The Tot hits the trail

1:58 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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This wasn't a deep back country trip, but there was plenty of adventure to be had. After years of abandoning my family when I headed up to Baxter to backpack I decided to take them up to see for themselves. Mrs Stranger and I used to camp all over out west before we swapped coasts.  She was raised as a camper and we're doing the same for our little one.

The Tot will be 3 in a few months and this was her third Summer of camping.  If you've ever wondered if your kids are old enough to start camping you are wasting time wondering when you could be camping.

No detailed trip report, just fun...

Trout Brook Farm Campground just inside the North Gate. Group sites for 50 total campers, half a dozen car camping spots plus 2 walk in tent sites and a walk in lean to site. While we were there no group sites were in use and only 2 car camping sites were occupied. We had the walk ins to ourselves the first night and all were occupied the second night.

Clearly from that smile you can see The Tot has not read daddy's trip report about the Freezeout trail or maybe she has.


Tent Site 2 is just off the trail. Easy to get to but not exactly private. Luckily we didn't see many people at all on the trail.  The other two walk in sites are much farther off trail.

Daddy explaining the fine art of sitting and looking.

View from the footbridge over Trout Brook. Besides these well reflected clouds we saw geese, ducks, heron, canoe, kayak, swimmers and fly fisherman in these waters.

The Tot helping daddy do some testing for a future gear review.

Day 2 we did some more serious trail hiking. We packed a picnic and set off down the Five Ponds Trail for The Tot's first exposure to a real trail.  She loves to walk in the woods but this was a bit more advanced than our local hikes.

We went at her pace and I carried her over some muddy and running water spots. I'm pretty sure we didn't even go in a mile but she was having a ball finding flowers and mushrooms along the trail. We realized we weren't going to make it as far as any of our planned picnic spots so we turned back early.  The whole idea is to have fun so plans are totally flexible. Here we are celebrating back at the trailhead.

We drove down to South Branch campground to have our lunch and were overwhelmed by the crowds.  We'd seen almost no one but rangers for two days and this place was much more crowded.  We ate, checked out the views of the pond, the peaks around it and Pogy notch on the far end.  Plans were made for possible day hikes or even paddle camping, but definitely not staying at this campground as its 35 or so sites were a bit too popular for our tastes.

Then the rains came! Two big storms came through during the afternoon, each dumping about a quarter of an inch in short time.  We got lucky both times and rode them out in the car but it seems the new Kelty TR3 was up to the task as it was dry as could be after both storms despite not being fully closed up.  The Tot was too busy chasing rainbows to worry about gear testing though

Steamy sunlight in the wet woods

Since we were only a quarter mile down the trail I brought along some luxuries that don't make it on real backpacking trips.  There are some "perks" to taking the family camping it seems!

Before we head for home we really need a gratuitous Katahdin pic.

Ah that's better. Now The Tot can rest easy and dream of next Summer when we find out if daddy can lug a 50lb pack so she can go on a real backpacking trip.

3:49 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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Nice pics.  Looks like fun.   Thanks for sharing.  

9:03 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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I was camping with my parents at age 6 months the summer of 1956 when we were in our old canvas tent in the Catskills of New York. My mother said I rolled out in the middle of the night and was outside the tent near the fire pit.

My mother took me on walks in the woods as I grew up. Little could she have known I may make the wilderness my life as a 57 year old man now. She and my dad have been gone many years, but they were my inspiration to the outdoor life.

I only wish my daughter went hiking with me, I never got the chance to take her outside after the divorce. I don't hear from her much anymore, she will be 20 in November.

9:31 p.m. on August 20, 2013 (EDT)
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That picture with the rainbow? Make that poster-sized. She'll want that when she's older.

While you're at it, maybe get a mug made for yourself. And a t-shirt and a keychain and a hat. :)

12:21 a.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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"If you've ever wondered if your kids are old enough to start camping you are wasting time wondering when you could be camping."

Profoundly true.  We started our annual family camping trips when our youngest was just shy of one year old, and have enjoyed it immensely.  

Looks like a great trip.

11:39 a.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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First time my daughter (who is now 14) slept through the whole night as a young baby was in the tent while camping in the mountains.  She still loves tent camping.  

1:17 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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Mrs Stranger went on her first trip when she was six weeks old and still talks about it heh. The Tot went on her first two trips before she turned one.

I have a great memory of The Tot sitting in a baby chair bolted to a picnic table in a campsite at Moosehead Lake.  I have a tarp strung over the table and I'm crouched down trying to block the stove from the wind so I can finish breakfast.  The wind is whipping the tarp around and a pouring rain is pounding down. It is loud and wet...and there she is giggling and shouting weeeeeee!

3:21 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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LoneStranger said:

The Tot will be 3 in a few months and this was her third Summer of camping.  If you've ever wondered if your kids are old enough to start camping you are wasting time wondering when you could be camping.

 All of my kids were in their first wild cave by age 2. Granted, not a hard cave, but much more than a tourist cave offers.


4:09 p.m. on August 21, 2013 (EDT)
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LoneStranger said:

If you've ever wondered if your kids are old enough to start camping you are wasting time wondering when you could be camping.


Fantastic trip. Well done!

If you wait too long to get your kids outside you risk their not liking it and that opportunity is gone. 

Don't let hiking/climbing/caving/paddling/etc. be just something Daddy does!

12:08 p.m. on August 22, 2013 (EDT)
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Thanks for sharing the trip. I think that the pics speak for themselves. I have two young kids and started them camping at an early age (around two or three years old each). If we can't go camping out in the forests, we settle for sleepouts in the tent in the backyard, rain or not. 

Great job!

8:01 p.m. on September 4, 2013 (EDT)
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I think a collective AWWWWWWWWW... is in order here!  Great photos (as well as the one shared by @Goose!)  It's nice to know that the next generation is in good hands.  By the way.. the comment: "The Fine Art of Sitting and Looking..."  ha!  That's an artform everyone can appreciate! Thanks for sharing!

12:54 p.m. on September 5, 2013 (EDT)
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Go low and slow if you have to but always bring the kids. Always bring the dogs. It is too important not to.

7:28 a.m. on September 11, 2013 (EDT)
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Great trip report! I love seeing the pictures of kids outdoors with their families.

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