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  1. #1
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    Default Georgia Section with Boy Scouts

    I am hiking from the approach trail to the North Carolina border with a few friends the last week of March. This will be my first AT trip and I am super excited and have been training hard.

    I have the ability to take my son and his friend with me but, being that I don't fully know what to expect myself, I'm not sure that they could handle it and am looking for input from people with a little experience on the subject.

    Both of these young men are 13/14 years old and have been in Scouts for many years. Both are strong hikers but, kinda lazy teens the majority of the time. They will be on spring break and I was thinking about instead of letting them sit around playing Xbox for two weeks, I'd give them a potentially live changing experience.

    Your input will be greatly appreciated.

    Jeremiah

  2. #2

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    8-10 miles a day, keep pack weights under 25 lbs. Have some bail out plans. footwear is most important. I wished I had never worn big clunky boots in the scouts.
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

  3. #3
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    I faced the same dilemma in 2007. My oldest son was 12, my youngest 10. It was to be my first long backpacking trip, so I decided to take only the 12-year-old as a test. We did Approach Trial to Neels Gap. I soon found out that he was a better, stronger, faster hiker than I was. The next year, I also brought along his younger brother, who was then 11. We did Neels Gap to Dicks Creek Gap, basically finishing Georgia. The 11-year-old stayed with me most of the time. He was A-Okay with the hiking.

    Most boys will look at this as a great adventure. If yours do, you should have a great time - hard, tiring, dirty, hot, wet, cold, whatever - but memorable and meaningful and great. Give them a try. No matter what, you'll share awesome memories. There's a good chance this will be the first of a series of adventures during these coming, important teen years with them. If not, if they hate it, at least you did it once!

    Have fun!

  4. #4
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    Gambit is right about pack weight - when my boys were younger teens, I kept weight around 23 pounds (they could've done more, but I think that was a good idea).

    As for mileage, if they're lean, athletic boys, they'll be able to handle 10-15 and probably more.

  5. #5
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    Great that you want to take them hiking. You might be surprised at how well they handle it. However there are some things to consider. One is that the AT will be very crowded with thru hikers starting at the end of march (pretty much the peak time). If you are going with "a few friends" plus a couple of scouts, you are a pretty large group so you should not assume there will be room in shelters. You may find the need to camp most if not all of the time. All shelters are on a first come first served basis. Camping on your own away from the shelters may be a better option for a group of that size. Also, since this is new to you and the boys, it will be best if you can be flexible. It's no big deal if you don't make it all the way to NC. Just be prepared to bail out early if necessary. Don't turn what is supposed to be a fun experience into a trial just because you feel you have to make a certain goal by a certain date.

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    They can most likely handle it better than you.

    When my son was 11, he was hiking 15 mpd without issue on AT. 18 mpd @ 13/14

    But thats peak time........there will be no room in shelters , or even at shelters. Your kids might also be exposed to things you would rather they not.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 02-04-2019 at 17:49.

  7. #7

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    Simple question, what do they think? if you tell them they are going they may find a way to make everyone miserable, if they are asked and WANT to go, keep the packs light, plan it like any other scout trip, and wonder where they get all the energy from...

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgillam View Post
    I am hiking from the approach trail to the North Carolina border with a few friends the last week of March. This will be my first AT trip and I am super excited and have been training hard.

    I have the ability to take my son and his friend with me but, being that I don't fully know what to expect myself, I'm not sure that they could handle it and am looking for input from people with a little experience on the subject.

    Both of these young men are 13/14 years old and have been in Scouts for many years. Both are strong hikers but, kinda lazy teens the majority of the time. They will be on spring break and I was thinking about instead of letting them sit around playing Xbox for two weeks, I'd give them a potentially live changing experience.

    Your input will be greatly appreciated.

    Jeremiah
    Have they backpacked before? Hiking and backpacking are slightly different things. If they have backpacked before, did they like it? It would be misery to have two 13/14 year old boys on a forced hike for two weeks.
    Time is but the stream I go afishin' in.
    Thoreau

  9. #9

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    Yep, just finding a place to put down a tent with what sounds like could be a group of 5 is going to be a challenge. Then there is the weather, which is often cold and wet the end of March. Groups change the dynamics of a hike since now you need a consensus on nearly every decision.

