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Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters
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Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/21/2012 00:45:56 MDT Print View

This year my wife and I took our two youngest daughters, Hannah and Natalie, on the John Muir Trail – after having gone the previous two years first with their two oldest brothers and then with their older sister and Hannah.
Last year was very different than 2010 due to enormous amounts of snow that made crossing the passes “interesting”. This year on the other hand had no snow at all – but it rained and hailed an unusual amount of days and an unusual amount of hours during these days. So we got every year a totally different experience out of the JMT.
The second year in a row the permit lottery at Yosemite assigned us Lyell Canyon as a starting point (the first year we got Sunrise Lakes). So we had again no luck in getting Happy Isles, but we were not really sad about avoiding the crowds from the valley.

During our first day the girls enjoyed wading and swimming in Lyell Canyon
Hannah and Natalie in Lyell Canyon

On the second day the girls crossed Donohue Pass
Natalie and Hannah at Donohue Pass

and met there an unfriendly group of hikers who felt little girls should not be in the wilderness where only real men belong – one had to make that famous sign while saying “F… yourself and your mother”.
Unfriendly backpacker who doesn't like girls in the wilderness

Hhmm, what can you say as a responsible parent to such people while your daughters are listening and watching? So we just kept going our way on to Island Pass where we stayed for the night with a beautiful view of Banner Peak.
Camp near Island Pass

The third day we picked up our re-supply at Red’s Meadow. We found time to fish and swim in Shadow Lake
Hannah and Natalie in Shadow Lake

and still make the 18 miles to Red’s Meadow before 7 pm to get a cheeseburger and milk shake.
Shake at Red's Meadow

On day 4 we detoured to our favorite hot spring.
Mom with girls in hot spring
The next day we wanted to re-join the JMT at Silver Pass, but stopped below the pass at the Lake of the Lone Indian due to a thunder storm.
After the thunder storm cleared we saw a huge fire cloud in the distance
Lake of the Lone Indian

On day 6 we went over Silver Pass and all the way up Bear Ridge to Bear Creek
Dad with girls

The next day we went over Selden Pass
Girls on Selden Pass with Marie Lakes in back
to Blaney Meadows where we enjoyed swimming in Warm Lake and sitting in the hot spring
Swimming in Warm Lake
Blaney Hot Spring
On Day 8 we picked up our re-supply at Muir Trail Ranch, which took us until lunch time because Hannah and Natalie played with the dogs and kittens. When we could finally break loose, we hiked to McClure Meadow.
McClure Meadow
The next morning we fished some more
and made our way past Evolution Lake up to Muir Pass where we stayed in the hut due to a huge storm that delayed us for several hours
Muir Hut

From Muir Pass we made it the next day past the kid-eating rock monster
Rock Monster
and Big Pete Meadow
Big Pete Meadow
to Deer Meadow.

The next morning we made it up the Golden Stair Case to Lower Palisade Lake for a swim
Swimming in Lower Palisade Lake
before we continued over Mather Pass where it hailed on us
Hail on Mather Pass
On day 12 we went over Pinchot Pass
Pinchot Pass
and crossed the hanging bridge at Wood’s Creek
Hannah going over hanging bridge
Natalie crossing hanging bridge
before staying at Baxter Creek where we prepared our usual trout for dinner on a grill we found there
Trout for dinner
The next day we passed by the beautiful Rae Lakes
Rae Lakes
and went over Glen Pass to Bench Lake Ranger Station.

On day 14 we continued over Forester Pass
Forester Pass
and by Tyndell Creek
Sign at Tyndell Creek
to Crab Tree Meadow which made for a 19 mile day.
Crab Tree Meadow
On our last day we went over Trail Crest to Whitney Portal. When we reached the trail intersection it hailed and the top of Mt. Whitney was not visible in the clouds.
Mt Whitney in the clouds
After some discussion with Natalie who was the only one who never stood on top of Mt. Whitney we decided to leave the summit for another day.
So we continued down to Whitney Portal
Reaching Whitney Portal
and the girls had finally the burger they were dreaming about for the last three days …
Burger for the girls

This was a memorable trip. The photos don’t show how much rain we had – simply because we barely took our cameras out in the rain. Nevertheless the kids had a great trip. Doing 218 miles in 15 days and having a lot of fun along the way was only possible because the girls went UL. When we weighed their packs at Whitney Portal both girls’ packs showed less than 10 lbs with some food left. Right now the girls are already scheming about the next trip. Let’s see where they drag me around next time …

Edited by Orienteering on 08/21/2012 12:02:11 MDT.

James Castleberry
"Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters" on 08/21/2012 01:38:31 MDT Print View

Incredible trip report Manfred. You and your beautiful family really showed how it's done. Happy, healthy and enjoying the beauty the world has to offer. And those girls were putting up some big miles. What an amazing family experience to have. Way to go!

Jason G
(JasonG) - F

Locale: iceberg lake
nice on 08/21/2012 02:04:12 MDT Print View

Nice trip! looks like thunderstorms have been a theme this summer in the sierras.

what exactly happened with the 'gentleman' on Donahue pass?


Locale: South West US
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/21/2012 02:56:23 MDT Print View

Nice trip!

