We have a family tradition of heading to the mountains every year for July 3rd, the day that my brother died 12 years ago while rock climbing near Linville, NC. These trips have been very therapeutic for me and for my family. Most years we hike to the top or bottom of the climb Lewis was on when he fell. Last year was the first year that we took the boys to where he fell. We added their names to the stone that his friend, Tommy Fowler, carved in his honor. I miss so many things about him but one of the biggest is probably that my kids will never know him as “Uncle Lewis,” he will always be “Mommy’s brother.” We had talked about how cool it was going to be to get to know each other’s kids and it’s almost more pain than I can bare to know that this will never happen. We didn’t make it to the mountains this year because the baby’s due date was July 3rd, which was the strangest, most awesome “God wink” (as my mom calls it!) ever.
Last year we took a few extra days and camped on a beautiful piece of property that belongs to one of my dad’s friends from back in the early days of The Backpacker. He was generous enough to welcome us last year and we had an amazing time. Big Luke and I have been dreaming of going back but it’s been such a crazy year that we haven’t been able to find the time . . . until now! Believe it or not, we are going to brave a camping trip with a newborn. It’s about as cushy as camping gets, truly. The property has running water, electricity, a bathroom, a covered picnic area and a tent platform. It’s beautiful and tranquil with no noisy or obnoxious neighbors. It doesn’t feel like “roughing it.” It feels like a retreat.
I am so looking forward to getting away with my crew and taking a deep breath (of cool mountain air :). This year has brought many changes with little time to reflect. While it will be more of a trip than vacation (see article for explanation of difference), I hope to steal some moments to myself while creating some memories with my people.
As with most things, being prepared with the right gear makes a huge difference in how enjoyable the trip will be.
Here’s my checklist
- Clothing – Days will be in the mid 70’s with nights in the 50’s and possible afternoon rain so we need warm and cool weather clothing for everyone plus rain jackets. For a family of six, that is a lot of clothing! Ah!
- Socks and shoes – This may seem like a no brainer but we’ve been in flip flop mode here since school let out.
- Diapers, wipes, breast pads – I’ve created a portable diaper station that can be moved from the car to the tent with all the necessities. Elle is almost out of diapers but still needs them for naps and nighttime.
- Baby carrying devices – Ergo, Bjorn and Boba. Elle can ride in the ergo and the baby in one of the others for hikes.
- Everyone’s blankies! Don’t leave home without these!
- Air mattress with sheets, pillows and comforter for the adults . . . if I’m not getting much sleep (because newborn) I at least want to be comfortable.
- 3 Sleeping pads, sleeping bags and pillows for the kids.
- Pack and Play for the baby
- Camp stoves and fuel – We have a Snowpeak Giga and a Jetboil. I think we will be upgrading to a large car camping set up after this trip.
- Mess kits for everyone- Plates, bowls, mugs, water bottles and plastic ware
- Miscellaneous kitchen items – Knives, cutting board, paper towels, bleach wipes, camp soap, camp sink, vinyl tablecloth, pots and pans, towels (I like these from Sea to Summit), matches/lighter
- Flashlights, headlamps (I recommend Black Diamond), string lights (we like these from ENO) and extra batteries
- Camp chairs – We like these from Helinox. We have cheap ones from Wal-mart for the kids. They will try to steal ours if we don’t bring chairs for them!
- Plastic storage bin for non-refrigerated items – This is purely for organization and ease of storage. These items have to be moved to the car every night so that critters don’t get into them.
- LOTS OF FOOD – Ideally, I’d shop for this trip before hand but honestly, we won’t have room in the car for the amount of groceries that we will need plus all the other stuff. I have a few things but we will meal plan on the drive up and make a grocery run after setting up camp. Don’t forget s’mores supplies!
- Daypack- For hikes. This year, I will probably bring the boys packs as well. I think they are big enough to carry their own lunch, water bottle and rain jacket.
- Toiletries – including sunscreen and bug spray. We have never had much trouble with bugs up there but just in case.
- First Aid supplies
- Rope – For a clothes line and/or other miscellaneous uses.
- Tent – I recommend getting one that is bigger than your family size. We got a six person tent when we were just a family of four but we need to upgrade to an 8 person tent.
- Wood and firestarter
- Toys and games for the kids
- Personal items like books, kindle, journal, computer, fishing poles, etc. We don’t get internet and the cell phone signal is pretty weak at the campsite so we plan on unplugging for a few days.
- What am I leaving out???
Luke and I talked about our expectations for the trip and both agreed that we want to do some easy hikes and a lot of lounging around. I’m still in recovery mode from giving birth and trying to take it easy. And quite frankly, we can both use a little escape.
This looks so peaceful.
To read about our trip last year, click here.
If you have any questions or stories to share, message me or comment below. Laurenskijones@gmail.com