Monday, April 6, 2009

The Boys' First Camping Trip

We made it! After two days of backpacking on the Appalachian Trail, we are all a little sore, but very happy to have our first outdoor adventure completed and looking forward to planning our next trip.

As many of you might remember, over the past month or so we have been preparing our first backpacking/camping trip with our chocolate labs, Brady & Cooper. We purchased each of the boys a pack from Backcountry K-9 so that they could carry their own food & water on our trip, and during the weeks leading up to our trip, we helped the boys get adjusted to carrying their packs by using the packs on walks in our neighborhood and on short hikes. At first we had the boys wear only the harnesses so that they could get used to the feeling of them and to make sure that we had the fit right. We then added water and later food to the packs to get them acclimated to the feel of the extra weight. By our departure time on Friday afternoon, the boys were ready to go!

[Cooper on the left, Brady on the right]

My husband and his friends backpack frequently on the Appalachian Trail, so he was in charge of selecting the route for our first trip. To make sure that we didn't overextend the boys on their first trip, he chose a route that was about a 9 mile hike roundtrip (approximately 4.5 miles each day). We drove up to the trailhead after work on Friday afternoon and set up our homes for the night at a campsite right across the street from the trailhead. The campsite was right next to a creek, and the boys LOVED exploring everything. The sights, the smells, an endless supply of sticks and leaves to roll in...camping is a dog's dream! And despite the cold weather, we couldn't keep our water dogs out of the creek...

[Cooper wallowing in the creek next to our campsite]

The boys did better the first night than I did. I despise the cold weather, and it ended up being a pretty chilly night. We had a great fire going, but even with that and wearing four layers of shirts/jackets and two layers of pants, I was still freezing. It must have just been me, because my husband and his friend, Chris, didn't seem to mind the temperature, but I was not a happy camper. Needless to say, I didn't get the best night of sleep and was pretty grumpy when I woke up. Fortunately, when I finally came out of my tent, the guys had a great fire going, and I was greeted with hot chocolate and a warm breakfast sandwich, courtesy of my amazing husband who is an incredible cook. My grumpiness began to fade away, and we were all ready for a great day of hiking.

The weather on Saturday could not have been better. We had a clear blue sky and warm weather. Since we only had 2-3 hours of hiking planned for the day, we took our time and let the boys lead the way. At first, they seemed to be on a sprint to the finish, but we finally got them to slow down and pace themselves.

[Brady in the lead, Cooper following]

We took frequent water breaks and found a great overlook about halfway through our first day of hiking where we stopped for lunch.

[Brady enjoying a water break]

We finished our first day of hiking around 2 o'clock Saturday afternoon, and Chris found an amazing secluded site with clearing and a fire pit right next to a natural spring.

Our second night of camping was much better than the first. We didn't have the howling winds from the night before (although we did have a few bugs that were pretty obnoxious) and the temperature didn't drop nearly as much as it did the first night. We made a roaring fire, cooked an awesome meal of chicken & four cheese ravioli with diced tomatoes and garlic bread and relaxed before it was time to turn in. The boys were racked out before the sun set, and we all had a great night's sleep.

We woke up early Sunday morning, finished our hike back to the trailhead and sadly returned to the real world ready to start another week. We had a great time, and we're all looking forward to our next adventure!


  1. i absolutely love to hike...this looks like such a fun trip! your dogs are gorgeous!

    found you through etsy - such a nice shop!!

  2. Sounds and looks like the boys had so much fun! Looks like they stuck to the trail pretty well...I don't think Brinkley would have been quite as good of a guide as they were! I'll leave the hiking to you guys :)

  3. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


  4. What the heck!? Gourmet meals on camping trips!? I am so jealous! The most gourmet we get when we camp is macaroni and cheese!

  5. These photos are so adorable!!! Sweet brown boys . . .


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