I'm kinda shocked at that dudes behavior. It's rankles me just to read about it. What kinda loser has to put down little kids? Sorry you had to put up with that. Coincidentally, the only time I've passed a blatantly rude hiker, it was at Donahue pass. Something about the air there I guess.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Incident on top of Donohue Pass on 08/21/2012 08:44:18 MDT Print View


This "gentleman" was feeding marmots from a bag of chips. My wife asked him to please not do that because it would create a problem for the marmots and all future visitors to this place. When he told her "that is non of your business", she asked him politely to please watch his language a little around these little girls. He then went into a rampage with many f-words that she shouldn't bring little girls into the wilderness. That these girls don't belong here, ruin the experience for real wilderness people and that my wife is "" irresponsible to bring them. At that point I asked him to slow down and let go of it. He immediately picked up on my German accent and told me to "crawl back to your country, where you belong -- there is no place for you b..stard here in the US, so GO BACK".

At that point I told my wife and children to just move on. I didn't see any point to discuss anything any further with this guy and his friends who got a kick out of the whole show and encouraged him to keep going on his rampage.

It was an unfortunate incident, but only a small distraction during our whole wonderful 15 days on the trail. We kept going and kept enjoying our daughters' enjoyment along the way.


James Castleberry
The incident on 08/21/2012 08:59:59 MDT Print View

Very strange and I'm sorry your family was subjected to that. A-holes can be found anywhere, but in general, experiences in nature such as backpacking tend to help us let go of such feelings. Exposing our children to nature and wilderness is so important, as the work of people like Richard Louv is showing. To think of how strong and healthy your girls must be to hike 18 or 19 miles a day. You are setting a great example, IMO.

Art ...
(asandh) - F
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/21/2012 09:25:24 MDT Print View

excellent trip report !!
sounds very memorable for all.

Andy F
(AndyF) - F

Locale: Ohio
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/21/2012 10:09:24 MDT Print View

Awesome trip and report!

David Lutz

Locale: Bay Area
"Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters" on 08/21/2012 10:23:53 MDT Print View

Nice work, Manfred. Again.

You've really made some great memories for your kids that will last a lifetime.

Funny how the "real men" have big shoes, big packs, hard-sided Nalgene, etc......

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Incident on top of Donohue Pass on 08/21/2012 10:55:47 MDT Print View

Manfred: Thanks for an inspirational trip report and great photos. I too figure that the family BPing trips are much easier, and spectacular trips like yours only possible by going UL. We're 51/45/12/7 years old so there are only a few more years before the kids are carrying more of the load than we do.

Like your wife, I'll say something when I see people cutting switchbacks, littering, ignoring quiet hours in Curry Village 5 days ago, etc, although I've learned to choose some settings and not others. My wife doesn't like the confrontations that sometimes follow, even when you're polite. And having kids along lets them go in a mode of being shocking to deflect the attention from their own stupidity. About the marmot feeding, I'd more likely direct my comments to my children, "Remember to not feed the animals" within earshot of the offenders if I was going to say anything, although more likely it would orginate from my kids, "Why are they doing that? It's bad for the animals." and then we could have a discussion why someone might not know/care/think the rules apply to them, etc. As to their a-holery in response, the world provides many teachable moments to families. For kilometers afterwards, you can be discussing "Why might they have responded like that?" "How did it make you feel?" "How would you have responded?"

I'd also theorize that while every decent person on the trail is impressed by your girl's accomplishments (my 7 year-old daughter hiked Happy Isles-Half Dome-Happy Isles on Thursday) and touched that you're having such amazing adventures as a family; if a person with poor ego-strength has their "manhood" or abilities challanged, it can get ugly. Nothing negative was said, but my then 11-year-old got some looks of disbelief bordering on denial that we'd hiked the Grand Canyon to the River and back in a day by high-school athletes and marathon runner types who'd bonked trying the same thing while after 18 miles and 10,000 vertical feet, he had a big smile on his face.

Keep doing what you're doing. That kind of family activity and involved parenting is the best innoculation against tweener- and teenage troubles and conflicts. I look at the best parent-child relationships I know among my peers, and they all had that level of engagement throughout their childhood.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
thank you on 08/21/2012 11:07:22 MDT Print View

Thank you, Manfred for the post and photos. I hope to take my daughters up there in the coming years and find your post a good motivation and inspiration.

could you share your gear list?

Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Backpacking with Daughters on 08/21/2012 11:36:07 MDT Print View


Thank you so much for posting this. I have twin girls who turn six next week. As someone who's sadly never put in an 18-mile day I can't imagine my girls doing it.

How did they train for the hike? Is it a matter of just being active kids (running, biking, soccer, etc.) or did you do specific hikes to work them up to that kind of mileage?

I too would love to see your gear lists for the trip. You indicated that you had a lot of rain - typically that would mean hiking with wet feet. Did anyone have blisters or other foot issues?

I've taken the girls on overnight backpacking trips a couple of times already and they're eager to do more. I'm truly inspired by your trip!

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: Backpacking with Daughters on 08/21/2012 11:59:58 MDT Print View


>How did they train for the hike? Is it a matter of just being active kids?

My datapoints are a daughter (7) and a son (12).

