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Thread: Hiking With Son

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    Registered User HikerGuyTom's Avatar
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    Post Hiking With Son

    Howdy All,
    Long time reader, first time poster. I'm planning a NOBO hike the next year after I retire from the military (in 5 years) and have a question.

    My son will be 10 years old by that time and I'd like to take him with me for a month or so on the AT. I plan on leaving early March and finishing around the middle of August.

    My question is: What is a good stretch to take him on that won't be too strenuous with good scenery? I'd like to take him out for a month or so, is that a lot for a 10 year old?

    Thanks in advance, and keep up the great informative posts!

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    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    I suggest you read the trail journal for Troll, Anchor and Obvilious before taking your son on a month long hike. This is the journal of a couple that thru-hiked with a 10 year old son in 2005 and has really helped me plan when taking my younger grandkids and great-grandkids into the woods.

    As for a section - I'd recommend northern VA and especially the SNP - easy hiking, tons of wildlife that isn't as skiddish around people and good foliage / fauna.

  3. #3

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    Welcome to WhiteBlaze, HikerGuyTom! As a Dadx3 my advice is to start with camping and dayhikes, and then overnighters. The best way to find out what's "a lot" for any child is by experience. Some kids really take to it, like SloeToe's twins (LT hikers with 100s of AT miles) and my middle daughter - who is just a young teen but has several solo overnights under her boots. Some kids get burnt out by over enthusiastic dads, like my oldest son, who just isn't interested anymore. And then some like other aspects of hiking that don't include camping out, like my mountain climbing 12yo boy.
    Just remember, keep it fun!
    Teej

    "[ATers] represent three percent of our use and about twenty percent of our effort," retired Baxter Park Director Jensen Bissell.

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    Thru' hiker one weekend at a time... vipahman's Avatar
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    A month is too long. Start out with the day trips, progress to weekends, then a full week and finally a month. For all you know, a week might be too much.

    I took my 4 year old son and 2-year old daughter for an outdoor vacation to Colorado. It was a 3-week car-camping vacation with a motel stay every 3 days. By the end of the first week, my son was longing for the motel (I think the TV had something to do with it).

    You have to find your child's limits.
    -Avi
    AT completed: NJ6-1, NY13-2, CT5-2

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    nc/tn border up through the grayson highlands
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    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    I was just re-reading the Troll family's journal and teared up over this entry:
    The biggest news item for the day is that oblivious lost a tooth after we set up camp tonight. We are hoping that the tooth fairy will be able to find this campsite. We had to make a few adjustments. The tooth is in an empty snack bag in a cup. Oblivious is very worried about the lack of a bed and a pillow. We'll see what the morning brings.
    Like I said earlier, read this journal - it has all sorts of tips on how to take care of a child's emotional needs as well as physical needs on the trail. Anchor, if you are reading here - you are an awesome mom.

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    Hiker bigcranky's Avatar
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    Dino,

    I had the same reaction to the quote you posted. Mine is way past that stage, but it brings back some memories. Thanks.
    Ken B
    'Big Cranky'
    Our Long Trail journal

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    Super Moderator Ender's Avatar
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    In 1998 "The Family" thruhiked the AT, and the youngest was either 10 or 11. Regardless, I believe he was a stronger and faster hiker than just about anyone else on the trail, and had a great attitude.

    My advice, and this is coming from someone who doesn't have kids, so take it for what it's worth, is to make it as exciting and fun for him as possible, and pay close attention to his physical and emotional needs, but don't be afraid to push him if he's just being a little lazy. Physically, he should be perfectly capable of doing that long a hike, as long as he isn't carrying too much weight. Emotionally it could be hard for him, just as it could be for any hiker. Pay attention to that and adjust your trip accordingly, and all should be fine.
    Don't take anything I say seriously... I certainly don't.

  9. #9

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    I am a huge believer in kids. You have quite a few years to prepare it seems (he is 5 now?) Start hiking with him whenever you can NOW. Get him used to backpacking, hiking, sleeping outside. By 10 it will be old hat, and he won't even blink. He'll probably outhike you by then if he has trail legs. My son does that at 9 now.....
    If well trained, you might well find you have a little partner for the whole hike. It is an awesome bonding to hike with your kid.
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  10. #10
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    We started our son when he was 10 at Lincoln Woods in NH - hiking the Franconia Falls area with his backpack for a weekend. It was an easy flat trail for 2 miles. He did very well, though he did complain some. We just did a short easy hike and spent time at the falls. Then we began to increase the distance hiking next trips we did. And made sure he got a good pack. And got him involved in Boy Scouts. The last trip we did, he did 17 miles in one day and still brags about it, ha ha (he's 16 now)

    If the kids are used to backpacking at a younger age you could go for longer distances and time. With mine, we took it slow and easy and now he will be thru hiking next year.







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  11. #11

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    Don't skimp on gear. Also I agree with Blissful get him involved with BSA
    E-Z---"from sea to shining sea''

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    1000+ miles down (2009), 1000+ miles to go (2021) RadioFreq's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrc237 View Post
    Don't skimp on gear. Also I agree with Blissful get him involved with BSA
    Not all troops focus on backpacking. Some don't backpack at all. Check different troops and ask for their list of planned camp outings for the upcoming year. All troops are supposed to have one as a part of their annual planning.
    "When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute.
    But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute--and it's longer than any hour.
    That's relativity." --Albert Einstein--

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    Registered User SteveJ's Avatar
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    Hi, Tom. Congrats on being in a position to plan a thru-hike!

