Jan 17, 2008 at 6:07 pm #1226788
@ruralbackpackerLocale: Northern California
I am planning a backpacking trip to the Glen Aulin backpacker camp in Yosemite. One of my friends has a coordinated eight year old boy who she wants to go on the trip but she is worried that it might be too much for him.
I don't think that it would be much of a problem since it is only 6.2 miles and that we will have all day to do it (not to mention until summer to get him in shape). But I don't have any kids and have no experience with it. I know that part of Yosemite pretty well but have never backpacked with kids.
Does anyone out there have any experience with this that I can pass on to my friend?
Thanks.Jan 17, 2008 at 6:45 pm #1416547
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
An 8-y old in decent shape wouldn't have a problem doing this from a physical stand point. The question is motivation / focus. Some kids would love it. Other kids would be bored after the first mile or two. My circle of friends started with shorter trips with more "fun" destinations to increase the likelihood that they got "hooked".
–MarkJan 17, 2008 at 6:56 pm #1416550
todd harperBPL Member
@funnymoLocale: Sunshine State
Mark is 100% correct.
Many don't ENJOY it after a little while. Some do. With my daughters I've observed that pushing themselves isn't fun for them…too much like work. All the sights, sounds, and actual camping are great, but HIKING is only fun for them in pieces.
On the other hand, I've seen a 6yr old handle 7miles in mountainous terrain w/ almost no fatigue or complaints.
Have fun and take it slow at first.
ToddJan 17, 2008 at 9:12 pm #1416567
Will the child in question be carrying a pack? That would make a difference, of course.
My 8 year old grandson (not carrying a pack) hiked with us last year in Glacier Park and managed over 8 miles a day with energy to spare for play after reaching camp.
We stopped to rest more often than usual because he would get tired and bored, but after some water and maybe a snack, he was good to go again.Jan 17, 2008 at 11:01 pm #1416586
A rule of thumb is take kids as long as the trail is mostly safe (in other words no waist deep river fords!). Kids can out hike adults quite often. As for getting in shape….unless the kid is overweight, they can handle it quite easily.
And 8 isn't young. My kid was doing 10 mile days at 4.
And here is some advice: if this kid is the only kid, let them bring toys to play with. Yes, I get criticized often over my kid having a Nintendo with him…but he is almost always the only kid. He loiters in the tent playing for an hour or so after a hard day and does his thing. No point in making the trip horrible for kids -you have to let kids be kids. Toys, a creek or lake to play in at camp and good food? That makes kids happy.
Only other advice? Make sure the kid is used to the dark.Jan 18, 2008 at 5:30 am #1416604
Steven EvansBPL Member
"My kid was doing 10 mile days at 4"
Andrew Skurka? ;)
Seriously though, I find this thread very informative. I have a little nephew, and while I did anticipate short days, bringing along some toys/luxury items, and cooking tastier meals with treats – I never thought about the darkness thing, wierd noises at night, etc. Sometimes I get scared! :)
Thanks for the heads up.
"I get criticized often over my kid having a Nintendo with him"
Geez, at least he's out there! Good job Sarah!Jan 18, 2008 at 11:47 am #1416652
Steve….he freaked a bit when he was much younger but now? I'll be woken up sounds and there he is drooling and snoring. Cool thing is kids get used to it :-D
And as for treats? I let him have the "bad" stuff when we hike – we go to the grocery store and he gets to pick out candy bars, the single serving packs of potato chips, cookies, etc. He gets good meals but I figure there is nothing wrong with a few treats to perk him up out there ;-)
One thing about kids that seems to happen a lot: they will whine and complain about how they are going to die, how tired they are….and once in camp run around for hours. You have to love that! With Ford I just let him whine and tell him to keep moving. And that seems to work. He knows that we will stop at some point ;-) Too often parents cave in to the kids non stop whining and quit going.Jan 18, 2008 at 2:33 pm #1416681
@finallymeLocale: Utah desert
I bring my son all the time, and he is 5.
My advice would be to watch the weight he carries. He needs to have a pack so that he feels like he fits in, but if there is too much weight, he won't like it. So, get him a pack that carries his sleeping bag, and some extra stuff. Make sure it is around 5% of his weight. I think 10% is a little much.
Some people will tell you that their kids carry more weight, but those kids also have been backpacking for a while. If this is his first trip, the less weight the better.
I think it is great that you are giving the boy a chance to see the woods. Good for you.Jan 18, 2008 at 3:21 pm #1416686
I think anything you can do to get them out there and have them enjoy it is great!
We buy our grandkids things like packs, tents, snowshoes, poles, etc. for gifts.
