Fort Thomas Independent Schools are on spring break this week, which for many means a staycation, a trip to the Great Smoky Mountains or, perhaps, a week at the beach. But last year, spring break for the Hahn family meant a memorable family adventure—backpacking the Grand Canyon.
March 30, 2014 Fort Thomas residents Stephen, senior director of IT strategy and Sushannah, a Montessori teacher at Country Hills Montessori, Fort Thomas, flew out West with their then 9-year-old triplets, Sam, Maggie and Olivia.
Here Sushannah Hahn shares just a bit of their spring break adventure—and why living a week with less amounted to so much more.
What preparations did you make for backpacking in the Grand Canyon both in terms of physical and material preparedness? Stephen and I both began working out on a much more regular basis that winter. We went on a practice backpacking trip with the kids to Red River Gorge that March. We had planned to do that in the fall, but the government shutdown cancelled that. As for gear, we had to buy an entire set of gear for the kids (backpack, sleeping bags, boots, clothes, jackets, etc). Stephen and I also upgraded some of our gear that was 20-plus years old. It was so awesome that the REI store opened in Rookwood! They were so helpful when we needed boots and backpacks for the kids. I got a new backpack because women's gear has come a long way since I bought mine 15 years ago!
Trail(s)/route you hiked: We hiked the South Kaibab (7.4 miles, 4,860 feet elevation change) trail to the bottom (Phantom Ranch) and the Bright Angel Trail (10 miles over 2 days, 4,460 elevation change)back out.
Number of nights you camped out: Three nights—two at the bottom at Bright Angel campground, and one at Indian Gardens campground.
Number of miles hiked per day: Day one: 7.4 miles; day two was a layover; day three: 8 miles, 1,500 feet up; day four: 5 miles, 3,200 feet up.
Typical breakfast/lunch/dinner: Breakfast was pancakes, steak and eggs or oatmeal; we had a prepared breakfast at the Phantom Ranch Lodge on day three. Lunches were a combination of bagels, nutella, peanut butter, summer sausage, fruit, protein bars and cheese. Dinners were beans and rice, noodles and vegetables. We also had a most excellent steak dinner in the Phantom Ranch Canteen one night.
Best moment of the trip:
Eating dessert on Plateau Point at sunset. —Sam
Playing in Bright Angel Creek and the Colorado River. —MaggieCooking breakfast at the campsite at the bottom of the canyon. —OliviaWatching the kids enjoy themselves on the trip, no one cried! —StephenThe camaraderie of the various hikers, campers and rafters in the campgrounds and at Phantom Ranch Canteen. —Sushannah
Worst moment of the trip: Switchbacks and 40 mph gusts of wind!
Best advice you have for backpacking with children: It's not about the distance, it's about being out in the wilderness with your kids.
Why do you think it's important for children to experience the outdoors starting at a young age? When you strip everything away, the technology, activities and to-do lists, it is the best family time we have!
What's your family's next big adventure? A driving tour of New England in which we will stay in three lighthouses, visit Niagara Falls, and cover nine states this summer.
"It is one of the blessings of wilderness life that it shows us how few things we need in order to be perfectly happy." —Horace Kephart, Camping and Woodcraft, 1917