Fishing at Lake 8522, Sawtooth Mountains, Idaho.

Boy Trip, Girl Trip: Why I Take Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures

In Backpacking, Family Adventures, Hiking, National Park Adventures   |   Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,   |   16 Comments

By Michael Lanza

On a morning when the late-summer sunshine sharpens the incisor points of every peak and spire in the jagged skyline of Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountains, Nate and I step inside the Sawtooth National Recreation Area ranger station, south of the little town of Stanley, population sixty-three. I chat with the ranger behind the counter, mentioning that my son and I are heading out to backpack the 18-mile loop from Pettit Lake to Alice and Toxaway Lakes.

The ranger sizes up my six-year-old, 40-pound kid, and frowns skeptically. “You know, that’s a pretty rugged hike,” he tells me.

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16 Responses to Boy Trip, Girl Trip: Why I Take Father-Son and Father-Daughter Adventures

  1. Steve   |  June 4, 2017 at 4:01 pm

    Michael, everything you write screams that you are a good guy and a great dad. I love the outdoors, live for my trips away, just little weekends mostly. My little girl is 20 months now and a very good walker already. We roam miles around out coastal city every day together and she loves it. I would love to give her a taste of the mountains and backcountry on her doorstep, we live in Gran Canaria. What would you recommend for a two-year-old as the summer approaches? There are some great camp sites up high where we are but they take a bit of walking to get to.

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 5, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Thanks, Steve, much appreciated. With your toddler daughter, I suggest keeping it simple. As I wrote in this story, my first “boy trip” with my son, when he was five, was “backpacking” about a mile to camp beside a creek a short drive from our home. The distance and destination don’t matter to a kid that young; he or she just wants lots of parent attention and to play in nature. Dayhiking or camping by a small stream or a lake is often a bit hit with little kids. Good luck!

  2. Brad Handy   |  June 4, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Thanks for sharing your outdoor adventures with your kids. I am deployed to the middle east right now, but when i return, i want and need to schedule these kind of trips with my two daughters. They are getting old on me and feel like I have missed so much with them.

    • michaellanza   |  June 4, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      Hi Brad, thanks for writing and for your service. I’m sure your girls will love going out on adventures with you. Make it happen! Good luck.

  3. Whitey   |  May 19, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Really enjoyed this, even though my and El’s forays into the wilderness are flimsy by comparison. One thing: could you please knock off the not-looking-older business? Those of us without portraits aging in our attics while we remain ageless are getting jealous. Cheers!

    • MichaelALanza   |  May 20, 2015 at 10:31 am

      Hey Whitey, good to hear from you! I’m secretly photoshopping pictures of my face from 20 years ago onto my body in current pictures. Don’t tell anyone.

  4. Ferdinand   |  September 4, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Very inspiring! In 1,5 month we’ll set out on our first backpacking trip with our half year old daughter. Just now busy gathering lw stuff to compensate her weight 🙂

    • michaellanza   |  September 10, 2014 at 4:54 am

      Thanks Ferdinand, and good luck on your first trip. You can search The Big Outside for tips in my Ask Me feature about a first backpacking trip with young kids, plus gear reviews of lightweight gear.

  5. Sarah Graham   |  August 9, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    This reminds me off the tramping trips (I’m in NZ) me and my younger brother try and do each summer. Getting hard now that we are at either end of the country but we saviour our alone time each year.

  6. Matt   |  July 12, 2014 at 7:24 am

    This makes me feel like a loser, not having done much stuff like this with my 6 and 9 year old. I better get busy.

    • MichaelALanza   |  July 20, 2014 at 3:02 am

      Hi Matt, I sure don’t intend to make anyone feel inferior. I’m hoping this story inspires parents to get out on adventures with their kids, whenever they start. It’s never too late.

  7. rangewriter   |  June 26, 2014 at 6:34 pm

    Lucky damned kids!

  8. Dave P   |  June 18, 2014 at 8:58 pm

    Excellent story and motivation. Although, I weakly lament the decision of my oldest to “not do that backpack thing again”. My youngest is still in for shorter trips. Thanks for your insights and stories – and please keep them coming!

    • MichaelALanza   |  June 19, 2014 at 5:14 am

      Thanks Dave, nice to hear from you.

  9. Jason Carroll   |  May 22, 2014 at 6:46 pm

    I really enjoyed this story. Especially because my 15 year old daughter and I are going to be hiking the Grand Canyon together in two weeks. I truly enjoy your site, thank you and keep up the great work.

    • michaellanza   |  May 22, 2014 at 7:42 pm

      Thanks Jason, much appreciated.

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