Raichel's First Overnight Hike
This had been on my wish list for a few seasons. In fact, I bought my tent before she was born and while trying it out at REI, I told my wife that it would be perfect for me and my daughter. What I had been waiting for was an overnight hike to be on HER wish list.
While talking with my friend Jessi Lorech on social media, we made the plan to do an overnight to Goat Lake! I put the offer out to another good hiking friend of mine, Tracee, who signed up right away. So Tracee's three kids and Jessi's Daughter would be the perfect recipe for Raichel to say YES.
Jessi's husband Jerry was the final piece to our overnight success... trying to offset the parent to kid ratio is a good idea. This was the first overnight for Tracee and her kids and a smart choice to go with experienced backpackers.
When we arrived, it was evident that all of the kids were just as excited. After a kids photo at the trailhead we headed up the main trail, leaving the more scenic Elliot Creek option for the return trip. The main trail follows an old road for the first few miles.
We paused for only one big break along this first half of the trail and I was so proud of Raichel for her stamina. The other kids were just as strong and we paused for a moment where the Elliot Creek Trail rejoins with the main trail. Soon entering the Wilderness Raichel noticed the larger trees as well as the steeper grade.
As the trail pushed up towards the lake we took more and more breaks. Raichel and all of the kids, were doing a great job. Elliot Creek has a large beautiful waterfall just off the trail through the final switchbacks. The steep part of the trail wasn't very long and soon the roar of the waterfall was behind us.
The camping area is a side trail just before viewing the lake. We all set up our tents before letting the kids see the whole lake. It was fun to show Raichel how to clear away the rooks and branches for a spot to put the tent. She helped me layout the tent and then was distracted, playing with the other kids.
We went back to camp and ate dinner, the kids ran around exploring and lounged on our hammock that I lugged up for them. Some of us went around the lake on a trail that seems to continue for longer than one would think. The brush starts to thicken at a viewpoint of a waterfall on the far side. Raichel, still running on her excited stamina, did amazing on this after dinner walk.
Jerry and Jessi brought s'mores to make with their camp stove. We went down to the log jam near the lakes outlet of Elliot Creek. Sitting on the logs we had s'mores and watched the sun go down.
After we fell asleep in our tents and all was quiet, I was awoken by Raichel. It was 2AM and she needed to use the bathroom. I explained to her that she didn't need to walk all the way to the pit toilet, but to just walk away from the tent and squat. When she jumped back in the tent, she sat awake for a bit. She finally asked me, "Poppa, why is it soooo dark?"
I explained that there are no houses with lights on, no businesses with flashing signs and no cars with headlights way out here. This is a special place to be where darkness shows us a division from everyday society. I like this division and she decided right then and there that she likes that too.