Backpacking with Toddler 101

Success! We did our first family backpacking trip and had such a blast we are already planning our next one. The Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail has a ton of access points that are about an hour and a half east of Pittsburgh. Camping areas have split wood, fire rings and latrines, and are approximately 6-8 miles apart. We opted for a very short trip, and stayed at the shelter that is less than a mile north of Route 30. We lucked out with weather, it was sunny and dry and got up close to 60 during the day. However, it did dip below freezing at night. We brought plenty of clothes for Laurel - maybe too many, but if she had gotten wet, we would have needed a change of clothes. She wore leggings and fleece pants, with rain pants over top of them when the sun went down. She had a couple of layers on top and we tried to get her to keep her hat on. No luck with mittens. She seemed to be happiest with a snack in her hand, and she ate a ridiculous amount of peanut butter.

Because it was so chilly at night, we need to rethink our sleeping bag situation. Laurel rolls around way too much to keep the air pockets down. We are either going to try her in her own child sized mummy bag, or maybe add a down quilt to our sleeping bags.

I think we did a great job of pacing our hikes; we gave ourselves only a couple of miles we had to cover in a day, and the rest of the time we were just exploring. Laurel loved Beam Rocks and the outlook point that is just north of Ohiopyle. She did not enjoy walking on the rocky portions of the trail, but it occurred to us that her feet probably hurt a lot from it because she was just wearing a pair of cheap kid sneakers. If we're going to hike more, I think I'll buy her a better pair of shoes. M ended up carrying her for a lot of the hiking (she likes to ride on his shoulders).

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