Home » The Adventures

Category: The Adventures

Lena Lake – Cousins Make Great Backpacking Companions

My goal was to take three particular cousins (all different parents) backpacking because they were all boys and close to the same age. Plus, I’m kind of partial to these three boys. One of them was my son (11), one was my nephew Sam (11) who has hiked with us often, and my nephew Tyson (9), who I wrote about here. I decided we would backpack into Lena Lake, a three mile approach to a lake that was short enough for even the least physically fit.

Though somewhat humorous, it was Tyson, the youngest kid, that was trying to run up the steeper parts of this trail with a fully loaded kid backpack while the older “more mature” boys rolled their eyes because they couldn’t keep up with him. I love Tyson’s spirt of adventure and hiked with him leaving the “mature boys” to walk behind and work on their attitudes. The boys used the tiny streaming waterfalls on the trail to drench their heads under ,get refreshed and perhaps wash off some grumpiness. It must have worked because after an hour and a half of hiking, we arrived at the “viewpoint” and the kids were thrilled with how blue the lake looked. After a quick rest and pictures, we took off to find a good camp site along the lake.

We found large campsite that happened to be the last available campsite (but first one you come to as you hike). As the boys were setting up their tent, I saw a dad and two young boys looking for a place to camp. I told him if he didn’t find one, that ours was large enough to share and they were welcome. A half hour later, they were back setting up tents about forty feet away from us.

Tyson and Joey set up the tent, inflated sleeping pads and arranged the sleeping area for three boys and a dog. I unpacked and set up my tent about six feet away from the boys. Six feet…..still close enough to hear EVERYTHING young boys talk about, but far enough away to pop in earplugs and read. Besides endless snacking, they spent the evening rock skipping, jumping into the lake, trying to push each other into the lake, roasting/burning marshmallows and talking about “dangling hoses” (if you can guess what that references).

I told them they could stay up as late as they wanted but had to be in the tent by 9pm (mostly because the family of younger boys had already gone in their tent for the night). From 9 to midnight, there was constant chatter, laughter and fart noises. The funniest thing I heard was “wait, you get hair down there”, “yup”, and lots of giggling. I couldn’t help laughing myself.

Finally, they went to sleep! Unfortunately, we a pretty tight timeline in the morning. We had to be up at 7am and start hiking back down by 8am to meet a later in the day commitment. The boys were pretty hungry and tired but when they found out they could have pop tarts for breakfast, they immediately packed up their backpacks. We headed back down the trail by 8am and were back at the car by 9:15. The three miles down the trail seemed pretty effortless for the boys in the early cool morning temperatures. Toward the end, the last half mile, the kids started talking to a biologist who spent the remaining part of the trail educating the boys on the various plants and trees. The boys were pretty captivated and I was just cruising along in enjoyment. I accomplished what I wanted to on this trip…..boys/cousins bonding, camping together and making great memories. All of that feeds my soul.

 

 

 

 

 

Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches – Where a kid can explore for days!

This destination is a great choice with kids of varying ages.

In June, when much of the mountainous regions of the Pacific Northwest were still covered in snow, we headed for the coast. Having just backpacked the Ozette Triangle, we decided to explore Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches, about ten miles to the north. We spent three and a half days exploring this wild northern Washington Coast.

Day 1: Earning Your Camp Site:

If you are a Western Washington/Northern Oregon local, this trip begins with a couple hours drive to Port Angeles to stop in at the Wilderness Information Center to pick up a permit to backpack in the Olympic National Park. Then it takes an additional two hours to get from Port Angeles to the trailhead. Before you arrive, though, you have to stop in Neah Bay to pick up a Makah Recreation Pass. On your way out to the trailhead, you end up parking a half mile sooner, because overnight parking is not allowed at the trailhead.

We did just this, however we had a few additional surprises. Like one kid getting carsick, after drinking 20 ounces of chocolate milk. FYI, there are no clothing stores in Neah Bay. So after a quick wardrobe change (ie. hiking in pajamas) we evacuated the car and put backpacks on. Also, there was no cleaning up the chocolate milk and we left the car facing the sun. It was amazing 4 days later… but I’m blessed to not have a sense of smell!

Finally backpacks are on and me and three kids are hiking down the road toward the start of the trail. It is 4 pm and we only need to hike a minimum of three flat miles to get to the closest available camping. No big deal.

Mile 1: We are excited and we are moving. Visions of campfire, sand, waves and camping together all fill our thoughts. We hike through the beautiful moss covered forest with neat bridges all around. Lil Red is excited to see giant trees and long boardwalks. The older two are just cruising along because this trail is way too easy for them. We are making amazing time.

Mile 2: What kind of trail is this? Mom, I should have brought waders! How long can one mile be? Honestly, I read that the second mile was very muddy and a challenge, but I just thought people were too “glass half empty.” I was so wrong. This was a very tough mile for a three year old who would sink up to 8 inches in mud but was too tired to keep navigating the occasional side trails. After a while, the kids began to accept deep muddy, trail and were just covered in mud. Fortunately, we were headed for the ocean. We hiked on, and on, and on. The kids had started to feel like this mud fest was never going to end. Eventually, they even turned on each other, arguing over the best path through the mud. Fortunately, right as temperaments were being challenged, I walked up on the official sign that sends you 200 feet straight down an embankment to the beach. Spirits were lifted and sibling love had returned, thankfully……because I was a solo parent on this adventure.

Mile 3: We made our way, via trail and ropes down to the bottom and toward the beach. This too had its own incident. During the end of Mile 2, my bear can, strapped to the top of my pack, fell off. One child said, “I’ll carry it for you mom.” However, said child dropped it while descending 200 feet. Bear can survived, but nearly hit people at the bottom looking up. We were screaming “bear can” while shamefully watching our food can barrel down the side of an embankment. It landed next to everyone, thankfully.

After securing bear can and apologizing, we headed toward the ocean and began our mile hike along the coast heading south. We happened to run into another family of three, talked to them for a while and ended up camping close by them. This was awesome. The kids quickly made new friends and played all night together. All six kids went to bed at midnight!

Day 2: Climbing Rocks, Jumping Waves and Tide pools

We slept good! The tide came with in 20 feet of our site, but we were still perched a good 5 feet above high tide. This meant we could hear the waves crashing very close to us all night. The sun snuck in our tent around 8 am and we were up playing in the sand immediately. The entire coast was their playground. I had to force them to come back to eat breakfast. We hiked north and explored tide pools for hours. We hiked back to the tent to eat lunch and then we hiked south to explore more of the coastline. The kids spent the entire day digging, swimming, and climbing. This is what makes backpacking fun and why the kids worked so hard on the first day.

Day 3: Point of the Arches Tide pools

Our goal was to hike two miles to the Point of the Arches and check out the tide pools. This landmark, easily seen from our camp site, looked so close. After breakfast and packing a lunch, we headed out. We forded little creeks, saw very dead sea lions, played with Japanese tsunami debris and kept hiking the coast. Two leisurely hours later, we had arrived. My son climbed every rock he could safely climb. Then found more adventure in jumping from sea stack to sea stack. Eventually, he would come see me for the first aid kit with bloodied shins. The girls excitedly found pink and purple starfish and huge sea anemones. We explored every pocket of water, every rock and every sea cave.

