Big Cottonwood Canyon Hikes

Hi there!

I hope everyone’s summer is wrapping up nicely. It has gone by so fast and I’m a tad bit (ok, a lot a bit) sentimental because I’m trying to soak up every last day before I head back to work since having Declan. We’ve had 3 full weeks jam packed with family visits and exploring which has been incredible and heartwarming. The summer season has been wonderful because its hot enough to sweat but the mountains still have snow caps. Utah really is a complete package when it comes to weather.

We took advantage of this weather and headed up to Big Cottonwood Canyon to get some hiking in. Two hikes which I’ve been dying to do since we moved out here and it couldn’t have been the better opportunity while family was out here to head up to the mountains.

Donut Falls

Talk about a trail with character! Donut falls is incredibly charming. It is perfect for young kids, has plenty of places to pull off and eat a snack or play in the snow melt and even better, smells like Christmas! It has the perfect amount of shade and sun exposure. I will say it is a highly trafficked trail and there were a lot of people when we went (granted, it was independence day weekend maybe played a factor into that). We didn’t go into the donut because the water was pretty intense still from the long winter we had this year in Utah. Definitely on our list to go back again during the fall! Make sure to wear good hiking boots as some parts of the terrain we crossed were rocky, covered with tree roots, and water near the falls. The water is freezing and there was a point that we couldn’t avoid getting our feet wet to get where we wanted to be on the trail. When you head back there is a fork to return the way you came or to continue a straight exit, I suggest taking the straight ahead path. It was untouched, more calm, and we didn’t see anyone else on the trail.

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Lake Mary – Brighton Lakes Trail

Also located a few miles up from Donut Falls are the Bright Lakes that can be accessed through the Brighton Ski Resort parking lot. There are signs to direct you but Google Maps took us to a drive way. If you happen to do these lakes, park in the ski resort lot and then look for the pavilion sign. So, there are 3 lakes that are on the same trail, the first and closest one to the resort is Lake Mary which is doable with children in the summer. I’m not sure what the winter season would look like for a kiddo. The trail starts off pretty steep so don’t over exert yourself, but levels out eventually. Once you get on the last stretch before the lake you encounter crossing over slick rocks and running water. I felt confident with my hiking boots, but really wished I had a hiking stick too! We saw a couple people slip and fall that weren’t wearing good boots or stable on their feet. The lake was so peaceful and breathtaking. I think we took easily 100 pictures but none of them do it justice. I’d assume continuing the trail would bring you to the remainder of the Lakes Lake Cathrine is 7 miles out. We didn’t do this because we had little ones on our backs! And also…Florida lungs still, ha! One thing we forgot on this hike was secured containers for our food… which we realized when these adorable chipmunks were stealing our snacks while we were taking pictures.

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I hope you get the opportunity to visit these two popular trails up in Big Cottonwood Canyon! They’re incredible and perfect family friendly hikes and right now the weather is perfect!

Bear Lake, Utah & Limber Pine Trail

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One thing a Florida Native never lacks is accessibility to water! I’ve been to my share of lakes, rivers, springs, and oceans. All of which in my opinion are relaxing and breathtaking. However, I’ve never seen a body of water as clear and turquoise as Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah.

Bear Lake is about 2.5 hours from Salt Lake City, Utah. All weekend I tried to find adjectives to describe this place and I couldn’t quite put one word out. Untouched, enchanted, calm, small town, relaxing were some I came up with. There are tons of places to camp in Garden City. We booked a lake side campground at Bear Lake State Park and we rented an RV from Outdoorsy (comparable to AirBnB, but for campers…. I highly recommend if you’re traveling with a little one or thinking about purchasing a camper but shopping around). While the weather was not what I planned for months ago when I booked it, this charming town still was worth layering up for in the cold weather. The Lake was 41 degrees when we were there!

