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Overnight Hike with my Son
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Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 12:27:26 MDT Print View

I took my son Chris out on an overnight backpacking trip to Harriman State Park in NY (~30 min north of NYC).

Here we are at the start of the trip at a parking area just off the Palisades Parkway.

Start of the trip in Anthony Wayne Rec Area

Chris packed his sleeping bag, pad, drink, rain gear playings cards, and toys all of the way. After a 10 min. hike on a bike trail we joined the AT to climb up West Mountain.

Chris at AT Junction

We had a pretty good 1/2 to 3/4 mile hike uphill, and Chris did a GREAT job, although we took a few breaks to talk with a boy scout troop coming downhill, including one leader/parent that was limping along with a blownout knee. We got some nice views from the top, which was good since the next morning was foggy and rainy with only short views.

Looking down into the valley

We got to West Mountain Shelter, but decided to set up camp ~30 yards away from the shelter since there was a father with two boys and a very smokey fire in the shelter fireplace. We found a very nice mossy spot (how often does that happen) and pitched our BMW Cat tarp that I bought from Pedro on Gear Swap (thanks, Pedro!). I kept warm with my Jack's-R-Better quilt, BPL hoody, and Smartwool hat (thanks Brad Smyth from Gear Swap).

Under the tarp

We had a nice dinner of mashed potatoes and Ramen Noodles cooked on the Bushbuddy. I like the Bushbuddy, but it does take constant feeding of small sticks to keep it at max temp. Then we watched the earthly constellations of New York skyline come alive, which substituted for the heavenly stars since the clouds had started to roll in. When those also were extinguished by the clouds, we went back to the tarp and played cards under the tarp.

Horseplay under the cat tarp

They were calling for rain that night and the wind was picking up, but I think we were in better shape than the Korean guy that had pitched his tarp on a "nice flat patch"...soon to be the bottom of a mud puddle. We had some wind blowing in, but it was just enough for us to scooch down toward the end of the tarp.

Ensconced under the tarp

Chris (like al boys) rolled around and heaven help me if I brought him back to his mother with a cold, so I zipped him up in my Oware bivy.

Our home for the evening

We awoke to fog and rain blowing off the trees. It was a soft, pretty type of morning with the lichen a different color and the leaves glistening with raindrops.

Tarp and area

I zipped Chris up in the bivy partway through the night to keep the spray off him and prevent him from telling his mother when we got home that he was even the slightest bit cold during the trip.

Chris in bivy

We fired up the Bushbuddy at the shelter for an oatmeal breakfast. The shelter roof leaked, so the guy with two boys was happy that he had pitched his tent inside it. Someone had started a fire again and was burning Mountain Laurel bushes, so between the fog and smoke, my little Bushbuddy seemed fairly innocuous.

We packed up and started hiking downhill in the rain.
Hiking down in the rain

Since Harriman is so close to New York City, there are always lots of people hiking on the trails. We passed a couple of folks on the way out. Although the trails have lots of splits where people went off trail and too much trash, it's actually a nice area to hike through. The thing I like about UL backpacking (12.5 lbs for me and 5.5 lbs for Chris...with LOTS of extra stuff, just in case) is that you can't even see my pack in this photo.

On the trail with my son

We got back to the car and got some fast food for the drive home.

On the road again

Edited by TomClark on 09/29/2009 13:29:38 MDT.

Joe Clement
(skinewmexico) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 13:07:29 MDT Print View

You're the man!

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 13:27:43 MDT Print View

Even better...I'm the DAD! I always enjoy hearing of parents passing along the outdoor experience to their kids. It's great to read about Ryan's float with his son or Doug Johnson camping with his kids.

Justin McMinn
(akajut) - F

Locale: Central Oklahoma
Re: Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 13:51:21 MDT Print View

Great report Tom!

One of my bp buddies has been wanting to bring his son, but not real sure when his son would be physically able to enjoy the trip, much less convince his ex to let him come.

What is the age, weight, and height of your son? How many miles and elevation gain did you guys do? If you were planning a trip in the near future would you do a easier/same/harder trip?

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 14:03:16 MDT Print View

Cool stuff Thomas!! Looks like you two had a great time..I personally can not think of a better thing to do with my son. Backpacking makes for some excellent father-son bonding...

Tent stakes 002

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Re: Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 14:27:38 MDT Print View

You know we started with camping in the house, and backyard, along with some day hikes to see what he could do (and to have fun in the meanwhile). Then we did some 0.5 to 1 mile hikes (this is our fourth year out). We have slept under tarps, in tents, and shelters. Chris is 6 yrs old, 3 ft 10 in, and 46.5 lbs (naked...since he thought that was the best way to weigh himself).

We did about 500 ft ascent in 1.5 miles, which took about 1.5 hours with snack breaks. He had soccer practice first, then we had a 2.5 hr. drive, so he got a nap, but we got a late start. I wanted to focus on the hike, setting up camp, and tarping so the timing worked out well.

