Kids in the Backcountry
How to Hike and Camp in the National Parks Backcountry with your children
Kids are a wonderful blessing. They bring joy to every facet of our lives and ask nothing in return apart from our love. That love is something that is not easily broken, but when children come into the picture, certain activities can become a bit more difficult. Most parents will simply give up many of the National Parks Backcountry activities they love with the belief that they can do them later when the child is out on their own. However, this is such a shortsighted way of thinking especially when it comes to outdoor activities such as hiking and camping in the National Parks.
The Misconception about children in the backcountry
There is a growing misconception among people these days when it comes to kids. People firmly believe that the youth of today has been ruined by technology, yet every parent at some point, whether they will admit to it or not, will use technology as a virtual babysitter to keep the kids occupied for a time in order to get something accomplished. Where this is fine every once in a while, too many people make it a habit and therefore the child looks to technology more than they do their parents.
The truth is that children are subject to learning from a very young age. From the time, they are in the womb, they begin to lean and it is up to the parent to take it upon themselves to teach them everything they will need to know to have a full and happy life. That also includes times where the family gets away from technology altogether to enjoy the beauty and splendor of the outdoors. The love of the outdoors teaches children many lessons and survival skills. They are lessons that will allow them to understand that the world we live in is not only about us, but every living creature on the planet.
Visit the National Parks and Start you kids education
A child that grows up in an environment where their parents embrace the outdoors lifestyle will grow to love the national parks and enjoy nature to the fullest. There is no age limit on when a child can be taken to the national parks hiking and camping. People will often state that very small infants are not adapted for the national parks, but so many vital nutrients are gained from the natural air as well as the sunlight, that the notion could not be farther from the truth. For as long as humans have been on the earth, babies have been outside with their parents, tending to the home and gathering food. Many people throughout the world still work their everyday lives with their children outside with them all day and many mothers simply strap the baby to themselves to keep them close and warm. The same thing can be done when they are infants.
The best thing about infants is that their food is never an issue. Breast feeding is natural and available at all times. Provided that the mother takes care of her own nutritional needs, she does not need to worry if the baby is being adequately fed. There are also many wraps available on the market that enable the baby to sit comfortably against the mother allowing them to feel protected throughout the journey. These wraps can also be adjusted to suit the mother should she want to hold the baby on her back or in front. The choice is yours, but when a baby is small and portable, there is no reason they should miss out on the family fun.
Diaper Disposal and rubbish in the National Parks Backcountry
The rule when backcountry camping within national parks or anywhere else for that matter, is to pack it out. That means that you take everything out of the national parks with you that you brought in. That includes diapers with little ones. Disposable diapers are easier to change out, but you also have to think about the fact that you will have to carry all the diapers out with you and that can be a bit heavy at the end of the journey. It is recommended that you clean dirty diapers out and bury the waste and that you lay out wet diapers to dry to reduce weight in your pack. With this notion in mind, you may want to consider cloth diapers as they tend to be easier to clean and you can wash out diapers with soap and reuse them and therefore there is nothing to really hold you back.
Kids Hiking Sleeping Arrangements in the National Parks Backcountry
Sleeping in the national parks backcountry can be a bit taxing. You have to get used to sleeping on the ground and pitching a tent where you need to go. The sleeping arrangements can also be a bit of a challenge themselves. When you are used to sleeping with only you and your significant other, you may be tempted to buy a child’s sleeping bag for your baby and place them off to the side of the two of you. Where this may be a good theory, it is not likely to work for reality. Your baby is not likely the kind that never moves when they sleep. They can wiggle themselves out of anything and that includes the warmth of a sleeping bag.
The solution, even though it may take some getting used to, is to invest in a double sleeping bag. Everyone can sleep together and you never have to worry about the baby being too cool in the middle of the night. This also helps when the baby begins to crawl because you will be able to feel if the baby gets out of the sleeping bag during the night. As the child grows, you can invest in a sleeping bag of their own once they reach the age where they understand that they are to remain in their sleeping bag until morning.
Children Camping Packs
Rest assured that the parent will always be carrying the most weight, but as a child grows, they can take on more weight themselves. There are specialized child packs that are perfect for national parks backcountry camping. No matter which pack you choose make sure that it is one that your child is comfortable with. This may mean making a trip to the outdoors store and trying on many packs until the child is comfortable. Children also grow quite quickly, so you may have to invest in a new pack every few years for your child.
Once you have chosen the pack, pack it at home and give the child ample time to practice walking in it. You may look a little silly walking up and down the street of your neighborhood with a full pack, but both you and your child will appreciate the extra effort when they are in the backcountry and already used to hiking with the added weight. The endurance of your child’s leg muscles will be slowly brought up as opposed to just the shock of an intense hike.
Where to Hike with your kids
Having ample supplies on your national parks backcountry hike is important, but choosing where to hike, especially when going with children, is quite important. Where there may be wilderness everywhere you look, it is not always the best idea to simply venture off in any given direction and hope for the best. You are taking your single most important accomplishment with you on your journey and therefore you want to ensure their safety. The national parks offer both safety and a true wilderness experience all in one.