Camping with Declan was difficult! As far as sleeping arrangements go we all slept together which was a tight squeeze and also tricky because there were no barriers for when he feel asleep but we were still awake! I guess if I had to do it again, we’d take a pack and play for him to sleep in, but there wasn’t even room for that in our camper that we had. I’ll continue the hiking with a baby on another post!

We managed to travel over to Idaho. Here we drove through Cache National Forest.  We enjoyed the views and stopped at a few streams and campgrounds to let Declan play. Everything was so green and apline, the air was crisp we could have stayed here all day. We’d love to camp here in the future! It’s more back country, but would keep any kid busy with all the nature and creeks surrounding it.

Limber Pine Trail is a short trail, charming, and super family/kid friendly! It’s about 1.3 miles RT and it loops around. Personally, I love loop hikes it just seems more culminating to me. Especially with kids. The hike is super interactive with fact maps and infographics along the trail. I loved this because I learned so much about Bear Lake while on this hike. The trail was really shaded and there were benches and secluded areas to stop and eat lunch if you wanted to soak in the views! The trail ends with a gorgeous view of Bear Lake.

All weekend I tried to get a picture to capture the lake, I simply couldn’t. Eric and I talked about what a fun place Bear Lake would be as a annual family summer vacation. You can rent cabins, camp, rent all types of boats or bring your own, tube on the lake, wakeboard, fish, tons of mom and pop food locations, horse back riding, ATVs and I’m probably missing some activities!

One of my favorite parts of this trip was all the wildlife we saw! Roaming Moose (a swimming one too), free range cattle, fox, a bald eagle family with a little baby, tons of birds (white pelicans!), funky caterpillars, chipmunks, fish were jumping like crazy!, and mule deer.

Eric and I spent our last night perfecting our S’mores roasting technique and making future plans to come back!

 

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Dark Trail in Settlement Canyon

Hi friends! Today our little family geared up for a hike close to home. We also loaded up our Fur Baby, Emma (AKA Em Bemz, Emmi, Emma McMann) for her first hike since our honeymoon 3 years ago! Emma isn’t perfect, but she’s perfect for trails. It was so nice to travel a short distance to a trail.  It made me feel extra grateful for living and being in a tranquil place.

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Dark Trail in Settlement Canyon

is about 35 minutes from the city of Salt Lake and 15 minutes from Stansbury Park.  It is 3.3 miles round trip. It didn’t offer the beautiful mountain views and it honestly didn’t have a “reward” at the end! HOWEVER, it was the perfect hike for our family today and I’ll tell you why!

It was quiet, well paved, so green, running water, shaded while also having the sun peeking through, and a good elevation change of 393ft.  The most amazing thing about this trail was how there were open spots to stop and rest or in our case let Declan stretch his legs. I’ve had so much on my mind lately. Eric and I got to declutter my thoughts a bit. These conversations usually occur at the dinner table, but it was such a nice change of pace and scenery to figure it all out.

You can also take your horses on this trail and dogs are allowed as long as they’re leashed.  We saw a lot of runners, backcountry campers, and birds! This is an easy hike for anyone looking for an afternoon unwind or a quiet, shaded run out of the Utah sun! I was really glad we decided to check this trail off our list today, get regrouped, and also let Emmi get her paws dirty!

Anyone else just need some time outside and fresh air to declutter their thoughts!? What helps you feel centered and focused? IMG-1614IMG-1621

 

Buffalo Point at Antelope Island

Hey friends! Hope everyone is having a wonderful start to your spring activities! School is wrapping up and my beautiful tulips are blooming, summer is coming! I don’t know about you, but this Florida Girl was thrilled to see temperatures rise here in Utah this week.  Our little family gathered our bags and headed over to Antelope Island to try Buffalo Point Trail again.  We attempted this hike in February, but temps were still too low for our little dude and the wind was wicked.

