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Camping The Camping forum is for discussion that relates directly to wilderness camping (commonly referred to as car camping).

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Old 09-22-2009, 03:13 PM
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TCheney TCheney is offline
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Join Date: Jul 2009
Posts: 13
In the Pacific NW, one indispensable item for car camping is a big tarp. This has saved more than one camping trip for us. In the event of rain, it provides a dry place for kids and adults. My son was not quite 3 when we camped the first time. Great memories!
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Old 09-22-2009, 07:25 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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Backpack: Mountainsmith Maverick 65
Sleeping Gear: ALPS +20 mummy
Shelter: Kelty Noah 9x9
Join Date: Apr 2009
Posts: 1,482
blue tarp camper: you're one of us!

hah. we take at least two or three 12x20 tarps when we go every summer. invaluable. i take a lightweight 8x10 with me often, they're just so. dang. useful.
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Old 01-01-2013, 03:03 PM
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Kodiak Kodiak is offline
Practical Backpacking™ Junior Member
Backpack: REI but just got a Gorrilla Backpack from Gossemer Gear
Shelter: WBBB Hammock with WB/SuperrFly in winter And Hennessy in summer
Join Date: May 2012
Location: Michigan
Posts: 26
We have 4 children my youngest is 21 now but we started her when she was 4 years old.we spent 5 days 4 nights backpacking on the Ozark Highland Trail we hiked 25 miles she had her own little pack that she carried her stuffed bear. I was so proud of her we only had to carry her about a mile of the 25 miles that we hiked.We have great memories backpacking as a family.
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Old 01-17-2013, 01:53 PM
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RickNC RickNC is offline
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Join Date: Jan 2013
Posts: 2
My 5 year old and I went on our first camping trip at hanging Rock State Park in NC last weekend, while we were in a nice warm front in January. We used my backpacking gear though we had a typical family camping space (I was getting my feet wet with backpacking gear rather than car camping- trying out using a little two man tent, cooking on a pocket rocket, eating with a Dualist, etc.).

We climbed up the highest mountain in the little Sauratown range, and she did exceptionally well. She has her own little pack, hydration pack, snacks, and even brought along Buzz Lightyear and Jessie figures to play with at our several stops to the summit. When we got to the top, she sat down and enjoyed the view- she certainly showed a real interest in her surroundings though her perspective was a bit off ("Daddy, I see China!"). But all in all, she was a great hiker and camper.

I absolutely agree with prior posts- the more you expose them to something you love, the more they will make it their own.
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Old 01-17-2013, 05:56 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
Practical Backpacking­™ Associate Member
Backpack: GoLite Pinnacle
Sleeping Gear: Moonstone Lucid 800 w/Neo Air pad
Shelter: Tarptent Sublite Tyvek & Tarptent Double Rainbow
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 430
I’ll offer some of my observations in my usual long winded style.

I’m both an avid hiker and avid grandfather and I enjoy sharing my love of the outdoors with the kiddos. Holding my grandson in my arms a few minutes after his birth was a very emotional experience for me. I kept thinking of the places we’d go and things we’d do together and all that I wanted to teach him and share with him. When he was two, my wife and I took him camping in the RV the first time and I don’t know who had more fun, him or us. He’s joined us on many trips since.

A friend who became a grandfather not long ago said: “I realized he was only a half hour old but I’d already taken him fishing six times.” I can totally relate to that.

Right after my grandson turned four, I decided to take him backpacking at Big Bend National Park but we first day hiked the Lost Mine Peak trail, about a five mile round trip and 1200' ascent to see how he’d manage. I thought that with him being 100% energy, he’d lap my 85 year old father and me on the trail about three times. I found out four year olds are 100% energy, but it’s in twenty foot spurts. He’s roar up the trail twenty feet and play with a bug for five minutes, roar up the trail twenty feet and play with a rock for five minutes, roar up the trail twenty feet and gripe for five minutes, roar up the trail twenty feet and want a “horsie” ride for five minutes. My father made it to the top of the mountain and was half way back when he passed us on his way down.

I then pulled permits for two hikes, a night at Boulder Meadows, about a mile from the South Rim trailhead and an easy ascent, a second hike with a night at Boot Springs, about four miles past Boulder Meadows and over the tough climb of Pinnacles Pass, with an additional night on the Rim a couple miles further. The last day would be about eight miles back from the rim.

My intention was to do the Boulder Meadows hike to see how he did on an overnighter and then embark to South Rim the day after we got back from Boulder Meadows. We headed up the trail and made agonizingly slow progress, covering the mile in about two or three hours. The campsite I chose was “well shaded” according to the Park Service. I thought that meant trees--I didn’t realize it meant the sun didn’t rise on that portion of the mountain until 11 AM. It was eighteen degrees when we woke up. Fortunately, we both had 850 fill down bags but in packing and repacking all our gear, I’d left out our cold weather clothes. My wife was a mile away, basking in fifty degree sunshine and I was trying to melt the ice cubes that were our water supply so I could fix us hot chocolate and breakfast. Once things warmed up, we did a little day hiking (I also left him in his “footie” pajamas) and then we came back down the mountain. I knew I had to replan the way I hiked with him. (The next time he and I actually made it an overnighter was the following May in the Wichita Mountains National Wildlife Refuge in Oklahoma. It was over a hundred degrees so, on average, the temperature was perfect the first two times we hiked and camped in tents.)

