Camping · Day hikes · family

Silver Lake in American Fork, Utah (and how I finally learned to get out of my comfort zone)!

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!

Come and join us!!!

Camping · family

Backpacking in the Sawtooth National Forest

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!

Travel

We survived our first family road trip to the Sierra Nevada!

Connor always hated the car seat as an infant and young toddler. Jerry and I would always joke that when we could take a true road trip (longer than our usual 4 hours to the desert to camp) we would have “made it” as far as thriving and not just surviving (insert our humor for our once high needs infant, now strong willed little kid).

We decided we would drive overnight for 12 hours to the Sierra Nevada and stay near the Sequoia National Forest one night, then drive a couple hours and stay just outside of Yosemite National Park. It was too cold to overnight camp comfortably in either place in early May, so we stayed in a hotel one night and then in a lodge outside of the park for three nights. While this was more expensive than our fairly inexpensive camping trips, it was definitely worth it for the experiences we had together that week on our first official road trip as a full family (Moonshine included of course)!

Our favorite spot to see giant redwoods up close and personal was on the Trail of 100 Giants in the Sequoia National Forest. This was our first stop after 12 hours of driving and what Connor got to wake up to; what a lucky kiddo!!! *photos below

We also visited the largest tree in the world, General Sherman which is protected in Sequoia National Park. While it is quite impressive and a must see if you’re in the area, we enjoyed being able to climb in and out of the redwoods on the trail of 100 Giants. *Photo below

After we saw all the redwoods, the next day we headed to Yosemite National Park. *Even if you’re staying right outside the park in a lodge (we stayed at Tenaya Lodge), it will take a good hour plus to drive in to the most popular hikes. So that’s two plus hours of driving just to get in and out of the hike plus the time you’ll be in the park. A few trails were dog friendly so we brought Moonshine when we could; otherwise he had to stay behind at the lodge. This is something to always be mindful of when traveling with a dog anyways but especially to national parks.

In Yosemite, we started with the Bridalveil fall trail while it was a little touristy, it was a short nice walk to experience the mist off the fall. *photos below

The next trail we did was lower Yosemite falls trail

And then we had a picnic with our jetboil cooker and our favorite dehydrated food from Outdoor herbivore the cooker and these meals have been a lifesaver for us because they’re convenient and wholesome for people who need to eat a lot and often (insert momma who is a foodie and Connor who is 4) 😂

The next day we began with our favorite hike in Yosemite, Vernal falls via the mist trail the bridalviel fall trail mist was like a weak spray bottle compared to the mist we got at vernal! And the terrain could be difficult for many but Connor absolutely rocked it! The “steps” were steep rocks and they were soaking wet from the mist. The waterfall was absolutely gorgeous and relaxing at the top was icing on the cake. This was our favorite day in Yosemite. *we originally hoped to do the second waterfall but doing 3-4 miles total to the first and back was plenty with a 4 year old. The next time we visit when Connor is a little older, we hope to do the full 7 miles.

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On our last day going into Yosemite, we did half of the Upper Yosemite falls . This was the ultimate stairmaster and was very hot and dry. Jerry carried Connor and we powered through!

The drive home was long and difficult (we left at 10am and got home at 4am – in hindsight, maybe we should have hung around most of the day and driven back overnight while he slept but we were exhausted and wanted to get going….plus we got to sleep 6 hours this way once we got in)! 🙌

The best thing about taking this trip is other than our lodging being booked and having a rough itinerary of what we wanted to do in the forest and park, we totally played everything else by ear. If we saw food we wanted to eat, we stopped and ate. If we needed to make a pit stop, we found a place and stopped. We really lived in the moment together that week and that was worth its weight in gold! We know we can road trip with Connor and Moonshine now and we are planning more fun upcoming trips!

Battle Creek Falls Trail · Camping · Day hikes · Uncategorized

Battle Creek Falls Trail overnight camp

We kicked off our family camping season at the end of April with an overnight camp up Battle Creek Falls Trail in Pleasant Grove, Utah.

Jerry found us an awesome hidden spot to set up camp about 2 1/2 miles up.

The coolest thing about this trip was an encounter with what we now know was a ruffed grouse. When we first set up camp, I thought there was a bug in my ear! I felt this low sound deep in my ear and I had no idea what it could be! And the the boys started feeling it, too. A little later about 20 yards from our tent, I saw something flutter in the distance on a log when I also heard the sound. Could it be a bird?! We all set forth to investigate. It was so still, at first Jerry didn’t believe me there was actually a bird on a log. Moonshine chased him up into a tree and it took us a few minutes to find him again because he was camouflaged so well. He continued to flap his wings and make this sound throughout the entire night (it didn’t keep us up, we just heard it when we were awake). They have a low vibrating sound that sounds almost like an engine trying to start up hot can’t. You can really feel it, not just “hear” it which was so awesome to experience as a family! Ruffed grouse

We are looking forward to LOTS of adventures this spring, summer and fall. Thanks for always planning everything out, sweets!!! We love you!!

Day hikes

Fifth water hot spring trail – a must see and experience!

Look at the color of this water 😍


Trail info and directions – click here

In September, the boys did an overnight camp at this location in Spanish Fork, Utah and raved about how much they loved it. 