What a beautiful day it was! We hit 62 degrees towards the end of April and in Utah that’s perfect hiking weather.  If you’re looking for an easy hike with some inclination I highly recommend heading over to Antelope Island in Syracuse, Utah. It is a State Park and a $10 entry fee per vehicle. It is about 35 minutes outside of Salt Lake City.  This hike was perfect 1 mile round trip with a lot of variation and switchbacks. Once you get to the top it’s a rock garden! All your inner childhood exploring kicks in and before you know it you’re out of breath.  I loved this hike because it provided gorgeous 360 views of the Great Salt Lake, Ogden, and the Stansbury Mountains. It’s not long at all which makes it perfect for young children. We also took time to hike Lady Finger Trail at the park as well. There is also a TON of wildlife here. Check out pictures below!

A couple things I would recommend on this hike:

  1. Bug Spray- the mosquitos and gnats that swarm are insane!
  2. Sun Screen- 62 degrees on a clear day and no sunscreen= sunburn for you. We all used our 50 SPF Baby Bum Sunscreen which we love!
  3. Tube Socks of some sort or breathable hiking pants- to avoid scratches and plants that are irritating along the narrow trail path.

Alright, now I need your help! Eric and I are ready to bite the bullet and get a hiking carrier for Declan. He’s got the neck strength and he’s super into everything that’s going on around him. What hiking carrier reqs do you all have? We don’t want something super bulky and some type of a shade for Declan.

 

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Trilogy Part 2: Things You Didn’t Know You Needed To Know

If only there were a pamphlet to life’s big changes, I mean how helpful would that be? I’m going to share with you some pointers and must have items before you make that overwhelming cross-country move.  This is specific to our move to Utah, but also things to consider when you move anywhere!

  1. Where is the nearest liquor store and what are their hours? Hey, Welcome to Utah. Grocery stores don’t sell any beer or wine over 4% AC. So you’ll need to find you a liquor store so you can go get you that bottle of wine in order to be all in for Monday Night Bachelor/ette. Know the state laws on recreational things like this or prepare to be out of luck.
  2. What are the appropriate clothes for the drastically different weather?  Some good boots (I got L.L Bean Boots for every day wear and then my Merrell hiking waterproof boots), wool under layers (LAPSA Wool is pricey, but so worth it), an insulated jacket or parka, and LAYERS! Last week I wore ski pants to Wal-Mart and there were locals wearing shorts…I must have looked crazy. I tell just about everyone I encounter, “I’m from Florida.”
  3. Does your car need an emissions test? Do your animals need to be registered? Where do you get your state driver’s license…I had to take a driving test to get my Utah License. I was terrified I would fail and not be able to drive the streets of Salt Lake City. (If you’re wondering, yes I passed) FYI if your married and you’re going to get a new state license do not forget your marriage license! I did and I had to go home after waiting in that typical DMV line only to start over. UGH!
  4. As soon as you get to where you’re going locate the nearest hospital, emergency room and pharmacy. These types of things often get looked over, but the last thing you’ll want is to be in a situation and not know whether or not to turn left or right at the intersection in an emergency.
  5. If you are moving from humid weather to dry weather make sure you’re stocked on lotion and lots of it and also a humidifier! I overlooked the humidifier, but got one within 2 days of being here. Declan’s soft baby skin was so incredibly dry, we were lathering him up several times a day and finally we found some Baby Bum that worked wonders for him.
  6. We moved in the thick of winter, if you’re in the same situation make sure you have a snow shovel AND snow scraper BEFORE you get there and are snowed in. hehe.
  7. Social media is such a huge part of our lives now a days, I found out a lot about the area we moved to by following the local news, police and sheriff, and fire departments, as well as a our neighborhood community Facebook page.
  8. Sunglasses. This may sound silly to some, but the snow reflects the sun so intensely that driving anywhere was blinding.

What were some obstacles you encountered when moving? How did you pull through and what did you learn?

