The Lakes Trail is located in the Wolverton parking area in Sequoia National Park. My goal was to get my son Jaden outside and away from the house. It was a last-minute decision and I am thankful we did it together. I learned a lot about hiking with young kids as well as how well a child carrying backpack works for several miles of hiking.
We packed the car and left for the trailhead around 745 AM. Jaden did a really good job sitting in the car for 2 hours. He would announce “oh mountains” or “I see rocks” as we made our way up the hill. I drove a lot slower on the windy roads too. Nobody wants a sick kid, right? With that in mind, we arrived at the trailhead around 1045 AM.
I unloaded the vehicle, snapped a few pieces of gear on the child carrier, and we were off. I knew it was going to be an uphill hike and it was. However, that didn’t stop Jaden at being amazed by the world around him. We saw a lot of people on the trail that morning. I would say more than usual because of some youth event going on.
The trail was great and several dozen runners from an unknown youth event greeted us as we made our way up the trail. Some of the girls thought it was cute to see a child being hiked in a backpack. Parents would stop and visit with the little guy, which was fine by me. Kept him busy and gave me a break.
About half way up the trail, we stopped at a creek. It was nice to unload him and rest my shoulders. He saw a “waterfall” and wanted down too. Water was slowly cascading down a stream channel and he was intrigued. He had a fun time there checking out the water, splashing a little in the puddles, and saying hi to people passing through.
We arrived at a trail junction where Heather Lake was another 2.3 miles. I started hiking uphill, but ran out of energy. The clouds were also getting thicker and darker. We did not plan for any downpour, so it was a good 2.X miles of hiking uphill. Now time to take it downhill and enjoy the scenery a little bit more. Jaden was obsessed with finding “my pine cone” as he put it. I would ask him where one as and if it was hiding. He would always point somewhere and say “over there. My pine cone hiding down there.” He even told hikers that too.
Eventually my shoulders needed a break and so did Jaden. He was tired of sitting and wanted to get out and walk. No problems for me, so I took him out of the pack and we walked down the trail hand-in-hand for the next 15 minutes. Of course when we saw a trail sign he was fascinated. He studied it for a minute seeing how they, the Park service, put two signs on one post. He also did this same examination for at the kiosk near the trailhead.
Now it was time for a picnic lunch. We found a day use table and out came the food. He chatted about the outdoors and other things while we ate. We acted goofy a bit with the phone’s camera too. Then the thunder came and Jaden thought it was so cool. It was loud and soon rain came. It wasn’t very much, but enough for Jaden to experience a little bit of a Sierra Nevada summer rain.
It was a fun 4 hours of hiking that day and Jaden crashed out for an hour on the way home. What I learned is what I had read in books about hiking with children. They are the following:
- Keep the distances short
- Let your kids walk and don’t be in a hurry to get to the “goal.” It is about the adventure on the trail.
- Keep them occupied with objects you see outside “can you find a flower” or “lets count pine cones.”
- Take your time walking if you are carrying a child. Unlike a pack, they bounce up and down and swing from side to side. Takes a toll on your upper body.
- Take breaks and let kids explore a little.