This past weekend we took our first camping trip of the season. I was so ready to camp, to sit among the trees, to wear a cozy hat and coat and see my boys free.
Of course the night before we left, the house was in disarray, there were tons of dishes in the sink and to think about packing up all that is necessary, even if only for one night…was too much. I did get together all the clothes, diapers and toiletries we would use on the trip but didn’t tackle the food until the morning.
We left the house about 9am and arrived at Buckhorn Campground just past 10:30 am.
This is my favorite campground in the Angeles National Forest. It is $12 a night, the water tastes so good and there are many great private camping sites. The best sites are 30 through 38, just across the bridge. This is a campground that caters to tent campers. There are no hook-ups and the parking spots are small. Just what we are looking for.
We did have to make a stop in Wrightwood, CA at the local grocery store because I forgot the hot dogs we planned for dinner. Of course, I did pack the buns and ketchup and mustard but no hot dogs.
The winding road through the steep terrain lulled C to sleep. He fell asleep about 10 minutes from our campground.
We have never made camp so quickly since having our children, C asleep and not trying to “help” allowed my husband to set up the tent, get the food organized, all the sleeping bags situated and more while L and I walked to the kiosk to pay for our site.
When C woke up he asked “Are we camping?” Yes, little man we are.
Our tent was almost directly under this tree. It was a fabulous place to spend the night. This tree brought me such peace and I didn’t want to leave it behind when we were packing up to go home…I can’t wait to visit this tree again.
Soon after C woke up we all enjoyed a snack. The boys immediately started talking about going down to the creek to throw rocks (this is their favorite pastime at this campground).
The rock throwing turned into an impromptu hour-long adventure almost exclusively child-led.
We threw rocks for a long time and then started walking around the campground, we visited the old outhouse site (L was really interested in seeing this), found walking sticks, kicked pine cones and talked a lot about the beautiful trees.
The boys found a wind downed tree just off the road and started exploring. L was so interested in how the tree fell, why the bark came off so easily and all the ants they uncovered.
Then L’s ears perked up (he has some of the best hearing of anyone I know) when I asked him, “can you hear that?” It was running water and his interest immediately changed.
He found a small stream of water coming from a drainage pipe under the road and started gathering materials to make a dam. He was directing C and they were working together collecting bark pieces, rocks, tree branches. They worked for probably 20 minutes making this dam, they were so proud and asked for no help.
We continued walking to a large rock with a beautiful overlook. Before my husband and C could get there L was freezing from the wind and starting to get antsy. For some reason once my husband did arrive he said, “let’s see what is down there”, pointing down to this long slippery slope. An adventure to say the least.
and we found a beautiful, quiet, waterfall and pool. There were lots of rocks for the boys to throw into the pool and everyone was happy.
Now because this was an off the cuff adventure we had no supplies with us. No extra anything (diapers, clothes, water, sunscreen) which is not how we usually travel. The sun was strong so we didn’t stay here too long.
If my boys knew we didn’t have any food with us they would immediately be starving, we needed to keep moving.
My husband and L saw a small shady stream when we were at the top of the slope, this is why my husband encouraged us down the slippery slope. He didn’t know the waterfall and pool would be there, that was a bonus. So, off to the intended shady stream we went…
My husband always finds a way to make most any situation work. In this case, he carried both boys through some sharp willows and we made it (the adults had a few scrapes) through to the beautiful stream he saw from way up the hill. His idea was a great one.
I don’t have any pictures to share from this part of our adventure because the boys immediately stripped down and went swimming…their first skinny dipping experience, you get the picture.
We found our way back to the campsite and we were all ready for lunch.
I think one of the favorite things about camping for my boys is they get to stand and eat all weekend. The picnic tables are not suited for small kids to eat safely without falling through to the ground if they are not paying attention. So, they are usually standing and eating and very happy.
The afternoon included one project after another…
More Dam Building.
This bear locker turned into a truck, fort and hide-away for most of the afternoon. The boys gathered downed tree branches from all over the campground, they worked really hard and very well together.
It was starting to get cooler and we were all hungry for dinner. Our standard hot dogs, camping chips and orange soda is now a camping tradition. C doesn’t like orange soda, he says it’s “too spicy”.
When we were driving towards the campsite we saw many patches of snow along the road. So, we got in the car after dinner and went searching for some snow for the boys to play in. We found a small patch, did some exploring around a closed ski resort and went back to the campsite for s’mores and a campfire.
Silly faces, warm clothes, nice fire and s’mores anticipation…life is good.
We bundled up the boys and took one more walk around the campground before the sun officially started to set.
My husband and I knew it would be cold that night so we packed extra blankets, hats, sweatshirts and brought them in the tent. If the boys woke up cold in the middle of the night we were ready. We read some books, sang a few favorite songs and as dusk and quickly night was falling on the campground our boys were falling asleep.
Although the night was cool, the tent was warm. In the morning when we left the tent to eat breakfast and take a morning walk we realized how much warmer our tent was than the open air.
We came ready for the 40 degree cold morning, we had down coats, warm hats and pockets but poor little C, he couldn’t get the hang of putting his hands in his pockets and his little fingers were freezing.
My husband and L packed up quickly while I snuggled with C in a blanket.
We decided to have a morning snack on the way home. The boys enjoyed throwing more rocks (this never gets old) and to eat standing up…again.
What a beautiful, fulfilling, adventure-filled, enjoyable 24 + hours. We all needed some time in the woods…I can’t wait to do it again and I think my boys would agree.