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[at-l] Little trip with my daughter
My daughter Jessica (age 9) and I hiked another section of the
Susquehannock Trail System (North Central PA) over the weekend. We started
about noon on Saturday, and finished up at noon on Monday. We went about
My original plan was to break the hike up into six or seven mile chunks,
but we ended up doing eight, nine, and four. We had some cold rain on
Saturday, Sunday was cold (50 degrees) but clear, and Monday was just
gorgeous. We had some light frost Monday morning, but the day warmed up
quickly. For those who remember my earlier postings about trips with
Jessie, I did remember to bring a tarp, but it didn't really get a fair
test as the rain on Saturday quit too soon.
Meals were simple. We had cold breakfasts (Poptarts, actually), snacked
continuously throughout the day in lieu of lunch, and had hot (one pot)
meals for dinner. We drank water.
This was the longest trip (by about four miles) that Jessie has been on,
and contained the two longest days that she has every hiked. She is very
proud of what she did (I am too).
The best quote of the trip:
I really like hiking. Some things are yucky, like when it's cold
and wet out, but then things get better and it's really fun.
I think she's getting hooked.
Anyway, for the little gear heads out there, here are a few new
observations about hiking with Jessie (generalize at your own risk!):
(1) Bring lots of warm clothes. Jessie gets cold a LOT more easily than I
do. She was hiking with long pants, a long underwear top, a windbreaker,
winter mittens, and a hat while I was wearing shorts and a light weight
long underwear top.
(2) Let Jessie make up the trail mix. We did that, and it worked out
really well. We gave each mix a name (like "apple nut" or "Filbert's
Folly") which was fun.
(3) The outdoors is a great toy. We didn't bring any toys, and Jessie
showed no interest in having any. When we were in camp, she had no trouble
finding things to do.
(4) Let Jessie lead. Jessie lead essentially all the time... she set the
pace and called for stops whenever she wanted to. This worked really well,
and was much easier on me than trying to guess how fast she wanted to go.
(5) Decent gear pays off. Jessie's pack weighed about 12 pounds, which
sounds very light until you realize that she only weighs 65 pounds. She
carried her sleeping bag and all of her clothes, and the pack was stuffed.
She uses as Osprey Pika, which is a 1900 cubic inch internal frame pack for
kids. The suspension is rudimentary, but the pack has a real hip belt.
She told me that the pack felt like her knapsack with just her lunch and a
few papers in it.
(6) Make sure Jessie has easy access to water. I hung a shoulder pocket
off of her hip belt... the shoulder pocket was just the right size to hold
one of the little Rubbermaid "sip and save" bottles. It only holds one cup
of water, but it is right at hand. This worked much better than hanging a
water bottle off of her pack (which was a resounding non-success on our
(7) We would have enjoyed having a field guide to plants.
(8) Make sure Jessie's boots fit. Vasque boots for kids have a two part
insole. You can remove the bottom part to give some extra space to wider
(or growing) feet. The system works really well, especially since there
aren't many choices in kids hiking footwear. This is Jessie's third
backpacking trip, and she has never had a blister. I have a gut feeling
that ill fitting shoes (and the blisters that come with them) could really
turn a kid off of backpacking.
For the record, Jessie carried the following:
EMS LT20 Jr. sleeping bag
2 pair synthetic long john tops
1 pair synthetic long john bottoms
three pairs of socks
one pair winter mittens
a warm hat of some unknown (probably acrylic) material
a pair of supplex pants [Rail Riders, from Campmor]
a 50/50 cotton/polyester T shirt
a pair of supplex shorts with a built in liner [REI]
fleece pants (I think they are 300 weight) [Rugged Bear]
fleece jacket (also 300 weight) [Rugged Bear]
supplex windbreaker [REI]
Osprey Pika pack
Shoulder pocket [Sun Dog]
Litle rectangular 1 cup water bottle [Rubbermaid]
Coated nylon rain coat [Campmor]
Coated nylong rain pants [EMS]
Vasque leather boots
two plastic produce bags for rain gloves [Tops Friendly Markets]
a "rucksack" pack cover [EMS]
a tall kitchen garbage bag to hold wet clothes
an oversized stuff sack to hold her sleeping bag and some of the
a Duracell 2 AA flashlight
a "dog tag", Photon Microlight, and whistle all worn around her neck
I forgot her sun hat, but they are nice in both the sun and rain.
The only item we didn't use was her rain pants, and we used them on our
I carried all the shared gear, food, most of the water, and Jessie's
sleeping pad (a 3/4 length Ridge Rest). My starting pack weight, including
food and water, was about 40 pounds.
Jessie is a wonderful hiking partner and we had a great time.
-- Jim Mayer
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