Rubicon Reservoir – Overnight backpacking with the family

Five of us headed out to Loon Lake to take our first backpacking trip as an entire family (well, most of the family). Two new frame packs for the younger boys, one borrowed one for Jade, and D and my gear, and we headed out to Rubicon Reservoir.

Our original reservation was for a trip from Emerald Bay west into the Desolation Wilderness, but weather restrictions advised that only very advanced hikers take the trip, so I found a new destination to Rubicon. Our first stop at the parking lot was met with tons of Jeepers ready to take the Rubicon Trail, north of the lakes, but our path followed the south side of Loon Lake, Spider Lake, Buck Island, and Rockbound Lake, 9.5 miles to our reserved camping spot. For three members of our family, this was their first overnight hike. Damon was not excited, Jade was cautiously optimistic, Tripp was ecstatic, and D had been hoping to traverse the PCT or TRT for years. For me, I was looking forward to doing a great family-bonding item.

As would be expected with a whole family, there were tribulations across the 4+ hours of hiking. From the backpack tipping over our smallest member, to a plethora of bugs at the final resting spot, and disappointment in eating just “snacks” for two days, the overall experience was one that wasn’t too great “in the moment,” but as a parent of five kids, I know often that looking back at experiences like these have more fondness than the feelings “in the moment,” so I was hopeful that it would create lasting memories for the kids.

Tripp learned some important items during this hike, hopefully that will last. The first is, you may not know when you’re out of energy, but some food and some calories can reinvigorate you to keep going. Jade learned to persevere in a way different than the other trials she’s been through. Damon, while maybe the least enthusiastic about the hike overall, did come out with a desire to do it again, though maybe in a smaller chunk.

The views were pretty marvelous at times, and the areas we got to were peaceful, for the most part. It was quite interesting, seeing and hearing the Jeeps across the lake, navigating very technical four-wheel courses. But for us, it was lakes, trees, rocks, and trails. Stream crossings, small waterfalls, rock hopping, and tent setup were the key moments of the days. Four hours isn’t a super long time to hike, but for those that don’t do it regularly, especially with a heavy pack on your back, it can be quite the difficult adventure.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! But having done it once as a family, I’m not sure I can convince anyone else to go do it again. Hopefully we will, though.

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