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Old 04-13-2021, 10:15 AM   #32
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 5,300
Yes, you know your kids best... but bear in mind that the consequences of making the trip too easy are far less severe than the consequences of making the trip too difficult. If you're determined to make this trip work, I'd still strongly encourage you to err on the side of caution. For better or worse, your kids are going to remember this trip for years to come- and as their first big camping trip, it will shape their foundations of how they perceive paddling and camping. Do you want them to have a positive view of the outdoors experience? Or do you want them to come away with a negative perception of paddling and camping because you were so intent on conquering a backcountry traverse you didn't consider their needs?

Kids are kids. A 2 and a 5 year old aren't going to find the experience in any way less fulfilling because you picked base camping over a more challenging traverse. Or because you picked a developed campground over a backcountry experience. At that age, there is quite literally no possible way you can make the trip too easy, to the extent that it is a detriment on their experience. But if you push them outside of their comfort zone, they will remember that- and it will affect their enthusiasm for future trips.

And you've got their entire childhood ahead of you still. If you ease them into the outdoors experience through a more simple trip now, there's no reason why you shouldn't have plenty of trips as challenging as the itinerary you propose once they are a bit older (and there's room yet for even more involved and more challenging trips once they reach middle/high school).

I think a lot also depends on how your partner feels about the trip, and what effort they are also willing to put forth with regards to trying to undertake a more potentially demanding itinerary while also needing to devote energy towards ensuring that the kids are both safe and happy. I would definitely make sure you have that conversation with them if you haven't already done so.

A few other thoughts:

For a trip like this, if I were similarly determined to relocate camp each day, I'd still pick an itinerary that ordinarily demanded no more than 2 or 3 hours of paddling per day, for a bunch of reasons. With kids, campsite breakdown in the morning is going to be an eternal process. Campsite setup in the afternoon is similarly going to take forever. And an earlier arrival at the destination maximizes your chances of site availability, while also making more time to hunt for open sites if needed- before anyone gets hungry in the afternoon (and subsequently cranky). And kids will want to stop and check things out along the way- every small bit of scenery will be vying for their attention. And if it rains, it minimizes the time that the kids will be stuck sitting in the cold and wet while you're out paddling.

I'd also plan my itinerary so as to avoid popular spots on Saturday night especially. Case in point: Follensby Clear is pretty popular. Don't let the high number of sites there fool you- the parking areas at the boat access points do fill up, as do the sites. If you do arrive at FCP on a Saturday, don't be surprised if you arrive to find everything just about taken. Even a Friday arrival there could be iffy, if you don't get in until late.

Two families means another tent in addition to yours? Possibly also on the larger end of the size spectrum? That will also complicate campsite selection. Again, many of the sites in this area are well used and have plenty of space- but not all.

Generally speaking, portages are probably the single biggest reducer in use levels- any body of water that is at least 1 portage away from the nearest access point will get less use (especially overnight use). But portages with overnight gear combined with kids especially aren't quick- even if the portage is short.

Also, is the youngest still in diapers at all? Keep in mind that used disposable diapers need to be bagged and carried with you for the duration of the trip to be properly disposed of in the front country. You can't bury them or stick them down outhouses (most have plastic and/or synthetic compounds in them that don't break down- and can even disrupt the normal decomposition process of other human waste).

Also kids can be picky eaters- so there's the "I don't like this, I don't want to eat the rest of my dinner" factor to consider as well (which may be amplified by the introduction of backpacking food that is outside their typical fare). Any leftover food similarly needs to be bagged and carried out with you to be properly disposed of in the front country. It would probably be worth your while to cook a few dinners for them at home over the backpacking stove to get them used to what they can expect from meals in the woods (and figure out in advance what they do and don't like).

I climbed Long Pond Mountain a few years ago in the winter with a friend. We hiked in over the ice on the frozen ponds. The climb is pretty straightforward and the trail was obvious, but yeah there are a couple of spots with scrambles that the kids might need a boost at. Good views to the east at the summit, and if you bushwhack a few hundred feet west, there is another overlook there with good views in the opposite direction.
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