8th to 11th August 2013
Backpacking with Preschoolers (5 and 2 years old) in the High Sierra
Our first family backpacking
trip to Point Reyes in October of 2012 was fairly successful so I decided
it was time to introduce the kids to Yosemite. PJ is 5 and Mei Mei is 2 so
I thought an easy in-and-out in the Lyell Canyon area around Tuolumne
Meadows would be a safe bet. So on August 8th around 6 am we piled in the
Mazda 5 along with Grandma and Grandpa and headed east. Around 11 am we
pulled into the Wilderness Permit Station at Tuoluome Meadows and secured
our permit. Then we headed off for four days and three nights in the
here for photos of the trip
(I recommend you use the slideshow view).
here for several videos made
during the trip.
1. Poop - Will your kids poop in
the woods? On day two PJ easily made his first wilderness poop. Later that
day Mei Mei told us she had to go but refused to do so when she squatted
or was held over the hole. Over the rest of the day many more attempts
were made but all were futile, even after we fashioned a toilet seat out
of rocks. Eventually we put her in a diaper (she has been potty trained
for about 6 months but still sleeps in a diaper) and told her to go for
it. She produced a beautiful specimen that was so solid we simply dumped
it in the hole, leaving an almost pristine diaper.
2. Toys - We intentionally
brought nothing in the way of toys or games for the kids and will do the
same next time. They always found ways to amuse themselves, and in the
process us as well.
3. Food – At the end of the
slideshow are photos of the food we brought. For breakfast we had oatmeal,
hot chocolate and coffee. For lunch/snacks we had nuts, dried fruit,
peanut M&M's, jerky, Pocari Sweat (Japanese Gatorade), granola bars and
cheese crackers. For dinner we had miso soup and Trader Joe's organic
mac'n cheese with tuna in olive oil. Each days food was 3 pounds 11
ounces. We all ate dinner and breakfast out of one pot with our own
spoons. The kids liked all of the food and we wouldn't change anything
except dialing back on the oatmeal as we couldn't finish it on any of the
4. Cooking – I brought a remote
canister stove (FMS 117-t), two pots, four cups and 4 spoons. Next time I
might only bring one pot and boil water for drinks and soup before cooking
the main meals.
5. Mule - I assumed I would
probably have to carry Mei Mei the entire way on my shoulders. I did not
anticipate that she would at times demand to be carried in my arms or by
6. Sleep – I assumed that Mei
Mei would sleep fine since she would be in a tent next to her Mom. I was
wrong and the lack of sleep caused us to cut the trip one day short.
Despite the cold (water froze at night) she was warm enough but just not
comfortable being in a sleeping bag and tent. PJ and I had no issues.
7. Ranger – At our second camp a
ranger told us we were not camped the required 4 miles away from the
trailhead. As we had a 2-year-old with us and it was late in the day he
did not make us move and admitted that it's not exactly clear where the
4-mile boundary is (it's not marked on the trail). He did ask us to move
our tents off of the grass however.
8. Gear – At the end of the
slideshow is a table listing all of our gear. I don't think we would
9. Long Drive - Mei Mei was
pretty fussy for the entire drive up since none of us gave her our
iPhone's to play with as we were all saving the batteries for photos
during the trip. Next time we'll let her use one. On the way back she
slept and/or played with a phone and was happy.
10. Meltdown – Other than the
pooping and sleeping issues Mei Mei was a joy the entire trip. Her big
brother was as well except when we tried to wash him on day 2. He really
didn't want to since the water was so cold and ended up being really
grouchy for about an hour. Next time I won't press the issue.
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