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JMT with my 13 year old
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Kelly Green
(krgincolombia) - F
JMT with my 13 year old on 12/12/2010 22:34:21 MST Print View

I'm planning to do the JMT from July 6 to Aug 4, 2011, Happy Isles to Whitney Portal (30 days for the 218.5 mile trip)... Is this asking too much of my 13 year old? I've not done much hiking with him, but starting to get him in shape. Any feedback will be welcome.

Brian Ahlers
(bahlers7) - F

Locale: Idaho
Re: JMT with my 13 year old on 12/13/2010 00:19:47 MST Print View

As long as he's totally wanting to do this as well as doing it for the right reasons. I hope you don't take that the wrong way...

Definitely get him on the trail with you on some shorter trips before your JMT. Let him get some experience gradually..

I started hiking around that age with my Dad and quickly lost interest because he wanted to go too far to fast. It wasn't a gradual progression. I started backpacking again when I was about 16 or 17 and I'm now 24 and can't get enough!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re JMT with my 13 year old on 12/13/2010 08:33:11 MST Print View

I would agree with the idea of starting small and working your way up. I did that with my little brother and now he can't get enough of backpacking.
I would have two main concerns that I would want to check before the trip.
1. Is he physically up to it? You don't want him to get burned out physically or hurt growing joints going to far or carrying to much weight.
2. Is he okay spending that amount of time away from friends, TV and all the other comforts of home.

Hope it works out. Send me a PM if you want any advice. I've taken a lot of kids out so I have a few ideas on gear etc.

Ed Engel
(Doorknob) - F

Locale: West of what you think is west
JMT on 12/13/2010 09:35:52 MST Print View

This past summer I took two of my nephews, age 14 and 16 on a JMT thru hike. They had never been backpacking before. They trained for the trip. I watched them grow in self confidence as the days went by. They now can't wait to go backpacking in the Sierra again this summer.

Mark Hudson
(vesteroid) - MLife

Locale: Eastern Sierras
taking my own 13 year old on 12/16/2010 18:47:48 MST Print View

My son is 12 will be 13 before we do the JMT in august. We have been day hiking all this summer and have easily done 20 mile days.

He has never carried much weight, maybe 7-10 lbs at most, but I am positive he can handle his weight for a thru hike and keep up the pace.

we are going to plan for a 10 day hike, but I am not sure we can do it, but I am 80% we can.

I havent started planning as of yet, but need to get on that. We have never done a thru hike that long.

anyway, if he is in reasonable shape for a 13 year old (not like my son runs marathons) he should be fine.

will sawyer
(wjsawyer) - F

Locale: Connecticut
Re: JMT with my 13 year old on 12/16/2010 19:14:09 MST Print View

I think one of the reasons we don't think younger people have the same physical ability, is because they have not yet learned their limits, how to endure a bit of pain, what they can and cannot do. I know that at 17 I am still trying to figure this out, and I am always surprised by what my body can do. So I say, If he is willing, let him experience a hard day or two, feel tired from a long hike, and learn that it won't kill him, and the next time it won't be such a hard hike.

Much more about mental conditioning than physical.

carl becker
(carlbecker) - F

Locale: Northern Virginia
Re: JMT with my 13 year old on 12/17/2010 11:05:26 MST Print View

IMHO it depends specificly on your son. I took my 5 year old daughter hiking several times and we had a great time. She got tried once and I had to carry her further than I wanted but all was well. A few years later and she has no desire to hike much. I think it is more in her head than body. If your son has motivation and ability then it could work out well. I suggest trying to stay "tuned" examples - swimming, pace explorinig, etc to his interests to keep motivation high. In decent shape a average 13 year old should have no physical problems.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
speed trade-offs on 12/17/2010 13:20:17 MST Print View the OP actually reading the replies?

I've gone backpacking with my daughter since she was 7. She's 14 now. She's had the best time on trips where I let her decide that she really wanted to do a particular thing.

30 days is a loooong time for the JMT. If you're planning to hike straight down the trail, then IMO this is much longer than necessary, and will force you to carry an unnecessarily large amount of weight on the southern half, where there is no resupply. Of course it's a different story if you plan to fish, go on side-trips for peak-bagging, etc. I would beware of getting in a situation where your kid just plain gets tired of being out on the trail. In the southern half, there are stretches where it would be really awkward to chop the hike up into little 7-mile pieces; there is a series of high-altitude passes, and one pass per day is kind of the natural minimum speed.

Edited by bcrowell on 12/17/2010 13:24:31 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Re: taking my own 13 year old on 12/17/2010 13:46:54 MST Print View

"we are going to plan for a 10 day hike, but I am not sure we can do it, but I am 80% we can."

My oldest son and I did the JMT in just under 10 days, he was 19, (6'3", 200lb.) and in outstanding shape. Your 80% confidence is optimistic for any child and frankly for most adults. It kicked my butt and 30 mile days are not unusual for me. While there is no harm in giving it a shot you may have a more enjoyable time by cherry picking your sections and planning a more realistic trip. Also, since you are local, you pick up the missed sections at another time.

For perspective, your daily rate will exceed most of the PCT thru-hikers and you will have shorter days and we be without the 1-2 months of daily hiking to get you in shape.

