| My 2-Year Old‘s First Backpack Trip
My wife fell in love with the Goose Creek area on a trip to seek the arch a few weeks ago. Alothough we didn't make it up, the nice stream and open meadows begged of a camping trip. I've been trying to wean her from car camping so when we had an opportunity and she was up for bringing our daughter, I was eager to try it out.
Ready For the Trail
As if backpacking with a 2 1/2 year old isn't interesting enough, we would also have our 2 dogs, one of which has his knee scoped 2 weeks earlier and even one of our daughter's friends was joining us. Luckily, my little girl is into older gentlemen so we were adding a 5 year old to the mix. Saturday morning, we loaded the bunch into the car and set out for the Goose Creek Trailhead.
The first section of the trail was slick and the two kiddos had some trouble getting their hiking legs under them. Several slips and falls ensued and their desire to hike and camp seemed to quickly wane. I have to admit, helping a little one stay on their feet while lugging a pack full of 4 sleeping bags, 3 pads, 2 tents, food for 4 and 2 dogs, and all the normal hiking gear, while at the same time controlling two dogs on leash was starting to dampen my spirits too.
Once we got down to the pine forest and level ground things got much better. The dogs got watered down in the stream and the little ones now could run and play a bit. We finally made it to where the valley started to open up and offer some camping opportunities but most of the camp sites seemed to already be filled. After a stream crossing and a few more occupied spots, I let the kids/dogs and my wife play in the water while I went ahead to scout out a spot. A few dozen yards up the trail I found an opening at a bend in the creek that offered nice shade. I set up camp and ran back to round up the troops.
Glad to be done hiking
Rafting the mighty Goose Creek
Once everyone was at camp, we broke out an inflatable raft so the kids could float down the creek. While they were having tons of fun, my adventurous side started to take over. I said goodbye and set out for the arch around 3:30. I crossed a downed tree a couple of yards up stream and started up the trail up the gully opposite the Organ Pipe/Arch. My impression was that this was going to be an easy walk followed by a couple of rock hops, but I was mistaken. The trail winds very steeply up hill across a ton of deadfall and requires a few class 2 rock moves in the trees. It's loose and sloppy, doesn't seem to get too much traffic, but is surprisingly well cairned. Once the trail stops, you are greeted with a steep rock climb that serves as an introduction to the rest of the journey. The route is hard to follow at spots as it brings you right up the backside of the dome.
Terrain on and views from the dome...
Image #7 (not yet uploaded)
To get over to the arch you need to hop across 4 boulders that reminded me of a scene from Super Mario Bros.
Rock Hops - Picture on the return
After leaping the 2-3 foot gaps, I found the Organ Pipe but I was a bit confused since the arch was supposed to be right behind it. I looked behind me, to either side, and then I looked down. That's whan I saw the gap and realized I was actually 1/2 way across the thing. The rock is the same granite that populates the rest of the area. A fall would surely take some skin, a slip and you may head over a cliff, so I was glad I went after this one alone. I snapped some pictures and traversed the arch for good measure on the way out. It's pretty airy and was a lot of fun. The return trip was better ran than hiked since it was so slick and made it back around 5:00.
Organ Pipe - Only slightly phallic
I got started working the stove making hot dogs and brats, but dessert was the highlight of the trip for the kids. We introduced them to the finer points of roasting marshmallows and packed in graham crackers and Hershey Bars for the ultimate camping treat. After dinner my wife made up bed time stories while I relaxed with the pups and the kids were alseep by 8:00. Hank curled up in a little nest in the grass he made next to me and Floyd was glad to have me back so he laid across my lap. Jamie slept with Hank and the kids in the bigger tent while Floyd and I shared my backpacking tent. I awoke around 6:30 the next morning with Hank trying to push through my tent door and Floyd struggling to get out to greet him. Luckily the kids slept through all of this and slept in until 7:00.
Relaxing with the Pups at Camp...
After breakfast and some games of hide-and-seek, I needed to stretch my legs again. Floyd and I set out for the shafthouse a little after 8:00. I figured I'd be back around 9:45 but that wouldn't be the case. I reached the shafthouse around 9:30 and attempted to find the way to the valley view. Much to my frustration, there was about an 8-foot downclimb that needed to be negotiated. I could do it fine, but the pooch was going to probably break a leg. I found a 3'*10" crack he may have been able to squeeze through to avoid it, but I was going to need to be on the other side to coax him. Not trusting that he wouldn't just dive off the rock when I got done with the downclimb, I reluctantly turned for home. Oh well, an excuse to make it back there again someday. Since we were running late, we jogged the trail back to camp, reaching it around 10:30.
Shafthouse and Historic Buildings
While I was gone, Jamie tried taking the kids for a short hike. Hank was pretty sore from the previous day's activities and our daughter was not too wild about walking any more. We reluctantly packed up and feared the worst for the hike out. Getting back to the main trail was difficult, but once there, the kids surprised us with a third wind of energy. They practically ran the entire way back only stopping to blow out a dozen monstrous dandelions.
Enjoying the hike out
All was good until the last 4 feet of the trail. Our daughter's toe sought out the very last rock on the trail (literally - last one) and she hit the dirt face first. She was not a happy camper as we packed up the car. She screamed herself to sleep about 10 minutes int othe ride and then Jami took advantage of her lack of consciousness to dress her skinned knees, elbows, and a 2" round strawberry on her forehead. No worries, all was right in the world when we pulled into Anthony's Pizza in Aspen Grove and got the kids filled on Pepperoni Pizza and lemonade.
Pizza makes it all better
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