First backpack trip on his own two feet!

December 9-10, 2014
I’ve been very impressed by my son’s hiking skills as of late. He won’t
be 3 until February but has recently day hiked as far as 4.5 miles :) So
I decided it was time to try a backpacking trip with him. We did two
backpack trips when he was a baby and thus small enough for me to
carry, along with our gear. But this would be the first overnight trip
with him hiking. He also carried his own pack, a little Deuter I bought
soon after he was born. He did well and I’m very proud of him!

We hiked with our friend Albert on a trail that I’ve been on a few
times before, Middle Fork Trail to Cucamonga Wilderness. Well, the
first half of the hike, anyway. I’d never taken the lower trail to
Stonehouse Camp before, instead always staying on the upper trail. On
the west side of the wilderness there is a very popular trail leading up
Icehouse Canyon. But the east side sees few people, mainly because
the access is a 3-mile long rocky and rutted road. We saw no one on our
hike since it was also mid-week – just how I prefer it ;)

The first half-mile of the trail gains elevation but it’s slow and steady.
Then the trail splits at an unsigned junction and you can take the lower
trail which descends to Stonehouse, or stay on the upper which
contours up and around on the way to Third Stream Crossing Camp. On
this trip we went to Stonehouse, the easiest option. The trail is good
until the last little bit where it disappears so you just pick your way up
and over the rocky stream to the camp.

I call my son T – he’s named after his Dad, Todd, and so I either say
“T” or “Todd Philip” to differentiate from his Dad – the latter is
usually if he’s in trouble, lol. T is becoming quite a little naturalist as
well as a good hiker. He knew manzanita and yucca prior to this trip,
but he was asking about all the other plants so now he knows yerba
santa, chamise, and sage. He then had fun pointing them out to Albert.
We also turned over a rock in camp and found a centipede which he
called a “wiggly bug”.

Once we got to camp we found the ruins of the Stonehouse it’s named
for, and set up our tent nearby. Then we had lunch and went down to
the creek – T loves to throw rocks and splash in water. Thank
goodness I brought extra shoes and socks, because as the sun went
down it did get chilly in the canyon. When we were done playing we
relaxed for a while but T wouldn’t take a nap. So we took a walk up the
canyon admiring the many old oak trees and waterfalls. We were hoping
to catch a glimpse of bighorn sheep which call this place home, but
they remained elusive.

We then made our way back to camp, ate dinner, and played frisbee. I
found a lighweight glow-in-the-dark frisbee ring and that ended up
being a great toy for camp. We then retired when it got dark. T went
to sleep as soon as his head hit his pillow. I was glad I brought along a
real pillow for him, a small one made by Thermarest. I myself have a
blow-up one but it works well enough. It took me a little longer to fall
asleep.

In the morning I kept T busy in the tent with a deck of cards and the
pigs from the “Pass the Pigs” game. Who knew they were the perfect
size to ride in the Jeep that T brought with him? T always has to have
at least one car with him – on this trip we brought 3. Why not? They
don’t weigh much. Albert went on a morning hike and so we took our
time waking up and eating breakfast. I didn’t cook – T is a picky eater
and so I brought food I knew he would eat – cheese, turkey, crackers,
peanut butter and jelly, and applesauce. It was actually Albert that
packed in the 3 applesauce packets for him. He also was kind enough to
share his water filter and bear can so that saved me from carrying too
much weight – I already carried a larger tent and extra sleeping bag,
pad, pillow, clothes, shoes, and food!

Shortly before Albert returned we saw two deer – actually startled
them as we exited the tent and they bounded up the steep slope faster
than I’ve ever seen two deer move before. Albert came back, he told
me he awoke early, as he usually does, and took a hike up canyon to the
upper trail then looped back. He got a little lost on the way back, and
took a little longer than expected, but I was glad he got in a longer
hike, since he’s used to doing a more strenuous trip.

We leisurely packed up and then headed on our hike out mid-morning.
We made good time hiking out, but T did have to take a couple of short
breaks and during them he wanted to sing, “Rudolph the Red-nosed
Reindeer.” And then he pointed out to me that burned manzanita
resembled Reindeers – I had to agree with him.
Standing on the stoop of the Stonehouse Ruin
Helping Albert pack
More photos here!

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In all it was a great trip.  We had good weather
between storms and it was the perfect short trip to
introduce T to backpacking on his own two feet :) And
many thanks to Albert who helped us!