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#95445 - 05/01/08 06:18 AM backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness
danyd Offline

Registered: 05/01/08
Posts: 1
Hi there

I came across this site today while looking for info regarding an upcoming backpack trip. My kids are 7 (boy) and 10 (girl). My stepdad has planned a 5 day trip this July. I am wondering if his 7 to 10 mile days are too lofty for children this age. I am thinking yes, if I know my own children. They will be required to carry light packs, sleeping bags, and their own hydration pak. We have hikes with our children before 3 miles max and they had had enough.
What is your experience with kids this age? If we start training now do you think 7 to 10 mile days will be possible? I hate to sound negative, but it sounds like a lot to me and I could spare everyone a lot of whining if I back out now.

#95446 - 05/01/08 06:57 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: danyd]
BarryP Offline

Registered: 03/04/04
Posts: 1574
Loc: Eastern Idaho
Welcome aboard. I hope we can hear from you often.

Some tidbits can be found here:
My youngest daughter (now 11--- I have 5 kids total with 3 married, and I have 2 grandkids, and this year I will be turning 45) was able to put in 12 mile days when she was 8. Some things that helped:
-Smore reward
-Camp fire that she starts
-She had a young friend with her that she talked with
-When you stop to Ďrestí you really play catch with the ball.
-Gave her animal jelly beans from Whole Foods every hour. I donít know why that helped but it did.
-keep total pack weight around 5-8 lbs (10% of body weight). This means donít buy walmart packs since they absorb 60% of the weight in itself.
-have plans for carrying their pack when theyíre getting tired
-have her plan her own meals so she know she has things she loves
-when they know how to light an alchol stove, they canít wait to cook their own meals (even though itís just boiling water)
-bring Minnie mouse or Mr. dragon. My youngest boy still does this and heís 16! But when I saw Bearpaw do this <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/shocked.gif" alt="" />, I donít feel as bad.
-assign the kids to take the family pictures (risky but they love it)
-give them hiking poles. I donít think kids really need them but they like to do what adults do. They use my Gossamer Gear poles.
-walk w/ mom and dad every day for 3 miles.
-bike to a fun park every few days that is 10-12 miles away. Bring picnic lunch/supper and alcohol stove.

There are many more ideas that you will have because you know how to motivate your kids <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />. My kids can sure remember that hike from several years ago but canít remember their homework from last week <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />.

May you have many fond family memories! <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

#95447 - 05/01/08 10:31 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: danyd]
Hector Offline

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 325
Loc: LA/ARK/TX corner
> My kids are 7 (boy) and 10 (girl).
> I am wondering if his 7 to 10 mile days are too lofty for children this age

In my experience with my kids, yeah, that's about twice what you can expect for the seven-year-old without some fearsome whining and a really tired little fella. For the ten-year-old, maybe an occasional ten mile day, but not five days of it.

#95448 - 05/02/08 01:27 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: Hector]
OregonMouse Online   content

Registered: 02/03/06
Posts: 6524
Loc: Gateway to Columbia Gorge
My experience with my own kids and, more recently, my grandkids, agrees with Hector's that your proposed distance is definitely too much, especially for the 7-year-old. 5-6 mile days, yes, but definitely not more than that. Unless, of course, you want this to be absolutely the last backpack they will ever be willing to go on!

On the other hand, it will be a marvelous experience if you can get your stepdad to slow down a bit for the sake of the kids. The trip should be planned around the kids, not the adults. If you can do that, and if the kids are in good shape before you start, it could be a really fun trip!
May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view--E. Abbey

#95449 - 05/02/08 07:25 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: OregonMouse]
Hector Offline

Registered: 12/20/04
Posts: 325
Loc: LA/ARK/TX corner
I was once told by my twins, in absolute seriousness, that the next hike should be downhill all the way. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

#95450 - 05/02/08 07:56 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: OregonMouse]
finallyME Offline

Registered: 09/24/07
Posts: 2710
Loc: Utah

On the other hand, it will be a marvelous experience if you can get your stepdad to slow down a bit for the sake of the kids. The trip should be planned around the kids, not the adults. If you can do that, and if the kids are in good shape before you start, it could be a really fun trip!

