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Overnight with the kids around Marcy Dam. August 7th.

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  • Overnight with the kids around Marcy Dam. August 7th.

    I post trip reports here mostly in lieu of keeping a journal, and most often I think they contain valuable information to share. This one is more a story of doing an overnight trip with my kids.

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    Since the ADK bug bit my oldest son last fall when we slept at Deer brook and looped Big Slide, it seems the middle one caught the virus from his older brother's stories. So I told them I would take them for an overnight and I also threw the youngest one into the mix.

    We got to the Loj around 1pm Monday with the plan of staying at a lean-to at Marcy dam and hike a peak the next day, most likely Phelps. I was packing everything to sleep and support four for the trip. I didn't weight my pack, but lets just say I had trouble crouching and getting back up with it, especially with the 8 peaks over the two previous days in my legs.

    And so we set out with me in front followed by my 5 year old, then the youngest aged 3 and my oldest at 9 closing the march. We looked like a bunch of ducks with the boys tucked in right behind me. I established a few cardinal rules before the hike. Stay dry, stay together, move only when you know where you're going, think before every step and if you jump into a mud puddle for fun WE GO BACK HOME!

    Trivia: How many times can a three year old fall on the Van Ho trail? He didn't fall much really, he's pretty nimble. What struck me though was observing how it happened. It was not in the tricky sections where he was paying attention, but on those easy straights, tripping on that barely protruding rock or root, as it often also happens to me.

    So I was in front calling out the mud puddles and echoing the last cardinal rule when we got to the new bypass they cut right before the dam. All that wet freshly stripped soil was a logistical nightmare to navigate! Why did they cut that new segment anyway? I understand the previous one was eroded pretty badly, but so will this new one eventually. Why not fix the original trail?

    We got to the dam at 3. As we crossed the bridge at the dam it started to rain. We got to the first lean-to on the East bank only to find out a group of 7 was setting up, and as far as they knew all dam lean-tos were taken with no room for a group of four. So I decided to bet on Kagel. As we rejoined the trail rain started pouring. I got the ponchos out for the kids and we picked up the pace. As we were getting right up to the lean-to I was praying it would be empty, and so it was.

    We took an hour to set-up and started preparation for dinner given all the bear activity warnings I was given the 3 times I came across a DEC staff asking me about the color of my bear can. The "it's black" part of the answer got me nods of approval, and the ensuing "with pink stripes" got me smiles all the time. Hey, it's not my fault if pink is the easiest color for our eyes to spot in the woods!

    The rain had stopped, but everything was dripping and we were not going to cook in the lean-to. So, as it turns out the driest place to cook and sit ironically hapenned to be the river. We found a spot we could safely get away from under the trees and sit to eat without getting wet. Beef stew with mac and cheese was the kids' choice (I kinda liked the mountain house stew actually) and we went to stash the can some hundred yards upstream, because that was downwind.

    It started to rain again soon after and we got back in the lean-to to play, read and get ready for bedtime. As the kids went to bed I sat by the edge of the lean-to in my Jerry chair and watched the darkness set in, listening to the rain, the river and reading a few pages of Balancing on Blue. I still have some work to do on my chair to prevent the nylon from slipping when I lean back too much.

    Maybe it's because I've never had a close encounter with a bear yet, and the fact I had my three kids with me, but I felt uneasy. I don't sweat over having to deal with a bear if I'm awake and can see it or hear it properly, but the falling rain, gushing sounds of the river and the vegetation didn't help with that. So I slept with one eye open most of the night. Thankfully the kids felt none of that and pulled an 11 hours night. They all loved the lean-to and want to go back. Here's to many future sleepless nights!

    It was a promising day and the kids were exited to go hike something. We discussed plans for the day around the map over breakfast and the oldest one wanted to go for Wright instead of Phelps, which add two miles. We packed up, cleaned the place, had a look through the log book, leaving a note and left.

    We made good time back to the Algonquin trail junction and I dropped the overnight pack. Kids just want to have fun obviously, and Adirondacks trails are great obstacle courses! They would go over every rock possible to jump off it. Everyone had fun and that's all that mattered to me, but that wasn't the case for everyone in the group. My oldest son is very competitive and the summit was important to him. I tried to pace them properly as much as I could, but it would still be a tough hike. And I felt the oldest one knew that. He would help and encourage his youngest brother along the way a lot more than usual. The middle one was doing great and was proud to support his younger brother as well as seeing how he was able to keep up with his older brother.

    I called for many breaks along the way up, and played spotting games with them to make it all more interesting, but I kept thinking about the way back and more or less a mile from the summit I had them stop. We wouldn't make it. That didn't go over well with the oldest one. But in the end he learned and understood the importance of planning for the whole group. Anyway sadness quickly changed to exitement when I traded this hike for two more including a winter overnight

    We headed back down, grabbed the pack at the junction and I finished the hike holding my youngest son's hand for the last half mile. It had been just a tad too long, but not enough to make a dent in the mountain of fun he had in the wilderness.

  • #2
    Braver than I, to take kids up there.
    46er #9404
    Pics: https://www.flickr.com/photos/145945713@N02/
    http://www.athikerpictures.org/syste...jpg
    https://smokebeard.wordpress.com/

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    • #3
      I've spent many nights such as this around Marcy Dam, Flowed Lands and JBL when the kids were younger, before they could hike the peaks as day hikes. In those early years it was almost like a working vacation, constantly tending to their needs. From the very beginning they always carried their own packs, even if they only carried a roll of toilet paper or raingear. Until they became more physically capable, my pack would weigh in between 90 and 100 lbs. Now, looking back, I can see those efforts paying dividends. Hiking, camping, and generally being active in the outdoors is a natural thing for my kids, and as young adults, they are finding their own way back to the mountains. Congratulations.