After we got back from Boulder Meadows, I carefully packed again and we set out early the next morning. I also found out hiking with small children takes lots of bulk and weight. My GoLite Speed pack was barely up to the challenge. Little David had three pounds on his back and I had about thirty in a small pack that was in danger of exploding. I had two hiking poles and I also gave him a collapsed pole, which turned out to be unnecessary, since he got bored with it after about a hundred yards.

If I walked ahead of him, he lagged behind and got discouraged and whined. If he walked in front of me, I’d almost trip over him as his attention suddenly got diverted and he stopped to examine something. We made VERY slow progress. After several hours on the trail, we were only about three miles from the trailhead and I knew we wouldn’t make it to Boot Springs before dark. I called my wife on the radio and told her we were going to return. I decided to hike to an overlook that made an impression on me on my first trip up that trail at fourteen, have lunch there and then return. Before I got there, the little guy had enough and his complaining turned into sobbing and crying. I thought, “I want him to enjoy hiking and backpacking, not have him associate it with being miserable.” We stopped and I fixed lunch right on the trail and then we returned.

The next day I solo hiked to my campsite on South Rim and came back the following day.

The following year, I decided to try again and pulled a permit for a night at Boot Spring and one at the Rim. I also bought a GoLite Pinnacle pack, which had been recommended to me by Maverick, the late legendary octogenarian hiker I met in the Grand Canyon. My grandson, at age five, was ready for about four pounds on his back this time. We set out early, and ran into the same problems we’d had the previous year, we just couldn’t maintain any kind of pace sufficient enough to get over the pass to our campsite. Once again, I radioed my wife and told her we were coming back. At least this time we made it to the overlook. Once we got back down, I repacked for another solo hike to the Rim since my grandson said he didn’t want to try it again and also packed my grandson’s gear in separate Ziploc bags just in case he changed his mind.

The next morning, as I got ready to go, he decided he wanted to accompany grandpa. I tossed his gear in my pack and we set out.

Again, we were going way too slowly. Hiking ahead of me, his pace would slow to the point an ant could pass us. Walking behind me, he fell too far behind. We were slipping so far behind schedule that I was ready to radio the wife again until, at least for us... I FOUND THE SECRET!!! We held hands and walked together up the trail!

I got to set the pace, which was slower than I’d do solo, but much faster than a five year old with the attention span of a gnat would do. As we strolled up the trail we got to talk and visit and have a wonderful time as I explained things we came upon and embellished tales of my youth in the way that only grandpas can do. We also came up with an exciting activity, “throwing ouchies”, which involves spearing dead prickly pear cactus pads with a hiking pole and seeing how far we could catapult them. Dried bear scat flings pretty good, too. After the trip finished, he said “throwing ouchies” was his favorite part of the journey. His sister has also learned that bad habit and I have no idea where she picked it up.

We got to South Rim later than planned because we’d lost so much time earlier as I tried to figure out how to do this but ever since, we’ve strolled hand in hand on the trail. We hiked to South Rim again three months later and have hiked many a mile together at a workable pace on several trips since. When I take his three year old sister on hikes, we just start out holding hands and walking the trail together and we do just fine.

So, after about fourteen paragraphs, my advice is: Hold the child’s hand and walk together up the trail.

The above information is a few years old. My grandson is now nine and his sister is six. He's been to South Rim a half dozen times. They both love to hike and they keep up with grandpa... or he tries to keep up with them.

A couple years ago, I bought an REI Flash 18 pack and that became my grandson’s pack. A couple months ago, I bought a used Gossamer Gear Mariposa for him and the Flash 18 became his sister’s pack. She’s only done one overnighter (and handled it just fine) but we all did a pretty strenuous day hike with full packs a couple months ago, trying out the Mariposa and Flash 18 in full “loaded for overnight” configuration.

Although I got away from hydration bladders after a couple of bad leak incidents, I’m going to resurrect a couple for the grandkids. To them, drinking out of a bladder is a novelty and they drink more from it than they do from a shoulder strap mounted water bottle. I have a hard time keeping them hydrated to the degree I think is necessary when hiking.

A few weeks ago, we’d planned a two night hike of 22 miles in the high Chisos mountains of Big Bend National Park but had to cancel the day of the hike when a severe winter storm moved in. I didn’t want the kiddos to be stuck in howling winds, sleet, snow, and maximum temps of 20ºF for the three days of the hike. We had the gear to handle the weather but they’d have been miserable and all my hard effort to build a love of backpacking might have been for naught. We left the park and instead visited some dear friends for a few days.

I just wanted to add that my avatar is a picture taken of my grandson and me at South Rim in Big Bend on his first hike up there at age five. The picture was taken New Year's Day 2009.

Last edited by Grandpa : 01-17-2013 at 09:30 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost
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