Let me set the scene for you: It's a quiet evening. You're sitting by an alpine lake. The sun is just starting  to set behind the mountains that tower above, and the sky is beginning to turn brilliant shades of orange and pink. The only noises to be heard are the soft chirping of birds as they settle in for the night.

IT'S THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHT YOU HAVE EVER SEEN.

Let me set a more realistic scene for you: It’s a quiet evening. You’re sitting by an alpine lake. The glorious silence is pierced sharply by the squeals of children (is that laughter or crying!?). They throw rock after rock into the lake, tumble into the dirt, and get their socks wet, yet again, despite being told at least seven times to keep  them dry. As the sun sets over the mountains that tower above, the task of wrestling rambunctious children to bed in a tiny tent looms.

IT'S STILL THE MOST BEAUTIFUL SIGHT YOU HAVE EVER SEEN.

For the last decade, I’ve been embarking on backpacking adventures with my family, everywhere from the Sawtooth mountains in Idaho to the rugged W Trek in Patagonia, Chile. I have found that time spent doing hard things as a family creates some of our most cherished memories. Getting off grid and out of service helps us form deep, lasting connections with one another and allows us to spend time together without the ever-present distractions of buzzing electronics.

Backcountry | SRF
Backcountry Cooking

We always try to add an element of fun and surprise to our trips. Sometimes this means bringing special toys to play with, a hammock to swing in, twinkle lights to hang in the tent, or a special treat to enjoy once we make it to camp. We’ve always had good luck motivating our kids (and ourselves, for that matter) with the promise of a delicious meal in the backcountry.

For example: burger sliders complete with condiment packets and buns. It makes for a heavy pack on day one but provides a fulfilling meal for our first night on trail and lightens our load for the rest of the trip.

When dinner is done and cleaned up, we can finally coax our kids to bed in the tent, a task often more arduous than the hike. There’s no question about it, backcountry adventures with kids take an incredible amount of effort. Despite all that goes into it, we continue to find ourselves here year after year.

These trips offer a sanctuary for kids and parents alike. A place to always throw rocks in the lake, tumble in the dirt, and to take a much-needed time out from the many demands of regular life. It’s a special kind of magic that I know we’ll keep on pursuing.

WHEN WE CREATE MILES OF DISTANCE BETWEEN US AND THE REST OF THE WORLD, WE FIND OURSELVES CLOSER THAN EVER.

BACKCOUNTRY COOKING TIPS

My husband likes to cook an extra luxurious meal for our first night out. Here’s a dinner he created using SRF American Wagyu ribeye filets, potatoes and fresh asparagus. A successful steak requires a ripping hot pan for a quality sear that seals all the flavors in. He keeps our packs light and food flavorful by using only a few simple ingredients like salt, pepper, and butter.

He lives by the motto:

"Let the Meat Speak For Itself"

backcountry_cooking_steaks

STEPHANIE MCNULTY

Stephanie is a travel writer, photographer, and content creator based in Boise, Idaho. She fell in love with the mountains as a young mom and has been chasing them ever since. Stephanie can be found in the wild places of Idaho, the Pacific Northwest, and beyond, all with four children in tow.

You can follow her adventures on Instagram: @thebackpackingmom

Back Country Cooking Tips
backcountry cooking backpacking mom