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#178377 - 07/12/13 01:27 PM Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies
DBrewer Offline

Registered: 07/12/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Tennessee
This is my first post. I apologize if this gets a little long. We are planning a trip to the Smokies as a family and I wanted to get opinions on our plan from some more experienced people.

There will be 7 of us going: Myself, my fiance, my ex-husband (we're all on good terms), my son age 15, and 2 daughters ages 12 and 5. We are all in good health and very active. This will be my first time out and also the first for the girls.

We are planning to go in September (6th-8th). Since this is a first time out for the younger ones we thought we would park near Tremont and hike the West Prong Trail to site 18 where we will make camp for both nights. On Saturday we'll get up early and spend the day exploring the trails that branch off near camp and then return to 18 for the night. Sunday is packing up and hiking back to the truck.

Since the girls have never been camping and we have no idea of how much hiking they can do we thought this trip would give them a chance to get their feet wet and we can get an idea of how to go about planning longer trips.

We are packing fairly light with the adults carrying the majority of the load. The kids will have day packs and I thought I would fix up a little backpack for the youngest so that she can be like everybody else.

Does anybody have any advice for making this a great trip? I really want them to enjoy it. We'd love to be able to do some good backpacking trips with the kids as a family.

#178534 - 07/18/13 02:34 PM Re: Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies [Re: DBrewer]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
I only counted 6 people?

First, I would make the 15 year old carry all of his own gear and some of the group gear. And, depending on his size, maybe more. That should help you keep up with him. The 12 year old girl should be able to carry all of her own stuff. Most girls are almost full grown by 12. My 12 year old daughter had no problem with carrying her personal stuff when she was 11. Bare minimum should be sleeping bag, clothes, rain gear, water, and food. Make her brother carry her tent.

Second, bring lots of baby wipes. They tend to help girls (and boys) ease into coping with the wilderness. Also, you will probably have to teach your girls how to pee and pooh in the woods.

Third, bring 2 glow sticks, one for each night, for the 5 year old. Hang it in her tent. My kids seem to like a "light" on all night, especially in a scary wilderness setting, until they are about 7 or 8.

Go on day hikes before your trip. This will help gauge their hiking ability, and help you plan better.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#178538 - 07/18/13 08:45 PM Re: Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies [Re: finallyME]
DBrewer Offline

Registered: 07/12/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Tennessee
Oooops...I forgot about my brother. That makes 7!

We're taking 2 tents so the guys are carrying those. The bags shouldn't be too heavy for the older kids since we're planning to go light.

I thought about the baby wipes. Didn't think of glow sticks though! I'll have to get some of those. Thankfully everybody is used to "going" outside. We have a farm, and if you're helping out on the back forty it's too far to make it back to the house so everybody learns pretty quick about finding a bush or tree to hide behind.

We're looking to do some day hikes locally before we go if I can find some good ones in the area.

#178542 - 07/19/13 09:53 AM Re: Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies [Re: DBrewer]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah
You can break up the tent into sections and give some to the 15 year old. Or, give him more food to carry than the other adult guys. A 15 year old boy used to farm work will run you to the ground, unless you give him more weight, or let him roam free. At least that is my experience with scouts.

Have fun!
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#178550 - 07/19/13 08:20 PM Re: Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies [Re: DBrewer]
Steadman Offline

Registered: 09/17/09
Posts: 511
Loc: Virginia
How do you intend to load your 5 year old?

Mine carries about a liter of water, rain gear, a whistle, and gorp (10 essentials that are age appropriate).

Also, consider using a hydration bladder for them; it keeps them drinking b/c they'll sip absently on the tube.

Further, consider the difference in hiking speed between your 15 year old and your 5 year old. Your group can only move as fast as your slowest member. Your test hikes should be instructive, as should your daily walking on the farm (and to the store, and so one).



#178558 - 07/20/13 05:34 PM Re: Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies [Re: Steadman]
DBrewer Offline

Registered: 07/12/13
Posts: 7
Loc: Tennessee
We did get Kat (the 5 year old) a little pack to carry some things in so that she'll be like everybody else.

We've been thinking about the speed issue and distance. The site we're reserving is only 3 miles from the trailhead. There's a split about a half mile in though and you can continue straight on toward the campsite or you can take a loop of trails that covers about 10 miles. Right now we are talking about breaking off into 2 groups at the split and my fiance and I can take Kat on to camp where she can enjoy exploring the creek while the older 2 go with their dad and uncle on the longer loop. On Saturday we'll try having everybody together and see how they do. Thankfully the group is big enough that we can break up into smaller groups if we need to.

#178698 - 07/27/13 11:17 PM Re: Advice Please? Taking the kids to the Smokies [Re: DBrewer]
topshot Offline

Registered: 04/28/09
Posts: 242
Loc: Midwest
Hope your kids haven't watched Parent Trap. laugh Sorry, couldn't resist.

If it's any consolation, 18 is a really nice site with a creek down the middle of it. Great place for kids to play. It's likely too small for your group, but I thought the furthest south site on the east side of the creek was the best.

Trail to it from Fremont is easy. I don't recall any trails branching off of it. There are some past 18 to the west that you could make into a loop of varying distance.


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