Monday, May 10, 2010

Backpacking with a Tween

” We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher

I’ve finally managed to get my pre-teen daughter out backpacking. Actually it was due to my wife joining in the conspiracy so that we could surprise her with a new puppy when we returned the following day.  She’s almost twelve and in good shape so we could have gone on a much longer hike, but the timing of my wife picking up the puppy required that I keep her out of the house from after school on Friday – then having her back late Saturday afternoon.

For those of you in the New York/New Jersey area that might like to duplicate this hike; I decided to take her up to Bald Rocks shelter in New York Harriman State Park.  We started the hike on the White Bar trail just of RT 106 (off 17 N) about 1/2 mile past Lake Stahahe (small parking area on the right).  We hiked a flat 1/4 mile then turned right on the Nurian trail (marked with White with “N”).  The Norian trail soon goes up steeply and terminates into the Ramapo-Dunerberg trail at “Black Rock” (very large boulder).  We turned left onto the “R-D” trail and followed it along the ridge to Bald Rocks Shelter.  The entire hike is under 2 miles with some intense steep parts.  Just the right distance considering how late in the day we started and that this was the first time Nickie had hiked with a backpack of any real weight (12 LBs).

We found we were the only ones at Bald Rocks, very surprising since this is one of the most popular and most accessible camp sites in the park.  I’m guessing the threat of thunderstorms that night kept people away.  But we were lucky and only got strong winds and a slight rain.

We were able to setup our tent before dark, relax and cook a nice meal.  Normally backpacking I bring my one man tent ( a Six Moon Designs Lunar Solo – see prior article) but having Nickie with me, that wouldn’t do.  So a packed in my L.L.Bean Micro Light two person tent.

Video of hike to Bald Rocks and L.L.Bean Micro Light tent:

I purchased the Bean Micro Light tent a few years ago when I first thought my kids were old enough to go camping.  Its gotten minimal use up to now but it looks like it will be getting much more exercise this year.

The LL Bean Micro Light Two-Person Backpacking Tent (non-affiliate link). Sells for $149, weights 3 lb 12 oz (respectably light for a two-person tent). Without the fly, other than the floor it is complete no–see-um mesh – fantastic for ventilation and for seeing the stars.  It’s made of 30-denier ripstop nylon.  The rain fly is coated with 1,500 mm silicone on the outside and a polyurethane layer inside. It has a 2-pole hoop-style construction, making it great in the wind (was proved this weekend), easy to setup although not completely free standing. Very good head room – two people fit very comfortably.


So I’m very happy with this tent and will continue to use it with my children and wife (if I can every get her to go backpacking!).  That said, if I was to buy a two-person tent today, I might bypass this one and choose the Big Agnes Fly Creek Ultralight 2 (see previous review of the UL1). 

The Big Agnes Fly Creek UL2 is over a pound lighter than the Micro Light and is free standing (well almost).  The down side of course is the price - $200 more than the Bean Micro Light.  I know, that’s an expensive pound.  It also packs smaller (19”L vs 6.5”W versus 23”L x 6”W).  You do loose a bit of head room with the Fly Creek also (Been peak is 3’6”, the BA is 3’2”).  On top of that it is hard to find to find the Fly Creek UL2 in stock anywhere.Flycreekul2

At  the time of writing this, I found it at Ramey Outdoor (Affiliate of BPBC) and on Amazon.com.

OK, enough about gear – the really good news is that Nicole loved backpacking and wants to go again (so back to gear - I’m going to have to find a decent backpack that fits a 12 year old girl).  We made it back to the house Saturday afternoon with zero problems, a happy kid – and then an ecstatic kid when she was surprised by a new puppy.




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