Backpacking trip with my son

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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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

Post by 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!!!!
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Re: Backpacking trip with my son

Post by 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

Post by 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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