Day 1: Home to Harpers Ferry Campground, 2.5 miles, 8/22/21
I’ve wanted to take the boys camping for a long time but never quite gotten around to it. Something always came up or the weather didn’t cooperate. This time however, the stars aligned. I had a gap in the schedule, the boys haven’t started school and the weather forecast was stable (although rather hot!).
This is sad to say, but it’s been years since I’ve camped (something I plan to rectify!). I had fun digging my old camping gear though and packing for this adventure. Everything looked like new again. That’s the thing with good quality outdoor gear — it lasts a lifetime if you look after it.
In my pre-kids life I did a lot of camping so it was easy to plan what we needed and get everything together. The boys carried some of their clothes and water bottles in their bags.
We set off around 3 pm, full of excitement! The boys were embarking on their first camping adventure.
Lexi walked with us for the first quarter mile to Nash Farm. Owen didn’t believe us when we said that mom was turning around here. “You’re joking right?”
We strode on, down the trail from the back of Nash Farm to the river. Owen face planted twice on the way down, the poor guy. No harm done, just muddy knees. At the bottom of the hill I led the boys through the river tunnel under the rail tracks rather than crossing the tracks. It was almost bone dry.
We stopped to explore the Canal Headrace and enjoy views out to Maryland Heights. At this age, the boys are mostly indifferent to pretty views though. They prefer bugs or interesting graffiti.
We arrived at the campsite around 5 pm. I couldn’t find the caretaker, so we picked the furthest tent site and set up camp. The boys helped put the tent up, and then proceeded to trip over the tent pegs every 5 minutes 😉
The tent is a 7 year old Mountain Hardwear Skyledge, which is a lightweight 2-person tent. It was comfortable with me and the boys, if a little cozy. I’ll consider taking the 3-person pyramid tent next time.
Once we’d set up camp, we wandered back to the river shore to explore for an hour or so. We built sandcastles and hunted for shells. It’s serene and beautiful in the evenings. Again, the boys were digging in the mud whilst Dad was admiring the view.
Back at the tent we had dinner. I brought the MSR Pocket Rocket stove to heat up a camp meal for myself. The boys had sandwiches, fruit and muffins.
That night I had my work cut out! They were excitable and wanted story after story. All good fun and they fell asleep around 9.30 pm. I was nodding off by then too.
But sleep didn’t come easily because it was so hot in the tent. I ended up keeping both fly doors open and cracking the inner doors too. Thankfully there were no bugs so that wasn’t an issue. I eventually fell asleep properly sometime after midnight. I was woken up a couple more times but overall it was a relatively good night.
Day 2: Harpers Ferry Campground to Home, 2.5 miles, 8/23/21
It was a beautiful morning when we woke up, with the sun rising over the river and pouring through the trees. We were all awake by 6.30 am when the tent got light.
Our first job was to retrieve our food bag that we hung last night. We didn’t hang it to protect from bears (low risk here) but I wanted to protect from rodents in the night. It was also a fun experiment to do with the boys. It worked a treat.
Then it was onto breakfast. I had this hot granola, which was surprisingly good, and a cup of tea.
Another family with young boys was camped a few sites down from us (the rest of the sites were empty at this end of the campground), so we stopped and played with them for a while before setting off on the trek home. We stopped for a paddle in the river too.
We went a slightly different way home and met Lexi along the Armory Trail.
We took the trail that cuts up to East Ridge St, and then home from there. It was another super hot day so I was relieved it was only a short day!
Overall, this was a fantastic mini adventure. It wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t too hard. I’m looking forward to more trips with the boys in the future!
Good job Ben!!!
What a wonderful trip! It looks like the length of time and distance was perfect for the boys’ first overnight camping trip! Your photos are always so enjoyable!
I love the picture of the three of you in the tent. Also, I’m a sucker for pictures of people’s backs, so the pic of the kids’ last look at the campsite is truly my favorite. What a wonderful adventure. Making memories for a lifetime.
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I found this as a click-through suggestion from another post; how awesome. My only regret about backpacking with my son is that we didn’t get started sooner (he had just turned 13 when we took our first overnight trek).
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