    Taking the kids along is a worthy idea, but this is probably the wrong place at the wrong time of year to do it.

    BTW, you do know the NC boarder is sort of in the middle of nowhere? You have to continue on another day or two to get out to a road, or turn around and go back the way you came. The best bet is to go to the boarder as a day hike from the Top of Georgia hostel, provided you can get bunks for the group there, they will be overflowing.

    It should only take about a week to hike GA. But if you do have a group of 5 with two teenagers, getting going in the morning could be a slow process, so maybe it will take 2 weeks.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

  10. #10

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    Have a support vehicle and designated pick up points if needed to pick up those who can't make it. Going to take 2-3 adults to shepherd the group, one at the front, one at the rear and one to monitor in the middle. A trustworthy scout can be the third man.
    A lot of details will be sorted out on the trail. Some kids will naturally gravitate to being helpful, other to be annoying.
    Have fun!
    ./~Hi ho, hi ho, it's up the trail I go ./~

  11. #11
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    I'm still in disagreement with the footwear and heavy packs they want kids to use. Fortunately, I am able to guide the troop.
    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    8-10 miles a day, keep pack weights under 25 lbs. Have some bail out plans. footwear is most important. I wished I had never worn big clunky boots in the scouts.

  12. #12
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    We are already planning to minimize their exposure to shelter shenagians by camping a short distance from them.
    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    They can most likely handle it better than you.

    When my son was 11, he was hiking 15 mpd without issue on AT. 18 mpd @ 13/14

    But thats peak time........there will be no room in shelters , or even at shelters. Your kids might also be exposed to things you would rather they not.

  13. #13

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    You have a good plan, it will not take 2 weeks, and finding tenting spots will not be a breeze but is definately doable. Start as a group, end as a geoup and see how far ya make it. Have Ron Browns number on speed diable if things go amuck, he can bail ya out at any highway.
    As well, just past the nc/ ga border is deep gap. Its a gravel road but a dandy spot to start or finish a hike.

  14. #14
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    i was exploring this same idea a couple years back. In fact its what revived my interest in backpacking after about 3 decades or so....
    My son was in scouts. Bored with the overly adult influenced program not letting him just have fun with his friends. Traditional summer camp was an overscheduled badge mill.... even without many interesting badges available.
    I wanted to do a father and son trip but realized that he'd be much more interested in doing it if a friend came along.... but of course that wouldn't be an official scouting thing. Still potentially fun. My other thought was to encourage him to make it a patrol outing(not something that our troop ever did, sadly......or even open it up to the whole troop ..whoever was interested....(of course that would require rounding up another Scouter to come along...).

    He wasn't overly excited about either option....
    Eventually I went back and forth between just going myself or just making it a father son thing.
    Well,life kept getting in the way...he quit scouts.... and I/we still haven't made it up there yet. I really regret not making it happen as a father son trip.

    Anyway...my thoughts
    use the opportunity to research and teach lighter weight backpacking.... trail runners instead of boots, etc.... keep their packs light as others have already mentioned
    Let them do some or all of the planning. I still contend that one of the best tools the scouting program can have..but yet not many if any actually do... is truly letting the scouts lead the way. Not giving the concept lip service...but really letting the scouts choose. Let them decide what they do or not. when to start the day, how far to go, etc....
    But steer them towards something that they can then discover. Let them discover it on their own.
    ...in my thinking, it would be better to find a place with some swimming holes, water falls, cool little caves or places... Don't tell them we're hiking to this waterfall. Instead get them going down the trail...then before you get there fade back and let them hike on and discover it. If the plan to make many miles today falls apart because the plan changes to "let's hang out here in this cool place for a while"...the go with that I'd say.

  15. #15
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    Great information and I agree with all of it. While my youngest son only wants to hang out with his dad for now, letting my 13 year old bring friends on backpacking trips has been a real game changer. Friends are everything at this age and including them let's me expose more kids to the outdoors. I do however wish that more dad's would join us.
    Quote Originally Posted by blw2 View Post
    i was exploring this same idea a couple years back. In fact its what revived my interest in backpacking after about 3 decades or so....
    My son was in scouts. Bored with the overly adult influenced program not letting him just have fun with his friends. Traditional summer camp was an overscheduled badge mill.... even without many interesting badges available.
    I wanted to do a father and son trip but realized that he'd be much more interested in doing it if a friend came along.... but of course that wouldn't be an official scouting thing. Still potentially fun. My other thought was to encourage him to make it a patrol outing(not something that our troop ever did, sadly......or even open it up to the whole troop ..whoever was interested....(of course that would require rounding up another Scouter to come along...).