Two hours before dinner, I turned them around to head north again. This time they were slower on the return (half tired and half not wanting to leave). Next time, we will camp in one of the camp sites next to Point of the Arches. Two fantastic days of “no itinerary exploring” for kids is a dream and they were living it.

Day 4: Do We HAVE to Leave

How do you convince kids to wake up, pack up, put backpacks on, hike up steep hill, hike a mile in the mud, hike another mile and sit in the car for four hours? This is what I thought about when I woke up. I just laughed. There was no real easy way to do this but as we packed up we talked about our favorite parts of the trip and how we would come back with daddy to explore again. Two hours after wake up, we were all packed up and the kids were sadly saying goodbye to the beach as they headed inland toward the climb. We conquered the hill and mentally prepared for the mud. It was another long mile with kids. Eventually, we hit our “dry” mile and everyone was excited again. Soon we were back at the trailhead. I dropped all the kids off next to the bathrooms and I ran the last half road mile to the car. Ten minutes later, we were all loaded in the car and the kids were begging for the windows to be rolled down……4 day old chocolate milk vomit….We stopped off at a mini mart, grabbed some celebratory popsicles and began our drive home. Another great trip and great memories! Everyone has to backpack Shi Shi!

 

Oregon Coast Trail – South Jetty to Ecola State Park

During spring break, we spent three days backpacking from the Northern point of Oregon called South Jetty to Ecola State Park, approximately 22 miles, and we had a blast. I don’t say that too lightly. The weather was not kid friendly, but instead a high of 50 and rain that would come and go for two days and never leave on the third day and yet the kids had so much fun. Click here to read about her Oregon Coast Trail goal.

Day One: We started at northern point of Fort Stevens State Park called South Jetty. When we arrived, we didn’t know what we were looking for in terms of the starting point. We climbed up the lookout tower and admired the crashing waves hitting the jetty. I determined that the starting point was farther down the jetty and so we hiked about a half mile down the sandy beach and climbed up onto the rocks for a better view. Although we couldn’t locate a starting point, we sat and enjoyed the huge crashing waves all around us. Eventually, we gave up on a starting point and began to follow the jetty toward the beach in the direction of the Peter Iredale shipwreck. After passing the lookout tower and continuing on about 30 more feet, we found the first trail marker. I later confirmed with the park ranger that the trail marker was the official start.

We continued south and followed the wide beach. It was nice for the kids to not have to stay on an actual narrow trail for this area. They were free to run toward the water, chase birds, explore the driftwood built shelters and just run free. With the late start in the day, we competed four miles (with a three year old setting the pace). We turned off trail and headed to camp.

Day two began about a half mile north of the Peter Iredale Shipwreck after a big pancake breakfast. The kids enjoyed seeing a shipwreck off in the distance and kept their focus on getting to the ship to explore it. As we approached the ship, a steady rain began. This didn’t phase the kids, but it did run off all the other visitors. We had the shipwreck to ourselves for a few minutes. The kids explored and climbed this boat for a good half hour before we decided to continue down the coast. We spent the entire morning and afternoon making our way south. We passed sand dunes and Sunset Beach Recreation Site. We didn’t see any four wheelers out but assumed the rain was keeping them away. After about nine miles, we called it a day. We were filled with adventure, sand and some water.

 

On Day 3, we picked up where we left off and had a goal to hike all the way to Cannon Beach. This would have made it a 11 mile day and as we arrived at the beach, the clouds were dark and the rain was coming down with a little more force than the day before. The kids were still determined to continue hiking down the coast, mostly because they can run all over the place and explore at the same time. With all the waterproof gear and warm gear on, they didn’t care about the rain. We spent the day hiking and exploring Del Ray Beach and Gearhart Ocean State Park. From the coast, we made our way to the city Gearhart, and then to Seaside in order to get around the Necanicum River. We stopped for lunch at Tsunami Sandwich Company. It was nice to get a warm prepared meal and get a break from the constant rain.

After a hour lunch and a second hour of playing chess, we were plotting our course up up to Ecola State Park and down to Cannon Beach. The general feel of the group was a loss of motivation after a warm dry restaurant and watching the pouring rain out the window. The reality was it was day 3 of backpacking with kids and a second day of rain hiking. The rain had finally made an impression on the kids. I had a feeling that we may not make it to Cannon Beach and I was okay with that. We had already had such a fun few days of hanging out and hiking the coast together.

We threw our backpacks on and headed through the city of Seaside toward Ecola State Park. We spent the better part of the next few hours climbing up the trail. We finally reached the main parking lot at Ecola and enjoyed the views of Cannon Beach below and the coast all around. After such a steep climb, compared to flat beach walking for days, the kids were done. They completed another nine miles and the giant rocks at Cannon Beach were not enough to inspire the kids to hike on. We ended this section of our hike at the state park. What a fun adventure it had been! I can’t wait to head back and pick back up.

We have hiked various sections of the PCT and PNT and I would have to say the Oregon Coast Trail has to be the best longer distance backpacking trail to do with kids of all ages. It was safe enough for the three year old and adventurous enough for the 9 and 11 year old.

For anyone considering this trail with kids, beach camping is not allowed from South Jetty (where we began) to Gearhart/Seaside area. You have to be able to hike for 16 miles or find an alternative. For us, this was the only logistical challenge we had. We chose to “camp” at the KOA just outside of Fort Stevens SP, but the State Park had plenty of camping too. The KOA just provided other options (inside pool in the evenings, free breakfast, showers, internet, and a place to dry out clothing).

Paradise Camping

“We set out in the night, abandoning our tent. With backpacks and headlamps on, we navigated our way through the freshly fallen foot of snow. She stayed one foot behind me, as to not lose me and I guided us back to the car.”

I have always been fond of the message that has floated throughout social media memes and photos, “Kids won’t remember their best day of television” with a picture of a child engaging in some outdoor activity. This was no more clear than a few  weekends back when I took my nine year old daughter backpacking and snow camping at Mt. Rainier National Park.

The forecast leading up to the weekend was looking rather interesting. The temperatures were going to drop to 15 degrees overnight and with the windchill it would feel like 0 degrees. A weather storm warning was issued for Mt. Rainier and the forecast called for 40 mph winds and 9-12 inches of snow overnight. My son and I were supposed to join his boy scout troop and dig snow caves, however, after a week of school camp, my son was drained and decided not to go. With my bags already packed, I asked my daughter if she would like to go backpacking with me. She didn’t even hesitate answering yes. So, sure half of her answer was based on “one uping” her older brother and the other half was just to spend time with me but I can assure you, she didn’t mean to say yes. Perhaps, she misheard me and thought I said, “Do you want to stay home and bake with me?”