Daughter (7) is a stud muffin. The world is her gymnasium. She doesn't walk down the stairs - she climbs down the bannister. She also has always had a strength-to-weight from where/who, we don't know - iron cross on the rings, can climb a vertical door jam with finger strength, etc. For her 7th B-day party, she requested a rock climbing theme so I built two 24-foot-tall climbing walls. I was leary of her on Half Dome last week and the deal with my wife was that they'd turn back when half-baked. But the deal with the daughter was, "If you want to climb one really big rock today, you can't get distracted and climb all the little rocks along the way. Them's the rules today!" She made it, and the cables were a big, positive kick-in-butt. She was tired for the last half of the downhill and there was more literal and verbal handholding to keep her moving.

Son (12) is all slow-twitch muscles like me - not a sprinter AT ALL but we can just keep going all day long. He was 10 when I realized he wasn't slowing me down on day hikes (I carried the daypack). For 6 weeks before the Grand Canyon (at age 11), we'd each spend 10 minutes most mornings doing stairs in the house - up & down, up & down - get sweaty, and then shower and start my day. That, and we did flat miles (the only kind around). 2 to 5 miles on a beach or trail a few times a week while talking about life, math, Harry Potter, whatever. Last week up Half Dome, we'd prep'd much less. He did great, never slowed us down or complained about anything. He was only a little sore. I (51) was moderately sore 2-3 days out and now, 5 days later have no issues. If he'd done some prep work (we both will next time - Whitney!), I could put some weight on his back (and off of mine).

Neither of them walk to school like I did. We make them get out of the house at least once every day or they'd read non-stop. They climb trees, make snow forts and sled down hills. He (12) has PE in middle school. School has grade school recess outside down to -10F. At home we kick them outside to -15F. Family activites tend to be active - hike, ski, canoe together a few times a month. For years, we'd tried to keep the backpacking and hiking fun rather than impressive but now we're including some impressive, iconic stuff as well.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Preparation on 08/21/2012 12:28:16 MDT Print View


2010 when we returned from the JMT with our (back then) 15 year old twins (Philipp & Daniel), the experience was for weeks a topic at our dinner table, conversations with friends, etc. Our girls complained that we do the real fun stuff only with the boys -- this complaint is partially based on the fact that the Boy Scouts do way more fun outdoor stuff than the Girl Scouts. We told them that it has nothing to do with gender, but with age and we would take them too, once they are 15. The 12 year old (Cassie) argued that next year she would be 13 and that is almost 15 and the 8 year old (Hannah) argued that she is just as strong as Cassie. This went on for weeks. Finally in October 2010 when Hannah turned 9 we agreed to take them in 2011 on the JMT if they would go every other weekend (rain or shine) on a 10 mile backpacking trip with us and do a 30 mile weekend during Spring Break. To be honest I thought this would be over before Christmas. The winter of 2010 was very wet and lead to record snow levels in the Sierra for 2011, so every time we went hiking, we did so in the rain. Somehow I thought the kids would loose interest, but the opposite happened. They enjoyed it more and more. The rain didn't deter them - it opened new experiences like seeing newts and banana slugs. So the girls stuck to it and we went 2011 in an epic snow year with many deep creek crossings and had a blast.
When we came back Natalie (back then 8) announced that it would be her turn in 2012. Hannah immediately said that she would go again. So we kept going with the every other weekend backpacking schedule. Milage has never been a goal for us (at least not above the 10 miles/per day that is needed to finish in three weeks). It is the experience out there that is important to us. It just happened this year that we were done in two weeks rather than three weeks. In my opinion that is due to two factors: 1) We didn't have a teenager with us. The young girls are up early in the morning and ready to go, while the teenagers in 2010 and 2011 didn't want to get out of their sleeping bag before the sun would shine directly into their face (which is down in the valley around 10 am) 2) It rained a lot and thus there were not as many opportunities to stop and swim, fish, take photos, rock climb, etc. The girls just kept moving, because that kept them warm.
Both factors contributed to some higher milage.
Beyond our bi-weekly training hikes, all our kids and my wife and I bike to school/work. That is the only regular workout, we get.
I will share our gear lists later. What is the best format for that? Would a Google Doc (Excel) do?


Edited by Orienteering on 08/21/2012 15:39:11 MDT.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Foot Issues on 08/21/2012 12:40:12 MDT Print View


I forgot to answer your question about blisters or other foot issues. In 2010 we went in water proof hiking boots. That caused a lot of issues and required a tight management of socks and liner socks which would constantly be wet - simply from sweat. In 2011 we went with trail runners and thin merino wool socks. We would just walk through the creeks in them - instead of taking off the boots like we did in 2010. Thus we had constantly damp feet in 2011, but amazingly enough no issues. We would just change into dry socks at the end of the day and that was it.
This year we did the same with the same result. Despite the rain our feet were actually less wet than in 2011, because there were no wet creek crossings (with the exception of Evolution Creek and crossing the San Joaquin River to get to Blaney Hot Springs).
Natalie got towards the end blisters under her feet, because she would leave the fine grime in her socks that acted like sandpaper under her feet. We had just assumed that she would follow our instructions and when we saw both girls wash their socks daily, we assumed she would turn them inside-out. Obviously we put too much responsibility on her - treating her like her older sister. Once we discovered it, two pieces of duct tape and supervision in sock washing solved that problem and she walked 19 miles on the second to last day on those feet.


