I haven’t always liked the wilderness. It’s true. I won’t deny it. Jerry and I have been together for 12 years and in the beginning of our relationship I went along with small hikes we had available to us when we were living in Kentucky at the time because he enjoyed it and I wanted to spend time with him and his interests. Jerry even went on quite a few 1-2 week long backpacking trips without me over the years and I had absolutely no interest in going with him.
It really wasn’t until Connor was born and we moved cross country to Utah that I started hiking more (as a family and at times by myself). And it wasn’t until this past spring that I vowed I would be much more involved because I love seeing him in his natural element and I hate missing out. Plus, Moonshine gives us a huge incentive to be outdoors, too.
Connor and Moonshine at Silver Lake last summer
Me on that same trip – my first time actually backpacking to camp!
Last summer when Connor turned 4, the boys went on a lot of camping trips and I only went on a couple with them. Connor had just self-weaned and my hormones were all out of whack so I kept fighting going, just feeling a general melancholy and wanting to stay home and be by myself. But I was missing out and I was feeling that disconnect too and I didn’t like that one bit. But how was I going to fix what was I was missing out on? Surely, it didn’t need to be as difficult as I was making it out to be.
On our overnight backpacking camp to one of our favorite local places last night, Silver Lake up American Fork Canyon, I had a huge realization that it’s really ironic that the very thing I was avoiding last year (and previously), would be the very same thing that actually brings me peace and more happiness? All I had to do was get out of my comfort zone and just camp. The world would not end if I was super sweaty and gross and didn’t get to have my normal evening bedtime routine. I could shower when I got home (and learn how to use biodegradable soap on the trip). If I didn’t sleep that well camping, I would sleep well again when we were back home. All of these “ifs” I was using as lame excuses became insignificant with the more adventures we had because they bring me true joy. This is pure happiness that has to be experienced firsthand. I am so thankful for my 3 boys who have put up with me to get to this point 😊
Jerry and I really want to bring friends along backpacking and camping who are interested in partaking in our adventures while learning more about the hobby as well. That’s something we’re working on now as we speak. If you’re local to us and interested in joining us, please reach out and let us know!
We did it! We drove 6 hours each way to Ketchum, Idaho, backpacked 18 miles in 44 hours and I still can’t believe Connor, Moonshine and I survived (Jerry is a very seasoned backpacker – having done the same hike last year in 13 hours, so I knew it would be easy for him)! Anyone who has ever done any hike or backpacking trip knows it’s mostly mental and not all physical. We were excited to be there for our first big backpacking trip together and we were determined to make it happen!
We started later in the day at Pettit Lake and the next day headed towards Alice Lake, Twin Lakes, Toxaway Lake and then on our final day hiked 8 miles out. We had packed for and planned to stay another night but the mosquitoes were really bad deep in the forest (and were driving all of us nuts) so we did all we could to enjoy our time there while simultaneously trying to get out!
Backpacking with a 5 year old is difficult to say the least but it’s always worth it. He understands the journey isn’t always easy but the end result is worth the work you put into it; and that’s what why we do what we do. He says repeatedly he loves camping and hiking with us when we’re on the trails and that means everything to us.
As always, we continue to look forward to our next adventures. We’ve spent one night at home as we finish up this post and we’re already planning to hit up another overnight tomorrow; sitting at home is just no fun! When the weather is nice and dada is off work, it’s time to hit the trails and camp!
Moonshine cooling off at Pettit Lake
Momma at Alice Lake
Hiking up to Twin Lakes
Twin Lakes from the top
The boys at Toxaway Lake
Resting for a few before we had to retreat to the tent for supper because the mosquitoes were so bad!
This tree reminded Connor of the Redwoods he climbed inside of in Yosemite earlier this summer!
One of the many streams/rivers we had to help one or both of the boys across! Moonshine was thankful for dada’s help!
Before we set up camp next to Toxaway Lake 😍 does it get any better than this?!
The view we saw when we were finishing the 18 mile loop 😍 we were so close but still too far! The last few miles were tough (especially the final one)!
Thank you for the memories, Sawtooth National forest!
We have the wasatch front, a beautiful mountain range, just 30 minutes east of our house. On the other side of that range lies the Uinta Mountains, about a 90 minute drive. Last weekend, Momma had a nasty virus so Connor and Moonshine and I left her to rest and headed out for an overnight camp.
