It probably says something about me that I didn’t really think much of throwing my 5-month-old in a tent for a weekend. Road-tripping friends had suggested we all meet up in the Black Hills of South Dakota (near Mt. Rushmore) and mid-June seemed the perfect time to get my infant out for a weekend. After all, Owen loves the outdoors (taking him to a window or outside is the quickest way to calm him). There was some last-minute creativity involved, but a little planning made for a successful trip overall.
I am nothing if not a planner, sometimes to my own detriment. If I was planning on having my right leg removed and it was suddenly changed to a toenail, I would initially balk at the new plan just because I hadn’t planned for it. But this time (and other times, thank you), it paid off. Thus, my first recommendation for camping with an infant is “bring it”. I brought the pack-and-play (it’s a really big tent). It kept Owen off the tent floor (which is cold!) and provided a safe place for a rolling baby to sleep. I brought the saline spray, snot sucker and a few teething devices. I brought a variety of warm clothing in a variety of sizes. The last thing I wanted to do was pull on his cute warm jeans to realize that he had outgrown them in the last two weeks (a common occurrence in infants). I didn’t bring the toy gym or other large “keep baby entertained”, because camping is, at its core, about spending time with family and nature. Instead, we held Owen next to tree branches and let him touch new textures. However, one thing I didn’t plan for was keeping little hands warm.
We camped at Horsethief Lake Campground (the forest service campground, NOT the similarly named Horse Thief Campground RV resort). At an elevation of 5,000 feet, the nights were naturally on the cool side. So cool that my little guy had ice cube hands when he woke up way too early for his middle-of-the-night feeding. I somehow wrangled him into my mummy sleeping bag and we managed to stay cozy until morning, but I had to devise plan for the next night.
Because the following night was cooler (in the mid 40’s), I went for layers. With babies, this equates to different sizes. He wore a snug onesie, followed by footed cotton 6 month jammies. This was tucked inside cozy fleece 9 month jammies, followed by a lined cotton sleep sack. He wore an adorable Patagonia fleece hat. However, his little hands were still bare. I solved this dilema by borrowing tube socks from the 5-year-old in our group. Thus, with purple mitten sock hands, my baby slept blissfully on his normal feeding schedule.
As for the campground, I can’t say it was THE campground to hit. The “lake” was more of a stagnent pond. However, there was a nice boardwalk along the lake ideal for small children to hike around and explore (less ideal for adults that want an actual hike). Nearby Hill City has some decent restaurants and wineries and the 110 mile Mickelson trail (part of the Rails to Trails program) is fantastic for bike enthusiasts of all ages and ability levels. And then there is that giant cliff with four carved faces. That was two miles away.
One last tip – use clean socks for the mitten trick. Teething babies do chew…
2-ingredient-recipe-of-the-day: Flourless Nutella Cake