I can finally stand behind the “Camping” part of my blog’s tagline as we have officially camped as a family! Huckleberry’s first camping trip was a backcountry adventure in Frontenac Provincial Park, less than an hour from home. We kept it fairly simple, and hiked in from the north end of the park to the nearest campsite, only a 20-minute jaunt with all of our gear on our backs. This short hike was perfect for the few items we had forgotten in the car, and as a test-drive of our hand-me-down hard-framed carrier, new packing list and first-time camper. We also felt a sense of security knowing that if things went terribly wrong, we could get to the car and get home quickly. Anyway, things did not go terribly wrong, instead they went terribly right! We had a ton of fun and can’t wait to camp together again!
Without getting too much into all of the details, here is what our trip looked like…
Planning & Preparation
This camping trip came about out of sheer frustration with lack of outdoors time. I was feeling like with all of the heat, we had fallen into an indoorsing rut. So I declared that we were going camping and grabbed my laptop to book a site for a few nights! Because of this, we booked at the last minute, which is not something I would recommend doing. We were very particular about which campsite cluster we needed to camp in, so we ended up having to switch sites each night we were there (which was only two nights). However, that didn’t end up being an issue. So, with sites booked, I started pulling out all of our camping gear and making a list of things to pack and buy. By Friday, we had just about everything set out, ready to be placed, Tetris-style, into our packs, and a short grocery list made. On Saturday we hit up the grocery store and outdoors store for the last few items we needed. And Sunday morning was a stress-free packing blitz before we hit the road.
Day 1: Sunday, July 24
We arrived at the park office around noon to pick up our permits and enjoy a picnic lunch. Then we drove around to the north entrance and packed our lives onto our backs, and in my case, our fronts as well. Bookworm had his big Deuter Aircontact 65 + 10 Trekking backpack packed with our food, stove, sleeping bags and pads, clothing, and odds & ends. Kirby had his Ruffwear Palisades Pack packed with his food and water, collapsible bowls, and our rain gear. And I had a MEC Happy Trails Child Carrier Backpack packed with Huckleberry, the tent, our swimwear and some other odds and ends. Plus, on my front, I also had my MEC Air Hike 22 Backpack with all of our cloth diapering needs. With everything strapped on, we hit the trail and were glad that our destination was just a short hike in. In hindsight, we should have done more than walk around the apartment with the new child carrier backpack to test it out. But that’s why we picked a close campsite.
Upon arriving at our campsite, we surveyed the ground and realized there was nowhere to put Huckleberry. There were lots of little sticks and stones for him to choke on, a fairly steep hill down to the water, and so much sand. Aaaand, we forgot our Onya Baby Outback. Bookworm headed back to the car for a blanket to put Babe on, while I set up the tent with him on one hip. It is moments like that when I am so glad we have a tent that is easy to set up. We sleep in a MEC Wanderer 2 Tent and I can set it up, unencumbered, in about 2 minutes.
Once the tent was pitched, and the beds were made, we went for a swim! The shoreline was all barefoot rock, so Huckleberry could sit and splash while we took turns swimming in deeper water. Kirby was happy to play in the water as well. We could have spent all afternoon in the lake, but it was getting later and dinner wasn’t going to make itself. We packed some Backpacker’s Pantry dehydrated meals and set some water to boil on our MSR Pocket Rocket stove. While the meals rehydrated, we went on a lovely evening hike that allowed Huckleberry a nice nap in the backpack.
After dinner, we washed the dishes, put the fly on the tent as rain was in the forecast, tucked all of our things into the vestibule and tucked the garbage and food barrel away from our tent. We snuggled and read in the tent a bit, and then it was lights out!
Day 2: Monday, July 25
It stormed through the early morning, but that just meant no bright sunshine waking us and lovely sound effects to lull us back to sleep. When we finally emerged from the tent, we were mostly rested and smiling. Honestly, with a wee babe, you’re most likely not sleeping through the night anyways, so expectations for tent sleeping are minimal and we were pleasantly surprised by how “well” we had slept. We stretched, breathed deep, and made some oatmeal for breakfast.
After eating, we tidied up a bit and noticed that the folks at the campsite next to us, where we were to set up for our second night, were packing up. So we matched our pace with theirs and prepared for the move. The path between sites was actually wide enough that we didn’t need to take our tent down. As soon as they left, we shifted all of our things over and then packed the daypack for a hike and picnic lunch.
It was pretty hot and humid, and we weren’t in love with our child carrier option (why didn’t we bring the Onya?) so we decided to hike just a little further into the park and picnic at a campsite, if we found an empty one, or along the shore of Birch Lake. We snacked on some candy to keep us going through the heat and hills, and then passed a couple leaving a campsite as we approached. Perfect! We set up at their picnic table and aired out in the breeze off the lake while we ate.
Once we returned to our home away from home, the rest of the afternoon was spent swimming, splashing, touching trees, napping in the tent (well, just one of us), reading, chatting and forest bathing. And the evening was spent eating, tidying and snuggling. Camping is good for the soul!
Day 3: Tuesday, July 26
Another morning full of smiles, with less rain and more heat. Some oatmeal, some swimming, and some tree-touching (Huckleberry LOVES to touch trees and leaves). Slowly, over the course of the morning, we snacked and packed and relaxed. By about 11:00am, we were essentially ready to go and so we loaded ourselves up with all of our belongings, our baby and our dog, and we hit the trail home.
All in all, our first camping trip as a family was a very enjoyable experience that left us wanting more. we are currently planning a few more overnights in Frontenac Provincial Park during the months of September and October as part of the Frontenac Challenge (more on that at the end of the month). And for next summer, we are talking about a few national parks, and some longer trips.
I know some of you are really looking forward to a “Camping with Cloth” post, but what else would you like to know? I am 100% open to suggestions. Would you like to know, more specifically, what we packed? Would you like to read reviews about any particular piece of gear? Can I interest you in a meal-planning post?