I figure that even if we're not available to take them most of the time, at least they'll nag their dad (our son) to take them so that they can use all that cool gear!Jan 18, 2008 at 3:52 pm #1416695
@rosierabbitLocale: Pacific Northwest
You may have seen this excellent thread:
I was able to get my 3 grandkids to hike 5 miles this summer by trying to look at the trail from a child's viewpoint. We stopped for food about every ten minutes and poked sticks in the ground to mark the trail the bugs were making "in case they couldn't find their way back" and walked backwards when one complained of sore feet. We wore our packs on our fronts for awhile, had a spitting contest, renamed the peaks around us, and tried to guess how many monsters were hiding underground. One has no interest in ever doing it again, and the other two are talking about the backpack trip with Nana next summer that I've promised. I learned not to expect much as far as covering any distance for their first experience.Jan 18, 2008 at 6:13 pm #1416708
I had missed that TR ;-) Sounds like you had a blast!Jan 19, 2008 at 4:09 pm #1416804
@tcxjwagoneerLocale: GSM Area
What kind of backpack would you use for a young one. I am going to bring my 4 year old on his first overnight hike. we have been day hiking for some time now and he is excited about camping. I want a pack that fits him enough to carry his sleeping bag, water, and food. that would be it. I would guess around 5lbs. he weighs in at 57lbs. Does anyone have a good reccomendation for a pack?
TommyJan 19, 2008 at 4:26 pm #1416805
See if the Deuter Fox 30 fits him. While some might raise an eyebrow at the weight (2 1/2 lbs) it is a great pack, well built and will fit a kid till 9 or 11 depending on their body shape. My son has outgrown his finally but he uses it now as a daypack which is great. The suspension on it is excellent.
REI does carry this pack.Jan 19, 2008 at 5:11 pm #1416810
Mark VerberBPL Member
@verberLocale: San Francisco Bay Area
My recommendation would be to use a basic kid's book bag rather than getting some specialized backpacking pack. The only issue would be whether the sleeping bag (which tends to be low weight but high volume) would fit. Our approach was to shoot to have our daughter carrying as much of her stuff as possible without exceeding 12% of her body weight. Early one she carried water, snack, spare clothing, and a few toys because this hit 12% and fit into a basic bookbag. I would carry the bulky sleeping bag and pad. Around the time she hit 8 all her stuff was under 12% but the daypack wasn't big enough so we upgraded the a Deuter Fox 30. Now that she is taller she "stole" her mom's Mountainsmith Seraph which is lighter while providing more volume and easier access. I wrote up some notes on choice a kid's pack which lists some additional options.Jan 22, 2008 at 7:04 pm #1417279
Denis HazlewoodBPL Member
@redleaderLocale: Luxury-Light Luke on the Llano Azul
I've backpacked with kids from 6yrs up. It was not a problem if they didn't have to carry much weight. It was very important to get them involved in the program. I get the kid away from the parent and give him/her a map. They walk up front and become our "guide". Usually that ends all the problems.Jan 27, 2008 at 8:11 am #1417878
@jfdiberianLocale: Columbia River Gorge
How does that tune go? "Pioneer children sang as they walked, and walked, and walked… and walked…"Jan 28, 2008 at 1:03 pm #1418068
@ruralbackpackerLocale: Northern California
All of your responses were very educational. Thanks! I gave my friend the link to this thread and after reading it she was excited. She's very positive about going now.
I *wish* that I could have gone backpacking that young. Neither of my parents backpacked. I am very impressed that all of you are doing that with your kids.
Thanks again. Keep posting comments if you have them and we will keep reading.Jan 31, 2008 at 1:30 pm #1418590
Laurie Ann MarchMember
@laurie_annLocale: Ontario, Canada
Tobias will be 7 soon and his limit is about 10 miles. We did a few things to make trips more fun.
One, we take our time on the trail. We explore, take photos and sing. Tobias helps at camp. He loves to help set up the tent. We explore the campsite together and see what interesting things we can find. We look at the map together. A compass is a great gift and that would be a good thing to teach the little guy going with you.
We also have Tobias wear an emergency whistle. This is law on paddling trips but it was great on hiking trips as well. If there is trouble he knows to blow it three times (sharply). Granted he is usually right with us but I figured we'd just do it on all of our trips to keep things consistent.
Food, well I actually wrote a chapter about that in my cookbook. Try things before you go out so that you know what they like and don't like. It doesn't have to be junk either – you can keep it fun and still keep it healthy. Kids appetite can vary from day to day on the trail so I err on the side of too much.
First aid is important. I make sure I have all the standard first aid items in my pack but I also bring some Batman band-aids and such. For some reason the Batman band-aids make Tobi feel better about the scrapes. I also pack electrolyte replacement crystals and a children's pain reliever. I know it isn't exactly UL to take these extras but to me they are of importance.
Gosh I could go on about this all evening.Jan 31, 2008 at 1:47 pm #1418595
Jim ColtenBPL Member
This thread is triggering good memories of youngsters on trips.
First time my brother brought his youngest on our then annual Memorial Day weekend BWCAW trip we had him carry a couple paddles and his own fishing pole over the portages. At the end of the first portage "Did you find anything interesting?" … "Minnows, crayfish and salamanders!" Fifteen years later and he'll still go with whenever we can accommodate his work schedule.
Or a friend's toddlers a year after a similar trip "Do you want to take another canoe trip?" …. "can we go back to two?" took several days to learn that "two" was the number painted on the "government box" at the campsite they enjoyed the most.