Utah Trilogy

Yesterday I was talking to my other half who’s million miles away, back home in Florida.  We were diagnosing my Cabin Fever that had developed over the course of two weeks which, for the record was also a combination of homesickness. Moving across the country has definitely been an adjustment. From getting my 4 month old on a plane, setting up our new home, learning my surroundings, and a million trips to Wal-Mart to get things that nobody told me I would need I’ve been shell shocked. We were discussing how to bring down my fever, haha. While Krista and I’s typical conversations are about how we plan to be super teachers, execute and save the world and all the little children in it, our failed attempts at dinner plans and life through and through…  this conversation started off with me writing a story about my dogs. While that would have been super entertaining for a second grader (love you, Krista) we concluded that a trilogy on the move would be more appropriate. SO, I’m going to share with you a three-part adventure of moving out west and all that it entailed (so far).  Like every good teacher does, I’ll break it down into three categories.

Part One: Flying With A (very busy) Infant
Part Two: Moving Out West (The Things You Need But Didn’t Know You Needed)

Part Three: Unfamiliar Places and Faces

Let’s get rolling.

 Part One:Flying With A (very busy) Infant

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Declan was just shy of 4 months old when we flew from Florida to Utah, a 4 hour and 30 minute direct flight from Orlando. This flight had me stressing from the moment I booked it two months ago. Don’t be like me, because you have me! I’m going to help you not be stressed!

  1. Book a flight that is the best time of day for your babe. Declan has been a morning person since the day he was born. In fact, we don’t set alarms because we wake up to the sweet coos of Declan Bear. He’s most happy and chill after a good night’s rest.Also, book an aisle seat incase you have to get up and walk the aisles with your little bear.
  2. But also be prepared to throw your schedule that you worked so incredibly hard on (trust me, I know) out the window for the day and possibly the next day because you will be playing catch up, or adjusting to a new time zone.
  3. Take your car seat to the gate. This was something I had my mind set on from the get go because I’ve witnessed carseats getting tossed under a plane or just falling off the luggage cart in the middle of boarding. While I appreciate the people getting our luggage from point a to b, my carseat is also an investment. So, treat it like Fine China people. Also, how horrible would it be to arrive at your destination and your carseat be back where you left it?
  4. Wear your baby in a comfy carrier. This keeps them close to you, you limit their germs and people touching them, its secure and if your baby is anything like mine, people watching is a must. Number 3 and 4 might seem excessive and you’re probably saying “yeah, right I wasn’t born with 8 arms.” BUT here’s how we managed.  We used the handle on the carry on luggage and flipped the carseat over the handle.
  5. Formula prep! I mentioned before my formula dispenser has been a life changer (see original post in baby registry must haves). I use it every day from day to day to the night shift. I prepped bottles with the idea in mind that our flight MAY get delayed. I made a bottle for each hour that we would be in the air and I labeled them with small sticky notes. I made some full servings for Declan’s big meals, then I also prepped a few 2 ouncers for when his ears pop with elevation change.  I then went through security with two baby bottles with water in them. When you get to security just tell them you have formula and it’s not a hassle at all. We ending up using all 5 feedings that I had prepped. I will share a little secret … go through security with an empty water bottle (or two if you wish) and when you get on the other side of security you can use your empty water bottle to fill up at a water fountain. This saves you money because you won’t have to buy water to use for bottles on the plane.
  6. Entertainment for your baby. I read some blogs before I went that suggested hiding some of your kid’s favorite toys a week a head of time. This way when you reintroduce them on the plane, they’re excited. Well I tried this and Declan really could have cared less about them. So, my advice would be to just go to the dollar store and get you some new toys that light up.
  7. Head to Burlington or any home goods store and get a kids travel pillow. I used this thinking my arms would need some cushion while holding Declan during naps, which it worked great for. Declan also used it for Tummy Time on the plane and thought it was the most hilarious thing he’s ever seen. This may as well been his new toy.
  8. The last bit of guidance I have is, be patient and calm. I found myself getting super anxious during the descend and Declan was totally feeding off me. I also felt like every time Declan squealed or even started to cry everyone was judging me, like they were never a baby or something. I got up and walked Declan a couple times and luckily we had no turbulence so the seat belt sign was off most the time.

