This past Friday night, thanks to Peter's advance planning, we were able to finally take a small backpacking trip like we've been wanting to ever since we got a whole bunch of awesome backpacking gear (in preparation for a trip we'll be taking to Costa Rica in January 2009). Peter had also already organized our camping gear into two big tupperware boxes that sit in the closet, one labeled 'Car Camping' and the other labeled 'Backpacking (and Car Camping Part 2)', so all we had to do was pull out the correct box, strap it all together and pack up a bit of food and some diapers and warm baby clothes, and then toss it in the trunk. With all that put together so easily, we prepared for our backpacking trip in about the same amount of time it takes to prepare dinner, and off we headed for Castle Rock State Park.
This state park has one campground, which requires a three mile hike in. When we got there, we were very pleasantly surprised how this state park makes you feel like you're in the middle of nowhere, even though in reality you are nestled in between houses and a shooting range, among other things. This is the first place within an hour of us that we've managed to feel this way, so the place was scoring high with us right off the bat. As we hiked in (mostly downhill!) we passed through so much beautiful scenery and some awesome views, and we had the early evening pre-sunset lighting to add some ice cream to our cone. Both Little and Littler were troopers and did very well riding in their comfy backpacks, and even Mommy and Daddy were feeling really good, even though the combined weight we were carrying (including kids) was 125 pounds! (I'm not embarrassed to admit that I was only carrying 42 pounds of that! Peter was carrying more than half his weight on his back!)
Our campground was much less primitive than we expected it to be, and even had pit toilets, picnic tables, firewood for sale, and a fire ring with a grate. The only thing we made use of was the picnic table. Although Little had a hard night, morning did eventually come (the night felt like daaaaays to me, but they always do when I'm camping--I just can't ever sleep!). We started the day off before sunrise and explored near the campsite before strapping the rest of the weight to our backs and starting on the uuuuuphill hike back to the car. This was the part where we were both happy that we're in pretty good shape. I know, three miles does not sound like much, but, under these circumstances, it was a pretty darn good workout.
On the way in, we saw so many things we wanted to photograph, but we needed to be into our campsite by sunset so we didn't have much time to stop. We promised ourselves that we would capture all of these beautiful sights the next day. Unfortunately, we chose a different way back, thinking it rejoined our other trail very shortly, when it in fact, did not join up with it until we were nearly back to the car. We did see some more pretty sights, and a huge variety of insects, but it just didn't match the beauty of the day before.
All in all, it was a great trip, and we're excited to take more backpacking adventures (which will have the added bonus of conditioning us for the backpacking/hiking we'll be doing in Costa Rica).
Enjoy the pictures!