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!

Camping · Day hikes

Upper and Lower Calf Creek Falls in Escalante

We have wanted to camp in the Escalante National Monument area for some time and finally made it happen. It’s about 4 1/2 hours from our house and we left a little later than we hoped we would (such is road tripping life with Connor and Moonshine….and momma – I’m a little slow sometimes but I try to hurry)!

When we arrived at the Upper calf creek falls area around 5pm, it was thundering and raining pretty hard so we decided to go find a place to set up our tent and wait it out a bit.

That was a really good choice because it gave us something to do and luckily the rain didn’t hang around for long. We set up our tent and then made s’mores at Connor’s request. I think we’ve finally figured out the secret to success for Jerry getting a fire going; if we eat one s’more without the marshmallow heated (thinking he won’t get it going) and then he does, we have one…or two more! I love that he never gives up; he says no one in this family is allowed to give up (we’re all pretty strong willed)!

After our snack, we headed back to the hike and got going following the cairns and Moonshine; he is such a great leader for us on trails and we are very lucky he is so obedient off leash!

If you had no idea what you were doing on this hike, it may be easy to get lost. The terrain is a mix of rock and sandy trails. The evening hike was a perfect time of day to go – perfect temperatures as one would expect on a hike in the desert in the evening. Moonshine loved the pool at the end (and we loved watching him cool off as always)!

We made it back to the car as the sun was starting to set and then back to our tent right at sunset. There was a full moon that lit up the whole sky and we all slept as well as you do with 2 adults, 1 little kid and 1 dog crammed in a 3 person backpacking tent 😊

At 6am, Connor sat straight up in the tent and was ready to go. If we were home he would have slept a couple more hours but when camping, he’s always up when the sun is up! Jerry packed up the tent while the rest of us warmed up in the car. We made a quick breakfast and drove to Lower Calf Creek Falls .

We were so thankful to start at 8am when there were still some chilly shaded spots. By the time we finished up the 5.5 miles nearing 1pm, it was getting pretty hot out (even though it was only in the 70’s)! There were lots of deer and lizards to see on the trail and plenty of breaks in the trail where Moonshine could access the water to cool down. And of course, the Falls were breathtaking and worth the entire trip.

Once again on this trip, we were reminded about the importance of lowering our expectations as traveling, hiking and camping with a 4 year old and dog is totally different than doing all of that alone as adults. We’re pretty realistic at this point but it always helps to remind ourselves to chill, just go with the flow and most importantly, to be proud of ourselves for even trying at all! We didn’t see a kiddo Connor’s age on either of the hikes we did on this trip!

To us, there is nothing better for him to have these experiences in nature. He always makes time to enjoy all the little things like climbing a tree, looking for treasures and insects, burning his marshmallows extra crisp, sitting in the sand to rest and looking for fish while Moonshine takes a dip. I never loved adventures quite like I do now seeing his excitement for all these little things (which are big things to him) and that is why we continue to make family outdoor adventures our top priority!

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

An impromptu car camp at an unexpected place – May 2017 

Sometimes you get in the car and you have a concrete plan. Other times, you just pack up your gear and go. This trip was one of those times. We headed towards Vernal, Utah and we checked out a couple places we thought would work out but they weren’t kid/dog friendly (who wants to set up camp where people left shell casings and broken beer bottles everywhere)?! 

Luckily, we had seen a KOA campsite in town. We all discussed it and agreed it wasn’t the camping we had it mind but we were 3 hours from home and we set out to tent camp for the night and that’s what we were still going to do! 

The campsite was VERY kid friendly. There was so much for Connor to explore before we set up our tents, made dinner and called it a night. 

Two tents for 4 – momma by herself and the 3 boys in the other 😂
Connor’s first time playing putt putt!
Even momma enjoyed herself!
Trying this new bike out!
Of course we were awake to enjoy the sunrise!
Connor wanted to stop and fish on the way home. We knew it wasn’t a good place to actually catch anything but the experience trying and being in nature is all that matters!
Moonshine loved a chance to get in the water!

The lesson learned from this trip is that you can always find something to do, even if it wasn’t the original plan; you just have to be open to new experiences and making the best of what you have available. 

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 😊