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  1. #1
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    First Family Backpacking Trip

    Okay first of all a warning to you dear readers. In my experience, trip reports tend to come in one of two varieties one is the clif notes version, short, sweet, to the point. The second is like that scene from Airplane the movie, where the grey haired dude bursts in and says, "Bring me up to speed, I need to know everything that happened up to this point." and the flamboyantly gay guy responds, "Well first the earth cooled, then the dinosaurs came, but they got to big and fat, then the Arabs came driving their Mercedes......."

    This TR will be more like the latter but hopefully sweet as well. I got back into the backpacking thing in 2007. My first trip was in my old 10lb "light" dome tent. After lugging that thing with me I began the search for a better way, that led me here and the wonderful world of hammocking, I took to the trees and haven't looked back since.

    Well I guess my enthusiasm was contagious because my kids wanted to start coming with me. I took my oldest daughter on a trip with me in 2008 and again last summer. I gave her the trailname, Mountain Goat, because if there was any kind of rock that looked like it would give her a better view, she wanted to climb it. I took my youngest daughter on a trip last summer where she earned the trailname, River Otter, because she loved the stream crossings so much.

    Santa brought the girls hammocks this Christmas so this summer the girls and I decided to let mom come with us and join the fun! It would be a trip of many firsts. We decided to do a loop hike at Grayson Highlands State Park. We would hit the AT at Massie Gap, get off on back trails at Deep Gap, get back to the AT near Old Orchard Shelter and hike back to the starting point, so here we go! A pic of the fam at the trailhead Mountain Goat (now 10), River Otter (now 8) and MOM! (Trailname to be determined)

  2. #2
    Old Gorge Rat Hawk-eye's Avatar
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    Great looking family ... OK ... that's the start of your trip ... MORE!

    WARNING: Will discuss Rhurbarb Strawberry Pie and Livermush at random.


    "A democracy is two wolves and a small lamb voting on what to have for dinner.
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  3. #3
    Senior Member Ashman's Avatar
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    Day One: We hit the Trail!

    Our weather at the start of the hike was perfect! It was in the low eighties, a nice cool breeze and sunny. It was the type of day that if you weren't happy being outside, there is just no hope of happiness outdoors for you! The wind was washing over the grass in the meadow like waves of water and there were tons of butterflies:


    We make our way up the trail to the AT where I get a picture of Mom and River Otter as they pass their very first white blaze!


    We hit the trail and I am scanning for ponies, it was one of the things everyone was looking forward to seeing. No ponies to be seen as we walk the trail as it parallels the Virginia Highland Horse Connector trail.

    We had one pack for the girls with water, a hammock and some clothes for both of them. The pack weighed 14 lbs. The idea was for them to switch off carrying it. Since this was mom's first backpacking experience, I wanted to keep her pack fairly light, and it was, coming in a shade under 20 lbs. My pack weight with food and water in the summer is usually around 28-32 lbs, this time it was 38! But the extra weight was worth it.

    River Otter was getting gassed during her turn of carrying the pack, so we decided to stop at a nice little campsite just past the fence at the Grayson Highlands Park border for lunch about 1.5 mile into the hike:


    After lunch we took the clothes out of the girls bag to lighten it up and that plus food in the belly seemed to lift everyones spirits. We get up to the top of Wilburn Ridge which is one of my favorite places in the world. The girls go scramble up a rock outcropping:


    While mom and I take in the gorgeous scenery:


    I think this area of the trail is reminiscent of Middle Earth as shown in the movies, Mountain Goat came down from her first rock scramble exclaiming, "I feel like I am in Narnia!"


    We get to a spot where the trail seems to disappear over the edge:


    The girls really like that spot:


    Mountain Goat in her glory:


    We are having a grand time but we are nearing the end of what I like to call "high pony viewing area" I was beginning to wander if we would see any on this trip.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Hangin' Burrito's Avatar
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    That's pretty cool! I'm trying to get the family into the hike/hang thing too.

    I've got a bit more convincing to do with Mama Bear yet, but hopefully she'll come to see that the Great Outdoors far surpasses any hotel room for a vacation!
    "Is this the best you've got?!!" (Shortoff Mtn., Linville Gorge 2010)

    "Life is tough.....it's even tougher if you're stupid!".....(John Wayne)

  5. #5
    swampfox's Avatar
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    Great trip report, not too long, not too short, it was just right. Love the pics.
    He is your friend, your companion, your defender... he is your dog. You are his life, his leader, and master. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of that devotion.

  6. #6
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    That looks like a great trip and the kids will remember it forever.

    From the title of the thread I thought you were out backpacking with the Obamas though.

  7. #7
    Yoda's Avatar
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    Great report with great pic's! You have a couple pic's there that would look great on your wall at home, everyone's smiling and looks happy!!!!!!!!!!!!

  8. #8
    slowhike's Avatar
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    When I saw the first picture I said "Massi Gap" before reading it! A very familiar place that I love to go to!
    Sounds like a pretty big hike. Looking forward to hearing the rest of the story.
    don`t leave the CREATOR out of the creation!

  9. #9
    Senior Member Niloc's Avatar
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    Great trip report. It always makes me happy to see families spending time together outdoors.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
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    Excellent trip report! I hope there's more to come.

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