So a few days ago, I returned with them for the 5 mile out and back hike and we enjoyed a dip in the hot springs while our dog, Moonshine, kept watch. And then 4 days later I took Connor and Moonshine by myself because we loved it so much we had to go back again!

It’s a relatively easy hike (Connor let us wear him in our Tula most of the hike so we made good time) and the colors of the leaves are gorgeous this time of year. There were enough spots easily accessible for Moonshine to take a dip in the water himself which we always appreciate. We were able to filter our own water as well. Connor loves to help Jerry filter water and I am amazed that by 4 years old, he already understands the dos and don’ts and how to of filtering his own water! 

*This is a popular location so we recommend getting there as early as possible to get the best spots in the hot springs and to get a parking spot of course. 


Camping

Capitol Reef in May 2017: revisiting our first camping failure 


As warmer weather approached and spring was in the air, Connor was excited to go camping again. Riding high off the successful adventure in Goblin Valley, we decided to give Capitol Reef another try. We found the same camping spot we had before and then did one better. We followed a small trail in the back of the camping area and went a couple hundred feet up into the mountains and found some terrific and secluded places to camp. We chased lizards, played on rocks, practiced climbing mountains (Connor wanted practice so when he’s older he can do it for real), ate s’mores and enjoyed a cozy night of sleep. 

The next day we went on a few small hikes in the park and looked for….scorpions and tarantulas of course! Unfortunately for Connor (and fortunately for us) we struck out on those two cheaters but still had a wonderful time looking at all the caterpillars that had recently hatched. 

We love camping in the desert for a number of reasons but none more so than it adds months to our camping calendar since it’s warmer there longer. 

Camping

Goblin Valley – April 2018

Connor taking in the beautiful scenery

Connor exploring – doing what he does best!

Connor had been asking to go camping where he could find scorpions and tarantulas. It was early spring, so the desert seemed like a great place to visit, but Jerry was still nervous about driving that far and Connor possibly not wanting to stay overnight. Jerry decided to throw caution to the wind and just go for it. He decided on goblin valley because it’s great for kids and was only about 4 hours from our home. Connor absolutely loved it! They explored for about 1 hour and then found a great campsite just a few miles outside the park to set up camp. After setting up camp, they went back to goblin valley to find lizards, beetles, a cave, beautiful scenery and of course goblin like features rising from the desert floor. They did not find any scorpions or tarantulas unfortunately (or fortunately depending on one’s tastes). The night went really well, Connor absolutely loved it and they returned home to tell Momma and Moonshine all about it (with Connor declaring he was a camping kiddo at this point)! 

Another successful overnight trip in the books!

*We decided since it was the desert and it would be warm with no water features for Moonshine to swim in, he would stay home with Heather. He doesn’t do well when it’s warm and he doesn’t have access to at least a stream of water to cool off in. We have had him almost 1 year and have never left him as a family. We have found out from experience that he has separation anxiety from Connor after a couple days time so we’re holding off leaving him as long as possible!

Best friends ❤️
Camping · Uncategorized

Our little happy camper 

Willow lake, big cottonwood canyon
Tent for 3 – a room with a view!
Our very own seesaw
First s’mores – a memory a child never forgets
Life of the explorer
In October 2016, a few months after Connor turned 3, we decided to give tent camping another go – this time closer to home. We chose willow lake, up big cottonwood canyon because it wasn’t too far from our house (JUST in case we needed to leave again). The hike was just under a mile so we packed everything with us we would need in our packs and set off! The hike was easy and the views were gorgeous, especially with the leaves changing colors. 

Connor was SO excited and interested in everything we were doing. He loved the seesaw, making a fire to have s’mores for the first time ever (something every child never forgets)! When we went to sleep he was as snug as a bug in a rug (but momma’s nose was freezing all night)! 

This overnight trip was definitely a success and one we would recommend to anyone (except dogs are not allowed up big cottonwood canyon which is a bummer – but for good reason since it’s a watershed). Connor talked about this experience for a very long time. The spring/summer Connor turned 4, he turned into an old camping pro and it’s all second nature to him now. 

Camping

Our first (attempt) camping in a tent 

In September 2015, a few months after Connor turned 2, we decided to try and tent camp for the first time. He loved rocks at the time (still does) so we thought Capitol Reef National Park in south central Utah would be a good choice. It’s about 3 hours from us so it was a doable car trip at that age, although it was still difficult (he’s an explorer – he doesn’t like to be contained for long)! 

We chose a place to set up camp and everything was going well; he enjoyed playing with his 2 trucks he brought, he “helped” Jerry set up the tent, we made a fire and cooked in the cast iron skillet we brought. When it started to get really dark out there is when the trouble started. Poor Connor didn’t know what to do with himself besides repeating that we needed to go home because it was dark! He started to lose it and we couldn’t calm him down. We didn’t want to keep other campers near us awake or wake them up so we packed up and headed home. 

We were a little disappointed but we were also laughing about it because we had been teaching him at home when it’s dark, we have to go inside for the night!! So we chalked it up to the experience of what it was and decided the next time we camped it would be a little closer to home….just in case. Luckily, our second time camping was a HUGE success and has been since. We’ll share more of that in our next post 😊