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Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

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Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby tim » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:28 pm

I took my 8 year old twins for a couple of 3 day/2 night trips last month in Yosemite (Cathedral Lakes - Sunrise - Tenaya Lake) and Desolation Wilderness (Lake Aloha from Echo Lakes). I'd recommend both as easy trips for 7-9 year olds, though Aloha is better as a first time outing since you can base camp and do a day walk with plenty of time for swimming. As previous commentators have said, there aren't many young kids out on the trail - none whatsoever in Yosemite, though we saw a big group of six dads and six kids on the way to Aloha.

In Yosemite we went in at Cathedral Lakes trailhead pretty late in the afternoon (about 3.15pm) after a drive up from the Bay Area. Weather was great and virtually no sign of the Wildcat fire (this was 13-15 August so before the latest fire). We got to Upper Cathedral Lake (3.7 miles, ~1000 ft climb) at just after 6pm, then rushed to make dinner. After seeing lots of people on the trail coming back from the lower lake, Upper Cathedral Lake was almost deserted, with only one other tent on the far side of the lake.

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Cathedral Lake

Next morning we walked over Cathedral Pass, stopping at the wonderful view below Columbia Finger.

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Yosemite view

Then down to where we expected Sunrise HSC to be for lunch. Unfortunately the camp itself is at the southern end of the meadow (an extra mile), not in the middle as it appeared from our map. We then walked over to Upper Sunrise Lake (total ~6 miles, 700ft of climbing) and found a great campsite by the lake, with great views of Half Dome and Clouds Rest at sunset and a fire ring for marshmallows after dark.

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Clouds Rest and Half Dome

Finally we walked out on the third morning (all downhill, about 3.5 miles) to the Sunrise trailhead, passing dozens of daywalkers headed for Clouds Rest and caught the free shuttle back to our car.

Last weekend (Aug 28-30) we headed to Desolation Wilderness, with a fried who has a 7 yr old and 5 yr old, who haven't been backpacking before. The first day (Fri 28) was very overcast with the smoke from Yosemite, but it was a slight relief from the hot conditions. We took the boat across Echo Lake and then made it to Lake Aloha (3 miles, 800ft of climbing) in about 3.5 hours.
Next day it was much clearer and we decided to take an off-trail day walk across in the granite in the direction of Pyramid Peak.

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Pyramid Peak

We got to Waca Lake which was great for swimming, then walked back. The wind got up later that afternoon, but we still had a beautiful sunset.

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Sunset at Lake Aloha

Next morning we walked out a lot more quickly than we had walked in, with promises of In'n'Out Burger for lunch keeping the kids moving. Views down to Echo Lake were much better than on the way in.

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Echo Lakes



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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby giantbrookie » Fri Sep 04, 2009 1:42 pm

Nice report and its nice to see some happy kids in the backcountry. Those are indeed nice trips for little ones. My own 7 year old could barely make those hikes and he wouldn't be able to do it carrying anything. The younger of my two kids (will be 4 in October) is probably going to be a bit stronger. They've been on two backpacking trips so far (one last year and one this year), but they haven't carried anything to this point.
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: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby maverick » Fri Sep 04, 2009 4:01 pm

Nice to see parents taking there kids out into the wilderness, it seems to be
a rarity now a days.
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby markskor » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:44 pm

Nice trip dad… played Sherpa it appears… Must have been a fun adventure. When my son was 7, we (him and another one of his little friends) did the same Cathedral loop only coming up the waterfall/fisherman’s trail, and staying at Lower Cathedral our first night…We even saw a bear! BTW, how many “rest stops” were there from Upper Cathedral to Sunrise Lakes? Hope you weren’t planning to do any fishing yourself…Kids tending the campfire. For me, those moments were the good times still remembered today.

Hate to hijack a thread but, seeing you with your eager brood in tow was a pleasant but somehow rarer sight, unfortunately seldom seen the last few years, Mav writes: “Nice to see parents taking their kids out into the wilderness, it seems to be a rarity now a days.”
I too noticed that there appeared less family units in the high country this year, especially those with the smaller tykes – the “six to ten” year-old range; (I even commented on that same conclusion in some prior wanderings here.)

Why do you think that is?

With today’s economy, one would think that there would be more families than ever taking advantage of the “relatively” cheap hiking vacation weeks that our bountiful Sierra has to offer. Maybe it is just me, but personal observations seem to point the other way...less families. Is it the higher price of “acceptable” gear…the kids being out of shape…the video game mentality…the lack of inspiration/not being cool? Does watching “Bear vs. Wild” now vicariously replace actually going in person? Is it the economy itself to blame …the gas prices…obesity…the parents overloaded work load…all of the above?

Whatever the many reasons, today there seems to be an entire generation of our kids NOT heading into the hills…comments?
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby maverick » Fri Sep 04, 2009 7:40 pm

Working at a school I did not hear many(if any) kids talking about going backpacking
or even camping during the summer.
I think beyond the economy, being out of shape, and the play station generation going
into the the mountains seems like a foreign thing to them, something that there minds
cannot really grasp, but this goes for a lot of adults I talk to.
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby rlown » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:03 pm

think back to your childhood and how you got started into backpacking. As a product of the 60's, i guess i was lucky as my dad wanted to camp/hunt/fish. In high school i happened to fall into a group that wanted to do that (mainly to get out of town during the summer.) It was a very small group even in the late 70's. Boyscouts helped as well, but that got old. I'd rather plan and execute the trip my way. Getting my own car at 16 helped as my parents didn't backpack.

If the parents don't encourage it, the kids probably won't be interested.

Kudos, Tim on doing a good thing.
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby tim » Sat Sep 05, 2009 6:56 am

Actually the thing that surprised me most was that amongst our friends, who all have kids about the same age as ours, negative reactions tended to come from the parents, not the kids. To any 8 year old the thought of going to the wilderness can be regarded as a great adventure, but to their parents it tends to be regarded as a) uncomfortable (carrying all that stuff, pooping in a hole, etc.) and b) complicated (how do you figure out all those permits, bear canisters, where to go, etc.). And this is amongst a group of people who regularly go car camping and day walking in the Sierra. Realistically the economy will lead to an increase in car camping, not backpacking, since the cost per night is still pretty low and you can get by with much cheaper/more readily available gear.

Of course, if parents do go backpacking, then why wouldn't they want to take the kids. We only have one friend who does go backpacking, but he doesn't take his kids. He claims that his twins aren't interested, but I suspect its because he wants to go on "serious" hikes (Shasta, etc.) which he couldn't do with 8 year olds. After all you have to excite the kids about going, not expect them to ask to do something they have no idea about. To me that's more of a shame than parents who have no clue about backpacking not taking their kids.
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby oldranger » Sat Sep 05, 2009 10:04 am

I had the privilege of going with my daughter and son in law on my grandkids first overnight bp trip this summer in the north Cascades. We had a great time with a lot of time spent picking Huckleberries along the trail.
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Granddaughter and Son in Law
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Grandson truckin up the Trail


Both kids did great carrying their sleeping bags, pads, and clothes.

Looking forward to next year.

Mike
Mike

Who can't do everything he used to and what he can do takes a hell of a lot longer!
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby kgw » Sat Sep 05, 2009 1:36 pm

Absolute coolness! =D>
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Re: Trip Reports - Yosemite and Desolation Wilderness with kids

Postby frediver » Sun Sep 06, 2009 12:22 am

It's the parents lack of interest not the kids !
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