17 Kids for a Hike!

All of us other than Mrs. Otis, taking the photo!
Yup, we took 17 kids on a 3 mile hike. 1.5 miles each way. It was hot, long and ...we did it!

This weekend we went up to our friends the Corniea's cabin near Backus MN.

Mickey holding Lucy with Mark on the tree swing at the cabin

The trickiest part are the bookends of getting away. The packing, cleaning and subsequent unpacking: whew, it is a workout. But the time hanging out as two families just having fun are truly some of our kids best summer memories. The kids pair up beautifully they have 6 boys and 3 girls, we have 5 boys and 3 girls.
Can you tell Otis vs Corniea? Some are tricky from  the back!

I attempted to have the kids pack for themselves (Gretchen does this with her brood but admitted it does work better to pack for the youngest 5 ). Mickey packed 2 pairs of sweatpants. Yup, that is it,  no boxers, no shirt, no swimsuit, no toothbrush and mind you it is 90 degrees out this weekend. Thankfully I had packed swimsuits for everyone or he would have been swimming in cut off sweats all weekend.

And actually he probably would have been fine. That is one thing I have learned by being a mom of a big gang. No time to sweat the small stuff. You can hike in flip flops, share one water bottle (just keep refilling in), sleep on the floor and make a "sleepover square" with four kids in one spot, make a meal out of odd leftovers, make car games with your imagination with no room for anything other than family members and guarantee good behavior with the promise of making extra pancakes for bait.

On Saturday we drove north to Itasca State park to see where the Mississippi River originates. What an amazing place! As Sheff said it should be on everyone's bucket list. First, the bigs walked the river while Gretchen and I stayed on the path with the 3 youngest. The dads waded the river  and met us at the start of the Mississippi where it flows from Lake Itasca. We swam and managed to herd our families in for family photos near the sign. Then we took a hike to the watch tower you are allowed to climb!

The hike was a bit of a comedy but we did it. Two kids forgot shoes (amazingly not Matthew! It was Mark and Bridgey) So we purchased $4 flip flops in the gift shop and headed out. We battled the bugs, the heat and the dirt and earned our Pizza and Summer Shandies.

How lucky we are to feel totally normal with our big broods together. King of the mountain on the raft, fishing, holding baby brothers and sisters, cleaning, cooking, praying and counting heads are all just part of our time together. We captured some great moments!

Hope everyone is busy making wonderful summer memories!


  1. Great Weekend! I am now wishing I would of packed like Mickey. Too much laundry.


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