After a two hour drive to Mt. Rainier, a half hour wait in line to get an overnight camping permit, we were driving up to Paradise. By 11:00, we were backpacking down the trail to find some good camping and take in some needed time in the mountains. A half hour later, we located some prime real estate and hiked down a nice flat area to set up some tents. While my friends and I set up our four season tents, Elissa checkout out some bomber snow caves just up hill from us.

After tents went up and securely anchored, we spent some time exploring, digging, hiking, climbing through snow caves and even walking back to Paradise Lodge for pizza and hot chocolate. As darkness started to set in and the temperatures began to quickly drop, we all decided to retreat to our tents. Elissa and I spent some time playing card games with a deck of cards she had. We shared a dinner and laughed about the temperature was so cold that we had to keep taking turns holding dinner bowl to warm up. Typically we don’t take turns snuggling up with pasta primavera. It was such a special feeling to be camped out in one of the most beautiful National Parks with my daughter and soaking up all that the outdoors had to give and listening to her thoughts the day.

As the night sky took over, we snuggled up close to get a little warmer. For the next few hours, Elissa kept telling me how cold she was. Her sleeping bag was rated for 15 degrees, but what if it was so old that it had lost some of it’s filling power or what if she just couldn’t maintain a good temperature and was going to be miserable all night. After some time, I asked her if she would like to climb in my sleeping bag with me and she jumped at the opportunity. This was not an easy feat. While there was enough room in my sleeping bag, neither of us was going to be shifting around and this required me to sleep on my side all night. Oh well, I’m a mom and I’m going to do what it takes to keep my kid warm. This solution worked out perfectly…….almost.

Sparing many details, somewhere between very close quarters and air circulation, I began to feel very sick after midnight. I don’t ever throw up, as in I was a teenager the last time I threw up, and I didn’t seem to recognize the feeling in time. My brain had forgotten what those body signals until it was too late. Fortunately, I found a hat and made use of it. After regaining composure, I knew I wasn’t just going to lay down again and feel better. Elissa had woken up and was feeling pretty nervous about me being sick.  I told her I thought it was best if we packed up our sleeping bags, a few essential items and hiked back to the car. At least in the car, we could both lay down in the seats, warm up a little and I may start to feel better.

What a trooper she was. In the coldest part of the night and without hesitation, she quickly stuffed her sleeping bag into her backpack while I packed mine and some other things. Then she grabbed her frozen boots, sank her feet into them. She quickly tied them and didn’t complain once. By 1:00 am, we let our friends know we were hiking back to the cars and we set out in the night, abandoning our tent. With backpacks and headlamps on, we navigated our way through the freshly fallen foot of snow. She stayed one foot behind me, as to not lose me and I guided us back to the car. I loaded her up in the car and turned the engine on which turned on the heated seats to warm us up a little. We “camped” like this for six hours. Every two hours, I would wake up and turn the car on for five minutes to let the seat warmers do their magic. In the early morning, I hiked back to our tent, dug it out the snow and packed up everything. What an adventure!

Down from the mountain, we all met up for lunch. After an hour of good vibes and laughter, we parted ways and Elissa and I drove the two hours back home. Replaying our weekend in my mind, I was thinking that neither of us will ever forget this trip. Like many of our adventures, I will remember her giggles as we played cards together for a few hours in our tent and how much her face lit up to climb around in a snow cave. I will remember holding her tightly and listening to her fall asleep when she snuggled up with me in my sleeping bag. Those are the types of memories that I try to soak up on every trip we take together, but the memories that will stand out to me was the sound of those little feet sinking into frozen boots and the sound of us clipping our backpacks on in the middle of the night. Although a small moment in time, I get to see glimpse into her future. It gives me peace to know that when a situation gets tough or uncomfortable, that she can set aside her temporary discomforts in order to find resolution or help. I can almost picture the two of us ten years from now hugging, me saying “have fun, be safe”, and right before she takes off to follow her dreams she says “you know I’ll be fine, remember the time you took me snow camping and I was a rockstar!”

The Adventures of Tuck & Robin Lakes…..Enjoying Some Alpine with Friends

 

“I love backpacking. Drop me off at an elevation of 5000 feet with a tent and awesome friends and I am in heaven.”

By adult standards, this trail is long, relentless and difficult. I read that it was constructed by backcountry firefighters….which equates to climbing straight up a hillside instead of long switchbacks. To me, reaching Tuck and Robin Lakes symbolizes the hard work one must commit to in order to stand among amazing alpine views. This particular weekend, we past many slow and exhausted backpackers attempting to make the same journey one steep step at a time.

As I sit and type this up, I could tell you about our amazing camp site seated high up on a ridge, the incredible sunset and sunrise we witnessed, and the brilliant display of meteor showers throughout the night. I would have to detail out the stunning views of Tuck Lake nested inside giant slabs of granite walls and the breathtaking views of high peaks and distant valleys in every direction. I would include a description of the moment I almost kicked my son’s butt because he forgot his hiking boots, as in he arrived at the trailhead only wearing socks, but I will save that for another post. Instead, I want to ditch all the typical trip report stuff (just Google Tuck and Robin Lakes) and focus on the social experience.

I was honored to share this particular August weekend with my son and three great outdoor enjoying friends. To me, this was the best part. As we started down the trail, the pace was slower than normal. The group couldn’t help it. Salmonberries, huckleberries and blueberries were tastefully distracting for the first three miles, along with the beautiful Hyas lake calling to us as we walked through a very humid forest. This was a social trip and we were all more focused on great conversation than keeping to a pacing standard. When the trail finally got down to business and it was time to earn our campsite for the night, we all continued to distract each other with great stories and useless banter.

I have hiked this trail a few times, but it was just more special sharing it with a friend on her first backpacking trip. This is a not typical first time backpacker’s trail as sections are pretty grueling with a loaded overnight pack, but she handled it remarkably. Sitting up on the ridge overlooking the Pacific Crest Trail, Mt. Daniel, Cathedral Rock at sunset was just stunning, but sharing that moment sitting together and sipping on our favorite backcountry beverages was perfect.  Yes, sunrise was an outstanding performance at 6000 feet, but I experienced it sitting next to friends enjoying tea and coffee as the sun warmed up our small patch of land. Tuck Lake is such a gorgeous alpine lake but it was so much fun watching my friend swim a few hundred feet to the island  on her slow leaking floatie. She topped it off with a proud body building pose with leaky floatie. My son enjoyed swimming in the lake and trying to catch fish and I enjoyed running around with a cape on attempting to get into horizontal flying super hero position.

For two days we laughed, joked, gossiped, swam, dreamed, enjoyed, and relaxed in one of Washington’s most beautiful alpine zones. This is what it is all about and this is why I encourage kids to backpack. The next generation needs experience these exact moments in nature.

Want to know where all the kids in Washington go backpacking?

