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Two kids, a 54-pound pack, and acres of huckleberries

Posted by Andrew Engelson at Sep 05, 2006 05:00 PM |

Who says you have to give up backpacking when you have kids?

My spouse and I packed up the little ones--Matilda, age 9 months and Fiona, three-and-a-half years--and headed for the Naches Peak Loop and Dewey Lakes for two nights. The weather was fabulous, bugs were minimal, and Fiona decided I should carry her little pink daypack after 100 feet. But hey, she walked. And ran. And picked huckleberries. And splashed in the tiny lake along the way, so who can complain?

Matilda rode in the carrier on my wife's back, and I carried everything else (54 pounds!). As Joan Burton puts it in her book Best Hikes With Kids: Western Washington & Cascades, the Naches Peak Loop is a "dream hike for kids," with bushes thick with huckleberries, tremendous views of Mount Rainier, and a total loop of about 4 miles.

On the Naches Peak loopThe cutoff for Dewey Lakes (about halfway into the loop) took us downhill for 600 feet or so, and we reached the lake (about 3 miles in) by late afternoon. The kids proceeded to roll about and ingest four pounds of dirt each. But no worries--we had a chance to rinse off in the not-too-cold waters of the lake. A WTA Volunteer Vacation group recently installed a new bridge here, and it looks fantastic.

It wasn't all perfection--we discovered that a 2-person tent doesn't quite house two grown-ups and two rambunctious little girls. There were evening meltdowns (to the folks in the campsite nearest us, our apologies) and some protests about hiking back up the PCT to the Naches loop (ah, make that 80 pounds of gear and offspring...oof!). But the hike finished well and Fiona proved herself a strong hiker (she's already asking about how to climb Mount Rainier. A few more years, Fifi.). Total mileage was about 6 miles, split up over two days of hiking.

It was great to see so many families on this trail--including a ten-year-old girl out for the day with her dad, and a mom and dad with their 2-month old baby on an overnight (grandpa was hiking ahead with much of the gear!).

Head out now, while the huckleberries are still fat and sweet.

Photo of the Naches Peak Loop Trail by Andrew Engelson.