Get'm young! It's a source of sadness that I learned that only early enough to snag one of my children. (but there's hope … another has agreed to try backpacking when(if) she ever ceases being in school year round.Feb 9, 2008 at 6:03 pm #1419893
@obi96Locale: Deep in the Green Mountains
My then 8 1/2 year old son made it 11 miles in a day. From Yosemite valley to Echo vally about 3 miles shy of Merced lake. The keys to success 1. A slow pace 2. Lots of breaks 3. Marvin the Marvelous Monkey, A small stuffed animal tied to His shoulder strap that kept him entertained while hiking and in camp. He carried a 17 lb ruck for 8 miles that day before I had to take it at Bunnell Cascade. We went on for another 23 miles that trip, to include the summit of Half Dome.
This July we will head out on the JMT from Reds Meadow to Yosemite valley. Liam is now 11. I can't think of anything that gives me more joy than to share the greatness of Yosemite with my son. I wish the same to you.Feb 9, 2008 at 8:21 pm #1419907
Doug JohnsonBPL Member
@djohnsonLocale: Washington State
Way cool new pack from Mountain Laurel Designs: http://www.mountainlaureldesigns.com/shop/product_info.php?products_id=83&osCsid=9509a099623613f7bd7548a1a49a9fc0
I can't wait for my 21 month old to be big enough to buy him one of these! :-)Feb 9, 2008 at 8:30 pm #1419910
Doug, I had seen that pack and gritting and grinding my teeth whined "Why couldn't they have had this oh, 3 years ago?" ;-)
Sigh! It is a nifty little pack for kids. But at nearly 5'2" mine is getting an adult pack this year. So I wait for my friend Dicentra's daughter, Maddy, to be big enough for one that Aunt Sarah can buy her :-DFeb 11, 2008 at 8:15 am #1420107
@pyeyoLocale: pacific northwest
Just returned from a weekend trip with a 6 1/2 year old girl and I was reflecting on the rules of going with children.
1. You will eventually have to go along with whatever campsite the child has chosen because you no longer have any free will. It will probably be a bug bog filled with bear scat but just accept it.
2. Upon arriving at camp everything will now be drug through the dirt.
3. They will now proceed to fall into the water, you're in the middle of the drought ridden Mohave and someone's children are falling into a seep.
4. They will repeat 2 + take off their shoes.
5. All electronic devices need to be equiped with page features similar to cordless phones [any members who find a digital camera in the Lake Wenatchee area of the Cascades please email me.]
6. Like the new viruses and super bugs, conifer pitch and deciduous sap has now evolved beyond modern industrial solvents, this is actually a good place to encourage rolling in the dirt but one needs to practice the "what pitch in her hair?" line before confronting the mother bear at the home den.
7.A. Children fall asleep differently then adults, when sharing a tent it is important for them to annoy the adult into a state of agitation. As soon as they are sure you can not possibly fall asleep they will.
B. No matter how often you attempt the pre-bedtime bathroom routine it is doomed to fail. At exactly 3am you will be fumbling for a flashlight and … .
C. As you lay awake a 3:15 am deciding all children are terrorists and that tomorrow you are going to misplace the mosquito repellent and sacrifice them to the insect gods you will eventually drift off to sleep.
D. You will awake with a child's sleeping bag pulled up to your knees and a jacket over you upper torso, she will look absolutely angelic 3 foot deep in your beautiful down bag.
8. Even though you were looking forward to a superb cup of coffee it is possible you will be hitting the trail at 7:05 am, after both #2 and #3 occur.
9. Stopping at a quaint shop along your rural route home will cost you $44.00 for a doll even though all the other dolls in the store are $9.95. There is no explanation, it will just happen, this can possibly replace the "what pitch speech" with the "what doll speech" so practice in the rearview mirror before returning to the home den.
10. Bribing children with unapproved maternal foodstuffs is okay. On day one all m&m's will be gone from the gorp. Children have an uncanny ability to pour out only the candy treat. Dried fruit works well and if it's not your child you do not need to worry about cavities, a 6-9 year old will decimate all chocolate supplies, they can smell it through a bear cannister.
11. After decades of glorious wilderness hikes these will be some of the best memories you'll ever have.
The postscript to this is a March trip in the works, I forced myself to reread this in preparation. it won't matter everything will just morph into something else.
Good LuckFeb 11, 2008 at 10:36 am #1420136
Stephen, your avatar: is that your little boy doing the cables up Half Dome, or is it a trick of perspective?
I can get paralyzed by vertigo at odd times and nearly threw up at the base of the cable run. Jeez, even the memory fills me with dread…. I'm totally confused trying to discern if that's an adult or kid but the head isn't taller than the cables. HAHA!…. That IS your boy isn't it!!?!?
-MichaelFeb 16, 2008 at 5:00 pm #1420876
@obi96Locale: Deep in the Green Mountains
Yes that's him, all 8 1/2 years of him at the time. When we arrived at the cables he said "Come on Dad lets go."
What you may not see in the picture is that he is wearing a climbing harness and is tightly short roped to me. We geared up at the base of the gravely "steps." In addition, He clipped in to each section on the cables.
Believe me, I was not going to take any chances with him. If you ever meet Momma Bear you'll understand.
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