    I have 3 boys - 11, 16 & 18. I agree w/ those who have said "start 'em early." I got re-involved in backpacking when the oldest joined Boy Scouts at 11. Got the bug and began going w/ the boys as often as possible. Oldest quickly decided such an activity had absolutely no interest for him. My other 2 enjoy it. I took the youngest on his 1st trip when he was 5 - see my photo gallery - he carried a book bag w/ his sleeping bag and clothes - maybe 6 lbs. We're going on a short trip w/ the Boy Scout troop this weekend. IMPORTANT! - your son will be miserable if you put too much weight on him! It only takes one trip to make him decide that he hates it and never wants to go again..... I've never allowed my boys to carry more than 25% of their body weight, and generally try to keep it under 20%.

    Also, boys can't join Boy Scouts until they're 11 (or, I believe 10 1/2 if they're in 5th grade and earned the Cub Scout 'Arrow of Light' award) - before that it's Cub Scouts - backpacking generally isn't part of the Cub Scout program.....

    My 11 y.o. would be thrilled if I could take off for a month and take him backpacking........
    Everywhere is walking distance if you have the time.

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    Registered User TN_Hiker's Avatar
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    SteveJ,

    Just to clarify the point you made. A boy can join Boy Scouts provided they are 10 y/o and have earned the Arrow of Light. If you refer to the Arrow of Light requirements, they must be active in Webelos (Cub Scouts) for 6 months after completing 4th grade or after 6 months of turning the age of 10.

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    Registered User HikerGuyTom's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone for the great responses! I've been able to take him (he's 5 now) camping a few times and he really loved it, next is to see how he enjoys hiking...

    Taking him on a few weekend trips is a good idea. Any suggestions on backpacks and sleeping bags?

    Thanks for the tip on the SNP, it sounds perfect.

    Thanks again for your awesome advice, this is definately one of the best resources on hiking the AT.

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    There are several threads here about packs and bags for kids...search the archives. I've also put a little bit of stuff here.

    When my kids were 5, we just used a school pack and put little more than raingear and his homemade quilt in it. And water and emergency gear, of course.

    We just got the Deuter Fox 30 and it's a good pack for my 11yo. It's acceptable for my 7yo but the waist strap is a bit big. Great pack overall if you're not going to make your own, though.

  17. #17
    AT 4000+, LT, FHT, ALT Blissful's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HikerGuyTom View Post
    Thanks everyone for the great responses! I've been able to take him (he's 5 now) camping a few times and he really loved it, next is to see how he enjoys hiking...

    Taking him on a few weekend trips is a good idea. Any suggestions on backpacks and sleeping bags?

    Thanks for the tip on the SNP, it sounds perfect.

    Thanks again for your awesome advice, this is definitely one of the best resources on hiking the AT.
    Wish I had a five year old again. How cute!!!! Sigh.

    I think the gear section had a thread that talked about backpacks for
    youngsters. We got our son a "growing" sleeping bag when he was that age and younger, parts of it zipped off so he didn't get lost inside.

    Honestly, in five years though the gear will probably be amazing. What we talk about now will be obsolete.

    And it's great to see you talk about the future. When my son was 3 I said when he turns 17 we are going to do the whole trail together. He is 16 now and we are doing it next year. Amazing.







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  18. #18

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    As for the Cub Scouts: just like in the Boy Scouts, dens can have different intrests. My son's CS den loves hiking (I helped that one!) so the kids are working on their ever cheezy "LNT Badge". Gets the kids out, gets some fresh air, etc. So Cub Scouts can be good

    And yes, as for gear, if you have it and think you can't live without it, then your kid deserves a mini-me version also. This means decent hiking socks, boots or trail runners, proper clothes, a mini down jacket for off season (Land End is great as is LLBean for kid's clothing for the outdoors), Walmart almost always has Starter shirts for hiking and hiking pants.
    The deuter Fox 30 is an excellent pack for small kids. The North Face Tigger bag and the REI ZigZag bag are great for 9-10 month use a year
    Even at 5-6 a strong kid can carry 7-8 lbs with no issues.
    As for those who say the Deuter is too heavy, comapred to most "kids" packs it is a lightweight. It has an excellent suspension, which will do your child more than a 1 lb book bag will ever do
    Trail Cooking/FBC, Recipes, Gear and Beyond:
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    Registered User Frolicking Dinosaurs's Avatar
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    I'm with Sarbar on the 'mini-me versions of everything. While a book bag will work for hiking once in a while, your son will need a real pack for long-distance hiking. The Tigger sleeping bag is great.

  20. #20
    Registered User HikerGuyTom's Avatar
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    Thanks for the advice on the gear! My son wants to dress like me now, so I'm sure his hiking gear will be no different.

    I took him on a short trial hike this past weekend and he did really well. I can't wait to hike the AT with him.

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