Sheep Lake ~ Chinook Pass

If you are in Washington and you ask me where to take your little one on their first backpacking trip, I will almost always say Sheep Lake at Chinook Pass (since we have at least three Sheep Lakes). The trail is 1.5 miles to a lake with only 400 feet of elevation gain. This equates to a minimal comparable effort for a big payoff. Plus, when your little one arrives, he or she will be met with many new backpacking friends. If you time it right (mid-August to mid-September), your little one will get the chance to high-five some Pacific Crest Trail thru hikers.

This was my third year backpacking to Sheep Lake only this time we were completing Section I of the Pacific Crest Trail. My first year was the mother/daughter trip and last year was “run out of diapers” trip. I didn’t mean to return, but my nephew was joining this time and we wanted our almost three year old to be able to walk the entire way. We spent three fun and relaxing days exploring Sheep Lake, Sourdough Gap and Crystal Lakes. The kids swam in a cold alpine lake, climbed rocks, told “scary” stories, swam with a pelican and remained covered in dirt the entire time. These four kids had a blast!

Day 1

After crossing over from Dewey Lakes and meeting up with family, we started up the trail. It was a little slow going with Little Red, who is 2, making her way up the trail with her backpack on. She only had a sleeping bag and sunglasses in her pack but that was enough. My nephew was also a little slow going, he may have had a little more in his pack than he was used to. We arrived at Sheep Lake two hours later…..those tiny feet take tiny steps. Once we found a good camp site, we quickly set up camp and made lunch. After lunch all four kids raced down to the lake with swim suits on. Just as predicted, they jumped in, felt that crisp cold alpine lake temperature and immediately ran back out. After the first jump in, it took each kid to talking themselves into going back into the frigid water. The water was just so tempting.

Day 2

After breakfast, we packed up and prepared to climb Sourdough Gap and head over to Crystal Lakes. Being that we had a dog with us, one of us would have to stay at the summit and not proceed to Crystal Lakes, where dogs are prohibited (Boundary of Mt. Rainier). We left camp and headed toward Sourdough Gap (a 2 mile/700 ft. climb to a pass between to small summits. The kids were all excited to “climb a mountain.”  After an hour, we arrived at Sourdough Gap “summit”. The kids were amazed at how small Sheep Lake looked from the summit. We took a break at “the Gap” and ate some snacks. The kids were able to observe the trail as it goes over the gap and heads north along the Pacific Crest Trail. It was exciting to the kids to see Thru Hikers coming from Mexico and passing them on the trial. For many, only one to two weeks remained! We greeted them with high fives and wished them the best on wrapping up their amazing accomplishments.

After snacks, I led the kids and my brother-in-law toward Crystal Lakes in hopes of seeing Mt. Rainier. As we followed the trail over to the lakes, the Mountain was covered in clouds. Instead, the kids took turns summiting small knolls and catching neat view points of Crystal Lakes and other viewpoints. After a half hour, we headed back toward Sourdough Gap to pick up Jonathan, Little Red and Cinder. We descended back toward Sheep Lake and the kids immediately changed back into bathing suits to head to the lake. This time, they took our new inflatable pelican. It became a hit at the lake for the next hour.

That evening, the kids spent time exploring the meadows behind our campsite and meeting other kids camping around the lake. Little Red even managed to find another two year old to talk to. As the sun began to set, we quickly made dinner and enjoyed telling “scary stories” or rather “obnoxious stories.” Little Red was so wiped out from the big hike and swimming in the lake that she feel asleep before dinner and slept through the night.

Day 3

We initially intended to spend another full day and night here, but the kids decided it would be nice to head out later in the day in order to do another fun activity. After breakfast and more goofiness, we began the chore of packing up our camp and stuffing everything back into our backpacks. By noon, we were double checking the cleanliness of our camp site and heading down toward the shore of Sheep Lake. We spent another hour letting the three older kids explore the entire circumference of the lake and Little Red practice her rock climbing skills with the big boulders by the lake.

We finally said our goodbyes to Sheep Lake, took a final group photo, and headed down the trail toward the cars. The three older kids took off with my brother-in-law, while Jonathan and I stayed behind with Little Red. The last half mile was especially difficult for her. She was tired and hot. We continued to encourage her to finish the hike out. Eventually, she was welcomed at the trailhead by her siblings and cousin. We stowed all the backpacks and headed down toward Greenwater for ice cream at Wapiti Woolies.

Even though my kids have backpacked into Sheep Lake, they seemed to enjoy this trip just the same. As they get older, they find new reasons to enjoy old favorite destinations. Bringing their cousin, uncle, dad and little sister along was an awesome bonus!

 

Lodge Lake – 5 Kids and a Dog – What an Adventure!

June 29th, 2016

I came up with this crazy idea to take my three children (10, 8 and 2), niece (12) and nephew (10) backpacking BY MY SELF! Ok, not really, I brought my dog who is completely undisciplined when on any trails. I know this is crazy, but I also knew how much fun this would be for the kids.

I picked Lodge Lake, a short two mile hike with about 600 feet of elevation gain. This is a pretty neat hike that starts at the Summit of Snoqualmie ski area, climbs up a small ski hill and descends deep into the terrain. This is also a segment of the Pacific Crest Trail, but it is so close to I-90 and it’s resources (convenience stores, hotels, etc.) that it is overlooked as a stopping point.

We departed from the trailhead at 10am and instead of making it to camp by 11-ish, we made by 1-ish. With a short trek, I decided it was time to let my 2 year old set the pace and hike the entire two miles to camp. The older kids were very excited by the idea of Little Red hiking on her own and didn’t mind going slow and helping her.

IMG_6438 IMG_6410

The trail is pretty straight forward and we stayed together and talked about the important stuff: Pokemon and Minecraft. Eventually we made it to camp and the kids accepted the challenge of setting up camp. We brought a 4 person tent, a two person tent and two hammocks. After tents were set up and hammocks were hung, the kids all took off for the lake.

IMG_6515 IMG_6543

The lake was very pretty, but very buggy and didn’t have a shore, unlike the last time I visited. This time, the mosquitoes were in full force and the only way to the lake was through 6 inches of mud trail. Very disappointing. The lake was just too cold to jump in, so the lake destination was somewhat of a bummer. However, kids are creative and enterprising. They retreated from the lake and continued exploring the area.

IMG_6502 IMG_6479

They hung out all afternoon/evening and after dinner, everyone was settling down for the evening. The two older girls decided that they would sleep in the hammocks and the boys slept in the 2 person tent (this ensured no girls were allowed). Myself and Little Red made a great sleeping area in the 4 person tent knowing, we would eventually have company.

As the sun set, my daughter had enough of hammock life and asked to sleep in the tent…..”of course, there is plenty of room!” My niece held out as long as she could and came strolling in the tent around midnight and she brought the dog. “Ah, just the 5 of us!”

Sometime around 8, everybody woke up and seemed to be starving. I couldn’t get water boiling fast enough for oatmeal. We finished breakfast and had a great time taking group pictures of our survival of the night. Eventually, I talked everyone into packing up so we could head out. We took a few final group photos and headed out around 11-ish.

