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Children & High Peaks

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  • Children & High Peaks

    Good morning!
    So I have 9 and 10yr old kids who hike a fair bit. They can go as far as 20k of rolling hills in rocky/rooty/muddy terrain, conquered Catamount and Chimney (except for the scramble/climb up the actual chimney) two years ago, and recently climbed Gros Morne in Newfoundland which I think was an 7-800m, 17km ascent last summer. It had a lot of skree on the final ascent, but was otherwise just endurance.

    They are excited to join their parents in climbing some High Peaks. So we are planning Cascade/Porter mid-June. However, our weekend will also allow us time for another trek. We, the parents, have done Marcy and Tabletop, but not Phelps. Would Phelps we a good choice with kids? We want to be adventurous but not to do something so dangerous that a kid could get into real trouble with a wrong step or two. We'll be at the Loj, so we had planned on offering them easy (Jo) vs hard (Phelps).

    Any advice would be appreciated!

  • #2
    I took my nine-year-old stepdaughter up Phelps several summers ago. She loved the scrambling ledges. You'll find out on C&P if they enjoy that sort of terrain. It's really only a mile of steep climbing and a few ledges.
    #8335W, Solo 46W
    NE 111 113/115

    One list may be done, but the journey is far from over...
    Half Dome, 2009


    • #3
      Write is another easy hike with nice view of Colden and Algonquin.


      • #4
        Here's another useful thread, if you are looking for additional "shorter" hikes in the area:

        Pitchoff, in particular, is nearby and offers a wonderful playground of features and views.

        I agree Phelps and Wright are good choices. Jo is "easier" but there are actually probably more places to fall and get hurt on Jo then there are on Pitchoff. No real problems on the trail, but you have to be a little careful running around on the rocks at the top.


        • #5
          Thank you! Looking forward to these hikes. I think we're going to end up spending a lot of money on patches! A good problem to have.


          • #6
            Given that there are two sets of twins that finished the 46 before turning 6, reasonably fit and motivated 9 and 10-year-olds are capable of doing much more than just Phelps. I would do Cascade and Porter as a starter, but then go for Algonquin. The "oh wow" experience of being on a bald summit that high and with that view of Colden (mt. and lake) is just the sort of experience to motivate them to do more. That said, you know your children and ultimately it's up to you to decide what might be just too much of an adventure for them.


            • #7
              I started the hiking life last summer solo, and in the fall started my 9 yr old daughter out in her adventures with me after I had experienced a bunch of solo dayhikes. We live in the foothills of the southern tier, so to gauge her abilities I started her with several-hr hikes on the weekends on the FLT and climbing firetowers and any other steep hills I could find. THEN came her first, Giant Mtn. If you haven't done this one I think this would be good that weekend also for you, I chose this for my daughter's first because of several possible turn-around points on the way like the pond and nubble, but that day she kicked my butt up the trail and the scrambles, and before I knew it we broke out into the crowd on the summit. Since then she flew up cascade/porter, we did tabletop together, and we did Algonquin together in a rain storm (without wright or boundary/Iroquois).
              I have done wright, phelps, big slide solo, and after doing Algonquin with my daughter she wouldn't have trouble doing them at all. Those will be our first ones together this spring/summer. You will be the best judge of your childrens' capability but it sounds like phelps would be good after cascade/porter (easy warmup to the dam with beautiful views and break-time before and after the climbing mile). If their legs are tired after cascade/porter you could always call it good for the day at Marcy dam and turn around after lunch and exploring the flat and checking out the views of colden and wright. I would hold off on Algonquin that weekend cause that day after cascade/porter that elevation will be a lot of work and you might not realize its too much for them until you are really up into some of that trail's scrambles. The only time my daughter ever said her legs were tired after any of our hikes, peaks up there or long dayhikes down here, was after Algonquin (after that one I was hobbling pretty good with sore quads for a few days, I'm a big guy and its work at times for me to keep stepping up).
              With my daughter I always err on side of caution: I take many breaks (even if she says she doesn't need them), stay well hydrated, really watch her footing like with rock-hopping on the van ho. Something like phelps I would really take my time on the scrambles and point out the best route up with handholds/footholds and always follow really close right behind going up and lead the way back down the harder sections.
              All I can say if you thought it was great hitting a summit before, just wait till your kids break out on that first rock-slab viewpoint on the way up before cascade/porter split and turn around and look around, and then when they get to the top of cascade after scrambling around the open rock and then with the summit marker and see the other peaks and the wilderness? yeah.


