Returning to familiar places differently, whether by different access points or as part of a completely different trip is always worthwhile, but revisiting some of those places with Zazie has been tremendously rewarding.
I’ve become pretty sloppy with packing over the last couple years. I often forget things, accidentally leave extra things in my pack, take more food than I need, not enough food, etc. I know I’ll be fine and it’s usually not more than an annoyance, but having someone else completely relying on me who can’t decide that she’s okay with dealing with those consequences has made me refocus some gear choices.
Shelter has perhaps been the biggest change. I very rarely even take a shelter and have never backpacked with a floored shelter. We cowboy camped a few nights before she was very mobile, but anything less than fully enclosed and freestanding would be pretty frustrating. There would be lots of sand eating and center pole fixing.
We went with a Tarptent Cloudburst 3, which has met our needs quite well. Dead easy to set up and lots of room for the small footprint. The only problem has been on this particular trip, which was the first that we have actually used it in any rain. I bought the tent used but it had never actually been used, and I neglected to notice it hadn’t been seam sealed. We had about 5 hours of continuous, often heavy rain our first night of the trip (another scenario where a suitable, liveable shelter is a must with a baby), so some creative leak plugging was necessary.
Setting up a basecamp minimizes hauling the required extra gear for most of the trip and also has the advantage of a low penalty for extra tasty and heavy food and beverage.
We also gave in and picked up an Osprey Poco Plus after not being satisfied with a couple other gifted and/or diy framed carriers. A woven wrap was great when she was smaller and we still use it a lot, but for backpacking its not the most practical anymore. The Osprey is pretty nice; most notably the storage space is quite impressive and well-designed. The hipbelt isn’t great, which is too bad considering 35 lbs in one of these carriers feels a lot different than 35 lbs in a pack thats a nice solid compressed unit right against your back. Overall, though a framed carrier has lots of advantages, like a place to sit and a sunshade for someone who pulls a hat off after about 45 seconds.
Some very cool, very old alcove finds of the non-human variety…
It’s easier than ever to decide it’s too much to head out, but the experience and and memories made are richer than ever.