    He wasn't overly excited about either option....
    Eventually I went back and forth between just going myself or just making it a father son thing.
    Well,life kept getting in the way...he quit scouts.... and I/we still haven't made it up there yet. I really regret not making it happen as a father son trip.

    Anyway...my thoughts
    use the opportunity to research and teach lighter weight backpacking.... trail runners instead of boots, etc.... keep their packs light as others have already mentioned
    Let them do some or all of the planning. I still contend that one of the best tools the scouting program can have..but yet not many if any actually do... is truly letting the scouts lead the way. Not giving the concept lip service...but really letting the scouts choose. Let them decide what they do or not. when to start the day, how far to go, etc....
    But steer them towards something that they can then discover. Let them discover it on their own.
    ...in my thinking, it would be better to find a place with some swimming holes, water falls, cool little caves or places... Don't tell them we're hiking to this waterfall. Instead get them going down the trail...then before you get there fade back and let them hike on and discover it. If the plan to make many miles today falls apart because the plan changes to "let's hang out here in this cool place for a while"...the go with that I'd say.

  16. #16
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    Thank you.
    Quote Originally Posted by GaryM View Post
    Have a support vehicle and designated pick up points if needed to pick up those who can't make it. Going to take 2-3 adults to shepherd the group, one at the front, one at the rear and one to monitor in the middle. A trustworthy scout can be the third man.
    A lot of details will be sorted out on the trail. Some kids will naturally gravitate to being helpful, other to be annoying.
    Have fun!

  17. #17
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    They are both backpackers. They've never hiked this far but, I'm pretty sure they would love it. One of the kids fell in love with it years ago on his first trip into the woods. The wildcard in my kid. Lol
    Quote Originally Posted by perdidochas View Post
    Have they backpacked before? Hiking and backpacking are slightly different things. If they have backpacked before, did they like it? It would be misery to have two 13/14 year old boys on a forced hike for two weeks.

  18. #18
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    suggested read...if you can find a copy
    https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/...in-my-backpack

  19. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gambit McCrae View Post
    8-10 miles a day, keep pack weights under 25 lbs. Have some bail out plans. footwear is most important. I wished I had never worn big clunky boots in the scouts.
    Mileage will depend upon the ability of the boys... and I suspect they could do better than JUST 8-10mpd... but limiting it to 10mpd sounds pretty reasonable for the age range.

    The number I've always used regarding pack weight was to limit the pack to no more than 20% of their body weight. Given that boys in their early teens should weight a little over 100lbs, something just north of 20lbs is the right ball park. The weight limit was a bit of a challenge for me when my boys were in the 7-8yo range and the 20% limit ment 10-12lbs.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by HooKooDooKu View Post
    Mileage will depend upon the ability of the boys... and I suspect they could do better than JUST 8-10mpd... but limiting it to 10mpd sounds pretty reasonable for the age range.

    The number I've always used regarding pack weight was to limit the pack to no more than 20% of their body weight. Given that boys in their early teens should weight a little over 100lbs, something just north of 20lbs is the right ball park. The weight limit was a bit of a challenge for me when my boys were in the 7-8yo range and the 20% limit ment 10-12lbs.
    Part of the problem with youth, and pack weight being a priority is the age old subject of cost vs "is he gunna lilike doing this" factor.

    Consolidate gear so that you all are not carrying duplicate items. share a stove, instead of pump filters grab a 2pack of sawyer squeeze, light sneakers instead of clunky boots. don't over pack clothing...Maybe do some preplanning packups and then unpack everything on the driveway and see what everyone thinks they can do without.
    AT Shuttle List
    Trail Miles: 3,715.9
    AT Trips: 67
    AT Map 1 Completion: 1818.9 Springer, GA - Franconia Notch, NH
    AT Map 2 Completion: 263.8 Gaps From GA - PA

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