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Coffee
04-27-2019, 16:59
My nephew will be nearly twelve this summer and Iíve been on brief day hikes with him. Heís enjoyed relatively short day hikes in the past and has brought up the idea of a backpacking trip when I talk about my hiking plans for this year. So Iím trying to think of a good but short overnight trip that isnít too long but also not totally trivial in terms of difficulty. Thereís nothing local but thereís an opportunity for me to take him for an overnight in Shenandoah National Park in mid August.

Iíve hiked the AT and many side trails in the park back when I lived in the Dc area and my current idea is the Rose River loop. However, I feel like this may almost be too short and easy given that it would be just a few miles to camp. Iíd like to stay at higher elevations due to being the peak of summer and to include enough to keep him interested, so a river and waterfalls seems attractive. Of course, we would drive the skyline drive as well for views.

Does anyone have general suggestions of things I should do to make a first trip more enjoyable for a 12 year old? Ideally, heíd like this experience and then Iíd plan to take him out to the Sierra Nevada for a few days near Mammoth next year and maybe do the entire JMT with him in 2021 or 2022.

Oh, one other thing is that I donít really want to buy him expensive gear so Iím probably going to opt for a wal mart bag and maybe a cheaper REI tent. Not sure about the backpack yet but leaning toward ULA. Iíll be carrying most gear but I want him to have the experience of carrying something on his back thatís appropriate for his weight of about 100 pounds.

Feral Bill
04-27-2019, 18:28
A 100 pound twelve year old with a good attitude should be able to do a challenging trip. Youth packs with good adjustment will help a lot, especially as this is not planned as a one off trip. He should be able to carry all his gear and part of the food. I would not get a cheap tent. Better a used name brand tent that's fairly light an also roomy. I'd also suggest getting him as involved as possible in the planning. Have fun.

HooKooDooKu
04-27-2019, 22:03
Can't help you directly with suggestions on SNP... I'm familiar with GSMNP. One comment I can make in general is that my kids have enjoyed camping beside creeks.

As far as gear, try to observe the rule of your pack should not weight more than 20% of your body weight... But with a 100lbs 12yo, you should not have any of the issues I had with that rule for 60lbs 7yo.

Check clearance sales for equipment. There's a recent post linking to where Campsaver has some stuff discounted by 30%. And if you are an REI member, I believe they have a Memorial Day sale that should be coming up soon where you usually can take 20% off one regular price item and 20% off one item in the outlet.

swisscross
04-28-2019, 19:54
having a hard time believing you dont have any old gear he can use.

Nolan "Guido" Jordan
04-28-2019, 20:22
Just saying,

I've hiked very little of the Smokies, but the very southern section from the park boundary to the Shuckstack fire tower is a pretty mild day hike to there and back. It's about 8 miles, and there are a couple of really pretty views, especially you get a 360 view from the top of the tower. I haven't done anything past that, but I do recommend that short section.

chknfngrs
04-28-2019, 21:42
If you do hike Shenandoah you’ll need to include a blackberry milkshake at elk wallow wayside. If one night only, you can go almost anywhere and do almost anything!!

Coffee
04-28-2019, 22:57
The waysides will be great!

Thanks for the suggestions. So far I’ve almost always hiked solo and I’ve never been responsible for another hiker or had to consider these factors. I have some old gear but not all that much. However, this might be an excuse to upgrade some gear for myself and give him some older stuff.

Main thing will be to get out there and have a positive experience that’ll lead to more challenging hikes in the future.

Feral Bill
04-29-2019, 01:37
the waysides will be great!

Thanks for the suggestions. So far iíve almost always hiked solo and iíve never been responsible for another hiker or had to consider these factors. I have some old gear but not all that much. However, this might be an excuse to upgrade some gear for myself and give him some older stuff.

main thing will be to get out there and have a positive experience thatíll lead to more challenging hikes in the future. ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ This.

chknfngrs
04-29-2019, 06:49
I hike with my kids often. I always have Oreos and pop tarts and stuff thrown in that’s not normal fare, and keep the miles lower than normal. On top of all else I try to read the weather report before we head out, so I know how to pack. My kids are 5, 6 and 10 and can cover 10 miles in a day easy peasy.

Also, for one night out in August not much sleeping bag is needed. A blanket would work fine.

Starchild
04-29-2019, 07:26
I can't help you much with SNP, but I do run a children's hiking group. In general plan a high reward for the distance hike. Chose the cream of the crop of the trail and quick rewards. Distances and time out in the woods shorter then for a adult hike. Even plan a wayside stop for a real meal reward.

With kids there is a initial transition period which some kids don't like but others are excited by it - this phase you want to get through, then they start to get into the hike, after a while they will get overloaded with being out there. You want to try to end the hiking each day in that middle zone and leave them wanting more. That will leave time for exploring their new surroundings.

Also snack time is very important, when you see them getting cranky or tired, stop and have them eat something. Snacks are more important then meals.

Don't push them for your adult goals. You have to make your goal doing what is best for them. Realize that and stop early. In this you are acting in behalf of their abilities.

LittleRock
04-29-2019, 08:52
Hmmm... maybe Big Meadows to Thornton Gap? That was my favorite part of SNP. It's about 18 miles which is seems like a good distance, trail stays above 3000' with lots of good views, and you can stop for a nice meal at Skyland about halfway through.

windlion
05-01-2019, 11:38
Marys Rock, camp at Byrds Nest 3. Back down to Big Meadows Wayside, blackberry milkshake.

Coffee
05-04-2019, 16:38
Thanks everyone for the additional suggestions. Lots of options in SNP and I think it'll be a good experience.

MuddyWaters
05-05-2019, 01:41
I dont think kids that age need any special considerations, not one on one with adult. A group....is different. Their focus will be different.
My son made 30-60 mile strenuous trips, 15 mpd, at that age, even out hiking some thru hikers in shape on occassion.

Keep pack light.

I believe....give kids the same quality gear you have as well. I always have. My son never knew how to pack heavy....always had under 10 lbs base wt He would tell me i have too much stuff, too much food, etc.

In general terms, if not overweight, a normal kid is likely in better shape than you.

My sons 2nd backpack trip ...at 11..was the Eagle Rock Loop in AR. Counter clockwise....steeper direction. 27 miles, 47 hrs, river fording, water falls, many water crossings strenuous climbs. Feet wet continuously the whole time, He loved it. I taught him early..wet feet werent anything to worry about.....if you have well fitting lightweight breatheable footwear, and thin unpadded wool socks, and let feet dry at night. 9/10 hikers are still ignorant of this

chknfngrs
05-05-2019, 21:23
So many hikers doing it more wronger after all these years



I dont think kids that age need any special considerations, not one on one with adult. A group....is different. Their focus will be different.
My son made 30-60 mile strenuous trips, 15 mpd, at that age, even out hiking some thru hikers in shape on occassion.

Keep pack light.

I believe....give kids the same quality gear you have as well. I always have. My son never knew how to pack heavy....always had under 10 lbs base wt He would tell me i have too much stuff, too much food, etc.

In general terms, if not overweight, a normal kid is likely in better shape than you.

My sons 2nd backpack trip ...at 11..was the Eagle Rock Loop in AR. Counter clockwise....steeper direction. 27 miles, 47 hrs, river fording, water falls, many water crossings strenuous climbs. Feet wet continuously the whole time, He loved it. I taught him early..wet feet werent anything to worry about.....if you have well fitting lightweight breatheable footwear, and thin unpadded wool socks, and let feet dry at night. 9/10 hikers are still ignorant of this