This past January, I took Henry on his first backpacking trip in Point Reyes and I’ve been meaning to tell you all about it.
For my birthday a couple months before, Henry had gifted me a trip-which was such a sweet gesture. It was clearly something he wanted to do together, and just needed to nudge me to make it happen.
Jared and I both backpack a lot. I go on a yearly trip with girlfriends (this fall we’re going to New Mexico!), and Jared does a lot as well especially alpine tour skiing and camping in the winter. We’ve taken the kids backpacking before when they were little, but not where they had to carry their own pack and really help in the planning and execution of everything. There’s a lot to do, and going as the only adult, I knew I’d need his help. At age 11, I knew Henry was totally ready for it.
We decided to do a simple overnight trip in Point Reyes. We planned on doing a hike on Coast Trail to Coast Campground. These are backcountry, primitive sites right by the beach. The hike was under 2 miles, really easy. Henry was carrying his own pack, which was my old backpacking pack and although I was carrying most of the weight, it still wasn’t light for him. We kept on making adjustments and eventually it started to feel okay for him. I kept on waiting for him to complain, but he was such a good sport about everything. A way better hiker than I was at age 11! About halfway through the walk we sat down and ate some sandwiches we had picked up on the way.
When we arrived we started to look for a good spot to camp. They did have designated spots and it we were one of the first to arrive, so we had our pick. We set up close to the beach and bathrooms. Yes, there were legit bathrooms for the camping area, which is unusual for backpacking. A really nice surprise!
After setting up our 2 man tent, we then climbed inside to play some card games and relax a bit. The wind really started to pick up and I convinced Henry we should find a different spot. I walked down the trail a bit more, finding a better spot more tucked away from the wind and with even more privacy. We undid the tent stakes and carried the tent over to the new spot, and then our bags as well. It was a bit of a pain but didn’t take more than 20 minutes to do and I’m so glad we did because the wind only got worse at that spot! It wouldn’t have been fun to spend the night there.
After we set up camp a second time, we decided to go down and check out the beach. It was absolutely stunning! I’ve been to Point Reyes beaches, but this one was really special. Very close to Limantour beach which is an absolute favorite spot. It’s huge and clean and you can see for miles- all the way up up past the Elephant Seal spot to the Lighthouse along the curved landscape. It made me so happy to be there. We had no set plan or young children distracting our time. We stayed for a while exploring and walking around. Talking about the backpacking trips, school, sports and video games. So special to have that time together.
We headed back about an hour before sundown so we would have time to cook up some food for dinner. I was excited to introduce him to real backpacking food. He was very skeptical, but ended up really liking it. Our favorites are Mountain House. Its freeze dried food, with boiling water you poured right into the pouch. Then you sit and wait for about 10 minutes for it to cook up. We always use the a JetBoil to boil water, it’s so quick and really lightweight. The best thing about the meals is clean up is so easy. No cups or bowls to wash because you eat right out of the pouch!
After dinner it was starting to get dark and we climbed into the tent with a couple snickers bars for a treat. We played a few rounds of card games and then Henry headed to bed. I stayed up a bit later reading a book.
The next morning we got up early with the sun, made oatmeal and hot cocoa, and then packed up our bags. We stopped in Point Reyes Station for a big lunch and then headed home. I’m so glad he had such a great first backpacking trip. Excited to take him on more!