Kevin Babione
(KBabione) - MLife

Locale: Pennsylvania
Hiking with Daughters on 08/21/2012 12:41:06 MDT Print View

I'm in awe, jealous, and motivated at the same time. Just your training routine sounds to me like an ideal way to get some family time and the JMT was simply the icing on the cake!

Thank you again for posting this and I'm looking forward to reading about your future trips.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Gear Lists on 08/21/2012 21:40:45 MDT Print View

Terry & Kevin,

here is the link to our gear lists. I uploaded only mine and Hannah's. The gear list for Natalie is very similar to her sister's (but with less weight, for example she was using a shorter ground pad). My wife's list is similar to mine. She didn't carry any of the gadgets, like GPS and inReach, but used a warmer sleeping bag and warmer sleeping pad than me).

Manfred's & Hannah's gear for the JMT 2012

The spreadsheet has still many lines from our 2010 JMT when we brought things like bear bells, camp shoes, foldable water bucket, clothes line, etc. We have dialed it pretty much in during the last three JMTs and feel very comfortable with this list.


Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Gear List on 08/21/2012 22:20:23 MDT Print View

Awesome trip report! How many 9 years old kids can say they hiked the JMT!

Just out of curiosity how did the Z-Packs Exo work for you?

todd h
(funnymoney) - MLife

Locale: SE
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/22/2012 04:14:09 MDT Print View


Man I gotta say: what a great trip and what a great looking family!

You and your wife are exposing your kids to so much (in a good way) and WOW - are they tough!

Thank you!


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
ZPacks Exo on JMT on 08/22/2012 08:07:23 MDT Print View


the pack worked great for me. Last year I used the Osprey Exos 58 which is a great pack -- and the rest of my family used the Osprey again this year.

Here is a short list of things that made the ZPacks Exo work well:

- The Bearikade Expedition fits in the backpack. At first I was skeptical, because I couldn't center the bear can, but had to push it to the side in order to put tent and sleeping pad next to it. That never proved to be a problem
- The pack is almost waterproof. With seam sealing you could make it completely waterproof. That was a nice feature in all the rain.
- The shoulder belt pockets fit exactly a 1 l Snapple bottle. Treating water with the SteriPen and drinking happened in a snap.
- The hip pockets are very voluminous and almost waterproof. We all had our cameras in our hip pockets. I left mine in there when it rained. The rest of my family needed to get a ziplock and stow their camera away whenever it started to rain, because the Osprey has a mesh hip pocket.
- I used 4 panels of a Thermarest z-lite as a backpanel. That came often handy during breaks. It is nice to have a warm, dry seating area :)

Here is the one thing that was an issue:
- Abrasion. I carried a Delorme inReach and hung it with a carabiner from the top of the pack for best antenna reception. One day I had packed the pack in a way that the inReach would swing slightly back and forth right along the edge of the bear can. At the end of the day the cuben was rubbed through. I was shocked when I took the backpack off and saw the long "rip". At closer inspection it turned out to not be a problem. One piece of tape addressed the problem and the backpack was completely fine.

The pack carries comfortable for me. With the direct contact to the backpanel my back sweats more than it did with the mesh panel of the Osprey Exos 58, but that didn't pose a real problem. After our re-supply I took some weight off my wife - mainly by putting all the heavy food items in my bear can and all the light ones into her bear can. The scale at MTR showed 39 lbs instead of the 31 lbs I had planed for. With close to 40 lbs the Exo still performed fine, but I clearly wished for a better hipbelt during the next two passes. But amazingly enough I had no shoulder issues. The frame tranfers the weight well to the hips.


Edited by Orienteering on 08/22/2012 08:08:52 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Zpacks Exo on the JMT on 08/22/2012 08:46:22 MDT Print View

Thank you very much for the detail report on the pack Manfred. Sounds like a good pack for thru-hikers who only carry heavy loads occasionally. What I think would really improve the carry would be a separate hip belt that attached directly to the frame the way hipbelts attach to traditional external frame packs.

Anthony Weston
(anthonyweston) - MLife

Locale: Southern CA
z on 08/22/2012 10:39:18 MDT Print View

I also have an zpacks EXO and it can easily carry the weight.
I had a small abrasion problem at the bottom of my hipbelt from sitting down on rocks
so now I take the pack off if I sit but it's very comfortable pack.

Terry G
(delvxe) - M

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Food and cooking on 08/22/2012 11:35:37 MDT Print View

Thanks for the gear list. it is a nice combination of tried and true as well as more interesting items.

Can you tell us a bit about how you did food? Did you have a hot meal for both evening and morning? I see you used the caldera keg. Did you use two of these? If you used only one, how did you manage to boil water for four people?

Also, did you have to deal with bugs while sleeping? looks like maybe not from your list and at least one of the photos.

Thanks again.

Stu Pendious
(Beeen) - MLife

Locale: California
Re: Incident on top of Donohue Pass on 08/22/2012 11:36:59 MDT Print View

"This "gentleman" was feeding marmots from a bag of chips. My wife asked him to please not do that because it would create a problem for the marmots and all future visitors to this place. When he told her "that is non of your business", she asked him politely to please watch his language a little around these little girls. He then went into a rampage with many f-words..."

