After our 112-mile hike in the Sierra Nevada, I won’t underestimate my kids again


Jemima Kiss

Looking for a big adventure? A challenging Californian trek taught me and my boys the value of patience, trust and bottomless snacks

We were less than three minutes into our backpacking trip when the first tantrum erupted. Herbie, our eight-year-old, moaned that his pack was too heavy and threw it on to the floor of the car park. Only 112 miles to go, I thought. We might be embarking on a nightmare.

We knew our two-week hike through the Sierra Nevada was ambitious, but we’d been working towards it for some time. My husband, Will, and I are hardy campers, and have gradually won the enthusiasm of the kids (Herbie and his older brother, Artley, 11) when it comes to day hikes of 10 to 15 miles. Backpacking demands a love of camping and the outdoors, a high tolerance of dirt and discomfort, and some advanced organisational skills – including food planning, map reading and a near-obsessive preoccupation with lightweight kit. For this trip, we will be carrying everything our family needs to survive: tent, sleeping stuff, clothes, food (in bear-proof canisters), torches, first aid and water filters. For backpacking with kids, we also bring generous amounts of patience, most of our annual quota of optimism and a determination to enjoy it. And snacks. Lots of snacks.

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