Hiking and backpacking with kids is always worth it. In the early years, Mama Bear and I had a 10% rule: if the parents had fun ten percent of the time, the trip was a success (we recommend upping this to 12%, both because we encourage others to set more ambitious goals then we do and in honor of our good friend twelve percent who’s headed out to attempt to hike the CDT in ninety thirty mile days–good luck and remember Cartwheel’s edict: “believe in yourself 12%”). As they get older and more independent, the fun factor for the adults only increases.
They say parenting is all joy and no fun. While we certainly find our fair share of fun along the way, the joy is always there, even on those ten percent trips. And overcoming the struggle to share remote places with our kids brings it’s own rewards that are deeper and longer lasting than fleeting fun: this is the joy. Our early efforts and struggles have brought us closer as a family over the years, and have set the stage well for this current epic, which is both fun-filled and joy-filled. Watching the kids confidence and independence on the trail warms the heart of these proud parents.
We took a left turn up the Mau Har trail to enjoy some stunning waterfalls and swimming holes. The trail dips down into a valley and then follows a stunning brook straight up hill as it cascades through deep pools. It was a magical other world to rival Gulf Hagas back in Maine. Because it went straight up the stream, it bypassed a hot ridge walk over Three Ridges Mountain and spit us back out in the AT at the Maupin shelter. A couple more miles and we made it to Reeds Gap where we caught a ride down the road to the Devil’s Backbone Brewery with a very friendly couple.
The folks there are unbelievably hospitable to hikers. We had a delicious dinner and some fine microbrews. The kids became experts at the beanbag tossing game called corn hole. And the owner let all us hikers camp out back and treated us all to spectacular breakfast of eggs, bacon, potatoes, Texas toast, fresh fruit and coffee in the morning. Then we caught a ride back to the trailhead from a couple of rock climbers rendezvousing in the parking lot (it takes some fellow dirtbaggers to be willing to pile eight people and a dog (plus packs) into a sedan for a five mile trip uphill.