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Summer Vacation in the John Muir Wilderness with our four Girls
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Manfred Kopisch
(Orienteering) - F
Summer Vacation in the John Muir Wilderness with our four Girls on 08/09/2013 12:41:04 MDT Print View

For the last three summers we took every year two of our kids on the JMT – 2010 Philipp & Daniel, 2011 Cassandra & Hannah, 2012 Hannah & Natalie. This year we took Elisabeth (and her three sisters) for a two week vacation into the John Muir Wilderness. Elisabeth has dyspraxia and hiking/backpacking is way harder for her than for her siblings. Thus we planned to set up a basecamp after a short hike and then offer different activities including (multi) day hikes based on the interests of our four girls.
We selected Blaney Meadows as the area for our base camp. It had several strategic advantages:
1) Only 5 mile hike from the ferry landing at Florence Lake. This would be very doable for Elisabeth.
2) Muir Trail Ranch (MTR) is close by. JMT and PCT hikers can send food packages there for their re-supply. This would allow us to carry in only three days of food for the six of us in our bear canisters and then re-supply ourselves every three days through packages we sent to MTR.
3) Blaney Meadows has natural hot springs. My wife and the girls can easily spend a whole day in a hot tub 
4) Blaney Meadows has a Warm Lake that is fed by Hot Springs. This would be perfect for extended swimming activities.

It was great to spend the time with the kids out there. Everyone got a lot out of the wilderness experience. Elisabeth swam the first time in her life across a lake. Natalie turned 10 during the vacation and loved baking mud pies in some of the hot springs. Hannah stretched her legs a little and did her first cross-country pass in the High Sierra. Cassandra went on two multi-day trips with me and did an increasing amount of cross-country route-finding. Michelle gladly volunteered to stay back in the hot tub with the kids who didn’t want to hike on a given day. I did some relaxed exploring of areas left and right of the JMT. There are so many beautiful things out there that we often hardly see when doing our daily mileage on a planned trek. Here are some photos that give a glimpse into this kind of family vacation in the Sierra.

Our four girls at ferrry at Florence Lake
Picture 1: Our four girls arrive at the ferry at Florence Lake. The adventure can begin

Our girls cross a log bridge
Picture 2: Our four girls crossing the first log bridge

Hot Tub
Picture 3: One of the “hot tubs”

Jumping off the cliff
Picture 4: Hannah jumping with dad into Warm Lake

Fovorite hot tub
Picture 5: Michelle’s favorite “hot tub”

Snake at hot tub
Picture 6: A visitor to the hot tub

Hot mud bath
Picture 7: The girls loved the hot “mud tub” and baked many mud pies

Nap time
Picture 8: Our three youngest girls enjoyed a nap from time to time after playing in the hot tub. Their parents’ Lovebird quilt was a hot item for taking those naps.

Birthday Princess
Picture 9: Natalie turned 10 during our vacation

We don't hear you, don't see you and won't talk to you ...
Picture 10: Natalie’s three sisters making fun of the birthday princess

Elisabeth swims across Warm Lake
Picture 11: Elisabeth swims across Warm Lake

Picture 12: Exploring the “Potholes” along the San Joaquin River

Cassie drops from pothole into river
Picture 13: Cassie right before dropping from a pothole into the San Joaquin River

Waterfall in Goddard Canyon
Picture 14: Goddard Canyon

Hell-For-Sure Lake
Picture 15: Cassie and Hannah going down Hell-For-Sure Pass

Lower Indian Lake
Picture 16: Lower Indian Lake

Upper Indian Lake
Picture 17: Hannah and Cassie approaching Upper Indian Lake

Mosquito Pass
Picture 18: Cassie and Hannah coming down Mosquito Pass

Granite water slide
Picture 19: Hannah sliding down a water slide on blank granite

Cassie goes cross-country
Picture 20: Cassie leading the way through deadfall to Thompson Pass

Picture 21: An early morning visitor to our camp at Thompson Lake

Frost on sleeping bag
Picture 22: Up above 10,000 ft it got cold at night

Horse in tree
Picture 23: How did the horse get into the tree?

This was a fun trip for our family. The total mileage during these 14 days was “only” 90 miles – and just for the kids who wanted to explore more and go on cross-country backpacking trips. Some kids did less than 20 miles during this trip. Offering this kind of flexibility for every child, to only do as much backpacking/hiking as they like, was key in making it fun for everyone. Going lightweight – everyone carried their own gear – played a great factor in making this summer vacation a success.

Edited by Orienteering on 08/09/2013 13:44:50 MDT.

Amy Lauterbach
(drongobird) - MLife

Locale: San Francisco Bay Area
re: Summer Vacation with our four Girls on 08/09/2013 13:02:45 MDT Print View

Great Trip Report Manfred. It's fun to read a report that captures the essence of the trip, and is not just a long inventory of meals eaten, passes crossed, storms endured, and obstacles overcome! I'm in awe of your and Michele's ability to plan the logistics for a long trip with four kids.

Ken Helwig
(kennyhel77) - MLife

Locale: Scotts Valley CA via San Jose, CA
Re: re: Summer Vacation with our four Girls on 08/10/2013 07:46:35 MDT Print View

great trip report Manfred.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Very cool on 08/10/2013 09:30:03 MDT Print View

Very creative way to have everyone get a bit of everything. Looks like you had great weather for the trip.

Paul Andronico
(Jakesandwich) - MLife

Locale: S.F. Bay Area
Great report on 08/10/2013 10:04:49 MDT Print View

Loved the story and photos. What a tremendous family experience.