my nephew Tyson (9), who I wrote about here. I decided we would backpack into Lena Lake, a three mile approach to a lake that was short enough for even the least physically fit.
Though somewhat humorous, it was Tyson, the youngest kid, that was trying to run up the steeper parts of this trail with a fully loaded kid backpack while the older “more mature” boys rolled their eyes because they couldn’t keep up with him. I love Tyson’s spirt of adventure and hiked with him leaving the “mature boys” to walk behind and work on their attitudes. The boys used the tiny streaming waterfalls on the trail to drench their heads under ,get refreshed and perhaps wash off some grumpiness. It must have worked because after an hour and a half of hiking, we arrived at the “viewpoint” and the kids were thrilled with how blue the lake looked. After a quick rest and pictures, we took off to find a good camp site along the lake.
We found large campsite that happened to be the last available campsite (but first one you come to as you hike). As the boys were setting up their tent, I saw a dad and two young boys looking for a place to camp. I told him if he didn’t find one, that ours was large enough to share and they were welcome. A half hour later, they were back setting up tents about forty feet away from us.
Tyson and Joey set up the tent, inflated sleeping pads and arranged the sleeping area for three boys and a dog. I unpacked and set up my tent about six feet away from the boys. Six feet…..still close enough to hear EVERYTHING young boys talk about, but far enough away to pop in earplugs and read. Besides endless snacking, they spent the evening rock skipping, jumping into the lake, trying to push each other into the lake, roasting/burning marshmallows and talking about “dangling hoses” (if you can guess what that references).
I told them they could stay up as late as they wanted but had to be in the tent by 9pm (mostly because the family of younger boys had already gone in their tent for the night). From 9 to midnight, there was constant chatter, laughter and fart noises. The funniest thing I heard was “wait, you get hair down there”, “yup”, and lots of giggling. I couldn’t help laughing myself.
Finally, they went to sleep! Unfortunately, we a pretty tight timeline in the morning. We had to be up at 7am and start hiking back down by 8am to meet a later in the day commitment. The boys were pretty hungry and tired but when they found out they could have pop tarts for breakfast, they immediately packed up their backpacks. We headed back down the trail by 8am and were back at the car by 9:15. The three miles down the trail seemed pretty effortless for the boys in the early cool morning temperatures. Toward the end, the last half mile, the kids started talking to a biologist who spent the remaining part of the trail educating the boys on the various plants and trees. The boys were pretty captivated and I was just cruising along in enjoyment. I accomplished what I wanted to on this trip…..boys/cousins bonding, camping together and making great memories. All of that feeds my soul.