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Familiy Backpacking Advice

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Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby seth_keith » Mon May 18, 2009 12:36 pm

I need some help finding a good spot for back country backpacking for my 7 year old son. Our last two trips, I picked a good looking spot within my son's range ( 4-5 miles from road ), but both trips turned into a disaster. I am in serious danger of turning him off to backpacking, so please help me!

I need a really nice spot, 4-5 miles from a road, with a lake, and fish ( preferentially not bookies ). My preference is for high elevation, and few other people, but I am open to any suggestions. Please indicate when the earliest date for a clear trail would be. We don't care about cold, but so much snow that you cannot see the trail can be an issue.

Thanks in advance, we promise to be nice to your spot...



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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby cgundersen » Mon May 18, 2009 12:55 pm

Hi Seth,
Your choices may depend where you're driving from, but here are a few options:
East side: The Sabrina lake trailhead will lead you to a number of great lakes (even the first one, Blue Lake is not bad if you head for the far shore). With a bit more effort, places like Hungry Packer will not disappoint. Or, you can head up the trail toward Bishop Pass (South Lake), but veer off for Chocolate/Ruwau Lakes. Great spots and well within the range. Others may advocate spots on the way up to Kearsarge Pass, but they tend to be more busy.
West side: In Sequoia, the trio of Pear/Heather/Aster (leaving from Wolverton) get a lot of traffic, but Pear is still pretty nice. There are a bunch of Lakes that are pretty accessible out of Mineral King, but since I've been to only a few of them lately, I cannot comment on use. For Yosemite, you'll probably get other suggestions. However, one other area that I've found to be foolproof for novices is the Saddlebag Lake basin (close to Tioga Pass). It's very high, very pretty, and surprisingly underutilized. You can easily access off trail lakes in that area and may well see no one else till you return to the trail.
CG
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby tim » Mon May 18, 2009 1:24 pm

Last summer I took my 7 year old twins to Lake Aloha in Desolation Wilderness (~3 mile walk and 800 ft climb using the boat across Echo Lake). Not sure how good the fishing is (we met someone trying it), but the kids loved the camping and swimming. We went on Labor Day weekend and though Saturday night was quite busy (3 other groups fairly near), we had the Friday night to ourselves (camping at the SE end of the Lake is best). Lots of great day walks from there as well. We got a walk in permit that morning with no problem.

Desolation wilderness.jpg
Lake Aloha

This year we're going to Cathedral Lakes in Yosemite (loop from Cathedral-Sunrise-Sunrise Lakes, with 3-5 miles each day), but the permits are probably tough to get right now (we booked the first day available) and we're expecting a lot more company.
Last edited by tim on Mon May 18, 2009 8:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby seth_keith » Mon May 18, 2009 1:45 pm

What about the timing on going to Saddlebag Lake basin; When does the snow clear enough to get in?
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby cgundersen » Mon May 18, 2009 4:03 pm

Hi Seth,
I'd recommend keeping an eye on the Tioga webcam for Yosemite (available here: http://www.sierravisionsstock.com/sierr ... a-webcams/). When the meadow beyond the road is clear, Saddlebag should be open, too. Also, check the response Wild Bill logged to an earlier thread this month; it had good snow level info. Regardless, I'm guessing that you'll be good any time after mid-June.
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby MountainMinstrel » Mon May 18, 2009 4:10 pm

I would suggest Weaver Lake out of Big Meadows in the Jennie Lakes wilderness (SEKI) 3.7 miles 1000 ft. gain. We are taking a group of 6-8 there in July. For most of them it will be their first overnight trip.
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby seth_keith » Mon May 18, 2009 4:32 pm

I wanted to post and thank everyone for your help. It is great to get such enthusiastic help so quickly. Any advice for a good kid location for late May?
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby giantbrookie » Mon May 18, 2009 8:03 pm

Hi Seth, I too have a 7 year old son and I also have a 3.5 year old daughter. They went on their first backpack trip last year and it was a great success. The top end limit for my 7 year old is far less than 4-5 miles at this point, though, so I use some creative off trail stuff to get to nice places without that much hiking.