This trip has sounded too much like “The Sound of Music.”

Enter soul crushing music……remember 5 kids and a dog…….catches up to you.

We departed camp, walked along a short trail that met up with our main trail and began hiking back down the trail. Within ten minutes…complete meltdown by all 5 kids in domino effect:

“My chest hurts and I can’t breath, I can’t hike anymore”

“I’m tired and don’t want to hike anymore, I quit”

“This backpack is SOOOOOO heavy, I quit”

“This dog keeps pulling too hard, I quit”

“Mommy, carry me”

They all just quit on me, some with tears, within a few minutes of departing camp and 2 miles from the car. I was outnumbered and they went on strike. That’s when I realized….I am crazy…this is why you don’t take 5 KIDS AND A DOG!!!

I am not a perfect parent/aunt and this was not pretty. I told some children to “suck it up” and told others “just take your time, it’s really ok, you are not going to die.” Little Red also got her way and I picked her up and set her on my shoulders….there was no way I was going to spend three hours listening to this crew fall apart over and over. We marched on.

IMG_6615 IMG_6375

After a mile and a half, everyone sat down at the top of the hill that overlooks I-90 and took a 15 minute break. I was just grateful that I could see the parking lot and I was so close to caffeine. After break, I gave a quick motivational speech that sounded like a plea bargain and we headed out. We made it to the car and survived with out incident.

 

Was it worth it?

Yes! (with energy drink in hand) even through the five kid meltdown. We made a lot of great memories together!

IMG_6568

Saving the best adventure for last…. The Grand Canyon

After spending 30 days exploring Southern Utah, we arrived at the Grand Canyon on May 3rd for 8 days of backpacking. With an incoming storm we had to shorten the trip and I had the honor of backpacking for 5 days/46 miles in the Grand Canyon with my son and my youngest brother. We hiked from the South Rim to the River via the Bright Angel Trail. This itinerary included a side trip from Indian Gardens to Monument Creek via Tonto Trail, short hike out to Plateau Point, and a short loop hike between Silver Bridge and Black  Bridge.

This was quite the adventure for us being that it was our first time backpacking into the Grand Canyon. Everything was new and on such a larger scale than the previous canyons we had hiked through. However, I was just so ecstatic that I was taking in one of the great wonders of the natural world with my son. I will never forget the look of joy and bewilderment when we rounded the corner and he was staring at the wide and fast moving Colorado River.

IMG_5454IMG_5460IMG_5488

Day 1: South Rim to Indian Gardens

By the time we loaded up the car, headed up to the GC, found a parking spot and completed last minute adjustments to our backpacks, we (my son, my brother and I) stepped on to the Bright Angel Trail at 12:30 pm. It was literally the hottest part of the day and because it was day 1, our packs were at their heaviest. We were overly prepared in the hydration department, though. I was carrying 4 liters of water, J-Hawk had 1.5 liters and Shaun had 2 liters. As we made our way down the steepest part of the Bright Angel trail, we passed many miserable hikers trying to make it back to the rim. We made a quick stop at the Resthouse 1.5. It was here that we witnessed so many exhausted people hiding in the shade and they looked miserable. It was almost concerning how bad so many people looked. How would we fare? Will we be this miserable on the ascent? What can we do to aide ourselves when this time comes around? Before we left the rest area, we passed a guy with a full overnight backpack on. He was sitting on a rock and just looked whipped. He offered his thoughts, “I’m going to die, this is the hardest hike I have ever done, this is so exhausting and I still have so far to go.” This did not sound comforting or encouraging at all. We listened, empathized and continued our descent into the canyon.

We quickly arrived at the 3 Mile Resthouse and decided to hide from the sun for a good 30 minutes. I had put on thick hiking socks and my feet were dying between the downhill friction and the heat (85 degrees F.). J-Hawk made use of the time by exploring the views and the restroom and I taped up feet and switched out socks. We all relaxed for the sake of relaxing for a half hour. It was 2 o’clock and we only had 1.5 miles left to get camp….We had ALL day! After rest in the shade, some snacks and water, we headed down the trail toward Indian Gardens for the night.

The trail from the Rim to 3 Mile Resthouse was so amazing and beautiful. Sure it was steep and narrow, but so beautifully carved. Every twist and bend around each layer of the canyon was so unique and bold. When you don’t live in an canyon area, every aspect of the Grand Canyon is just so new and amazing.

From 3 Mile Resthouse to Indian Garden the canyon was just beautiful. The geography began to change from downclimbing the canyon to entering a plateau and walking across it. As you approach Indian Gardens, it is like this small little oasis in the middle of the hot desert. You could identify Indian Gardens from the trail above due to the lush green trees all condensed around a creek….a little piece of heaven.

When we arrived at IG we took one of the last remaining camp spots. We quickly set up camp and began to explore the area. This style of backcountry camping was new to me. We had a covered picnic table in our private campsite. IG had 6 clean composting toilets for all 20 sites to share. These were real toilets with toilet paper and there were 6. Furthermore, I discovered that it is someone’s job to hike from campground to campground maintaining/cleaning these toilets. I just felt too privileged to call this backpacking. We had running water. Water was piped in from the creek and made available. Wow! This also meant I did not need to carry more than a liter of water per person with water so prevalent this time of year. (The water situation changes frequently so you have to do your research to know when water is available throughout the Canyon).

Indian Garden also had a bunkhouse for all the NPS staff and a small ranger station. The ranger station had a little library inside and those camped at IG could grab books and read them at their campsites. We read about three books that evening. This place was amazing.

After taking in all the awesome amenities, we cooked up some dinner and watched the sun start to set. It was just and incredible feeling to be out backpacking in this area.

As we were hanging out, the Park Ranger on duty came by to check on us. She was pretty cool and told me that she had spent some Park Ranger time up in WA. She asked us our itinerary and I confessed with the incoming storm, we would have to leave early and not be able to hike to the North Rim. She let me know that we could amend our plans if we still wanted to stay in the Canyon longer and asked us to come up with another plan and she would see what she could do to help us out. A few hours later, she came by our camp and we discussed a new possible itinerary and she gave us her NPS blessing. She was awesome and it was so cool to get this opportunity to continue to explore without losing out completely.

IMG_5512 IMG_4647

Day 2: Plateau Point and Monument Creek

With a new itinerary, we set out to visit Plateau Point on our way to Monument Creek. We packed up camp after breakfast and began our trek. It was nice to get an early start. We enjoyed the lowered sun and seeing big horn sheep running across one of the plateaus. We hiked out to Plateau Point and were teased with our first views of the Colorado River. The River seemed so down in the canyon still. While viewing the river, my son asked if there would be a point that we could jump in the river and try to cross it. I said no citing the currents, water temperature and width of the river. He didn’t believe me but moved on to other conversation. After a half hour, we headed out to Monument Creek for the night. Hiking on the Tonto Trail is so incredibly different than the Bright Angel. It was so remote and desolate. The only person we saw was on of the camp maintenance guys. We spent the day crossing many plateaus and mini deserts getting different perspectives of the vastness of the GC.  Ten miles later, we set up camp, ate dinner and watched the sun go down. The Grand Canyon is so massive and can make you feel small and alone. For a small moment in time, that feeling was very welcome.

