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 · family

Ibantik Lake Trail in the High Uinta Mountains

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!

Day hikes · family

What intentional living means to us: actions equal priorities

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 ✌️

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!

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!