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I Get Around: Hiking Tumbledown Mountain

by Deb Bastien

Our roaming "I Get Around" card, last spotted in NYC, made its way to the mountains of western Maine last weekend, where we took our girls on their first real backpacking trip. Admittedly, we weren't positive how this would pan out. Our girls, aged 4 and 6, have been hiking before but they've never backpacked in with gear and camped overnight. We did a fair amount of prep work to get them pumped (new kid-sized mummy sleeping bags, for example, and extra-good snacks for the trail), so our hopes were that all systems were go and spirits up as we headed to the trail on Friday morning.

(image: Because it requires some rock scrambling, Loop Trail is the most difficult of the three trails going up Tumbledown Mountain and therefore not recommended for novices ... or children. Oops.)

(image: Pete and Avery lead the way.)

The weather was on our side all day as our little troopers (along with two of their cousins and their aunt and uncle) made their way up steep, rocky terrain. We continued through a cave-like column called "Fat Man's Misery" to ultimately arrive at a serene pond nestled between two mountain peaks where we set up camp.

(image: Our view at the top.)

Out of their hiking boots, the girls giddily changed into their comfy pajamas and soaked their tired feet in the chilly pond. Games and dinner followed, and shortly after watching the last bit of sunshine dip behind the mountains, it was time to settle into our cozy tent. In a phrase, "they got it." The camping thing, I mean. Full disclosure: I did let the girls both play one round of "Think Rolls" on my phone while they snuggled in their new bags before completely conking out.

Thankfully, the overnight rain didn't wake them up. Yes, the once perfect weather took an unfortunate turn. The rain intensified by morning, and we woke to some fairly significant rain squalls. The breaks in between were just long enough for us to drag our packs into the tent (thanks, Uncle Dave) and pack up before heading down a very slippery trail. 

(image: Abigail and Avery get ready to brave the elements.)

While the rain was less than ideal, it added a little more depth to the overall adventure! Not to mention the rain meant we got be with the rest of the family at the cottage earlier than planned. And luckily, there's a perfectly good McCafe in Rumford, Maine on the drive home to satisfy the morning craving. (As far as I know, there's no Starbucks in Rumford, but I didn't check).

Two more things: Thank you, Pete, for remembering to snap a photo of the "I Get Around" card! And, did I mention that besides the loons that come to the lake every summer, we also saw a moose and an American bald eagle this weekend?! Awesome!

(image: A happy camper despite the rain.)

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