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TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

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TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby jmac » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:12 pm

We finally did it! After a couple years of planning, buying gear, creating gear list spreadsheets, location scouting, menus, and training hikes, we finally took our children on their first backpacking trip! This probably seems like a simple task for some, but I had never backpacked as a child nor have I known anyone who has taken their children. I wanted more than anything for this to be a positive experience for my children. We had a lot of research to do.

I had wanted to do this for a while, but we just didn't have the gear to do it. We have been car camping and hiking for years, but weren’t quite prepared to backpack yet. We finally pulled in enough gear for this summer and after a lot of planning we pulled it off. I think the toughest part about the entire experience was the prep and the waiting. Actually being out there was the easy part. Looking back at all the planning it all seemed a bit trivial, though I wouldn't have approached it any other way because I felt we were more than adequately prepared. My main goals were to be safe, comfortable, and prepared for any situation and I think we accomplished that. I spent so much time on gear and weight that in the end we were able to take extra snacks, games, fishing equipment and even a hammock. My pack was the heaviest, weighing in at 35lbs. My wife carried 27lbs, my son carried 11lbs, and my daughter carried 10lbs. I think it’s safe to say that all the excessive planning paid off.

For a few years leading up to this trip we did many hikes near our home in Southern California(mostly San Gorgonio) and in the Eastern Sierras, usually above 10k feet. We did a number of hikes in LLV because I kind of knew this would be their first backpacking location and I wanted it to feel like “home” to them. I love the area and it’s a great place to just car camp, but I think in the back of my mind I was planning for this trip the entire time. The kids absolutely love the area, but there was something missing. They had not really experienced the raw beauty and magic of the sierras yet.

On the first day we hiked to Box Lake and later decided to make that our base camp for the trip. The hike in, including campsite scouting, was around 2 miles. I wanted to make sure it was quick and painless for them so they could enjoy just being there. They have already hiked to Gem and Ruby Lakes in the area, so there was really no need to go in far to set up camp. Box Lake was amazing! We had never stopped here before on our hikes to Gem and Chickenfoot so, I really didn’t know what to expect. We camped closer to the outlet of the lake and we didn’t see another person over there for our entire trip. I was very surprised to have so much solitude, especially after seeing how many people were on the trail. I didn’t expect that at all. I thought we would be fighting for a site. We were going to move camp up trail on the second day, but we enjoyed it so much we decided to stay. We had a great time and I can honestly say that there is very little I would have changed or done differently. Only thing I can say is maybe next time we will work out a better menu. I’ll leave that to my wife. I do think, however, my kids would be just fine eating Mountain House Chili Mac the entire time. We stayed 2 nights and left mid-day on our third day just before a storm rolled in. We were going to stay and fish all day, but it started to look pretty nasty. As much as I wanted to stay and play in the rain I figured it was better to end the trip on a high and dry note.

It was an amazing experience and I am already looking forward to our next family backpacking trip. Maybe next time we will get some more miles out of them in a new location. The best part about the entire trip was when we were packing up camp on the last day and my kids said to me, “we don’t want to go car camping anymore. Can we just go backpacking for now on? It’s way more fun!” I think it’s safe to say it was a success in their eyes as well!

If anyone has any questions about taking their kids out please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m no expert, but I learned a lot on this trip and I’d love to share my experiences with those of you who are eager to get your kids out backpacking.

Thank you and enjoy the photos!

A big thank you to the group who snapped this picture of us on the way out.
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Welcome to the John Muir Wilderness!
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They had no problem with their packs. Only minor complaints here and there. Nothing that a strap adjustment couldn't fix.
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Mountain House Chili Mac was a big hit!
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This was our camp at Box Lake. This was such a great spot. Notice our hammock in the background, which I am so glad my wife talked me into taking.
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Aria learning how to filter water.
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Fishing on the far side of the lake from our camp. Not too many bites on this side at this time of the day.
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My son, Ashton, and his first High Sierra trout!The fishing was great here. We caught 10 fish all together.
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My wife, Anna, and her fist fish ever! My daughter, Aria, caught her fist fish ever as well, but her picture is still on my GoPro. I'll be sure to add it later.
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Last edited by jmac on Tue Aug 05, 2014 3:18 pm, edited 2 times in total.



