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Backpacking trip with my son

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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby tim » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:59 pm

Over the last five years I've gradually worked up to longer trips with my twins (11 last summer), starting with 3 day trips, stepping that up to 4/5 day trips before doing an unforgettable 6 day trip last summer from Onion Valley to Whitney (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=8265).

I'd very much agree with those who advise trying 3 or 4 days first, without setting a hugely ambitious mileage target (5 miles per day or so is a good pace to start up high). That should probably include a 3-4 day trip in the Sierra, not just Angeles National Forest, because the altitude really makes a difference. Coming from the south, Horseshoe Meadows to Soldier Lake and Miter Basin would be a great choice for 4 days with nothing too strenuous. We did it in 2011 and loved it (viewtopic.php?f=1&t=6526)

It's a bit more ambitious than some of the 3 day outings mentioned above, but nothing hard for a strong 12 year old, especially if you've done a local overnight trip beforehand to straighten out any gear & pack issues. You probably need to feel comfortable that he won't have altitude issues though, as this is all above 10000ft.



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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Grzldvt » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:51 am

Don't know what your son's mentality is, but I took my daughter , at the same age, to May Lake in Yosemite as a base camp, 1.5 miles away from bailing out. We did Lembert Dome, and Three Dog Lake as day hikes and stayed overnight again at May Lake. She loved it. Once I knew she was comfortable with backpacking type camping we moved onto Raisin Lake, then went out the next day to the car via Murphy's Creek Trail. She enjoyed our first trip so much we both spent almost every other weekend backpacking and camping over the next several summers, and she turned it into a career as a Ranger/Wilderness Interpreter.
I did the same with my son and it failed miserably. He suffered from altitude sickness from the get go and simply did not enjoy himself. Only being 1,5 miles from the car we bailed on the trip and I was glad we did as he would have suffered had we been 20 miles from anywhere.
Many years later he joined several of us for an overnighter to Chilanualna Falls and kicked butt getting into camp. He really enjoyed that trip. The next year we did the Yosemite High Sierra camps, I did the tent cabins and he backpacked it and loved it.
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby The Other Tom » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:09 am

Grzldvt, what a great story. It really highlights the uncertanity of how altitude affects different people at different times. You never know until you try. Best to try on a "sampler" trip first. The May Lake suggestion is a good one, so is Mavrick's Little Lakes Valley. You're close enough to bail if you need to.
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Bronco » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:25 am

Thanks again to everyone for your stories of past trips and suggestions on introducing my son to backpacking. I will take the advice of trying out a shorter 3/4 day higher altitude hike in the Sierras in addition to some of the closer Angeles hikes. I will say that talking with my boy about the trip and starting the planning stage has already been a ton of fun and he is super excited for our first big trip!
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby markskor » Thu Jan 24, 2013 11:40 am

Just a suggestion (comes from having two sons and...)

Bring a friend along for your son...someone his own age.
Both boys carry their own bags, clothes, personal stuff and you play sherpa for all the rest of the gear.

They will have someone to play with and will occupy each other. (You will soon enough understand.)

Suggested trailheads - these always less than 4 miles/day, done with sons, and worked:
Onion Valley (lakes this side of the pass),
Yosemite Falls trail (3 days, 120 - Valley), Either YF trailhead or Porcupine Flats
Loon Lake - out and back,
Saddlebag ferry and do lakes loop.
Desolation too.
Mountainman who swims with trout
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby paul » Thu Jan 24, 2013 5:23 pm

Markskor's idea is good - I've done that myself, bringing a buddy for my son. But be sure you know that kid pretty darn well. I had some issues getting my son's buddy to co-operate, on several levels. I also had to adjust as we went along to the other kid's evel of motivation - some what less than my son's.
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Mike M. » Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:15 am

Bronco, I'm an older father (60 now) with recent experience introducing my son and daughter to backpacking. With a 12 year old, the key is keeping his pack light. That means you carry the bulk of the load and limit his pack to his sleeping kit, clothes, and lunch munchies. If he's in the 110 lb range, he shouldn't carry a pack weighing more than 25 lbs -- less would be better. Also, plan on spending a night at the trailhead to acclimate and go easy your first day out. Plan on camping shy of the first pass, so you tackle the hard switchbacks up to the first pass early the second day. Kids are extremely resilient. Make sure he has a good pair of lightweight boots (not sneakers) and have him wear wool hiking socks with a a liner sock under. Other keys are to get your hiking done early in the day, go slow and steady and be sure he stays hydrated. Kids like being with their friends, so you might consider taking along one of his fit buddies -- but that would add weight to your pack.

