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Hiking, backpacking, and camping throughout Southern California and beyond

Mother-Daughter Camping: Unforgettable Moments and Cherished Memories

Mother-Daughter Camping: Unforgettable Moments and Cherished Memories

Written by Hoa Loranger

This past summer, I embarked on my first mother-daughter camping trip. The idea actually came from my friend, Cara. And it was the best idea ever!

Hanging out in the outdoors is not new to me. It’s my family’s way of life. The three of us often take trips together. However, I take for granted that my husband, 100 Peaks, usually plans our nature outings. He’s a natural guide; our protector, if you will. And the thought of camping without him never crossed my mind. In all of our years together, I became complacent.

Well, that all changed this past summer. Cara and I left our men at home for the weekend and embarked on an adventure with just our daughters. These two wonderful friends spent elementary years together and are attending different schools after the summer. What better way to bond than roughing it in the wilderness?

Enjoying the spectacular view of the trees that look like they go on forever.

Enjoying the spectacular view of the trees that look like they go on forever.

This was a special trip, as the girls are entering middle school. The trip allowed us to strip away the day-to-day distractions. There was no pressure to put on makeup or take showers. We were free to just be—and it was wonderful!

It was our first outdoor trip together and we decided to keep it simple. We reserved a campsite in Mount Laguna, California, about an hour away from home. We met at the site in the early afternoon and set up camp and erected the tent. I couldn’t even remember the last time I put up a tent. The hardest step was trying to remember which part went where. But our memories came back; the rest was a breeze. Within a few minutes, we had the tent up and the stakes secured.

The tent is up! ‘Go big or go home’ is our motto. Our shelter is a luxurious 10-person tent, complete with a room divider, so that the girls can stay up all night while us moms can enjoy our beauty sleep.

The tent is up! ‘Go big or go home’ is our motto. Our shelter is a luxurious 10-person tent, complete with a room divider, so that the girls can stay up all night while us moms can enjoy our beauty sleep.

According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, food and water is a basic necessity. Does wine count? I think it does. While the girls kept themselves busy chatting and playing games inside the tent, we rewarded ourselves with a nice glass of wine and enjoyed the fresh air.

Camping is not complete without some vino! It’s time to get a little silly.

Camping is not complete without some vino! It’s time to get a little silly.

Spending quality time reading  The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook . Quite suitable for the occasion, don’t you think?

Spending quality time reading The Worst-Case Scenario Survival Handbook. Quite suitable for the occasion, don’t you think?

After wine, the next exciting part was building a fire. Looking back, I’m not sure it was wise to attempt fire after wine, but we did fine. We built a fire using the logs we purchased at the ranger station. We stacked the bigger logs in a tent formation while the girls roamed the campsite looking for kindling. Together, we nurtured our campfire patiently and before long, our sputtering pile of smoke turned into a beautiful fire. Success. Teamwork makes the dream work!

Tending the glorious fire in preparation for our gourmet cookout.

Tending the glorious fire in preparation for our gourmet cookout.

We didn’t compromise on having delicious food just because we were “roughing it.” Come on, we’re moms. Our dinners consisted of salmon and BBQ chicken. Aluminum foil was our best friend! We wrapped the food in foil and roasted it over the fire. The foil sealed in the flavors and made cleanup a breeze. And of course we had desserts: s’mores and smoky banana foster. Yum! Yum!

Sitting around a campfire is one of the most treasured activities at camp. The dancing flames and crackling wood mesmerized us. Time seemed to slow and allowed our thoughts to float untethered. Life stressors drifted away, allowing us to share stories and introspections that otherwise would have gone unmentioned.

During the day, we went on beautiful hikes and saw many interesting plants and birds. We watched ducks swimming in ponds and woodpeckers busy making holes in trees. Several stink bugs crossed our paths and we tried our best to avoid stepping on them. We even encountered cows. That’s right, cows! They mooed at us as we walked by. I hope it was to say hello.

Beautiful views along the Laguna Lake Loop Trail.

Beautiful views along the Laguna Lake Loop Trail.

Bird-watching in action.

Bird-watching in action.

Do you think the cows notice us?

Do you think the cows notice us?

Tree huggers are our favorite type of people.

Tree huggers are our favorite type of people.

Make a wish and scatter kindness.

Make a wish and scatter kindness.

During downtime, the girls explored the campgrounds on their scooters and created their own imaginary world of heroes and villains. At night, the fire kept us toasty as we stargazed and counted our blessings.

Both Cara and I agreed that our first campout together was such a success. We joked about being too self-sufficient and thereby increasing the prospects of our husbands leaving the hard work to us in the future­—like squeezing a giant tent back into a tiny duffle bag.

We had a great time and were excited to share the nature experience with other friends. Before the summer’s end, we booked a second trip. This time with an addition of three other mother-daughter pairs. We camped in the San Mateo Campground, by San Clemente State Beach.

Once again, we experienced many bonding moments: Making coffee in the bathroom, washing ourselves in a bucket, and setting up fairy lights inside the girls’ tent. It was the perfect end to the summer, and a perfect beginning of middle school full of new adventures and friendships.

I hope this treasured tradition continues.

Round up the troops. Dinner is almost ready!

Round up the troops. Dinner is almost ready!

Enjoying our feast as the marine layer rolls in and the sun sets.

Enjoying our feast as the marine layer rolls in and the sun sets.

We’re the dirty girls. The ones with bare feet, messy hair, brilliant minds, and bold spirits. We’re invincible.

We’re the dirty girls. The ones with bare feet, messy hair, brilliant minds, and bold spirits. We’re invincible.

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook - A charming book with real advice

The Worst Case Scenario Survival Handbook - A charming book with real advice

Backpacking to frozen Long Lake on the Bishop Pass Trail

Backpacking to frozen Long Lake on the Bishop Pass Trail