We just returned last night from our first real camping trip with Anneliese at Chevelon Canyon Lake (she’s been to Lake Powell before but I don’t consider that true camping as we had a houseboat on the lake). Chevelon Canyon Lake is just past Woods Canyon Lake on the Mogollon Rim for those familiar with the area, but it takes about an hour and an off road vehicle to get to Chevelon from Woods Canyon Lake (the “roads” are VERY rough).
There isn’t direct access to the lake, meaning we had to hike about 3/4 mile from the staging area to our campsite. Here we are heading down with all our gear, and Anneliese on my back.The hike down wasn’t really too bad, and it only took about 15 min to get to the lake, but it was pretty steep. We managed to get everything down in one trip, not including the canoe that Chris and our friend John hiked back up to bring down.
We set up camp right along the edge of the lake, and with the exception of one other campsite with two people, we had the whole lake to ourselves (the number of people who can access the lake, and then crazy enough to hike down all their gear is slim, apparently). There were 6 kids (all under the age of 6) and 6 adults in our camp. They had tons of fun playing ourside, especially gravitating towards a pile that was obviously an old fire pit. They were all filthy within 10 minutes of being at the site, so we just let do whatever the wanted and them totally cover themselves in dirt.
Being that we had to hike down everything we would need for camping, we packed as minimally as we could (with children). We knew it would be chilly at night (the forecast called for the low 40s), so I put Anneliese in fleece footie pajamas, a fleece sleepsack, a cotton sleep sack on top of that, and a beanie for her head. I also put a down blanket between the crib mattress and the tent bottom (we brought this Phil & Teds Traveller- it’s lightweight & folds small) and thought we’d be good to go. We put her to bed the usual time and she went right to sleep (as was expected seeing all the playing she did and lack of nap that day), but no longer than 2 minutes after we crawled into bed a few hours later, she was awake. Her arms and hands were freezing. Remember we also had 3 other tents of kids/adults near us, so I pulled her into my sleeping bag (a mummy bag barely big enough for one adult) in hopes to minimize the crying and get her back to sleep. Well, she did fall back asleep, but on the only way we both fit in the bag was with her laying on top of half my body. Chris tried to get her to sleep in his sleeping bag but she wasn’t having it. I knew there was no way I would get any sleep that way, so we put my fleece jacket on her, on top of all the sleepsacks, and put her back in her bed, and she quickly went back to sleep. For 15 minutes. She woke up again saying “I want to take it off!” over and over, so I again pulled her back into my sleeping bag, where we ended up staying the whole night. She slept pretty well after that, I on the other hand got maybe 1 hour of shut eye (Christoph snoring next to me didn’t help the cause, either). Ugh. I decided somewhere around 2am that I definitely was not staying another night (we’d planned on camping for two nights). I’m sure it would have been fine if we had a sleeping bag or something else to keep her (more) warm, but we didn’t and I wasn’t going to bank on it being any warmer the next night, and I am not used to this no sleep thing anymore! I checked the weather when we got home, and it was 32 DEGREES that night!!
We did manage to get in a trip on the canoe out on the lake the next day before a storm started to roll in. The boys tried fishing but didn’t catch anything; apparently it’s a pretty tough fishing spot.
We decided to head back out after lunch. Hiking the 3/4 mile back up to the car was pretty rough. I was pretty sure my heart was going to explode. Chris again had to hike the canoe back up the trail, so we decided to make two trips with our gear back up since he was going to have to make two trips anyways. We carried all our gear up the first trip, then we hiked back and I carried Anneliese up while Chris and John brought the boat up. All in all it was a fun trip, but I now know that backpacking (at least with a child) is not for me. I am already planning my beach vacation.