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      • Trail Boss
        Trail Boss commented
        Editing a comment
        Extra bonus when the eldest can share in the driving. That's assuming he'll still want to hike with his ol' man.

    • #4
      What a great report! It's pretty cool that your kids are already learning that, often with hiking (and life ), it's the journey, and not always the destination, that matters in the long run.
      We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

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      • #5
        Not to hijack the thread, but starting your kids off young on hiking/camping/orienteering can pay huge dividends. I started with the kids pretty young and learned along with them what makes for a "successful" hike. The payoff is that at ages ranging from 17-25, they are still excited about climbing mountains or entering orienteering events with me. Our youngest is currently applying to colleges. One of her essays is below - and all about hiking and orienteering!

        Slowly crawling in the front steps of the house, my sisters, Dad, and I collapse on the floor whimpering in pain. We’re grimey, covered in dirt and sweat, and our feet can barely be seen through the layers of duct tape. Why duct tape? Duct tape is known to ardent hikers as a bandage and aids in the prevention of blisters. My Mom sees us on the floor and, documenting our apparent misery with pictures, asks why we would willingly torture ourselves. Grinning, we reply that our Dad has us hooked on “hiking-fever” and are already planning our next adventure.

        We began our outdoor adventures when I was just two years old with family hikes up short trails around my home in Central New York. They quickly grew into a passion for the outdoors. The Turtle and the Hare, a team consisting of my Dad and myself, competed in a 24-hour competition when I was six years old. Learning navigational and survival skills were only the beginning. I also learned perseverance, endurance, and what it meant to set a goal and work to achieve it. Over the next several years I grew to appreciate nature and could maneuver through difficult terrain noting navigational aids such as vegetation lines and spurs while enjoying the wildlife around me.

        By age 12, with my independent spirit brewing, I set out on my first solo 24 hour adventure; hiking through dense forests, over mountains while collecting “points” at the controls during extreme heat, rain and darkness. Being in charge of planning and executing a route during the nighttime hours proved to be the most daunting. Not only were the visual aids used during daylight hours unavailable, but hearing the rustle of ground foliage can stimulate one’s overactive imagination. The immense satisfaction of completing this 24-hour challenge enabled me to grow in both physical and mental toughness.

        Many mountains later, I can say that I have a close connection and appreciation for nature. Hiking has taught me to navigate and observe the world without the guidance or distraction of electronics. There is a great thrill in being able to step away from the hustle of society with the ability to focus and rely on oneself.

        I have climbed the Dix Mountain Range three separate times, each time promising never to return. However, the lure of the range repeatedly drew me back. Unable to change the days planned for the hike, Mother Nature provided additional obstacles for my third Dix Range excursion. Day one and three of the adventure consists of hiking into “base camp.” The middle day challenge; hiking six mountains. Mother Nature lulled me into a false sense of pleasantness by allowing my hike in and setting up camp to be dry. That night, while sleeping in my tree-suspended hammock, the deluge began. I was determined to achieve my goal of conquering six Adirondack High Peaks, even with the persistent rain. Step after step I could hear the silent squish of mud, rain, and sweat in my boots. Despite the miserable weather, I was able to reach the summit of all six peaks. The satisfaction of achieving a goal, when it was not easy or even enjoyable at the time, is a life skill that I hope will propel me to success in the future.

        The value that I have found spending time in nature has fueled my desire to learn about the organisms and ecosystems that inhabit the earth. Modern conservationists believe that we need to protect all ecosystems around the world to counter the negative influence humans have had on the environment. However, I believe conservation should be the balance between all things. There is an intricate homeostasis in the environment, and humans can neither deplete all resources nor protect all ecosystems. I wish to help preserve our environment for future generations so they can enjoy the natural world as I have.

        To say that I am proud of how my daughters have grown into successful young women is an understatement. Every child is different, but chances are, they will enjoy doing whatever it is that you enjoy doing - because it's doing it with you. Hiking and climbing mountains has been a great way to interact with them. You can't get much more one-on-one conversation time or quality time than on a trail! Hope to see you (and your kids!) out there!

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        • Trail Boss
          Trail Boss commented
          Editing a comment
          Dix, Hough, South Dix, Grace, Macomb.
          What's the sixth peak?

        • Natlife
          Natlife commented
          Editing a comment
          Thank you. I really enjoyed reading this. I hope I can build this kind of bond with my kids, and that they grow up with that special connection to the wilderness.

      • #6
        South Dix/Carson x 2 - both coming and going from Grace. No matter how many times we do it (up to four now), they count it as six mountains in a day.

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        • #7
          I see. Not a sixth unique mountain, just the ~280 foot re-ascent of South Dix.
          Looking for Views!

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          • #8
            When we hiked the Dix Range as a family some years ago, my kids called it the "nine plus Pough hike". We hiked in, set up camp at Slide Brook and climbed Macomb, S Dix and Grace, out and back. That day they counted 5 peaks because of the re-ascent of S Dix and Macomb. On day two we climbed Dix and then headed down range over Hough, S Dix and Macomb, back to camp and out. They counted that as 4 more. (We didn't know about the Lillian brook HP at the time). Back then I never imagined that the Dix Range would one day become a moderate day hike!

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