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Re: TR - My Kid's First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby maverick » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:50 pm

Hi Jmac,

Wonderful family intro trip, picture say it all! Thank you so much for sharing you
adventure, and your families experiences from this trip. Hope to be reading
many more TR's in the future now that they are hooked on the Sierra. :)
HST= Wilderness Adventurer who knows no bounds, except for their own imagination.

Have a safer backcountry experience by using the HST ReConn Form 2.0, named after Larry Conn, a HST member: http://reconn.org
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Re: TR - My Kid's First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby TehipiteTom » Tue Aug 05, 2014 1:51 pm

Yay! Sounds like a great experience for them, and for you. Thanks for posting this report.
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Re: TR - My Kid's First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby giantbrookie » Tue Aug 05, 2014 2:34 pm

Very nicely done! The smiles on your kids' faces say it all. And the entire family catches fish, too. Hard to beat. Mountain House Chili Mac--now that is an enduring backcountry classic (>30 yrs? I think). Little Lakes Valley never gets old: it is wonderful for beginners and veteran hikers alike.
Since my fishing (etc.) website is still down, you can be distracted by geology stuff at: http://www.fresnostate.edu/csm/ees/facu ... ayshi.html
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby Kelbaker » Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:10 pm

It' a great feeling when your first family hike is a success. I am sure its partially due to your diligent planning.
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby austex » Tue Aug 05, 2014 4:19 pm

The smiles say it all. Good work on the planning and keeping it a short hike. Whether you are 2 miles in or 20....solitude can and was found!
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby Buford » Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:12 pm

Awesome. Good to see kids out there.
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby Fly Guy Dave » Tue Aug 05, 2014 5:48 pm

Some great scenic shots and it is always nice to see big smiles when out on the trail. Thanks for the TR.

Cheers!

--F.G. Dave
"Yeah, well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man." --Jeff Lebowski

Some pics of native salmonids: http://flyguydave.wordpress.com/
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby SSSdave » Tue Aug 05, 2014 7:52 pm

Reads like you have become the poster family for the kind of first family backpacking trips I recommend to others. Well done and best of luck on your future trips as it appears your planning has been rewarded by giving you a team. Little lakes valley from Mosquito Flat is easily the best location in the Sierra to take a family or others on a short or better a first backpack that gives them a taste of real Sierra high country in its full glory. Glad to read you got to explore around the shore to the eastern shores as not many get that far given its awkward up and down landscape. Wildflowers were surprisingly abundant despite the drought maybe because some real downpours have pounded the basin this last month.

A couple weeks ago I dayhiked into the Box Lake area and took this image from above the shore:

http://www.davidsenesac.com/Gallery_C/M ... 4753sl.jpg

The evening before met a woman with a couple young children like yours that was about to take them sans dad on what was may also have been their first backpack. Apparently someone had recommended also camping at Box Lake. She had asked me if it was legal to sleep overnight in a vehicle at the trailhead and I showed her how the Inyo NF map shows the last mile to Mosquito Flat as being outside the no dispersed camping boundary. For Eastern Sierra paved trailheads that is unique.
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby jmac » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:48 am

Thanks for the kind words everyone! I'll be sure to post more of their adventures in the future. Nice pic of eastern side of the lake, SSSDave. There's a lot to explore over there and it's not too far from the main trail, it's just hidden.
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby Mradford » Wed Aug 06, 2014 11:00 am

Jmac! Epic trip report. So glad you got take your kids and also that they enjoyed it. We must have just missed you up there. Super stoked for you man.
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Re: TR - My Kids' First Backpacking Trip! - Little Lakes Valley

Postby jmac » Wed Aug 06, 2014 3:45 pm

Mradford wrote:Jmac! Epic trip report. So glad you got take your kids and also that they enjoyed it. We must have just missed you up there. Super stoked for you man.


Hey, thanks!
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