It's only the beginning of April and we have tasted summer (thank goodness for cooler weather this week cause I'm refusing to turn on my AC for at least another few weeks). At our home, we like to combat the long hot summer with a few quick trips up north. Last April, my husband and my older twins, age 3 at the time, took up backpacking. Let me just tell you, I'm an advocate of backpacking! I recommend the hobby to anyone, so...here I am, ready to do my first I Heart Mesa post on how you can backpack here in Arizona, even with young children. (And with girls for that matter....who says camping is a boys thing?)
Here is a little picture of my tree huggers on their first trip. You better believe I made sure they knew what to do if they ever got separated from dad - hug a tree and blow the whistles on their backpacks.
My girls are armed with their own backpacks, jackets, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, cup, spork, headlamp, water and chapter book - for reading after dark. I think they may have also stowed away with a favorite stuffed animal. My husband packs the pajamas, backpacking food and tent. Trail-mix is also a must. And his favorite backpacking device is his portable water purifier so that he doesn't have to pack as much water.
Usually here in Arizona, the backpacking season is recommended for late Spring through early Fall, unless of course you are one who enjoys snow camping. They took this trip one year ago this coming weekend.
For their first trip, my husband and girls enjoyed the Horton Spring Trail in the Tonto National Forest. You can read this article here for a more in-depth analysis. The trail-head starts where the Horton and Tonto Creeks merge. You park across the street from the Tonto Creek Campground in another parking lot. There is no fee to park/hike here. The road leading to the campground is fully paved and there is an outhouse at the start. (Sorry, no more outhouses past that point - that's why it's the wilderness.) The trail follows the Horton Creek 4 miles up to the Horton Creek Spring. Because it was their first trip and my little troopers were 3 at the time, they only went 2 miles in. There were plenty of places to stop all along the trail and camp overnight and they still got to enjoy the creek and the thick trees even if they didn't go all the way to the spring.
The gang sets up camp, plays a little, eats a freeze dried meal, drinks hot chocolate and reads their chapter book until bedtime. In the morning it's oatmeal and then head for home. A quick overnight, but memorable experience. My kiddos are exploring our lovely Arizona while learning many valuable lessons. And I love the fact that packing and unpacking is minimal. Therefore making these quick trips so much easier.
If you are wondering what to do this summer, take up backpacking. Trust me.