For my husband's 40th birthday this year, all he wanted was a monowalker. We've been hiking and camping with the kids since they were born, but we couldn't figure out a way to carry five people's gear for a backpacking trip. Even with ultra-light gear, it's still a lot. We didn't want to wait 5 years until they could all carry their own packs either. Hence, the monowalker. If this is his midlife crisis gift, I'll take it. It's better than buying a sports car.
Our dream has been to take the kids on a multi-day trip in the alpine. We've done so many of these together over the years, and we really want to share that as a family. We researched, we plotted, we booked. We attempted to do a dry-run but aborted the mission due to mosquitoes. We packed, we unpacked. The preparation effort was equivalent to planning a 6 month polar expedition, I swear. By the time we hit the trail, I was exhausted. And a bit worried.
Somehow, we managed to hike to our alpine campground. A mere 6 kilometers that felt like 20. I shouldered a heavy pack, Aric pulled the mammoth rickshaw behind him. Moments (ok, several kilometers) were ugly, and I seriously questioned our sanity. I'm not going to lie, I was a bit grumpy. Why did we think this would be a good idea? The minimum requirement for a backpacking trip should be an ability to actually walk the whole thing, right? Our kids are 7, 5, and almost 3. They whined, sat down on the trail, the 36 pound 2 year old required a shoulder ride from me (on top of my full pack). There were mosquitoes and horseflies. It was an awful lot of work to set up camp, cook, clean, hang food, wipe bums, etc for 5 people. Including one suicidal toddler.
But, the thing is, other moments were brilliant. Like playing 20 questions on the trail, realizing my daughter knows most of our local wildflowers, picking our "trail names", giving the kids camp jobs, reading Harry Potter in the tent at night, napping in an alpine meadow together, listening to pure silence, playing at sunrise and sunset along the lake shore, listening to the kids build booby traps in the trees... They loved it. And, knowing we got there with our own power was icing on the cake. I just hope those are the parts they remember.