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Backpacking trip with my son

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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby Rockchucker » Tue Jan 29, 2013 7:24 pm

Hiking with my son is my reason for being! He loves it, started camping with me at the age of 3. He's now 9 going on 10 and is an animal hiker. I let him set the pace. Stop as many times as he wants to, in order to explore, look for frogs, lizards, cool plants and birds. Or to watch a herd of 5-6 deer feeding across a meadow. Watch a sunrise come up over the granite escarpment of the sierras. I grew up in Gunnison CO we camped, fished, hunted. I can't remember the first time I slept under the stars, yet it is so deeply imbedded in my soul. I intend to do the same for my son!
I'm no suture for my future.

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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Postby kpeter » Tue Jan 29, 2013 9:17 pm

So happy you are making these plans! I took my 14 year old girl out last summer, and my boy (then 15) out the previous.

The North Lake-South Lake loop was a favorite of mine, but it is longer than your suggested limit. It also involved many, many fords of streams so I would only take an inexperienced child on that loop after water levels dropped significantly, depending on how wet this year turns out.

Another very exciting trip that is a bit shorter than the North Lake/South Lake loop is a shuttle from Agnews Meandow to Tuolumne Meadows. You can leave your car at one end and take the YARTS shuttle to the other to start. A classic trip through some of the most picturesque parts of the Sierra, and there are obvious camping spots and destinations conveniently breaking the trip up into bite sized chunks. It has relatively few fords and they are not difficult. I did that with my 15 year old in 6 days and he had no problems with it at all, despite his comparative lack of experience.

Both of those alternatives for a longer trip have immaculate, groomed trails. As a kid myself my father took me on a one way trip through a wilderness and I was captured by the idea of starting on one side and leaving on the other. It was a giant psychological boost to me to be working toward that sense of accomplishment and to be able to say "I crossed the X range."

Something I have noticed both about my children, but also about me in retrospect. I think it takes some time and some repeat trips for young people to develop the aesthetic sense when they love scenery and solitude for their own sake. Now, I can stop at almost any point along any trail and simply soak in the sights, sounds, and smells and be happy. But as a kid, I liked destinations and adventure and probably did not appreciate very deeply what things looked like, other than to say in passing "oh that's kind of pretty."

Let me echo what others have said about keeping things light. In my case my son is very skinny and we learned when we were on the trail that we could not cinch his hipbelt tight enough to make it at all effective. He had to carry his pack the whole way with no hipbelt. Fortunately I had my heavy-duty pack and took almost all his weight. Since we were going fairly slowly I was able to handle a much heavier pack than I had planned, but he skipped along with about 20 pounds on his shoulders and did extremely well.

If you decide on either of those options you will find a great many trail reports over the years on this board. I can go through my notes to offer suggestions for campsites and distances. But there are plenty of other possibilities. Keep us posted and we will all chime in with advice as you get your trip narrowed down.
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