Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Scenes from a backpacking/camping vacation with a toddler

Death Valley. July. 118 deg F. By chance we drove through there 2 or 3 days after the Badwater Ultramarathoners passed though - race goes from Badwater -282 feet BELOW sea level (lowest point in North America) to Mount Whitney summit 14,497 feet (highest point in the lower 48 states). 135 miles with total elevation gain of 19,000 feet in (see above) temperatures that can exceed 118 deg F. I felt over exerted just walking 100 m out of the car to take this picture!
At the Cottonwood Lakes trailhead at the start of our first backpacking adventure. La cocotte lasted about 10 minutes in the backpack and thereafter spent about 90% of the time on the trail in my arms.
Streamside at our campsite. La cocotte has apparently no nerve endings in her feet. The water could not have been more than about 4 deg C tunneling as it was through a nearby snow pack.

Nestled under our ultralight tarp (no tent to save weight!) amidst our messy gear.
View from campsite - well worth carrying toddler and gear 5 miles in and 2000 feet up.
Noe in Yosemite National Park - Yosemite falls (?) I think... 
Campsite at Cathedral Lakes right before la cocotte strongly indicated her preference for being NOT there and we packed up and raced the waning daylight 5 miles back to the car (yup, we carried 40 pounds of gear for essentially a day hike)

Car camping at Tuolumne Meadows (~8500 feet which explains the down jacket - it's cold at 8500 feet, even in July)
If you go to Yosemite it is essentially mandatory to photograph Half Dome from Olmstead Point. 

Spent the last night in Las Vegas before catching out flight out - always a nice jolt to the nervous system to go from the beauty of the Sierra Nevada, to the starkness of Death Valley to Las Vegas - the epitomy of everything wrong in the North American culture of excess (um, let's start with the concept of building a city where there is NO WATER!)

Just to end on a slightly more positive and instructive note - don't forget to brush kids!
If you're not sure how, ask your local toddler to help!


  1. great pics - wow, that IS lightweight camping! I always worry about critters poking their head in to say "hello"....totally with you on LV - in fact the only reason I'll ever go there is to get to the Grand Canyon, the thought of all that excess is just too revolting....

  2. I had to laugh at the Half Dome pic; it's like the "holding up the leaning tower of Pisa" photo that everyone has. I like going where I don't know what to expect, to turn a corner and go "oh wow!" I think if I went to the Grand Canyon, I'd just say, "Yup. Just like the pictures. Ho hum." On the other hand, there are places just off the beaten track that I'm sure would surprise me and which I'd love... but I doubt I'd bring a toddler!

  3. What a gift to get to see these pics. La Cocotte is growing into a beautiful girl, Yosemite looks like a place I've gotta see and you look particularly awesome in hiking gear.