I agree. If you want your kids to backpack after this trip, then they are the main concern. I once took my father-in-law on an overnight with my then 4yr old and his adopted 5 yr old. The two boys had grown up together in very close proximity, and we had just moved out of state. It was their last real time together for a while. I planned on only a 2 mile hike because it was my sons first time and I wanted him to enjoy (and I also didn't want to carry his pack <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/frown.gif" alt="" /> ). My father-in-law had this idea that the faster we got to camp, the better. I wanted to stop when my son wanted a rest, and to walk slow and show him why it is so cool to walk in the woods. I learned a lot about hiking with kids on that trip. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smirk.gif" alt="" />

If your step dad wants to do the distant just cuz, I suggest a trip without kids. Otherwise, slow down, don't go so far, and enjoy the time with the kids at their pace and comfort.
I've taken a vow of poverty. To annoy me, send money.

#95451 - 05/10/08 09:26 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: danyd]
Paul Offline

Registered: 09/30/02
Posts: 778
Loc: California
You know your own kids, so rely on that. My experience backpacking with kids is that they can go as far as they want to. Motivation is the limitation, not energy or endurance, so training is not the answer. If they want to do it, they can walk you into the ground at that age, but if they don't want to , trying to make them is a drag for everyone and will make it the last trip they want to go on for a long time. The ideal thing is to pick an area where you can vary the length of the days as you go - so if they are loving it and want to go further, you can do it. And if their motivation is not up to it, you can stick to shorter days. I'm trying to get my kids to love backpacking, and it has worked great with my older boy - he's 14 and wants to do longer and longer hikes now. We started with very short trips so that it's fun the first time out.

#95452 - 05/20/08 04:50 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: Paul]
kbennett Offline

Registered: 10/27/03
Posts: 820
Loc: north carolina
I'm thinking 10 miles per day in The Bob might be a bit much for a seven year old kid with very limited backpacking experience. The ten year old can probably do it, but not happily.

No matter how many miles you do per day, my experience with my own offspring (now getting ready to head off to college) suggests the following advice (which you probably already know, but might help someone else):

1. Proper clothing is CRUCIAL. Much more so for kids than for adults, I think. Kids that age don't thermoregulate well. They need synthetic base layers, proper insulating layers for the expected temperatures (and then some), and good rain gear. (Ask me how I know this <grin>.) No cotton t-shirts or cotton briefs. No cotton sweatshirt as an insulator. No cheapo plastic dollar-store poncho.

2. Constant snacking makes a difference. Beef jerky was my daughter's favorite -- I let her make it at home. But they need a steady supply of gorp, dried fruit, M&M's, that sort of thing, just to make it up the trail.

3. Regular fun pack-off breaks. Adults understand the concept of delayed gratification -- "if I keep hiking to the top of this hill, I can have a nice break with a better view." Kids don't -- they need a break and they want to stop NOW. So stop at least every hour, more often if you find something fun to explore -- a creek is ideal.

4. No forced death marches. Having a fixed schedule, needing to be somewhere far away at a certain fixed time, can be a powerful motivator for adults. (It pretty much describes every day at work, right?) Not so for kids. The best hiking schedule is one that incorporates plenty of long breaks (see above) with 2-hour bursts of hiking. Heck, that's the sort of hiking *I* like. Hike for a couple of hours, take an hour break. Hike a couple of hours, take a 3-hour lunch. Repeat until bedtime. Adults can knock out 20+ miles a day that way (if they start early enough.) Small kids can do 6 or 7, working up to 8-10 miles per day.

Good luck, and have fun. More importantly, make sure your kids have fun.
--Ken B

#139255 - 09/23/10 08:53 PM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: kbennett]
skcreidc Offline

Registered: 08/16/10
Posts: 1590
Loc: San Diego CA
Don't backpack too far and too long a time. Bring lots of snacks that the kids like. Don't let them carry too much weight. Find a good fishing spot (worked for both my boy and girl). Bring games for at nite. The hard part for me was the backpacking part. I have shots of my daughter at 8 years old giving me the stink-eye in the rain as we are closing the gap on a 1000ft elevation gain. She had a great time once we got there but getting there was rough.

#148704 - 04/01/11 01:51 AM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: skcreidc]
MTvagabond Offline

Registered: 03/30/11
Posts: 43
Loc: Western Montana
I realize this post is pretty far removed from the original question, but I have a few ideas to offer. Two years ago my wife, myself, and my 6 year old son (almost 7) hiked into the scapegoat wilderness near the Bob. This was the first hike for any of us into the area, so I researched as much as I could about what to expect from our son. My BIGGEST concern is the presence of grizzlies in that country, and the general sense I got from online research about taking young children into grizzly country. Needless to say, we prepared as best as we could and went anyway.