A good deal of the people tend to react really bad when their ignorance is pointed out to them, especially when it makes them look like a dufus in front of their friends. To stop myself from reliving the heated encounter over the next few days, I try and have sympathy for their situation. Like there they are, out with their buddies playing the role of the wilderness guide and getting a lot of pride from it. Then I come along and poke holes in that persona by explaining that they really shouldn't be doing something. Helps to, when before saying something, I anticipate the bad reaction I'm going to likely get when injuring somebodies ego.

Kudos to your wife for bothering, as the guy probably just wasn't thinking about what he was doing and the moment she said something he realized it was extremely irresponsible, but just couldn't take looking stupid with others around to witness it.

I feel really bad for the people that try and tell others to stay out of the water above falls, and then have to watch them get swept over and die, all because it is "none of their business".

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/22/2012 12:05:29 MDT Print View

Manfred, that was a fantastic trip report! Congrats to your family for having such a great adventure. It saddens me to hear of people that are so rude and insensitive like the two guys you encountered on Donahue. Awful. Glad you turned the other cheek and continued onwards.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Food list and Cooking on the JMT -- and Bugs on 08/22/2012 13:38:44 MDT Print View


we had no issues with bugs. Normally we would just put head nets over when cowboy camping, but this year that was not necessary - unlike last year, when the bugs were out in force due to the late snow melt.

Cooking for four with the Caldera F-Keg works, but takes patience. My wife didn't have that patience and decided to carry the JetBoil Sol TI. The JetBoil by itself would certainly be enough - it is so fast and convenient. We used the two parts of the caddy for the Foster's Keg as our mugs - my wife and I would share one and our daughters would share one. We had two warm meals - lunch and dinner - both being mountain house freeze dried meals. In the past we would have warm oatmeal in the morning, but more recently we switched to cold granola. We would still often have hot chocolade or hot tea to drink with breakfast. So we boiled water two to three times a day.
Here is one day of our day-by-day food list. That particular day didn't have hot chocolade, but otherwise shows everything. This day was also towards the end. In the beginning we would have only one snack (we learned the last years that your hunger is way less the first week) and then every couple of days increase it by one bar up to four after two weeks. Our daughters had their own preference of bars (PowerBar, Luna Bar) but mine is Clif bars. The mountain houses have two servings and the one that is shown for dinner was shared with my wife. She shared hers with me during lunch.


Meal Description Calories Oz Cal/Oz Fat(g) Carbs(g) Fiber (g) Protein(g)
Breakfast Granola (1/2 cup) 220 2 110 8 33 4 5
Dry Milk (1/3 cup) 80 1 100 0 12 0 8
Fruit & Nut Medley (1/4 cup) 140 1 127 6 17 1 3
Snack #1 Clif Bar - Apricot 230 2.4 96 3 45 5 10
Fruit & Nut Medley (1/4 cup) 140 1 127 6 17 1 3
Macademia Nuts (1/4 cup) 230 1 230 24 4 2 2
Gatorade (1 Tsp) 50 1 100 0 14 0 0
Snack #2 Trio 230 1.7 135 16 20 3 6
Gatorade (1 Tsp) 50 1 100 0 14 0 0
Snack #3 Clif Bar - Oatmeal Walnut Raisin 240 2 100 5 43 5 10
Snack #4 Trio 230 1.7 135 16 20 3 6
Dinner Mountain House - Chicken a la King with Noodles 680 6.35 107 28 80 4 48
. Gatorade (1 Tsp) 50 1 100 0 14 0 0
2570 22.05 117 112 333 28 101

Yuri R
(Yazon) - F

Outstanding trip on 08/22/2012 21:42:53 MDT Print View

I'm sure girls enjoyed the trip immensely. Adventures like these will stay in their memories and will bring many smiles through the years head.

Great trip and excellent report!

Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Great trip report, and thanks for the help. on 08/25/2012 12:10:16 MDT Print View

Great trip report Manfred. It was nice meeting you and your family at both the hot springs (you showed me where they were) and Crabtree Meadow. My boys still talk about you all, as your daughters were the only ones that they saw that were younger than them. Kudos to them and to you for a great hike.

You also offered us a ride into Lone Pine, but we managed to hitch a ride with a couple of long-haired hippie types before you got there. Thanks again.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
You are welcome on 08/25/2012 12:24:04 MDT Print View

Hi Tom,

You are welcome. The girls were looking for your boys on the last day. You must have gotten an early start. We actually waited a little bit at Whitney Portal - just in case we leap frogged you, due to our decision not to summit in the hail. But you must have already gone.

Say "Hi" to your boys. They are quite the troopers.


Edited by Orienteering on 08/25/2012 13:41:32 MDT.

Justin Baker
(justin_baker) - M

Locale: Santa Rosa, CA
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/25/2012 12:45:14 MDT Print View

Wow! Your girls are tough. I know a lot of grown men who would probably give up after a few miles of hiking.

Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/25/2012 14:25:11 MDT Print View

Manfred et al.,
Thanks for sharing the great trip report. Just a few comments...