IMG_4671 IMG_4673 IMG_4679

Day 3: Monument Creek to Indian Gardens

The thought heading back to Indian Gardens was exciting to me. I loved the shaded trees, the small backpacking community and the nice amenities. We took our time eating breakfast and packing up. A storm was making its way  toward the GC and the temperatures were a lot cooler than two days ago, when we started. We left the small and remote camping area of Monument Creek heading toward Indian Gardens. By 2 o’clock, we arrived and ended up setting up camp in our original camp spot. As we walked down “main street” of the campground, we noticed the Ranger left a note stating that the campground was in overflow by three sets of campers. Knowing that we were one of the amended groups, we joined up with a few other campers in the main group area in order to leave some open camp spots for late arrivals. This was the least we could do after getting our permits changed. Plus, we made some friends in “group camp.” They told me all about Climbing Mt. Washington and I talked about climbing cascade volcanoes.

J-Hawk and my brother spent the evening playing catch with the frisbee my brother brought with him. I just thought it was pretty cool to have a frisbee all the way down in the Grand Canyon. I mean, someday, my son will talk of playing frisbee inside the Grand Canyon. By 9 o’clock, like most evenings, we were tired and simply went to bed.

IMG_4687 IMG_4695 IMG_5600

Day 4: Indian Gardens to Bright Angel Campground

With the amended itinerary, we had a super easy day ahead of us. We only needed to hike 5 miles and descend 1200 feet and we would be seeing the Colorado River, crossing giant bridges and sipping on cold beverages. We were packed up, breakfast eaten and dishes washed by 9:30. With backpacks on, we headed out. The first part of the descent wasn’t nearly as exciting but still very beautiful. After an hour and a short break, we came around a bend at 7.5 mile Resthouse and saw the Colorado River. We had made it to the river bottom….the bottom of the Grand Canyon…..of course we still had at least 1.5 miles to camp, but we were still pretty excited. From that moment on, we had the river in site the entire time.

Remember how J-Hawk wanted to jump in the river and cross it. When he saw it level with him, he said, “Oh, Man, it is SO HUGE! I could never cross it!” It was this pretty incredible experience for him to look at the wide river and look up and see how tall the canyon walls became. We were definitely small people in a large area. We continued on, traversing another section of the canyon that followed the river. We could see the Silver Bridge far in the distance and knew we were close to camp. After a half hour of rolling trail in dirt and sand that rose a couple hundred feet above the river, we finally arrived at the Silver Bridge. This is a huge sturdy bridge that only hikers use. I found out the mules stick to the sturdier Black bridge. We were so excited to cross over the Colorado and stand in the middle of the bridge taking in all of our surroundings. Amazing! My son was smiling from ear to ear. My brother, on the other hand, did not enjoy the shaky bridge and wanted to quickly cross. After crossing, we quickly made our way over to Bright Angel Campground and grabbed on of the last two creek side spots.

This was a pretty cool spot. We were camped just above the creek with views of Phantom Ranch. We would be falling asleep to the sound of running creek water. After setting up camp, we made our way over to Phantom Ranch. We found the Canteen/Eatery and purchased stamps to mail postcards and ice cold lemonade. The lemonade was so deserved and earned. I was so proud of my son. After a month of hiking and backpacking, he still had energy and excitement to hike through the Grand Canyon with me and we had arrived at one of the main destinations.

J-Hawk wrote a quick message to his dad on the postcard and placed it in the mail pouch (Pony Express) and stamped “carried by mule out of Phantom Ranch.” We hung out a little longer before moving on to explore some good bouldering areas and hike across the Black bridge. We spend the next hour hiking over to the Black bridge, hiking on a little of the South Kaibab trail and returning toward camp for a few hours of bouldering. The bouldering was easy but the rock was fragile.

Like every other night, we were in bed by 9. It was a stormy night down in the canyon. The winds were a sustained 30mph and the rain picked up throughout the night, however the temperature never dropped below 55. It was so warm but we couldn’t open up the tent due to the rain.

IMG_4713 IMG_4703 IMG_4750

Day 5: Bright Angel Campground to South Rim

I woke everyone up at 6. It was a little rainy outside so we packed up what we could from the inside. This morning’s focus was all about packing up quick to move out of the rain. I told my son we would just eat breakfast bars until we hiked up to 7.5 Mile Resthouse. We quickly packed up and headed out. We were on the trail by 7:15. It was bittersweet to be leaving the river bottom. It was so unique and remote; I felt like we just should have stayed for another day. On our way out of camp, we topped off water bottles and began our hike out by crossing the Silver bridge. We were taking the same route out that we had taken in. We made our way across the canyon following the River. When we arrived at 7.5 Mile Resthouse, we stopped in the shelter and made oatmeal. It was nice to just sit and eat a warm meal without getting rained on. After 2nd breakfast, J-Hawk and I decided to walk over to the Colorado and feel the water. I mean, does it count if you only walk by it and over it….we needed to feel it. J-Hawk needed to explain the coldness of the Colorado. After a few minutes, we left the river for good and headed up to our backpacks. With packs on, we continued up the canyon, it was time to start gaining back all that altitude.

We easily climbed our first 1000 feet, took a ten minute break and moved on the next two miles of minimal ascent to Indian Gardens. We arrived at Indian Gardens by 11:00. We had options some options being that it was so early in the day. We could either spend the night at IG according to our permits or we could take an hour long break and hike out of the GC and sleep in a hotel bed tonight. After a long break while eating lunch, we decided to hike out. This entailed 4.5 mile hike with 3000 ft. of elevation gain. Rangers tell you it should take 6-8 hours. I approximated 6 hours at worst. Knowing we had to Resthouses along the way, we dumped our water to lighten our packs. We all went down to 1 liter. The judgement call was based on needed consumption for every 1.5 miles to more verified running water and the temperatures (with incoming storm) were only getting colder the higher we climbed.

We started our day at 60 degrees F at the bottom of the Canyon and it was 36 and had snowed the night before at the top of the South Rim. This allowed us to keep cooler and not requiring as much water. At 12:30, we began hiking out of IG. We were going at a great pace all the way to the top. We averaged 1.5 miles and 1000 gain per hour and were standing on top of the South Rim by 3:30. The toughest part was the last mile. With so many people stopping you to ask you questions about your journey, it was difficult to maintain good core temperature. We were sweating from being on the move but we didn’t have jackets on so we could breathe. When we stopped, the higher cooler air would freeze us. By the time we made it to top, I was so cold. I had to drop my pack and throw on my coat before I could celebrate or take pictures.

This was an incredible backpacking trip with my son. I highly recommend this trip with little ones, especially when they are old enough to appreciate the geography, history, beauty and remoteness.