As far as the age goes, we went 7 miles that first day, and it was a fairly relaxed pace - that is, a family pace. Our son hiked as expected- complaining at first, enjoying for a while, wanting a break every 10 minutes. We kept setting goals for a break and pushing on, and he would fade in and out of outdoor excitement and longing for the TV. But he kept up. He wasn't carrying much that year (a light pack, water, raingear, a stuffed animal, and a book; probably about 6 lbs). Those 7 miles took us a good part of the day due to rest breaks, but we reached our destination. At this point in his backpacking life, I think 7 miles is about the extent we would have attempted, and it required lots of stops to look at butterflies in horse manure, take pictures, and take in calories. NOTE that our hike (Hobnail Tom Trail) was pretty flat for the duration, and there is no way we could have attempted that mileage with altitude gain.

To date, I still haven't made an "official" trip into the Bob. This is not from lack of desire, but because most trips I've read about seem outside the ability of my son. Most trips into the Bob that have any particular goal in mind are very long trips (with kids), and we haven't been able to plan more than a three-nighter so far. Again, judge for yourself the risks of taking children into grizzly country, and take appropriate precautions if you do (we would clap loudly as a group every few minutes if we couldn't see far ahead; a good learning opportunity for kids about bear safety).

Last year we made a trip into the Jewel Basin (again, just outside the Bob). Awesome trip!!! Only a couple of miles or so per day, but with an elevation gain this time. Our son responded to this trip about the same as the the year before, which was fine (he was almost 8 at this point). We only added a little more to his pack, and he did well (considering my wife and I were carrying all of his gear). He had some conditioning before this, with some harder day hikes prior to the trip. But each hike received the same response (grumble, grumble, grumble, bug!, play, rest!, food, grumble, flower, grumble, rest! water, scat!, etc.). My best recommend is to take a light digital camera and have the kids take pictures along the way. It's a fun diversion, a way to impress upon children the importance of looking at their surroundings, and often the best pictures from the trip are the ones the children take.

I've been looking at various hikes into the Bob this year, and I'm not sure it's going to happen. Personally, I'm all about death marches, but not with kids. Nobody wins when the kids aren't having fun. I like to use the limited vacation time I have to hike places I've never been, and with FEW exceptions there aren't a lot of trips into the Bob that I would take my son that wouldn't be a death march at his age, or take more time than I have available. Even close to 9, I don't think he's ready. Instead, I'm just going to add weight to his pack (he's carrying his own sleeping bag from now on). Right now, I would rather see him carry more weight (about 10 lbs +) and hike shorter trips than push him to walk farther.

Each child is different, so plan around their temperament. I am starting to know how far I can push/coax my son and still make it family fun. Personally, I don't think short trips make it automatically better because my son gets his second wind at about 3 miles, so why not take advantage of it. Ten miles a day for a ten year old might be OK. Ten miles in one day for a seven year old might be reasonable, but consider the terrain. I would not advise consecutive days of hiking like this unless the child insists (even then, parents have to assess what their kids are capable of, and be willing to set up camp a few miles short of any goal on a map).
...then we might find something that we weren't looking for, which might be just what we were looking for, really. - Milne

#148745 - 04/01/11 04:26 PM Re: backpacking in the bob marshall wilderness [Re: MTvagabond]
wandering_daisy Offline

Registered: 01/11/06
Posts: 2796
Loc: California
My children now have their own kids! When my daughter was 5 we did a backpack in the Wind Rivers. I hired a horse-packer to take us in about 7 miles and she rode a horse and I walked. We then spent one day at a nice lake and two days walking out, downhill. She carried the pots and pans and loved to make them clang when she walked. I chose late season so there would be no mosquitoes and lots of berry gathering and less dangerous water conditions. We spent several hours gathering whortleberries (very tiny) and then made a pie. We built fires every night. Rather than just ordinary backpack food, I brought a frypan and lid to bake in. We made cakes and cinnamonn roll. She liked to cook, fish and gather berries. Few kids are thrilled with the walking, but most like to explore and do things in the mountains. Back in those days there were no light weight kids cameras- but that is a great idea. You have to set the mood too - assuring, happy and fun. Also, this was not her first trip. We had done several shorter trips in the past. Her first backpack was a week when she was 17 months old. Again, we utilized a commercial packer and she rode a horse (on the lap of an adult family member). We walked out and I carried her in my backpack. I think the key is to simply get them into the woods early, whether backpacking or not, so it is a familiar environment for them.


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