- Kudos to you & your wife for taking your girls on the JMT and making it work so well for them!
- Kudos to your girls for putting in those miles, and with smiles on their faces. They are tough AND cute. Gotta say though that they always looked fresher than you...might be time to switch more weight into their packs. ;)
- Shame on that guy and his companions!!!
- I was at the visitor's center of Yosemite's Mariposa Grove with my family when a woman (foreign tourist) threw her cigarette butt on the ground. Bad enough that I had to smell that smoke while trying to enjoy one of the most beautiful places on earth, but to see her toss that butt on the ground when there was a place to dispose of it 3 feet from her was too much for me. I didn't say a word, but walked over, picked up the butt, and through it in the recepticle. She tracked me down after the tour (and her fellow tourists had walked away) to yell at me for embarassing her in front of her friends...jeez, thought you could only embarass yourself.


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Wow! on 08/25/2012 14:40:45 MDT Print View


Wow, that woman yelled at your for picking up her trash and putting it where it belongs?
It's always amazing to me to see how some people treat the wilderness they are visiting - and then get upset when being made aware of their behavior - even in such an indirect way as yours.


Tom Clark
(TomClark) - MLife

Locale: East Coast
Re: Wow! on 08/25/2012 14:58:14 MDT Print View

You misunderstood me.

She EXPECTED someone to pick up her cigarette butt...once she had gone.

She was FURIOUS that someone would highlight her faux front of her friends.

I still shake my head over it, but am glad that my son was there to witness it. Regardless, your experience was more extreme, but maybe better for your daughters to learn from.


Tom D.
(DaFireMedic) - M

Locale: Southern California
Same guys? on 08/25/2012 15:13:42 MDT Print View


The rude guys in your photo look a bit like the guys who were reported littering on top of Half Dome. I wasn't up there, but people on their way down told me that they had observed 3 guys littering, and when they were asked to pick it up they replied "we might later", then proceeded to yell profanities when the crowd wouldn't tolerate their littering. A bit farther down the trail, the rangers had found the guys and were ticketing them for the incident on Half Dome and threatening them with worse. I only got a short glance at them, but they look something like the guys in your picture. It wouldn't surprise me at all.

Thankfully, everyone else that I met on the trail the entire hike were courteous and friendly.

And yes, we made it to Guitar Lake the previous night and started up Whitney just before 7 a.m. We did kind of the same as you. We were warned by a ranger near trail crest not to go to the summit due to lightening danger, so we went within about 300 yards of the summit before declaring the hike done. The boys wanted to wait for pizza in Lone Pine, but upon finally reaching Whitney Portal they were really wanting a burger. Those burgers were indeed good.

Edited by DaFireMedic on 08/25/2012 18:51:27 MDT.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Easy to identify by left eye brow on 08/25/2012 15:37:13 MDT Print View


The guy who showed us multiple middle fingers and barfed his mental diarrhea over us is very easy to identify. You can see it even in the low res picture - his left eye brow has a big patch of light colored hair in it.

I'm sure once you see it you will recognize him.


Andrew F
(andrew.f) - F

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
Re: Hiking the John Muir Trail with our 9 and 10 year old daughters on 08/26/2012 16:22:12 MDT Print View


I just saw that you posted a TR on here. Both Ellen and I really enjoyed reading about your experience and seeing your photos. Too bad about the guys on Donohue, but what are you going to do? It reflects poorly on them and well on you & your family. I am very impressed with your daughters. It must be wonderfully empowering for them to have completed such a long hike. Ellen and I were out in a couple of storms while you guys were on the trail and we were glad when we could get back to our car & dry clothes. Hopefully the weather is done for awhile!


Bill Wang
Zpacks WPBCF Jacket on 08/27/2012 10:05:43 MDT Print View

Hi Manfred,
Congratulations and thanks for posting this. Very inspiring. I was wondering how you found the Zpacks WPBCF Jacket with all the rain this year? I have one but haven't really tested it hiking in the rain much. I am planning to take it for about half of the JMT next week with my daughter (Mammoth to South Lake). Thanks! -Bill.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
ZPacks Rain Jacket worked well on 08/28/2012 16:37:43 MDT Print View

Hi Bill,

The jacket worked very well.

- It kept me dry in all the rain -- ok that is expected of a rain jacket
- It dealt well with my sweat. Breathable rain jackets have their limits in regard to breathing out the moisture you produce when hiking. This jacket did a good job in the conditions we encountered. It was not cold at all, so whenever the rain eased I could open the zipper for better venting.
- I had no problems with abrasion. Having read a lot about abrasion with cuben, I was originally concerned the shoulder area might be a problematic area with carrying a backpack all day. This was not the case. The jacket shows some discoloration in those areas which I assume has to do with different layers of the cuben. But I can't detect any abrasion problems.

Together with the ZPacks Cuben mitts the jacket was an essential part our succesful JMT hike this year.


Edited by Orienteering on 01/21/2013 10:46:14 MST.

Don A.
(amrowinc) - M

Locale: Southern California
JMT on 09/11/2012 23:16:51 MDT Print View

I'm coming in on this late but just wanted to say hello Manfred. I met you and the family at MTR when Barbara K. and I pulled in for our resupply. Your daughters are little sweethearts. Just before you were leaving they came over to the hiker barrels where Barbara and I were sorting out our stuff. They were making one last check for goodies and latched onto something Barbara had just tossed in the barrel.
It is a shame to have had to deal with some unpleasantness on the trail. Sometimes there is no accounting for human stupidity. But I am sure the pleasant memories will far outlast the bad. I suspect your daughters will cherish the adventure for the rest of their lives.

