What can I say about Point Reyes National Seashore? Better yet, what can't I say about Point Reyes?! This was the perfect place to have our first family backpacking trip. Beautiful landscapes, campgrounds, weather and fairly easy trails. It was truly a wonderful place to visit with my toddlers.
Somewhere on Bear Valley Trail
We decided to head out before the normal Friday-Sunday weekenders so we planned our trip to be Mother's Day Weekend Thursday-Saturday. I had been preparing for weeks by organizing meals, calculation of diapers, gear and equipment needed, clothes and anything that would be essential to backpacking with toddlers. Before I start off with our adventure story I'd like to list some general information:
Hikers: Two Adults and two toddlers
Backpack Weight: My Husband - Jesse 56 lbs, Myself 49 lbs (Total 105 lbs)
Location: Glen Camp, Point Reyes
Day 1 Listed Mileage: 4.6 Miles (Bear Valley trailhead to Glen Camp)
Thursday, May 9, 2013
We started the morning by packing our backpacks to the rim, loaded the kids in the car and headed off good ol' IHOP! We arrived to the Bear Valley Visitor Center at 2 p.m. and checked in to get our permit. The visitor center entertained my children quite a bit with their life size animal replicas such as orca whales, elephant seals, sharks and a very interactive animal center.
Bear Valley Visitor Center
We parked our car at the very end of the parking lot and made our final preparations to our backpacks before we headed out on the trail. As I mentioned in many previous posts that transitioning from the car to actually hiking is always chaotic, a crying toddler, someone having to go pee pee, forgetting something in the vehicle, realizing that we left something at home. In this case, we realized we had forgotten my newly purchased hiking poles for this very trip! We laughed it off, we were bound to forget something.
We started at the Bear Valley Trail which began at the end of the parking lot. The majority of the hike to Glen Camp was on Bear Valley Trail which was primarily a fire road, 3.1 miles to be exact. There were a multitude of horse riders on this portion of trail which led to both excitement and fear from my children and the fact that we had to dodge horse poop piles. There were lots of runners as well, which my daughter liked to greet with a cute "Hi!" or "Looking mommy! Running!"
We stopped at every bridge so the kids could throw little pebbles. We saw a multitude of "centipedes" crossing the trails but after a little bit of research the centipedes which actually almond-scented millipedes. Not as abundant as the millipedes, there were also many banana slugs out on the trail. Here is one "destroying" a centipede or at least it looks like the banana slug is eating the millipede. Nature is so fierce...
It was 1.6 miles to Divide Meadow, and it was a very slight uphill to the Meadow. My daughter was very energetic so she was hiking but my son hadn't nap on the car ride over, so it was time for him to ride on "daddy's shoulders".
Jesse and David made it to Divide Meadow before we did, but I could see from afar that my little boy was dead asleep on my husband shoulders. Divide Meadow is a very beautiful meadow, very open with large trees in the background along with the coming and going fog. There are tree benches, bathrooms, garbage cans and water source at this location.
We decided to have a little break here and rearrange our son or else Jesse's neck would be killing him later on. My son weighs at least 35 lbs so Jesse put David in the ERGO carrier on his front-side and his 56 lbs backpack on his back, total weight of 91 lbs!! My husband is a strong guy.
Sleeping on the trail....
Sophia took a little tumble at Divide Meadow, she's a much better hiker/walker than she was two months ago but the trail was slightly down hill and she was imitating the runners by running. She caught some speed tripped on a rock and scraped her palm of her hand. After a band-aidhugs and maybe some chocolate the crying had disappeared into my happy hiking mountain baby again.
The landscape all along Bear Valley Trail was very dense, lots of shade except for Divide Meadow. It was another 1.5 miles to Glen Trail from Divide Meadow which was fairly flat. Many parts of the trail reminded me on hiking in the high jungles of the Andes Mountains in Peru, cold, mossy with lots of vines and ferns everywhere.
The Letter "R" Tree
At some point on Bear Valley Trail, Sophia got tired and had to ride on my shoulders but only for a short while because I was struggling to carry her along with my pack. I just put her down and walked along at her pace. The hike to Glen Camp was only five miles but we calculated with all our weight and our kids we would hike 1 mph, so five hours to get to Glen Camp. It seems unimaginable to hike five miles in five hours but that is how slowly things go with toddlers.
David woke up just a little bit before we reached the beginning of Glen Trail which was only 0.6 miles to Glen Camp Loop Trail but Glen Trail was "steep" uphill. Anything that wasn't flat felt steep with my 49 lbs backpack and my 25 lb toddler, minimum of 74 lbs on me which is more than 50% of my body weight. Let's say I was very sweaty! I gave up and had to put Sophia down again but sunset was coming so Jesse picked Sophia for a little while. Glen Trail was not a fire road but was still wide on portions of the trail and after the good "steep" portion the trail became a very slight uphill trail, so low grade my daughter was able to hike up the hill.
It was around 6:30 p.m. when we finally made it to Glen Loop Camp Trail and we only had 0.9 miles to go but it still seemed like it took a very long time. Glen Loop Camp Trail was very beautiful, it was a single track trail with lush greenery all around. We were reaching our children's limit by this point and we ran out of our daily ration of chocolate so we had nothing to bribed them to keep hiking other than dried cranberries! When my daughter gets cranky she only wants to be held by me, so I left her behind with my husband and hiked as fast as I could to get to camp. There were easy uphills and downhills but every uphill was very tiring by this point. We eventually made it to camp with some daylight left.
Troops arriving at Glen Camp!
As you can see Glen Camp has pit toilet, a water source and solar panels which my husband assumed it was used to power the water filtration system. The Point Reyes NPS website did state to bring our own water filtration in case the water was not drinkable, but thankfully the water was good to go! We reserved Campsite No. 8 which was just up a slight hill (sigh) to the right. We quickly set up camp, started making coffee and dinner. I was going to include our meals into this post but I think I'm going to make a backpacking food post since I put in so much preparation to calculate the right amounts.
View of Campsite No. 8
Campsite No. 8 was probably the smallest campsite and most enclosed of all the campsites. We barely fit our two two-person tents in our sites. We were surrounded by bushes and trees which was ideal keep our kids noise in and other campers noises out. There was only one other campsite being used and the rest of the camp was empty.
View of Glen Camp from Campsite No.8
Dinner was eaten, dishes washed, everyone cleaned up, changed clothes and we all headed to bed around 9:30 p.m. Sleeping is always a shot in the dark with our kids but thankfully our kids slept better than they "normally" do our first night. This was my first time using my REI Lite-Core 1.5 Sleeping Pad, which was very comfortable. Unfortunately I kept on have weird/nightmare-ish dreams the first half of the night so I kept on waking up, but thankfully I eventually fell asleep and got a good stretch of peaceful sleep.
Mileage Listed 4.6 Miles, but we actually hiked 5.2 miles.
Starting Elevation 100 ft, End Elevation 550 ft
Bear Valley Trail - Glen Trail - Glen Camp Loop Trail
Day 2 will be coming soon but until then I leave you with two of my favorite pictures!
Somewhere on Glen Trail
Hiking toddler at Glen Camp
- Family Backpacking Gear List
- The Ever Changing Point Reyes National Seashore
- The Longest Five Miles at Point Reyes
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