As for a good trip for your 7 year old, I recommend some of the following:
1. Dinkey Lakes. It's not super high, but its a versatile location. It's about 3.5 miles into the easier destinations (say 1st Dinkey or South) with less than 1000' of gain. You have plenty of lakes within easy dayhiking range that can add to fishing variety. Dinkey and South have rather numerous brookies that don't get much bigger than 11" but some of the nearby lakes offer bigger fish: Mystery, Bullfrog have rainbows. Island has goldens. Rainbow still has a few rainbows left.

2. East Lake (out of Bridgeport). If you son is tired he can stop at Green L. (about 3 mi) or he can continue on to East L. (1 mi further) Green has brookies, rainbows, and browns that run to about 12" although most of them will be smaller. East has some nice fish: brookies and rainbows that run to 15 or 16". West is a bit more out of the way, but it requires somewhat more energy to reach (brookies to about 12", browns to about 16").

3. Susie Lake and vicinity, Desolation Wilderness. Somewhat more alpine than the Dinkeys, Weaver or other lower west side destinations but not as spectacular as the east side high country. Susie usually has reliable brookies that have topped out at 11" in my visits but occasionally get to 16". Next door neighbor Heather has brookies running to about 15" and is more famous for its epic browns that can reach 2 feet. In another direction is Half Moon which has brookies that can top a foot. About a mile up the hill on another trail is the notorious Gilmore Lake home of some brookies (top end unknown but probably very large), browns (manage to spawn somehow), probably still has rainbows (if the browns can spawn I'll bet there are still rainbows), but most of all, the big lake trout or mackinaw, that grow to absurd sizes (32.5" inches is my best there). This is a nice trip for a fishing oriented family because it includes a reliable "backup" (can always catch fish) lake (Susie), coupled with some serious premium lakes with some finned giants.

4. Kibbie Lake NW Yosemite. A fine late May choice. About 4 miles in and a pretty easy hike. Epic rainbows that can reach 20". Classic NW Yosemite "low country" lots of trees and granite slabs.

5. I like South Lake options such as Ruwau (best of the South Lake group: medium brookies and rainbows that can reach 16"). Don't forget the Tyees off to the side (the second highest lake is best; it has nice plump rainbows and brookies) and off to the other side out of Parchers Camp the interesting Green Lake which is full of rainbows that commonly get to at least 15" but occasionally get MUCH bigger. Classic east side scenery.
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: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby snusmumriken » Wed May 20, 2009 9:25 pm

How about May Lake in Yosemite? I took my son there a few years ago. It's actually only about a mile from the trail head - but oh such a pretty destination.
When we where there there was an older kid fishing with his dad, not sure what kind of fish though. (I'm obviously not a fisherwoman.)
We climbed Mount Hoffman on our "layover" day. My son enjoyed following the kerns up the mountain.
Not complete solitude as there is a High Sierra Camp here. However my son enjoyed hanging out with an older kid (the one who was into fishing) and they had a blast building a fire together.
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby frediver » Mon May 25, 2009 3:22 am

Locate another Dad who also wants to go with his kids and make a group trip of it.
2-3-4 kids will have more fun than one alone with Dad.
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Re: Familiy Backpacking Advice

Postby adam » Mon May 25, 2009 1:02 pm

my first trip was yosemite creek (downstream from the yosemite creek campground, on hwy 120) when I was 8 (I think) and it went pretty well. It's not as much as a "destination" as a lake, and I don't know about fishing, but on the other hand, there are lots of places along the way to camp, so you don't have to make it to a specific place. you could then day hike to eagle peak or the top of yosemite falls. I suppose you could just keep going downhill and end in the valley with a bus return, but I don't know how all that steep downhill would go over-- although it's probably a lot harder on adult than kid knees!
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