We chose Lake Ibantik as our final destination, a backcountry lake we felt would provide beauty and solitude. The trailhead parking lot was packed, but Connor and I weren’t worried, we figured the backcountry would be a lonely place despite the number of people hitting the trailhead. We came upon Wall Lake after 1 mile, a huge and beautiful lake that Moonshine enjoyed swimming in, but too crowded for our tastes. About a mile later we came upon a smaller lake with no people and plenty of salamanders. Connor really loved seeing them for the first time in the wild.
After playing for a bit, we continued our journey upward toward a saddle in the mountain. From the saddle you can see numerous lakes in every direction. We dropped down on the other side of the saddle and played in a snow patch for a while. Then it was a short hike to our final destination. We started a fire for s’mores (and to keep the bugs at bay). We also tried fishing but we’re still no good! We can’t wait to go back and take momma next time, and hopefully we’ll figure out how to be better fishermen by then!
We originally planned to only take a family trip for Connor’s 5th birthday and then somehow in addition we ended up deciding to have around 30 people over to celebrate with us the week before his actual birthday. When you have a forever only child and 5 only comes once, well, to hell with trying to be conventional 😂 We’ve only had one other party for him so far and that was on his 3rd birthday. The every other year big celebration is working well for us thus far!
We booked Scales and Tails to come to our house and they were a hit with Connor and his friends! This was the second time we’ve booked them and we were even more pleased than last time; they just do a phenomenal job teaching about the reptiles and engaging the kiddos.
We also had a handmade piñata, animal themed veggie and fruit platters (in addition to pizza, local spinach/strawberry salad and homemade BBQ chicken) animals on top of multiple cakes with party hats and a large helium dinosaur with a Polaroid camera for a party favor.
We all had a lot of fun (even though Connor was a little overwhelmed a couple times and we joked that’s how you know it’s a good party)! 😂 We will definitely throw another party for him in the future. Next time around, we would love to do a hike with a handful of friends (but we realize it is hard to coordinate that with everyone and not all kiddos his age are interested or able). As he gets older, hopefully that will become more possible!
In lieu of presents, Connor asked for dog/cat food or toys for donations to the local humane society. He received many things and we delivered them a few days after his party. He was so proud to help! This is definitely something we want to continue doing in the future.
A few weeks ago, we said forget all the things we thought we “needed” to do and did what we WANTED to do! We threw stuff in a pack, picked up Connor from morning preschool, grabbed lunch on the way and headed 1 hour away to our favorite hot spring hike for the afternoon. We hiked 5 miles in the pouring rain (and weren’t expecting that but loved every second of it) and then we soaked in the warm water under a beautiful cold snowfall. Spontaneity definitely leads to pure joy! Living in the moment while doing what we want and love to do outdoors is what intentional living means to us. A neighbor recently said to us that we take full advantage of the beauty Utah has to offer us and it’s true, we do, and that’s why we moved cross country to be here. If anything is a true priority, you’ll find a way to make it happen ✌️
Jerry’s mom, Bridget, died suddenly and unexpectedly this past December 14th, the day before her 69th birthday. Like with any loss, there has been a myriad of emotions with each family member. Jerry’s dad has been having the most difficult time which after spending 42 years together, you would except that to be the case.
He came to see us recently and it was a really good weekend visit. I immediately saw in him, how grieving is like living two lives; one where you pretend everything is alright and the other where one’s heart silently screams in pain. The best we can do for loved ones in this situation is to give them permission and the space to allow them to experience both sides and to be present with them whenever they need you.
While Jerry Sr. was here, we took him on two different hikes which he later said he really enjoyed. Jerry and I strongly believe that time in nature can help everyone in any situation (and while we know it’s not going to magically cure him of the difficulty he’s having), positive self care outlets are crucial to healing while grieving.
After our day hikes, in the late afternoon and evenings, I would cook for us all and clean up while Jerry and his dad had many heart to hearts about how they’re feeling and coping now without her here.
I grieve because Bridget was always so welcoming, loving and supportive (she always had been from the first time she met me almost 12 years ago). Also, she herself had a strong willed child (Jerry) and I felt like she was the only person who truly understood how Connor was as an infant and little kid because his father was very similar to him. It was comforting to hear her stories about Jerry growing up; I knew I wasn’t alone and that it will pass and he’ll be just as wonderful as his father.
I always thanked Bridget for raising Jerry to be the husband and father he is today because of the values she instilled in him at a young age. I am so grateful I was able to tell her that when I had the chances. A couple weeks before she died, we had spoken on the phone and talked about helping them as they got older if they needed it (which always surprised her when we said that). She would say, “Thank you, Heather, you don’t see too many daughter in laws who would do that!” We are just so heartbroken that we won’t get to spend more time with her but we will hold onto the memories we do have. And we will always share stories and photos with Connor so that he can remember her, too.