Edited by gg-man on 12/17/2010 13:49:31 MST.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
JMT with children on 12/17/2010 17:27:54 MST Print View

My 15 year old son took me and his twin brother on the JMT this summer. You can read his Hike Report on his website and also find more information about his planning. He planned for a three week hike and I found that pace comfortable. The experience of being on the JMT with my sons was very special and has been talked a lot about in our family. As a result our daughters have lobbied hard that I go with them on the JMT next summer. By then they will be 13 and almost 10. My wife and I have decided to give our daughters that opportunity. So next summer I will be again on the trail for three weeks. This time with two of my daughters and my wife. We are prepared that one of us leaves the trail with either one or both girls after 3 days at Tuolumne Meadows, 6 days at Reds Meadow or 10 days at Muir Trail Ranch if one or both daughters don't want to continue. There is no pressure - it is all driven by our daughters desire to go. Right now they are excited and go every other weekend with us on a day hike (rain or shine) with full backpacks to train for the JMT. They are carrying only their water, sleeping bag and clothes for a total of 8-9 lbs. My wife and I will carry their food, which means we need an additional resupply at Kearsage Pass, which is something we still need to figure out.
So obviously I believe a 13 year old can do it. The main question to ask is whether the child wants to do it and has fun doing it. Go on a couple of day hikes and then weekend hikes to have him find an enjoyable pace and see how many breaks he needs/wants and what other activities (skipping rocks, fishing, taking photos) he wants to do along the trail. Then you will see whether four weeks is the right amount of time for the two of you.

Good luck with your hike

Robert Coleman
(jbo_c) - F
10 y/o on 12/17/2010 17:54:47 MST Print View

My son, who just turned 10 has been hiking with me for about 5 months. He loves it. We don't make huge miles, but we have a huge time. He just got his own lightweight pack(Go-Lite Jam) that actually fits him and he can't wait to put it to use the day after Christmas.

We hike the AT mostly and hit between 12 and 18 miles a day(which I think is pretty respectable at his age). A full three days is about the limit for his body. At that point, he says he wants to do more, but you can look at him and tell his body won't go with him if he leaves.

My best advice is to make absolutely sure you can honestly set aside your pride and know if he:
a) really wants to go at all
b) is really ready to leave the trail when he says he is
c) is really ready to leave the trail when he says he isn't

It will only be fun for him while he thinks it is. If you push him past that, his dislike will increase exponentially and you'll both lose.

At that age, one thing you can do to increase his enjoyment of it is to get into DIY even if it is simple stuff. It's great rainy day projects and builds excitement about hitting the trail. Alky stoves and gravity water filters are a great place to start. I know we made about 10 stoves before we found our favorite trail stove and the cost was negligible while the time was priceless.

I hope you and your son get as much out of it as I and mine do.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
JMT Permit Question. on 12/17/2010 19:22:53 MST Print View

I say that if he wants to do it, do it. I am insanley jealous of that opportunity, I would love to hike the JMT with my dad. I am 16 and was wondering if anyone who has hiked the JMT knows if they would give a 17 year old (Solo) a permit for the JMT? Do I really need to go make a fake ID to be able to hike (haha)?

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: JMT Permit Question. on 12/17/2010 19:51:47 MST Print View

I've never heard of any restriction about age for a JMT permit.

The person who issues the permit would probably ask you a few extra questions, just to make sure that you seem responsible. In other words, if they think that you are not ready, then they will probe you with questions to try to scare you away.

Of the teens at age 16, I would guess that there is only a small percentage who are capable and wise enough to be able to do it solo. So, you might want to get your story straight now so that they won't give you such a hard time later.

Let me add that some places require you to furnish I.D. when you pick up a permit. So, get some state-issued driver's license or similar I.D.


Edited by --B.G.-- on 12/17/2010 20:06:53 MST.

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Re: 10 days for JMT on 12/17/2010 20:09:51 MST Print View

You could hike 20+ miles per day on the JMT, but why would you want to? As a former PCT hiker, I felt somewhat guilty about the pace we had to keep. It was like running through a museum or chugging a bottle of 50 year old scotch. If it wasn't for the necessity of making time on a long trip like that, I would have loved to average, oh, maybe 10 to 12 miles a day in the Sierra, leaving plenty of time for side trips or just lazy days by a stream. I ended up probably averaging around 18, with a number of 20+ mile days thrown in there for good measure, but it wasn't as fun as spending a little time at a lake, throwing off the pack, and exploring here or there.

But everyone has different goals, and I wish you the best of luck. I suspect you could do it in 10 days, but I think it might be more enjoyable if you could take a little more time and allow yourself to stop early if the mood strikes you. Granted, in August there isn't the snow to contend with, but still, it's a lot of up and down.

Edited by dirk9827 on 12/17/2010 20:10:44 MST.

Jace Mullen
(climberslacker) - F

Locale: Your guess is as good as mine.
JMT Permit on 12/17/2010 20:13:56 MST Print View

I will be 17 by then and I do have a license. I will also have a letter from my parents saying that it is cool with them. I am not even sure if i will be doing it (time restrictions). However I do plan on doing my first solo trip in short order and will work on getting more solo experience (as much as possible) before the trip.

To get the thread back on track: If your kid is down for it/mature enough not to want to leave in the middle of the southern section do it. As you both grow older you will probably see less and less of him, and when he goes off to college to go start his own life you will both be wishing you got to do more things together. 13 is probably a good age if he is fit enough because WARNING: At ~14 years old Boys will get obnoxious and think they know it all--do not be offended by this! After a year or two it will pass. I am watching it happen in my little brother and I remember doing it. Go for it if you guys are both up for it.

I would also recommend taking every opportunity to see how far you really can realistically hike in a day--7 mile days seem REAALLY short.

Ben Crowell
(bcrowell) - F

Locale: Southern California
age for permit on 12/17/2010 22:14:52 MST Print View

Jace, I would suggest that you just call and ask them what the rules are. If you're going north to south, you get your permit from the Yosemite rangers. They have various methods of reserving a permit, and phone is one of them. I met a couple of guys on the JMT this summer who had just gotten out of high school and were doing it before starting college.