              • #8
                Just be willing to turn around. The worst thing you can do it push them past their limits. They will never hike again. I've heard this story too many times.
                Tom Rankin - 5444W "In the depths of Summer, I finally learned that there lay within me an invincible Winter"

                Proud Member #0003 of ADKHP Foundation
                Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
                Past President Catskill 3500 Club
                CEO Views And Brews!

                Trail maintainer for the Dry Brook Ridge trail from Mill Brook Road to just past the Lean-to


                • #9
                  I always find stories about kids of a certain age becoming legitimate 46'rs to be highly suspect. Under 6? Come on. Trying to remember my own abilities when I was a kindergartner, or those of my younger siblings or my own kid's current progression, and most of the 4k foot peaks are completely out of the question. I'm sure its a lot of fun to take them on bigger hikes when they're old enough to handle the terrain. There's a world of difference between a 5-year old and a 9-year old. JoshC I'm sure they'll be fine. At that age they'll probably run circles around you!
                  My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.


                  • lnorman
                    lnorman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    I'm not so skeptical. We started with our 3 at ages 5,8,9. We made some challenging peaks that first year, and the 5 y.o. was not necessarily the weakest link on any given hike. It's taken us 6 years to get to 40/46 as we are pretty casual about it, but if for some reason we made it a focus, I think it would have been possible pretty early on to complete. Kids have remarkable endurance, you just need to fuel them constantly and pay really close attention as they don't always tell you early enough about things that get them into trouble, like cold or blisters. My kids and I don't have any special powers we just took them to do stuff. The real hero was my wife, who could reliably tell stories for hours on end, during which I never once heard "I'm tired".

                  • FlyFishingandBeer
                    FlyFishingandBeer commented
                    Editing a comment
                    lnorman Maybe I'm being a bit too presumptuous then. That's pretty awesome that you have been able to cover all that ground as a family with no complaints so far. It still bears noting that you *started* at ages 5,8,and 9 and you're now six years in, vs. families whose kids are *completing* their rounds at ages 5 or 6. I'm not trying to marginalize your group effort though. Sounds like you guys have have the perfect trail chemistry. Looking forward to doing the same with mine when she's old/interested enough.

                  • lnorman
                    lnorman commented
                    Editing a comment
                    Flyfishing... Never said there never ANY complaints, but overall I think all the kids would agree we have a lot of fun and it's been a great family activity. My point though is we are doing this in a pretty casual way. We live a little distance away, we canoe and kayak in the summer and ski all winter. We don't have a huge hiking background before we had kids. Most of what we have done has been on Easter and Thanksgiving weekends. We are all of average athletic ability ( though the hiking has made the kids pretty resilient). So yes it's taken us nearly six years to get to 40/46 and we have some tough ones to do. But it's enough to convince me that if a fit family set this as a goal and put some time effort and commitment to it... If they tell me they did it all with 6 year olds. I'd believe it. I encourage you to go for it with your family. I don't think you need to wait for them to be "interested" in it, just start hiking and find the things about it in every hike that interest them and go at their pace. It's been a valuable thing for them I think, the idea that being outside and moving all day and dealing with whatever weather is just a normal thing to do, because we have always done it.

                • #10
                  I passed two kids in the 5-7 yr old range between Colvin and Blake a couple years ago and they were having an absolute blast running, laughing and carrying on. Their dad (probably in his early 30s) was doing his best to keep up. Later they passed by my campsite well off the Gill Brook trail still running and playing with red-faced dad doing all he could to keep up. Some young kids as early 46ers I can believe but they are in the minority. Those two certainly had it in them. Dad was a 50/50 shot.


                  • #11
                    Obviously a lot depends on the kids' ability and physical conditioning. But also mental stamina, as others have alluded to, is as important. These kids seem very capable based on what they've done. I took my 6 year old up Wright 15 years ago and he did awesome. Then I took him up Blake and Colvin the next year and he didn't do so well. Now he's 21 and literally skips and the last few miles after a climb while I am saying "are we almost there?"... But I've always liked Big Slide for a 4k but a very nice hike and a good payoff.