Winter Camping with a Little Star
We love camping, and with our 2-year-old son, Nate the adventure is bigger and better than ever. Bigger because we have to bring a significantly greater amount of ‘stuff’, and better because seeing routine experiences through the eyes of a 2 year old is the best experience of all.
Now it’s winter, and we must be grateful that we live in San Francisco where there isn’t snow and ice to contend with. But, to camp in winter? With a 2 year old? We compromised on using a tent, and decided to try the “West Point Inn” at Mt Tamalpais, more commonly called Mt Tam. The West Point Inn has been around since 1904, and used to be the stopover for passengers who rode the railway from Mill Valley all the way up to the top of Mt Tam. Nowadays you must park at Pan Toll Rangers Station and hike almost 2 miles up to the Inn along the old railway grade. Pan Toll is about a 40-minute drive from San Francisco.
After watching for a decent window of weather, we made a reservation for a reasonably priced ‘rustic cabin’. One of Nate’s favorite songs is ‘twinkle twinkle little star’ so we wanted to show him that outside of the city there are more stars than he could poke a stick at!
The hike up was slow but steady with my husband carrying the 60L pack with our clothes, linen (the Inn provides pillows, blankets and quilts), toiletries and food. Essential was bringing Nate’s Little Star. He adores having a sleeping bag just like mommy and daddy! Being practically-minded as I am, I love the extendable foot-bag feature on the Little Star that allows the sleeping bag to extend almost an extra foot as Nate gets longer and longer.
I carried Nate up to the Inn in the Kid Comfort II. The West Point Inn kitchen is well equipped, and there was a long dining table, comfy sofa, and crackling fire lit by the innkeeper. No TV (to our delight), but a piano and old Victrola hand-cranked 78 phonograph you can wind up to bang out some old tunes available on records at the Inn. Also, there’s no electricity in the cabins so we had to remember to pack head lamps. The cabins offer awesome views, but are truly ‘rustic’.
The next day we had Nate’s choice of breakfast, pancakes, before throwing him into the Kid Comfort II and hiking up to the top of Mt Tam. At 2571ft it sure felt like we were on top of the world as we looked down at San Francisco, surrounding areas and the Pacific Ocean. Then back to the Inn to collect our belongings before switching out the horse from dad to mom (I love this feature of the Kid Comfort II) and the scenic hiking route back to the car.
Camping in the summer will always be my preference. I love wearing less layers and having longer days, but it sure is nice to make the effort for a winter camping adventure. Our 2 year old’s legs would not make the distance independently, so having the Kid Comfort II was the only way to get there and back within daylight hours! The West Point Inn is open to the public and run by a non-profit association.
–Belinda Pohlmann (Family Ambassador).
Find winter adventure with the Kid Comfort II!
- Get details on the Kid Comfort II at Deuter.com
- Have one sent from BackcountryEdge.com
- Order one from Eastern Mountain Sports
- Get one from Moosejaw.com