Two Kids, Three Months, 100 Miles of Backpacking: Part II
Lorelei Felchlin is an adventurous spirit, and she's fostering that same spirit in her kids by getting them outdoors as much as possible. Joey (9), Elissa (7), and Vivian (1) spend their time hiking, backpacking, rock climbing and caving, and now they have set a goal to backpack 100 miles this summer. WTA caught up with her to see how the project is going.
Are you on schedule to complete those 100 miles by the end of the summer?
Felchlin: It has been a really fun summer of backpacking so far. Labor Day weekend will be the "end" of our summer. We are on schedule to complete 100 miles, but barely. Two of our weeks will be spent backpacking with younger family members who cannot backpack as far. I love that they are as equally excited to shorten the miles just to spend time with family.
The end goal is just to be outside as much as possible, but I secretly caught my son calculating miles the other day and trying to figure out how many more trips it would take him to get to 100.
Here's a table that Lorelei keeps, showing mileages hiked by each child.
|June 16-17||Packwood Lake||9||600||both|
|June 22-23||Mt. Adams Summit||12||6700||Joey|
|July 3-5||Snowgrass Flats and Lily Basin||12||1600||both|
|July 9-12||Stevens Pass to Hyas Lake||32||4500||Joey|
|July 21-22||Tunnel Falls, Oregon||15||1200||both|
How have you problem solved with the kids?
Felchlin: Though we haven't run into problems completing our goal, we have gone back and reevaluated our destinations. Some of our original choices, like the Copper Ridge Loop would have been too difficult for Elissa.
What are you doing to keep them engaged when hiking?
Felchlin: We talk a lot about mental strength versus physical strength. People often think they can't do something long before they physically can't do something. When we backpacked into Lily Basin, this was a big focus. We started the hike at noon and it was 80 degrees. The kids struggled with their discontent of the heat with knowing that they ultimately had to get up to camp for the day to end. It became a struggle at times, so we took many breaks.
I have also learned that just picking out a topic that each kid really likes to talk about can often refocus each of them. For example, as Joey and I were descending Mount Adams in our 12th hour of hiking, he was very tired. We would pick a topic like major league baseball, the Seahawks or Minecraft and he would fill us in on his thoughts and forget about the four mile we had left to get back to the car.
What do you do in camp after a long day of hiking?
Felchlin: After a long of hiking and camp is set up, they each tend to want to take off and explore. After a day of hiking, we immediately set up our tent and prepare dinner/filter water.
However, after those chores are done, the kids usually go explore the area for the rest of the evening. Both kids enjoy studying and exploring nature and it is their time to bond with each other. Elissa also hikes with a journal and writes about her experiences. I usually sit in camp and watch them and take photos.
How do you motivate the kids in the morning to get up for another day on the trail?
Felchlin: The morning motivation can be challenging at times, especially when it is colder outside. I haven't quite figured out the one trick that will motivate kids every time, but I have learned that talking about the day's goal, or how "moving makes you warm up" seems to work at times.
What's your food fuel for these adventures?
Felchlin: Breakfast is always oatmeal and lunch is usually a rolled up tortilla with peanut butter and honey. For dinner, we have been experimenting with making our own meals. Macaroni and cheese is still the favorite dinner but our new instant rice/cheddar/oregano has been a big hit. As for snacks, their favorite snacks are Clif Bar Zfruit rope, raw almonds and Odwalla bars.
Do you have or the kids have a particularly stand-out story from your trips so far?
Felchlin: The kids agreed that their favorite backpacking day was day two of three in the Goat Rocks, the only trip that dad and baby sister Vivian have been on with us this summer. We woke up on day 2 with a goal to hike four miles with 600 feet of elevation gain. It was completely within everybody's ability level.
However, when we dropped into Lily Basin after a mile or two, the kids were so excited about hanging out in the area, playing in the creek and this awesome campsite they found about 100 feet away that we set up camp at noon and spent the day there. Joey had packed a football into his pack and he and his dad played catch for awhile. The kids found deep pools of water in the creek that they could play in and even Vivian couldn't get enough of playing in the creek and throwing rocks.
How about a story where the kids kept going even if they were pretty tired?
Felchlin: They have each had their own days of having to soldier through aspects of the trip. On our first trip, Elissa had a sunburnt shoulder and her pack was really bothering her. But when I asked her if I could carry her pack, she said she would try to tough it out and she did.
Joey has a very unique story of toughing it out on the trail. After driving three hours to get to Snowgrass Flats, Joey realized he had brought two right-footed shoes and one of those shoes was two sizes bigger than what he wears. My husband pulled the arch out of one, flipped it around and placed it back into the shoe in an attempt to line up the arch as best as possible. Joey hiked all three days in those shoes and never complained.
Lorelei started her adventure right after school got out. Read more about what inspired her to start this ambitious project here. And if you want to continue to receive great information on hiking with your family, sign up for our Families Go Hiking newsletter.