Julia & Charlotte’s Big Adventure
July 18, 2014

by Marc Chalufour

Two first-aid kits are spread on the hood of my friend’s car and we’re trying to decide what we should pull from each for our three-day hike along the Appalachian Trail from Connecticut into Massachusetts. Julia, my friend’s 7-year-old daughter, and I are looking at a rolled-up ACE bandage.

“Do you think we’ll need that?” I ask.

“I don’t know how crazy this [trip] is—I’ve never done this before!” she says, slightly exasperated by my question.

I’ve never done this either—if “this” means backpacking with kids. Julia and her sister Charlotte, who is about to turn 6, have car-camped before, and they did a one-night backpack a year ago. But three days, two nights, and 15 miles on the AT will be a challenge.

The girls are slow to warm up to the hike, frequently asking when our next break will be. I'm not sure we'll ever cover 5 miles—let alone repeat that each day. But then they start to find a rhythm and tune into their surroundings. “It’s a mushroom!” Charlotte says, pointing to something growing on a tree trunk. “FUNGUS!” her sister affirms. We approach a downed birch tree and Charlotte says she thought it was a zebra.

We snap smart-phone photos of wildflowers and salamanders, and that night at camp the girls try to sketch them. On our first night, Julia and Charlotte want to write a story about the trip, which began a day earlier, shortly after their mom left town on a business trip. “How should we start it?” one of them asks.

“The moment Mom’s car left, we got so excited!” Julia says. “We sprang into action!”

“Mom’s not going to like this!” my friend says.

I ask them if they have any advice for other hiking families, and they quickly rattle off a mixture of textbook hiking tips and wonderfully youthful observations. Here’s a list of their advice, compiled on the trail and in a conversation following the trip:

Julia & Charlotte's Hiking Tips

  1. Take some breaks on the trail. 
  2. You should probably make some trail mix. 
  3. Be patient with your kids. 
  4. Definitely have a first-aid kit. 
  5. Bring avocados—but make sure they’re not too hard. 
  6. You might need two adults for two kids. 
  7. You should probably start a conversation to keep your kids entertained. Like if you see something cool, tell them. 
  8. If the kids want, use hiking poles, because it’s very broomy. 
  9. However: Hiking poles aren’t the best thing for the underground world. 
  10. Bring something to do in camp—like writing a story. 
  11. If you write a story, ask the kids to draw the pictures. 
  12. Take pictures of what you want to draw. 
  13. Look closely at things so you can see baby things—like baby salamanders. 
  14. Bring camp shoes. 
  15. Bring survival stuff. 
  16. Probably let your kids stay up later than they usually do. 
  17. Bring extra food in case you get stuck out there, or your stove breaks. 
  18. Have s’mores (“Put that last,” they insist.) 

I’m amazed by how much they’ve picked up from their dad—or simply figured out on their own. He'd told them about Leave No Trace, generally, and here Julia was already extrapolating that into the impact of her hiking poles.

Over the three days both girls have moments of fatigue and conviction that they have to stop—but within minutes they are usually on the move again. Those incidents are easily outnumbered by their mature observations. And as we spend more time in the woods, it’s interesting to see which experiences they most often bring up. They're the seemingly small ones, seeing the salamanders, or spotting a new variety of wildflower. These tiny moments seem to captivate their imaginations even more than summit views and waterfalls.

On the final day, along the last stretch of trail, we talk about kid stuff. Their favorite cartoons, which I’ve never heard of; my favorite cartoons, which they’ve never seen. Candy. Toys. Movies. Finally the parking lot comes into view through the trees. We’re all eager for a real meal and our own beds. Julia sums things up perfectly: “That was fun and hard at the same time,” she says.


March 24, 2013 (6)
I want kids to get out in nature so they can enjoy all its benefits. Not so they will suffer extra lung damage.
July 11, 2016 (27)
For budding young marine biologists, or even just animal or ocean lovers, tidal pools offer oodles of opportunity for exploration.

By: Guest
Posted: 08/31/2018 07:59

It's good to know that Two first-aid kits are spread on the hood of my friend’s car and we’re trying to decide what we should pull from each for our three-day hike. It's an inspiration for all. Congrats to them .cheap cable near me

Report this »

By: Guest
Posted: 06/05/2018 05:15

Including children in such activities help to improve their interests in outdoor activities. Children will have a great time outdoors in the ice making snowman and angels and having one of the best memories in their life shaping their personality. best resorts in gokarna

Report this »

By: Guest
Posted: 01/14/2018 23:12

I have gone through this article that describes about the big adventure of Julia and Charlotte. Even though they are children, it was really nice to see their hiking tips shared here. From that we can understand that how bothered they are about each trip.Trinity Builders Cochin

Report this »

By: Guest
Posted: 12/21/2017 06:33

It was really glad to see the hiking tips of seven year old Julia and her sister Charlotte. I am totally surprised after seeing this list. It was really like some professionals planned for trip. Keep updating similar article like this.catalina island hotel metropole packages

Report this »

By: Guest
Posted: 09/13/2017 06:52

Making the children try new things especially adventurous tasks is always good. But you have to ensure the safety of them under all circumstances. Preparing the first aid kit is the most important task of all. Wish you all the best for the journey. Merito drug treatment centers

Report this »

By: Guest
Posted: 08/16/2017 02:25

I trust the greatest issue that may happen amid such excursions is kids getting worn out and not having any desire to go any further. What's more, it will be hard explaning them after they rest, it will be less demanding. It will be much more difficult to persuade them that with tme torment will leave. Such things generally happen when it is your first time running Can Someone Do My Assignment climbing with your children and more often than not throwng fits doesn't rely upon age. When I was climbing with my 7-year-old niece and subsequent to strolling for thirty minutes, she ended up plainly irritating just in light of the fact that she isn't accustomed to strolling long separations and since she was spoiled a considerable amount. she got used to get what she needed.

Report this »

Get outdoor tips & trips
Yes, I want to receive expert advice on getting my family outside!


Tip of the Day

Walk a block: After dinner, head out for a short family walk around your neighborhood. What signs of life do you see?

© 2019 Appalachian Mountain Club | 10 City Square, Boston, MA 02129
About | Privacy Policy | Contact Us