Jul 18 2014

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Beginning Backpackers

Posted at 5:55 am under Blog Post

boysbkpkgThis week I took two of my grandsons, Hunter and Mason, backpacking for the very first time. I’ve been meaning to do it for years. They live in southern New Hampshire, nearly 200 miles away, so I dreaded all the driving. But sometimes, in order to make something truly worthwhile happen, the driving has to be done.

I took my dog Matika with me, of course. Wouldn’t dream of going in the woods without her.

I picked up the boys and took them to Pilsbury State Park where we hiked to a remote campsite. I parked the car in the main campground, just shy of the gate. Beyond the gate we had the woods all to ourselves.

We had a sweet campsite on North Pond, which has occupied only by ducks, geese, and other wildlife. The boys found wood frogs in an ephemeral pool and red efts along the trail. At dusk a barred owl called out. They thought that was pretty cool.

We were busy for three days. We did a lot of hiking and fishing. I taught them how to build a fire, purify drinking water, and sling a food bag in the trees to keep it away from bears. I taught them simple things, like how to stay relatively dry despite the rain. They knew nothing about how to be in the woods. Was I ever that much of a tenderfoot? I must have been, when I was their age.

Their favorite part of the outing, they told me later, was our short hike up to Balanced Rock. I’m not quite sure why. Maybe they liked negotiating such a twisty, narrow path. Maybe they liked the effort it took. Or maybe the reason is a lot harder to articulate. The wild worked its magic on us during the walk – that much is certain. That’s something I have come to expect. But it was new to them.

While driving back to Vermont by myself, I marveled at how quickly the outing went. Such a whirlwind of activity! By the time I caught my breath it was over. Some powerful memories were created in young minds, no doubt.

Next month, Judy and I will take all six of our grandkids camping. I can only imagine how intense that’s going to be.


One response so far

One Response to “Beginning Backpackers”

  1. Bob Stantonon 19 Jul 2014 at 7:34 pm 1

    Bravo, Walt, for introducing your grandsons to the “way of the woods”! My mother’s father is directly responsible for my love of the natural world. He was a hunter, fisherman and trapper, but above all things he was an ardent birder and bander. He taught me that it’s OK to do all of those things, but why not be a naturalist too, while you’re at it. Many gifts from my grandparents were field guides and other stuff that piqued my interest for the outdoors. I could ramble on, but suffice to say that my grandparents influence on my outlook cannot be overstated, and I hope that your grandkids catch the same passion from you – in fact, I’m sure they will, considering their grandfather’s knowledge and skill for entertaining and educating. Good luck with all six of ’em!