Coyote Gulch – High Desert Adventure

“Located in the vast Grand Staircase-Escalante desert, Coyote Gulch is a winding, semi-narrow canyon that snakes its way down through incredible red rock country, and joins with the Escalante River just above Lake Powell. The hike is long, best suited for an overnighter, though it can be hiked in one day by those satisfied with a march instead of a casual exploration. Hikers will pass a good number of arches, as well as the hardy wetlands that thrive within the shade and moisture of Utah’s desert oases.”….Taken from Utah.com

Route to Coyote Gulch: Crack-In-The-Wall

Route type: Out and Back

Backpacking Miles: 17

I’m not even sure if what I write will capture the beauty of this area or how blessed I was to backpack through this canyon with my family. For us, this was a fantastic backpacking trip that easily knocked prior backpacking destinations off their top ranking positions.

We began our trip with a quick stop at Utah Canyons, a small outfitter, gear shop and coffee stand in Escalante. After grabbing some maps, coffee, and getting some recent road and trail beta we set out on our 2 hour dirt road drive to the trailhead. The road was manageable but we heard the last mile to the trailhead was going to be a challenge with deep soft sand. In the end, the only real concern was crossing the last cattle guard that steeply dropped off and you could hear the scraping of the cattle guard on the frame of the car. Ugh….no damage though.

We arrived at the trailhead in late afternoon. The air was quiet and the four of us stood atop the plateau looking in every direction. It was miles and miles of desert and silence. As we looked out to the north, we could see our trail. A sand trail that lead directly up to the canyon rim and dropped off. The kids were so excited to be out in the desert and so remote. As Jonathan and I reconfigured the car and prepped the backpacks for the trip, the kids ran all over trying to catch lizards. We enjoyed the sunset, watched a movie together and then slept under the stars.

Everyone was up just after the sun rose. The goal was to get moving so that we would not be walking across the desert during the hotter part of the day. As hard as we tried, we didn’t start hiking until 10 am. There are always last minute little things to do before you start. At 10 am, a fellow hiker took our picture and we set out across the desert. Rosabell’s initial pace was a little slow. I think the shock of desert sand walking was almost defeating to her. Fortunately, she walked with her daddy and he kept her preoccupied with other conversations to take her mind off the actual trail. After an hour or so, we left the sand trail and began our journey across the slick rock, marked by cairns toward our “drop in” point on the canyon. Jonathan led the way and we were all excited to check out our entry point to the canyon.

After a half hour, we approached the “Crack-In-The-Wall.” If you don’t already know, the Crack, is a 150 foot long crack that you lower yourself into and slowly walk through. There are some points that you climb down but with buddy help or using foot holds/hand holds you make your way to the other end and begin your sand dune descent down to the canyon floor. The only obstacle is that you must lower your backpacks down a 30 foot wall….so you must have rope. If you are 8 and 10 (or even an adult), this is a really fun area. The kids loved climbing up and down this narrow passage and helping us unclip backpacks as they were lowered over the wall.

After all backpacks were lowered and we all made our way through this narrow crack, we began our descent to the canyon floor. Teaching moment: My son says, “Mom, hiking down this sand is so easy, I feel like I could run down to the bottom.” “Yes, Son, wait until you have to climb back up this……the easier the descent, the more difficult the ascent.” Thirty minutes hiking down the sand hill and we were at the bottom of the canyon. We all dropped our packs next to the river and just stood there in amazement of the beauty.

The river water was warm, the Juniper trees were bright green and the red canyon walls hundreds of feet tall. This was insanely beautiful and serene. We instantly became small and isolated in comparison to everything around us. While sitting on a rock eating lunch, 8 inch lizards came running by. The kids were in heaven. After lunch, we strapped on our backpacks, took off our shoes and began walking in the river up canyon to explore and find a campsite.

We spend the next two hours slowly exploring every twist and turn in the canyon. Eventually, we settled on a river side camp spot. Normally we would have opted for higher ground, but the forecast called for 0% precip for the next three days, so we were safe. After quickly setting up camp, we grabbed a day pack and continued to explore Coyote Gulch. I’d like to say we went for miles and miles, because there were so many fascinating places we knew we could see on this route, but the kids truly soaked up every inch the canyon had to offer. If there was a waterfall, they had to run into it, if there was a wall to climb….they climbed it, if there was a frog hopping away….they had to watch it. My kids spent the entire day (noon-7pm) in the waters playing, climbing and exploring. My heart was filled with so much joy seeing how much they were experiencing and enjoying.

After a long day and about ten hiking miles, we settled into camp and enjoyed dinner as the sun set in the red canyons. The kids slowly washed their dishes in an attempt to prolong getting in their sleeping bags. After we were all in our sleeping bags, we spent the next hour admiring all the constellations. The kids fell asleep full of memories.

We had a few night interruptions (going to the bathroom in the dark and small sunburn that needed attention) but otherwise slept so peacefully with a river flowing in the distance. As the sun rose, we all laid in our sleeping bags enjoying the view and cool morning air. In the morning, we split up the duties of making breakfast and breaking down camp. Granola and oatmeal for breakfast and hot tea to go with made this a perfect morning! We slowly packed our packs and cleaned up camp. We didn’t want to leave. If there is one mistake I made, it was only getting a permit for one night. Next time, at least two nights.

With backpacks on and full stomachs, we began our hike down the canyon. The pace was a little slow going. I don’t think anyone wanted to leave. Our time in Coyote Gulch was just too short. We made our way down the canyon to the start of the uphill sand dune climb. We pumped water to ensure everyone was topped off with water. I was projecting an hour climb up the sand dune. It was 11:00am when we began the climb and the sun was beating down on us and the sand. The kids never got in to a hiking rhythm, but instead would hike for 4 or five minutes or so and stop. This was definitely a challenge for them to climb uphill in the hot sand with full backpacks on. Jonathan and I would alternate positions in the line and try to encourage each of them to rest and breathe appropriately or just to keep drinking water.

Seventy minutes later, we make it up the sand hill to The Crack. We all rested in the shade and ate lunch. The kids looked exhausted after that climb but came back to life with lunch, shade and the thought of playing in the crack again. We hoisted backpacks up the wall again and the kids ran back and forth in the narrow walls again. They practiced chimney climbing the last ascending part of the wall and enjoyed climbing other rocks at the top of the canyon rim.

With two miles left and a visual on the cars at the top of the hill, we started back across the sandstone. Eventually, we split up, J-Hawk and I took the exact trail back up the second (less steep, but longer) sand dune hill and Rosabell and Jonathan took a more creative approach (avoiding sand dunes at all cost). I loved watching Jonathan and Rosabell hike across the sand stone in the distance. He kept her motivated and they shared this special moment alone together backpacking across the desert. I walked my last two miles with my son and we talked about our plans/goals when we return…..because we will return.

A Week in Moab/Blanding

Based on schedules and permits, we had ten days of just playing around, dayhiking and visiting anything and everything in the Moab-ish/Blanding/Green River regions of Utah.

