July 3, 2011

Our First Backpacking / Camping Trip...was a TRIP!

Our adventure started over a month before we even left the house, with two coworkers talking about camping.  This all started because I had just spent two night in the woods for a Cub / Boy Scout training, and Troy and his coworker thought an over night with the kids etc, would be fun.  So I said I was game, and they did the research on when and where. 

SO the date was set for June 25th, both were off from work and it seemed to be a good time weather wise, not tooo hot or to wet either. With the plans in place Chris (co-worker) found a site on state property that we needed to hike to.  It is a 2.9 mile hike, nothing our boys (9  & 6) have not done. But here is the catch I have never hiked into my site before (ie bring everything we need on our backs w/ no car in sight)!  This was going to be a new one for me and the boys.

Our destination: Bigelow Hollow State Park, in Union, Connecticut is a Connecticut state park surrounded by Nipmuck State Forest, and bordering Mashapaug Lake. There are picnic benches, beaches, and a boat launch, plus miles of hiking trails.  Most visitors spend their time at 300-acre Mashapaug Lake near the end of the main road. The park's 600 acres is surrounded by some 40,000 acres of forest.  The park features over 30 miles of trails, including several that go around Breakneck Pond, a secluded lake only accessible by foot. Fishing, picnicking and hiking are all popular here.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bigelow_Hollow_State_Park

Never packing in all our gear before I had to do some research on what to pack and how, but I have to say there is little info on line that would help the occasional camper.  So I winged it when it came to preparing meals.  I had decided to prepare and freeze in advance taco meat for soft tacos, I froze the cheese and meat three days earlier, to ensure it would stay that way.  To go with the tacos, I brought a can of corn and chopped onion which was also used the next morning for breakfast in the omelets.  For the omelets we used frozen egg beaters, cheese and onion from the night before and a large can of hash.  It all worked out well.  We also had the occasional snack and what is a camping trip without smores?

We did however prepare in advance with a new cooking set, two new packs and two new light weight sleeping bags. Which I am glad we did, because all three were savers.

THe day of departure comes closer and closer and we happen to have a child who is spiking a fever! UGH! that was Tuesday we are leaving on saturday.  OH My Gosh, what are we going to do?  The little guy got better and we went on our hike.

The hike in was great, the boys did amazing for never carrying backpacks before, while hiking.  It was however, a bit of a challenge fore the rest of us, as it had been years since we did something like this.  We hiked to the site and it was amazing.  This was one of only two sites for overnight camping in the whole park..  By noon we ate lunch, set up tents, found fire wood and had settled in to our site.  We all stopped for a break from the work, and asked Troy what time it was...he response almost 5 pm.  What seemed  like 30 minutes later we asked for the time again and got the same reply.  So Chris checked his phone and it was only 2:30pm.  Long time off from dinner. At that point we gathered more wood and started the fire or the night.
Soon we made dinner, soft tacos with all the fixin's. This worked out great because I precooked all the meat and then froze it to stay cold until we used it.  After dinner we sat around the fire and watched some real bad weather roll in, and when I say bad I mean down pours that took out our tents for the night and lighting that lite up the sky around us..  I have to thank God for the shelter as it was our last resort, before having to walk (hike) in the dark back to the cars.

Thankfully all our gear was in the covered shelter, so we stayed dry through the storm. Once the rain stopped we got the boys down for bed in the shelter. As much as they might have slept, Troy and I did not sleep a wink, and instead tended to the fire all night.  By 5 am all were awake and ready for breakfast.  Another meal cooked over a propane stove, it was a great breakfast of eggs and hash.

After breakfast we packed up and cleaned up our site and started the hike out.  This time we were all tired and everyone's feet were WET!  It was pretty cool to see some wild life, or at least signs of wild life, by passing by beaver dams and many trees that they have cut.  We also saw a few deer run past up on the path out.  As much as we wanted to make it out of the woods, the hike seemed to take twice as long.  But it was a great trip and we are really looking forward to another trip soon.

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