Bottom line, I would not shy away from trying an eight day trek, with built-in contingencies. A North Lake - South Lake loop is worth considering, going in over Piute Pass, down to the JMT junction at Piute Creek, then up to Evolution Valley, over Muir Pass, and out via Dusy Basin and Bishop Pass. The scenery is outstanding and the hiking is all on well established trails. You would have a short hitch hike back to North Lake to fetch your car -- it's easy, I've done it at least a dozen times. If things go bad at first, you can abort the longer loop and spend a few days exploring the lakes on the west side of Piute Pass.

Good luck and be sure to let us know how it goes --

Mike
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby overheadx2 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 10:51 am

I like mikes plan. Having just done the South / North lake loop, I can tell you it is amazing (especially Mclure Meadow). While doing the hike from South to North Lakes I met a couple that did exactly what Mike was saying. The wife was not having a great time with the long hikes, so they ended up stopping at Big Pete meadow (which is beautiful) after the second day. They ended up doing a day hike to the Muir hut and fishing Big and Little Pete Meadows for a day and then planned on retracing the hike back out over Bishop pass. I can tell you they missed out on some great stuff, but at least they are probably still married.
By the way, there is a guy in bishop that will drive you from North lake trail head to the South lake trail head so that your car is waiting for you at the final destination. Phil
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Hobbes » Fri Jan 25, 2013 3:40 pm

Bronco wrote:we live in the Lancaster/Palmdale area


Admittedly, I'm highly biased in this regard, but I think there's really no beating the Cottonwood lakes area out of Horseshoe Meadow for either introductory hiking or as an convenient go-to spot from SoCal just to get back up in the mountains.

First of all, it's only 2-2.5 hrs from your house, so you could go whenever you had the time and the weather was setting up with high pressure over the Great Basin. In other words, brilliant blue skies with -0- clouds/chance of precipitation.

Secondly, it's only 5 miles to the first lake, with an elevation gain of only 1k (10k -> 11k), with plenty of day hikes available throughout the basin.

Third of all, if you like to fish, well, what can I say that already hasn't been said about the region?

Fourth, if you were feeling ambitious, you could head up to New Army Pass for the view - as a day hike - it's only 2.5 miles from Long lake.

Fifth, if you really having a good time, you could try and summit Langley. Even better, there's usually lots of groups camping at the lakes with that exact plan in mind, so if you ran into some, you could go along for the hike.

Sixth, if you really really into a groove, you could take your packs over NAP and head to Soldier for the night. The next day you could hike down the PCT towards Chickenspring lake, and from there, either spend the night, or continue down Cottonwood Pass back to your car. (The TH for Cottonwood pass is maybe .3 mile from the Cottonwood lakes TH where you would have left your car.)

It's a popular TH/region for good reason: high elevation mostly above treeline with little pain & suffering getting there, multiple, big blue lakes with lots of GT, and lots of variations possible without being locked into one plan.
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby overheadx2 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:47 pm

Cottonwood lakes is a great trip, but the South / North lake loop gives you the ability to have a campfire many of the nights. For some of us a campfire isn't that important, but some smores around a campfire on a backpacking trip is almost a must for a 12 year old boy. While cottonwood is above 10k feet, many nights along the south north loop are below 10k. Phil
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Bronco » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:11 am

Some more great ideas and suggestions! My boy and I just hiked along part of the Pacific Crest Trail outside of Palmdale. We did a total of just over 6 miles with weighted backpacks to start to simulate our upcoming trips. We've begun calling it "training for our summer expedition". He loved it! And he did great. I know this is a far cry from doing a longer 8 day trek but he definitely enjoyed it. We are figuring out a good pace to keep and we took a lot of breaks along the way. One thing we found that worked was to let him lead and set the pace. He liked being in front. More to come...
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Troutdog 59 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:01 pm

Kudos to you Bronco for getting out with your son. Your son reminds me of myself. I soaked up all the adventures my Dad took us on and loved it with similar enthusiasm as your son. Lots of great trip ideas have been posted. I like the North/South Lake stuff, but would suggest an out and back from either trail head is a great idea as well if the loop seems a tad adventurous. I could easily spend 7 to 8 days in the Humphreys Basin/French Canyon area, The HB is a great place to stroll cross country to gorgeous lakes and the fishing is legendary!!! A few days in the HB proper exploring the Glacier divide to the south; then into French Cyn to check out spots like Merriam or the Royce lakes. Then back out through the HB exploring the south side of the basin as you head out.

Could do a similar trek over Bishop Pass out of South Lake. Spend 2 to 3 days in the So Fk basin exploring gorgeous lakes, maybe even head over to the Treasue Lakes. Then cross Bishop Pass into the Dusy Basin for a couple days. If up to it, you guys could day hike to Knapsack Pass.

Im sure you guys will have a blast no matter where you go and I look forward to your trail report!!!!
If you stand in the light, you get the feel of the night, and the music that plays in your ear......
In your mind you can hear, a voice so sweet and clear, and the music that plays in your head......
As it flows up from the ground, taking all that hear the sound, close your eyes, it’s about to begin.

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