Natural Bridges National Monument – We spent the afternoon hiking to the Sipapu Bridge lookout and then to the canyon bottom to look up at the massive bridge. That evening we camped just outside the park on one of the BLM roads that had several cleared out campsites.

IMG_4159  IMG_4149  IMG_4139  IMG_4121 IMG_4117 IMG_4116

Butler Wash Ruins: Blanding Visitor’s Center staff pointed this gem out to us. Short 1 mile hike led to an observation point of some Native American Cave Dwellings. These looked amazing (because human visitation has been extremely limited).

IMG_4069 IMG_4011

Mule Canyon Ruins: The kids were able to walk around and inside a kiva and some old ruins that have been somewhat updated.

IMG_4089 IMG_4082 IMG_4081

Salvation Point:

A peak we decided to climb with an awesome lookout over the Comb Wash. This is where Rosabell accidentally swallowed a butterscotch candy and her chest hurt the entire hike back down.

IMG_4098

Todie Canyon Rim: Fun rim hike along one of the canyons that intersects with Grand Gulch. It was neat for the kids to observe what walking in the rim is like compared to walking hundreds of feet below in the canyons.

IMG_4194 IMG_4196

Muley Point: What a fun area to visit. This point sits high upon the mesa and overlooks the valley that leads up to Monument Valley. We decided to camp at this high point of 6200 feet. The kids made a campfire, roasted marshmallows and truly slept under the stars. That was the coolest camp site we had had on the trip so far. I loved seeing the kids so excited about seeing all the stars. We camped on the very edge (left tip) of the first picture below!

IMG_4335 IMG_4328 IMG_4315 IMG_4310 IMG_4295 IMG_4265 IMG_4257 IMG_4231 IMG_4230

Bluff, UT: As we made our way east in Southern Utah, we passed through the small town of Bluff. The kids enjoyed exploring this old fort that displayed the original homes from the pioneer days.

IMG_3724 IMG_3723 IMG_3716 IMG_3714

Hovenweep National Monument: I was not really thrilled to check out this National Monument, but the kids really enjoyed themselves. It became one of their favorite places that we visited.  They enjoyed seeing the old ruins and buildings.

IMG_3742 IMG_3738 IMG_3736 IMG_3732 IMG_3730

Newspaper Rock: The rock art and petroglyphs in the Indian Creek area is fascinating. The kids loved trying to figure out what was being communicated.

IMG_4341 IMG_4340 IMG_4339 IMG_4337

 

Canyonlands National Park – Needles District: This is one the kids most favorite places. In fact, this is where we were going complete a second backpack trip (but plans changed). The kids loved the ruins, the caves, climbing rocks and just running all over the place.

IMG_4343 IMG_4348 IMG_4349 IMG_4353 IMG_4356 IMG_4359 IMG_4364 IMG_4366 IMG_4368 IMG_4370 IMG_4371 IMG_4372 IMG_4373 IMG_4375 IMG_4379 IMG_4380 IMG_4382 IMG_4385 IMG_4391 IMG_4398 IMG_4400 IMG_4409 IMG_4411 IMG_4424 IMG_4419 IMG_4416 IMG_4430 IMG_4436

Arches National Park: We checked out Arches on two different days. Delicate Arch was quite the adventure. Wind gusts of 40mph were going as we followed the open slick rock cairned trail toward Delicate Arch. When we made the final turn to see the Arch, Rosabell’s hat blew off and traveled a few hundred feet below the Arch. Some awesome visitors on the other side of the Arch, hiked down to the base and rescued her hat. It was exciting to finally see the Arch, but it was so cold and windy. What a neat experience for them.

IMG_4032 IMG_4031 IMG_4030 IMG_4029 IMG_4027 IMG_4024

IMG_4514 IMG_4513 IMG_4512 IMG_4510 IMG_4508

Canyonlands National Park – Islands In The Sky: We hiked out to Mesa Arch and took in the incredible views.

IMG_3886 IMG_3885 IMG_3883 IMG_3882 IMG_3877IMG_4554IMG_4551IMG_4550IMG_4542IMG_4541IMG_4534

Dead Horse Point State Park: Fun day at Dead Horse Point. I think the kids most enjoyed the rain that began to fall rapidly on them. My daughter was jumping up and down “I feel like we are at home…this feels like Washington”. For some homesick kids, this really lifted their spirits.

IMG_3858 IMG_3856 IMG_3855 IMG_3853 IMG_3851 IMG_3848

IMG_4530 IMG_4528 IMG_4523

 

Moonflower Canyon: This canyon was recommended as a fun canyon in Moab to explore, climb and swim in . So we did just that, but explored more and didn’t take any pictures.

IMG_3758

Corona and Bowtie Arches: It only rained two days while we were in Moab and this was one of them. We hiked out to Corona and Bowtie Arches and the kids really enjoyed this dayhike. Part of the hike requires climbing rock with a cable for assistance followed by a ladder climb (perfect recipe for a kids hike). We also found a spot where all the cairns hang out and of course the kids had to add to the cairn group.

IMG_4646 IMG_4645IMG_4001IMG_3993IMG_3991IMG_3990

Goblin Valley State Park: Pretty cool state park, however we went on a very windy day. The sand dust was so strong the kids didn’t enjoy having to hike and cover their eyes. They loved climbing the rocks and running between the taller rocks.

IMG_4593 IMG_4592 IMG_4591 IMG_4590 IMG_4581 IMG_4580 IMG_4576 IMG_4575 IMG_4573 IMG_4572 IMG_4570 IMG_4568 IMG_4566 IMG_4565 IMG_4563

Rafting the Colorado (Class 1+): This is really nothing to brag about…it was a mere float. However, Rosabell had never been in a raft so the few ripples were really exiting for her. Plus, she and another client got to jump in an inflatable kayak for half the trip. This made the waves even more exciting for her.

PM

PM

IMG_3809 IMG_3805 IMG_3800 IMG_3786 IMG_3779 IMG_3778 IMG_3776 IMG_3774

 

Biking Moab Brand Area and Slickrock Trail: For one of our Moab days, I rented mountain bikes for kids and they biked a few miles on the Slickrock Trail, a few miles on the Moab Brand Area trails and a couple miles on a road trail system. They had a blast. Next time we are heading to Moab, we are definitely bringing bikes for the non-hiking days.

IMG_4507 IMG_4506 IMG_4505 IMG_4500 IMG_4495 IMG_4494 IMG_4493 IMG_4491 IMG_4490 IMG_4489 IMG_4488 IMG_4482 IMG_4480 IMG_4479 IMG_4477 IMG_4474 IMG_4468 IMG_4461 IMG_4458 IMG_4455 IMG_4486 IMG_4450

Acerson Mine: We stumbled upon this mine because we decided to spend a day “rock hounding.” My kids were convinced we could find precious gems. We may have, but we also found this neat looking mine and some old mining equipment.

IMG_3912 IMG_3913 IMG_3914 IMG_3915