When people think of national parks they often only think of the sightseeing and camping on a well-maintained national parks campground. They never really think about the fact that the hundreds of thousands of acres that the national parks take up are not always tourist traps. Sure, you will find gift shops and supplies at most of the entrances to national parks, but most of them have specialized backcountry campsites perfectly suited for the truly outdoorsy family. They are normally marked by a fire ring and are usually a few hundred feet off the trail. These sites are wonderful places to camp and see the wilderness as it should be seen, if you know how to get the most from your experience
Camping Safety is Key in the National Parks Backcountry
Camping in the backcountry of any national park can be an exhilarating experience and even more so when you are able to see the look on your child’s face when they see nature at its most raw form. However majestic national park wilderness may be, there are also some hidden dangers that anyone should be aware of. Failure to follow the safety regulations of the individual national park you are visiting can result in tragic circumstances. Although each national park have their own set of regulations, they are relatively all the same and many come under the common-sense rule, but here are some things you need to be aware of to keep you and your kids from harm.
Kids must Respect the Animals
Teaching your children about national park wilderness camping is a wonderful thing to do throughout their lives and the first thing that they should always be taught is that the wilderness is home to all creatures. Depending on which national park you choose to visit will determine whether you have the opportunity to see elk, deer, or a myriad of other woodland creatures.
This is the animal’s home and they should be given the utmost respect while you are a guest in their home. The animals will likely keep their distance from you and you should teach your children to do the same. Children are drawn to wild animals because their beauty often lends to the belief that they are harmless. A wild animal, even those that seem harmless, can and will attack if they feel threatened. This instinct increases when they are protecting their young which is mostly during the spring and summer seasons when animal mothers tend to give birth.
Respect goes much farther than giving the animals their space. It also encompasses the fact that animals need to remain as wild as possible. It may seem like a harmless idea to drop some bread on the ground for the animals to eat, but if they get adapted to eating human food and become used to humans being around, they will not hunt and eat as they should naturally. It is of vital importance that you teach your children this rule and make certain they follow it always.
Keep on the National Parks Trail
When National Parks backcountry camping, you may find yourself with the desire to venture off trails in search of adventure. If you do not have children this is not such a risk, but with children under your guidance, they watch everything that you do. Venturing off the trail can signal to the child that it is ok and they may walk away from you. The trails are there for a reason and keep hikers from getting lost. A lost child in the wilderness is much more difficult than a lost adult simply because children are smaller and can succumb to hypothermia much easier if you are hiking in cold months. By staying on the trail, you are much more likely to keep everyone together and safe throughout your national Park hike.
Do Not Overestimate Your Abilities
Hiking with children in the national park backcountry will bring about many challenges. One of the biggest mistakes that people often make is overestimating their individual skills. You may be able to scale a tall rock face with your child on your back and therefore cut off a considerable amount of time from your hike, but that is not the safest option for you, nor your small child. Overestimating your personal skills can get you and your entire family into trouble. It is much more beneficial to take the time it takes to find the safest route for all. This will teach your children that safety is the most important thing in the wilderness.
Important kid Supplies
Hiking in general requires that you bring the basic survival equipment. Hiking with children often makes you think twice about what you intend to bring. There is a lot to consider when you decide to camp in the national park backcountry with children and you may be tempted to bring everything, but resist the urge. Bringing the essentials is fine and it even teaches children that you do not need everything in order to be happy. The more you pack, the more you will have to carry, so there is no need for added weight if it is not essential.
Satellite Radio – Your cell phone is not likely to get any reception out in the backcountry of any national park. Emergencies can come up from time to time and therefore you may need a way to call for help. Satellite Radios always have a signal, so no matter what happens, you should be able to call for help.
Water Filter – Depending on which national park you go to and when during the year, you decide to venture out, there may be water restrictions. Some desert climates require that you bring all the water that you need with you, but some of the more water rich national parks have running streams and rivers available. A water filter will allow you to utilize the water without fear of getting sick from pathogens that may lie within.
Food Supplies – Food is the second most important element, second only to water. Freeze dried foods, MREs, and protein bars are particularly popular among the survivalists set, but if you have children, you may want to reconsider these options. Test out foods before you leave to see what the child likes to eat. It may also be in your best interest to go to national parks that allow for fishing. Most will not allow hunting, but a select few do encourage fishing in the backcountry.
Fires – The national parks are maintained by rangers and volunteers that work toward preservation. Fires have been known to completely destroy some national parks and therefore some prohibit fires of any kind in the backcountry. Make sure that you understand the rules of the national park that you intend to visit before you make the trip. If fires are prohibited, a simple camp stove is a good option.
Camping in the national parks with kids is a wonderful experience if you are equipped for it. Never let anyone tell you that just because you have kids, then you can no longer enjoy the wilderness. National Parks Backcountry camping is for all and should be enjoyed at all ages. Children learn by doing and when they are given the opportunity to experience national parks nature and shown how to respect the earth, they are all the better for it when they grow up and just think of all the fun memories they will carry with them into adulthood.