How I Packed Our Diaper Bag For Travel

  1. Make sure you have enough diapers to match bottles plus an extra. If you have a boy you always run the risk of a water fountain before you even get the fresh diaper on…
  2. Spare outfit for baby and you. Just incase there some projectile vomiting you don’t want to be wearing it the entire flight.
  3. Pack a gallon sized zip lock bag to put those soiled clothes in. Chances are you won’t need it, rather safe than sorry.
  4. A receiving blanket just incase the temperature on the plane is a little chilly.
  5. Phone charger, wipes, changing pad, and toys are a given.

Over all our first flying experiences was really positive and I’m forever grateful for my momma who flew with us. She was such a huge, huge help and confidence booster. Maybe some day I’ll fill those shoes…

Am I missing out on any more tips or tricks to flying with a little one? I figured this would be the easiest time flying since he’s so young. When we fly home next he will be a bit older and I know it will be totally different. Share with me!

A Weekend in Moab, Utah

Eric and I took a weekend trip to Moab, Utah in 2017. We were only there for 4 days in June, so incredibly hot, but worth it! Moab is without a doubt one of the most breathtaking places I’ve ever been.  I want to share our weekend trip with you. Before I went I did a lot of research and had our hikes planned to the day and time.

We flew into Salt Lake City (SLC) Airport and it took us about 4 hours to get to Moab. And guys it literally is 4 hours of desert and tumbleweeds. So pack some snacks!

We woke up at 4:30 AM to make the sunrise at Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park. It is an absolute must, so plan to start with this hike first.

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Make sure to bring a light sweater because even in the heat of the summer, the morning air is thin and brisk. It was pretty crowded when we went and it’s a short hike to get to this spot.

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Next we headed to Aztec Butte (still not sure how to pronounce that…) and it is a giant rock and we picked this hike because of the history it entailed. These trails weren’t really marked as well as most, but we made the best of it. We did get a little lost looking for the Anazsazi Granaries. They are hidden under cliffs, some more obvious than others, if you look for them you will find them! So cool!

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Heading to Crater Overlooks and Skyline Loop. I want to go back and hike Skyline Loop, it was a bit longer and our energy was low and the heat was getting up there so we opted to do the shorter one.

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There are two theories that are responsible for this crater. One is the Salt Dome Theory and the other is that it was caused by a meteorite 60 million years ago.  There are two overlooks we went to, this is the first you will approach and then the next is a mile or two past it. img_2263

We did these three hikes all before noon and started at 4:30 AM on Day 1. On our way out of the park we hit up Dead Horse Point

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Day two we took on Arches National Park to see the main attraction. We actually were able to only do one hike and it was a longer one to Delicate Arch. It was hot and there was no shade. I cried on this hike, I felt like I was running on empty, eat you a good breakfast and hydrate before…duh.

Pictures don’t really do this one justice, it’s insane and doesn’t even seem like it was meant to be on the earth that surrounds it. There were a TON of people here and since the hike was very long, a lot of people were camped out at the top.

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We called it a day after this and decided to go to a local swimming hole that I found on the internet. I wasn’t even sure if this swimming hole existed and in fact we were both skeptical once we were about half way through the hike following some random document I found online…BUT IT EXISTS!

Mill Creek Swimming Hole was the coldest, most dreamt of water after that hike and so so worth the heat. It was about 2 miles round trip. You do have to cross some water and we did see snakes, just be mindful. Pack your swimsuit and waterproof shoes. This is the address we followed to begin this hike Powerhouse Lane, Moab, UT 84532.

 

One of the best places we ate while we were there was a breakfast diner, Jailhouse Cafe. A little bit of historic diner and then we drove out to Red Cliffs Lodge for dinner at sunset. The food was great and so was the atmosphere.

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