Don Amundson
Still Lookin'

Dirk Rabdau
(dirk9827) - F

Locale: Pacific Northwest
Your family rocks on 09/12/2012 00:08:10 MDT Print View

I enjoyed your photos from your trip - you and your family have the right stuff it takes to enjoy and complete a long distance trail. What a fantastic experience! The three neanderthals you met on Donahue Pass notwithstanding (and kudos to you for keeping your cool), I am sure the experience of these hikes will greatly influence your daughters through adulthood Every time I see a young person on the trail it gives me hope that there will be those in the future who will speak for conservation and protection of wilderness.


keith obrien
(kmobrien15) - M
Hot Springs Near Reds Meadow on 07/22/2013 13:55:02 MDT Print View

Enjoyed reading all your trip details. Where is the hot springs that you visited after Reds Meadow located?

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Re: Hot Springs Near Reds Meadow on 08/04/2013 11:08:23 MDT Print View

Hi Keith,

We just returned from a 2-week trip into the Sierra with our daughters. The hot springs are marked on map #9 of the Tom Harrison JMT map pack as "Iva Bell Hot Springs".. They are located along the Fish Creek Trail.

Have fun out there!


eric schultz
(schultz104) - F

Locale: phoenix
kids and gear on 12/12/2013 17:12:54 MST Print View

Great job on the JMT. I am planning a 5 night trip this summer in the Inyo National Forest with my wife and 2 kids. Their ages are 8 and 10. In your trip summary you describe the kids as going UL. I saw the gear list for you and your wife. I am interested in what the kids carried. What was the weight of the kid's packs? Did the kids carry their own fishing poles? If so what type of poles?
I saw a sample day of food for you and your wife, but what did you pack for the girls. I struggle with packing everything into the bear canisters. I have the BV 500. It seems like your family only carried one canister between food drops. Any suggestions would be great.

Edited by schultz104 on 12/12/2013 17:16:09 MST.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Gear List for Kids on the JMT on 12/12/2013 18:13:13 MST Print View


a week with your wife and two kids in the Sierra sounds great.

The list you saw in this thread Manfred's & Hannah's gear for the JMT 2012 is the list for myself and my 10 year old daughter, Hannah. Our daughters, Natalie and Hannah, carried both their own gear (s. spreadsheet). The kids carried their own fishing poles - they are listed in the spreadsheet as Tenkara Yagi. These fishing poles are now sold as Clarkii by Rutalocura. They require a trekking pole handle as handle. Our two daughters would use the handles of my Gossamer Gear LT4 for that.
My wife and I carried each a Bearikade Expedition with food. Our kids ate the same food we did - they had their own choices for bars and their own choices for Mountain House Meals, but the general meal plan was the same for all four of us. A Bearikade Expedition fits 10 person days of food for us. So we could go for 5 days without resupply. By carrying the first day of food outside of the bear canister, we could stretch it to 6 days and by not bringing dinner for the last day we were able to stretch it even to a complete week. Our BV500 fits 7 person days of food - if we repackage the Mountain Houses. You would have to pack really tight to manage with your family for 5 nights with two BV500. I would consider to rent a Bearikade here

Have a great time out there!

Best Regards,


Edited by Orienteering on 12/12/2013 18:13:48 MST.

eric schultz
(schultz104) - F

Locale: phoenix
Hiking the mt with out 9 and 10 year old on 12/15/2013 18:17:27 MST Print View

Thanks for the information. I am wondering about the 2 tents used during your trip. Did the Blackdiamond Betalight have any condensation issues? Did you use any bug netting.
How did the SMD cuben haven perform? Was it worth the price or would you recommend another style?

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
SMD Haven vs. BD BetaLight on 12/15/2013 21:14:08 MST Print View

Hi Eric,

We didn't have any condensation issues on the JMT with either tent. My wife and I used the SMD Cuben Haven (carried by our daughter as it is roughly half the weight) and our daughters used the BD BetaLight (carried by me as it is heavier).

The kids - especially scouts who are not siblings - generally prefer the BetaLight design because it has the trekking poles in the middle between the two persons. My wife and I prefer the Haven design, because there are no poles between us and we each have our own door on the side and our own vestibule - instead of just one door in the front.

We prefer the Cuben Haven over the silnylon Haven because it is lighter to begin with (10 oz instead of 18 oz). Another important advantage is that you can just shake off the water after it rains, while the silnylon takes on a lot of water and weighs way more until it is dried out again. Those two advantages were worth the extra money for the Cuben to us.

We have the InnerNet for the Haven, but didn't need it on the JMT.

I hope that helps,


eric schultz
(schultz104) - F

Locale: phoenix
zpacks on 12/27/2013 11:32:58 MST Print View

I know that you have spoke on this subject in other posts, but I just had some specfic questions. I am looking at the zpacks “arc blast” 60liters backpack. I see that you have the exo. I do not see that one listed on the zpacks website. The site states that the blast will fit a bear canister inside the pack. Do you know how much more gear can be packed? I am wondering what if any, extra equipment you added to the pack. Such as; top pockets, top straps, etc. I am looking for a lighter pack. I currently use the osprey 70, at 75.5 ounces.

