I have been backpacking for 36 years, exclusively throughout California, along the coast, in the foothills, but mostly in the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountains. I have rarely been to the same place twice, such is the beauty and diversity of our wilderness. The spirit of adventure, freedom, and curiosity hits me hard every summer, and the time spent in the wild always brings me to a peaceful and centered place.
For the past 18 years, my good friend and I have taken our daughters on an annual "Dads and Daughters" trip, starting when they were around five years old. I will be sharing some successful ideas from these experiences to help you on your way to your own memorable time enjoying the simplicity and beauty of the wilderness.
Step 1: Questions
So many factors go into the planning of a backpacking trip, so please consider the following:
1-What is the experience level of your group?
If you are taking young children, like we started out doing 18 years ago, maybe only plan to go a few miles at most. Have a beautiful lake be your destination. The kids won't be carrying much weight, so guess who is? A stronger group of teenagers or adults can easily go quite a bit further.
2-How many days/nights will you be going?
Our little group has settled in on an optimal 5 days/4 nights adventure, and we all seem satisfied.
3-Do you want to establish a base camp and explore each day from there, or pack up and travel each day?
We prefer the former, to have opportunities to climb peaks, find other lakes, and just enjoy our peaceful spot without heavy packs on our backs.
4-Do you have all the equipment you need, or do you need to borrow, rent, or buy anything?
A barrier for a lot of people can be the cost of gear that's needed, but a lot of outdoor suppliers like REI rent out gear as well as sell it and it can be much more affordable that way. This is also a great option if yoou have kids who will have outgrown their gear by the next trip you take!
5-How much solitude is important to you?
Many wilderness areas are heavily impacted with people, while some are much quieter.