What did you get for Christmas?

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One thing about being a grandparent, you never know what you are going to find in your Christmas stocking. Jenna, my favorite granddaughter, wrote me a letter last Christmas. It was in invitation to go backpacking with her (and her family) at Point Reyes National Seashore. It came with a map of the area, where to meet and a date, March 17, 2018.

There was a time when a bunch of us would go backpacking twice a year, Memorial Day and Labor Day. This went on for years, but as life got in the way, the trips became harder to schedule where everyone could get time off for a long weekend. We all joked that as we got older, and retired, it would be easier to plan a trip. Hasn’t worked out that way, yet. For the last few trips we are down to meeting at someone’s cabin and taking day hikes, or backpacking in four or five miles. Not the ten or twelve that we used to plan.

I still think I’m in pretty good shape, but I was still a little leery of being out walked by an 11-year-old. I told my favorite daughter that she needed to leave room in her pack for some of my stuff. She just laughed and reminded me that we were only hiking 1.5 miles on the coast.

I don’t want to admit it, but I’ve gained 15 pounds since my so called retirement from the Express. I think eating a sleeve of thin mints every day didn’t help my waistline. Luckily, I just finished the last box and should be on the road to recovery, soon.

The advantage of backpacking on the coast is that there isn’t a lot of elevation. Walking uphill at 1,000 feet above sea level is a lot easier than at 8,500 feet. I started to think that this trip would be a piece of cake, and as the weekend approached, grabbed my backpack and all the stuff that goes in it. Most of which is always in the pack, like a stove, fuel, first aide kit, coffee pot, tent, ponchos, rope, water bottle, foam chair, air mattress, etc.

After I have added my sleeping bag, some food and refreshment, I realized that it didn’t matter if I was going 1 mile or 10, one night or for a week, the weight of the pack was about the same. I was debating on whether to off load some of my stuff to Laura’s pack, but figured she would have a full load carrying Brett’s and Jenna’s stuff.

I met them at the visitor’s center and handed them a couple of extra packs that I had borrowed from a neighbor. To my surprise Jenna and Brett had their own backpacks, and they looked to be pretty full. It turned out that Rance and Laura’s packs were the lightest of the group.

It was raining when it was time to start, but the weather report said the rain would stop around 1 p.m. We waited in a great deli in Inverness and when the rain lightened up we headed to the trailhead. Almost all trails go uphill and the trail to Sky Campground was no exception. It wasn’t as much a trail at it was a service road to the campground.

I was hoping that the kids would need to take a break on the uphill portion of the trail, but they were off and running, literally. They did question why we were stopping from time to time, and Laura was nice about explaining to them that grandpa needed to catch his breath. After the fourth stop, they stopped asking why we were stopping again.

This was camping at its best. There was potable water within a hundred yards of the campsite and an outhouse. The campsite was in the trees with a view of the ocean, a picnic table, barbecue stand, a bear box for food and flat spots for tents. It was a little wet, but all and all the weather decided to cooperate, and a good time was had by all.

As we were walking out, no stopping on the downhill return trip, I heard the name McDonald’s more than once. We were in separate cars, so I’m not sure if their first stop was for a Big Mac, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I was glad to get home to a hot shower and my easy chair.

Not sure what to expect next year, but whatever it is, it will be better than a lump of coal.

Have a good week.

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