Edited by schultz104 on 12/27/2013 12:00:50 MST.

Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
ZPacks Arc Blast and ZPacks Exo on 12/27/2013 13:04:40 MST Print View

Hi Eric,

We own both, the ZPacks Exo and the ZPacks Arc Blast. Both backpacks use the same bag on a different frame. The Exo was the predecessor of the Arc Blast. I'm using it for a couple of years now. Once ZPacks replaced the Exo with Arc Blast, my wife got the Arc Blast. She prefers that design as she loves to have a mesh panel that keeps her back from getting sweaty. My Exo has the 52 l bag and my wifes's Arc Blast has the 60 l bag. Both of us added two hip pockets and two shoulder pouches from ZPacks to our packs. The following list describes how we both pack our packs for the JMT.

Bottom of pack - 13 l drysack with sleeping bag and down jacket.
On top of sleeping bag all the way to right side - Bearikade Expedition
Space next to the bear canister - Sleeping pad (NeoAir xLite), tent (SMD Haven)
Top of Bearikade - 10 l drysack with clothes (long underwear, second socks and underwear, balaclava, gloves)
Left sidepocket of main bag - Caldera Keg-F Stove System (incl. stove, pot, mug, cup, Ti spoon, sparker) + 8 oz fuel bottel
Right sidepocket of main bag - TP/Trowel/Wash kit + Tenkara Pole
Left shoulder pouch - 20 oz bottle
Right shoulder pouch - 20 oz bottle (or camera as one bottle is mostly enough)
Left hip pocket - Camera (Canon Powershot SX 150)
Right hip pocket - SteriPen Freedom, headlamp (Zebra H51), personal first aid kit
Center mesh pocket - rain jacket, rain mittens, maps (in ziplock), ziplock with fishing stuff (flys, lines, tippet), DeLorme inReach
Left shoulder belt - GPS (etrex 30)
Outside/top of backpack - solar panel (PowerFilm USB+AA charger)

The Zpacks Arc Blast with the extra hip and shoulder pockets would save you around 3.5 lbs.

I hope this helps.


Douglas Johnson
(Sponge) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Great writeup on 01/10/2014 15:47:11 MST Print View


Thank you so much for posting your trip. I'm currently in the planning stages of hiking the JMT with my oldest daughter this summer. She will be (hopefully) turning 14 at the top of Whitney to complete the walk. She's done a few overnights, but nothing as serious as this. I'm hoping she will stay motivated, and we have a pretty good fitness regimen to get her ready.

The hardest thing for me is to estimate how much mileage she can handle for that long of time. I'm thinking 12-15 miles a day would be about it, especially when we hit the passes. I'll probably start with some short mileage days in Yosemite, then build up from there.


Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Daily miles on the JMT on 01/10/2014 17:12:19 MST Print View


Wow - celebrating your daughters 14th birthday on top of My. Whitney sounds way cool to me. I don't know how much time you have for backpacking the John Muir Trail. It sounds like you might have up to three weeks. We always planned three weeks with our kids and then let them more or less set the pace. Our (back then) 15 year old sons took 20 days. They slept in every morning and wouldn't get out of their sleeping bag before the sun was shining directly into their face. They also fished a lot more than their sisters on the later hikes. Our 13 year old daughter was similar to her brothers in her morning routine and we took 19 days. My wife and I learned really fast that it is not a good idea to wake a teenager up in the morning and make them go. Teenagers have a way to make you pay for that for the rest of the day. So for those two hikes we would basically fish every morning until our kids got up by themselves. With our two youngest daughters it was very different. They would wake up with the first bird, get straight out of their sleeping bag and ask us when we will go. They were always excited to go and see more. They finished the hike in 15 days.
So in a nutshell I would say let your daughter decide when to start in the morning; let her also decide the pace during the day and only encourage her to go longer in the evening when you are seriously falling behind.
The 12-15 miles you are targeting is very doable. Our kids would usually do 2 miles per hour including little breaks (for example to treat water). So if we got started at 9 am we did 6 miles by lunch. We would then have up to two hours lunch break for swimming, fishing, cooking, etc. From 2 pm to 5 pm we would cover another 6 miles and could make camp for the night. Our youngest daughters would easily do another 4 miles just by starting their day 2-3 hours earlier than their older siblings.

Have fun out there!


Space Q. Monkey

Locale: Southern California
Wonderful! on 04/04/2014 18:54:38 MDT Print View

What a wonderful trip report. We were up on roughly the same patch at about the same time. At the time, my wife was 6 months pregnant with our daughter (she wasn't on the trip) When we got up to Whitney summit, I signed the register with a dedication to my daughter to be wishing her a happy and adventurous life. Seeing this post really inspires me. Congratulations and thanks!

Gordon Gray
(GordonG) - F

Locale: Front Range, CO
Sweet on 04/06/2014 21:41:34 MDT Print View

You kick @ss Manfred. This is an inspiration form my daughters and me. I can't wait to show them your pics. My girls are the same age.