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First backpack trip with my 11 year old son
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Paul Maguire
First backpack trip with my 11 year old son on 09/09/2012 15:15:57 MDT Print View

I am planning on taking my 11 year old on his first backpacking trip this coming weekend. My plans are to head up to Emigrant Wilderness, and hike in at Kennedy Meadows to Relief Reservoir. I chose this spot because its a gentle, 4.5 mile hike in to a nice water body, and at an elevation low enough where we can have a campfire and he wont be laboring in such thin air.

Has anyone done this particular hike, or had any experience with any of the other hikes in this area (Sonora Pass area)? I am trying to make it as fun as possible for him on his first outing. I was thinking we would hike in, and then set up camp. The next day we could do a day hike, then come back to our camp... and finally head out the following day.

I have never backpacked in this area, so I am not familiar with it. Was hoping that someone might have some input on this area for me to consider.


Edited by ppatmag on 09/09/2012 18:46:22 MDT.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: First backpack trip with my 11 year old son on 09/09/2012 16:32:48 MDT Print View

Be aware that Relief Res. will be pretty low this time of year - meaning like 20 or 30 feet low, and thus a big bathtub ring of dry lake bottom between you and the water.

You might consider going in to the Emigrant at Gianelli trailhead instead. From there it is about 1 1/2 miles to Powell Lake, or about 3 miles to Chewing Gum Lake.

Another possibility is Desolation Wilderness. Start at Echo Lakes, take the boat taxi across, and it's only a mile or so to Tamarack Lake, with two other lakes close by, and Lake Aloha for a great dayhike the next day.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: First backpack trip with my 11 year old son on 09/09/2012 16:43:39 MDT Print View

Paul, I have been there a few times. The elevation gain is a bit deceptive and the camping sites are not that great. I would look at Gianelli Cabin trailhead or Crabtree. If you chose Crabtree, you can hike to Bear Lake which is around 3.5 miles. There is a little uphill but nothing bad. You can have fires there too

Bruce Tolley

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
First backpack with my 11 year old son on 09/09/2012 17:04:48 MDT Print View

How far do you really want to hike? I found for the first backpacks with my son shorter was better, and the food during the car trip and while on the trail was super important.

There is no sign or posted trail but on the East side of Sonora Pass, there is a use trail to the base of Sardine Falls. There is no trail on the map but if you look at the topo, you can figure out the route. it is mostly flat with lots of places to camp along the stream and someone has even hauled in a picnic table at one camping spot.

Paul Maguire
Thank you! A few more questions on 09/09/2012 18:58:50 MDT Print View

You guys,

Thank you so much for the information! Like I said, I have never hiked in this area, so I was driving blind into this one.

Note taken, and I will change our plans and head in from Gianelli.. The day hike on the second day to Chewing Gum Lake is a great idea. My son is a pretty good trooper. After I got of the JMT this year, we stayed for 10 days in Mammoth and hiked a bunch. He carried a full (well, not totally full) pack on all the hikes to train for this coming trip. I figured he has at least 6-8 miles in him for a day, so I figured 4.5 was pretty easy.

Ive heard about kids/food.... So, thats been a big part. I let him pick out his food at REI yesterday, and promised some nice goodies once we get out of Mom's sight..... Throw a couple big snicker bars in the bear can, and a few other goodies.

Any input on how the road to Gianelli is for a Prius? And, any good camping spots pre hike to note? Lastly, where should I consider picking up our permit?

Thanks again for the input

Charles P
(mediauras) - F

Locale: Terra
Re: Thank you! A few more questions on 09/09/2012 22:23:51 MDT Print View

That will be a blast! Get your permit in Pinecrest. Its a super easy and painless process.

Have fun.

Paul McLaughlin
(paul) - MLife
Re: Thank you! A few more questions on 09/09/2012 23:05:25 MDT Print View

The road to gianelli is doable with a Prius, just go slow and watch for the rocks. If you don't pay attention you will do some scraping, but as long as you are careful you'll be fine.

Paul Maguire
Thanks again on 09/10/2012 08:42:26 MDT Print View

Thank you everyone for helping me out. If i remember, I will post a trip report when we are done

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: Re: Thank you! A few more questions on 09/10/2012 09:49:12 MDT Print View

Correct on the road leading to Gianelli.... I have seen many cars there, just go slow. There is a cool sign on top of the pass explaining how the emigrants came through the pass and the region. Enjoy the hike!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Food on 09/14/2012 00:17:46 MDT Print View

I'd bring some marshmallows to cook over the fire just for fun. He'll like it and sitting around a fire is the best way I've found to actually get kids to talk. Speaking of that, make sure you both have warm enough jackets to enjoy the evening, its a bit more weight but its worth it.

Have fun and post a trip report. I'm a big fan of any kind of family trip.