We had been planning to meet up with Team H again in Lake Tahoe ever since we said goodbye to them in Moab. Now the time had come for us to make it happen. Team H had secured us a permit for backcountry camping in the forests surrounding Lake Tahoe. We found an RV resort to park our coach 2 days prior to our scheduled backpacking trip. We reunited with Team H in Incline Village on Lake Tahoe and they showed us the sights. We took a long beautiful bike ride to and amazing beach and the kids all played in the sand and swam in the crystal clear but freezing cold waters of Lake Tahoe. We made our final coordination’s for our trip and planned to meet again the next day at the trailhead loaded for 3 days and 2 nights in the backcountry.
Victoria and Alexander had never backpacked other than for long day hikes. So when we loaded up the backpacks with some weight we thought it would slow them down. Nope! They took to it like naturals. When our group of 10 people plus Ranger all met at the trailhead along with a few other backpackers our kids fit right in and were able to negotiate the trails with their additional cumbersome packs like they had been doing this all along. The hike in began with a steep and rocky 3 mile climb before it leveled off as we traversed a beautiful lake basin. After a little over 5 miles we arrived at the most perfect of campsites. We all were happy to drop our packs and set up camp. After the tents were up and things properly stowed away the kids set about exploring this little piece of paradise. I do not have the words to describe this amazing place. We camped on a ½ acre granite slab of rock surrounded by small lake on one side, a smaller pond on another side and a babbling creek on the other. And all of this in a lake basin that was lined with trees and surrounded by mountain peaks. The five kids played in the water, built dams on the creek, climbed the trees and played and played and played. We all took a dip in the water just before making dinner. As night fell, we were greeted by a bright full moon that lit up the own little natural playground. The next day we did a day hike up to two other alpine lakes and to the Pacific Crest Trail. The kids had a great time talking and playing as we hiked and they also enjoyed playing in the lakes. At one of the lake Autumn saw that a pool with hundreds of tadpoles was close to drying out. So she led the other kids on a earthmoving mission that brought freshwater to the tadpoles pool and also gave them an escape into the larger lake. It was quite an undertaking and was very fun watching the kids all work together and congratulate themselves on their noble achievement. The next day as we packed up to leave I felt more than a little sad as I really did not want to say goodbye to such an amazing and breathtaking place. I also knew that at the end of the day we would be saying goodbye to our wonderful friends Team H. After a grueling 4 hour hike down we made it our cars as the crowds of Lake Tahoe tourists arrived. We fought our way through the crowds and agreed to go out to lunch together to celebrate our adventure. We had lunch near a small park that the 5 kids played in after eating. It was super difficult to finally stop their play as we had to get moving. It was particularly difficult this time as we did/do not know when we will see them again. We have met many people and families in our travels and even in our pretravel days, but never have we met a family like Team H that we have to much in common with. Will is an amazing father, motivator, guide, supporter and friend. Will took me on more than a few rides that pushed me farther than I have been push for a long time. And I loved every second of it. Will is a really great friend and I will miss hanging out with him. Karin is an amazing mother, patience, caring, and loving on one hand while also challenging, inspiring and setting a wonderful example her amazing daughters. Ashley loved how Karin always looked for ways to grow and was quick with a compliment or tip while being open minded enough to learn from others. Ashley and I already miss our evening talks and daily activities that we shared with Will and Karin. Autumn is one of the most kind and respectful teenagers on this planet! She looks for good in any and everything. She took every opportunity to include an 8 year old boy in her activities. She was inclusive and a great leader to this small pack of wild children. She is going to be a major impact for goodness in this world when she is older. Brooke will someday rule the world. She has a smile that can brighten the grumpiest old man. She has a spirit that has absolutely no quit, and when she puts her mind to something everyone better look out. She too selflessly included a rambunctious, at times socially inept 8 year old boy in all of their adventures. She brought out the absolute best in Alexander and we will forever be grateful. Addeline is the most amazing 4 year old that walks this earth. This kid rides a bike better than 70% of adults. She can climb mountains (saw her do it), swim lakes (if they let her), trail run with anyone (did it often), and tame wild beasts. Ok so Ranger is not so wild, but if there is anyone else on this earth that Ranger loves other than us it is Addeline. Together these five make a family any family would be grateful to simply meet let alone spend so much time with. They have taken us on fantastic adventures, joined us in ours and inspired us to learn new things. We will be forever thankful to have met them and will work hard in the future to maintain our friendship.