5 Reasons Why You Should Go Backpacking With Your Parents

"This trip felt like an overdue thank you gift."

By: Rickey Minder
March 16, 2016

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Last fall, my brother and I began to lay out our yearly backpacking trip and plans began to unfold per usual...until we invited our mom...and she said yes. We were headed into the Seven Devils area in West Central Idaho. These granite peaks are credited with being the reason Hells Canyon dons the title of deepest river gorge in North America, with the terrain diving 7,700 vertical feet to the Snake River from the He Devil’s 9,393’ summit.

Now, here’s the thing about the Seven Devils. They have single handedly made all my other backpacking trips anticlimactic, due to the solitude they offer. Now, here’s the thing about my mom. Even if it’s out of pure naiveté, she hates to miss out on a good time. Especially if there’s a devil involved.

My mom's meeting with the devils emanated with resilience. The pride I felt watching my mom climb into the devils, I imagine, is analogous to the pride she felt watching me take my first steps. A sweet handing off of the torch, from mother to daughter.

Backpack Great Gulch: Kane Gulch to Bullet Canyon | Photo: Ian Glass

Here’s why you should head into the backcountry with your parents:

1. Pay it back.

My parents cultivated a childhood for my brother and I filled to the brim with mother nature. I owe my love of the outdoors mostly to them. This trip felt like an overdue thank you gift for the adventurous childhood they gave us. Handing her a glimpse into beautiful country she would never see on her own was far better then any gift I could buy her.

2. You’ll find patience.

My mother preached to us growing up, “patience is a virtue.” It was a phrase I repeated to myself over and over on this trip, whilst slowing my pace to match hers. Patience is indeed a virtue.

Backpack the Granite Canyon to Death Canyon Loop | Photo: Julien Bacal

3. Gain a new perspective.

I saw more start to finish on this trip then I think I have ever seen on any other backpacking trip because I had the time to look up. Every time I throw on my pack time slows down. The tick-tock of the clock doesn’t matter. Time is measured in each step and the movement of the sun across the wide open space. However, my mom’s pace made me realize I have been missing a lot on the way in and out, simply from hitting the trail to hard. Sit back and enjoy the slow pace.

Enjoy the breaks you’ll take every 15 minutes. Do some mid trail yoga. Take some shots (alcohol or photos or both). Moving slow, especially if time allows, offers up an entirely new perspective, soak it in.

4. Explore areas you might not have otherwise.

I get into a habit of always wanting to one up my last adventure. Find somewhere deeper, higher and farther away from the crowds. Planning a trip around having our mom along led us into an area we may have otherwise not chosen. A simple reminder that bigger is not always better.

5. You’ll find your full capacity for weight.

Just after having invited her, my brother swiftly responded to his own inquiry...“but you have to pack your own gear, we aren’t carrying your crap.” As it goes, we did end up carrying most of her gear, most of the time. I even strapped on an extra bulky, heavy sleeping pad to ease her mind. It all seemed like a small weight to bear to wake up in the backcountry with our mother. Bonus, she did share the whiskey and Carolans she brought along, so our morning cup was funkier than usual...in a good way.

Backpack Great Gulch: Kane Gulch to Bullet Canyon | Photo: Ian Glass

Cover photo: Julien Bacal

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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.