He wants to do a longer, 2-night hike, which is certainly within reason for him. The only question is will he get bored during the day if we use a base camp or worn out if we're hiking all day. There's no going back now, so I have to stay in shape. I hope to hike through the Sierras and up Half Dome with him.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 17:31:32 MDT Print View

Also father-daughter, mother-son....

b s
(smyth) - F
Nice trip on 09/29/2009 18:26:43 MDT Print View

Good stuff Tom. Glad the beanie worked out for you. I spent a lot of my early backpacking days in Harriman until someone smashed out all of my windows during an overnighter there. A nice little reminder that civilization is not too far from the park. Still, it's great place to escape from NY/NJ suburbia.

Edited by smyth on 09/29/2009 19:10:15 MDT.

Roger Caffin
(rcaffin) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
Re: Overnight Hike with my Son on 09/29/2009 18:28:16 MDT Print View

Also parents, children and grandchildren...
L-R: Grand-daughter, son-in-law, grand-daughter, daughter, Sue
Photo taken by daughter: 2 grand-daughters, Sue and me, Spencers Pk, Mt Jagungal in background


Edited by rcaffin on 09/29/2009 18:28:43 MDT.

Jay Wilkerson
(Creachen) - MLife

Locale: East Bay
Overnight Hike with my son on 09/29/2009 18:45:02 MDT Print View

Family, Family (Its all good)

Edited by Creachen on 09/29/2009 18:46:28 MDT.

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
hiking with family on 09/29/2009 19:18:48 MDT Print View

Priceless. They will be hiking with you many years.

BTW Great pictures of your JMT hike, Jay W. (posted in the Photography forum.)

I have hiked the AT through NY/NJ. Beautiful territory and amazing to find a vast acreage of protected wild land only 30 miles or so from NYC. The same day I left the trail and bused to NYC from Delaware Gap, I hiked with my pack, wearing hiking garb,and holding poles, from the bus depot through Times Square to Grand Central Station and I did not feel at all out of place. What a country! Earlier on the trail, I had met three teenagers visiting from Israel.

More on topic: Here is a photo of my daughter and I on the JMT this summer.
She was about the size of Chris when we started backpacking together and she was the one who introduced my to tarp camping.self-potraits, Donohue Pass

Here's two other "kids" I met alongside the Palisade Lakes on the JMT. They were hiking the High Route. They were so enthusiastic and fun to talk with, I felt like giving them both a big hug, but I took the picture instead. I do not remember their names. I wonder if their parents started them hiking?Unknown hikers doing the "High Route"

Edited by rambler on 09/29/2009 20:00:14 MDT.

Brad Fisher

Locale: NC/TN/VA Mountains
Re: hiking with family on 09/29/2009 20:08:46 MDT Print View

Excellent post. I have 3 boys (15, 12, and 5), so backpacking with the boys is always a great memory. Enjoy because they grow up fast.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Nice trip on 09/30/2009 04:11:53 MDT Print View

Brad, my son is still a bit nervous at night when I answer the call of nature, but I tell him that "when you start hiking you're worried about animals, when you finish your hike you're worried about people." I'm always happy at the trailhead to see all of my tires and windows intact.

Roger, good point!

Frank Deland

Locale: On the AT in VA
more about kids on 09/30/2009 08:20:04 MDT Print View

I met a women out for several days passing through Evolution Valley on the JMT. About my age, because her kids are now 30, she said she had thru-hiked the JMT when her kids were 6 and 8. She was thinking about writing a book about hiking with kids. She believes three year old can hike four miles, but..."they just don't want to."
The youngest to hike the AT was a girl who turned 11 half way through her hike with her parents.
With my own kids I found it not necessary to do "big miles" or even the highest peaks. For example, on one hike with my son and a friend when they were in the first or second grade was about a mile. The rest of the afternoon was spent exploring around a pond hunting for salamanders and frogs. Our little friend emerged from the bushes with a large milk snake in his hand and I was sure he was about to be done in by a coral snake which has similar markings. That boy now leads kayak tours in the Outer Banks and is doing grad work in biology at UNC.
My kids liked the camping better than the hiking and it is not as though I took them on a lot of hikes. We just spent time outside even if its just an adventure in the woods or up a hill in your neighborhood Now they hike on their own. Looking back they remember being caught in thunderstorms, tipping over in a canoe, getting know the stuff that is "fun" when you look back on it.
So, now its looking forward to grandchildren, although I do hope my kids get married first.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Good idea on 09/30/2009 08:46:01 MDT Print View

Thomas, good idea putting Christ in a bivy. I took my little brother camping a while back and he rolled out from under the tarp tent, fortunately it wasn't raining. Its great to see dads spending time with their kids.