Homestead 15k 2014

Shandy, Brett, Eden and I went to Midway for a race a couple of weeks ago. It was hot but great–and such a small race that we all won in our age groups!


What fun!! I hope your summer is just as great.

Upper Muley Twist (again) May 2014

We decided to make another attempt on Upper Muley Twist in Capitol Reef this spring.  We had hiked it in November of 2012, but stayed in the wash because of wind and snow during our trip.  This year, we wanted to do the whole loop, including the rim trail that would give us a view from the top of the cliffs out over Halls Creek, Thompson Mesa and the whole Waterpocket Fold.

On our way to our camping spot near Studhorse Peak on the Burr Trail, we stopped at the Post, near the Lower Muley Cutoff Trail, and hiked to an unnamed arch that Dad had seen while hiking there.

bretton on lower muley cutoff desert bottlebrushThe desert was blooming.  Eden searched as searched for a completely open cactus flower, but had to settle for the beautiful variety of wildflowers that were blooming.

max and lucy in old truck


Our camp was near an old dugout and camp used probably for uranium mining.  Lucy and Max loved playing in this old truck.

On Saturday, we drove the few miles to the Upper Muley Twist trailhead, and then followed the hike.  Rain and wind were in the forecast for the evening and Sunday, so we started out climbing to the top of the cliffs and following them for about 7 miles to where the trail began to descend into the wash.

DSC_0051 lucy and max at strike valley vlookfrom upper muley twist(HDR)

The trail was very high with plenty of exposure, but the trail was wide and easy to walk.  There were no frightening slips or slides, but still we were very glad to finally reach the wash bottom.  Just as we thought we had reached the bottom of the wash, there was a pouroff that had to be climbed around, costing us another 1/2 mile of high climbing above the slot.  Because we were all pretty much done with being high at that point, we didn’t take any pictures down into the very narrow slot canyon that Upper Muley Canyon becomes.

The most exciting part of our trip also didn’t get any pictures taken.  Overnight, rain began to fall and then turned to snow.  We got up in the morning and packed up as quickly as possible, worried about driving home in the heavy snow over the Burr Trail and Boulder mountain.  Thank goodness the Burr trail is paved — it was very wet, and snow was beginning to stick in places.  After a nice breakfast in Boulder, we drove home slowly over Boulder mountain.  The Torrey side had received about 6 inches of fresh snow, with more falling and a stiff wind in places.  Crazy Utah May!

Now we’re calling Upper Muley conquered–for now.  Since we’ve seen it from the top and bottom, we can now move on to other hikes for a while.  The arches were as wonderful this time as they were last time, and the view from the top unforgettable.


Eden and Lucy Play Music Together

We have been having some wonderful concerts at our house.  As Lucy progresses with her violin music, she and Eden are able to play together — some really great music is made.

I just had to share this one with you.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Capitol Reef in the Snow November 2013

capitol reef in the fog mom and girls snowy hike DSC_0292


Just a few pictures of the very snowy hike we were surprised about on Thanksgiving weekend of 2013.  For some reason, we didn’t realize that there would be snow.  We hike the Cohab Canyon trail at Capitol Reef in the snow — about 6-10 inches on the ground, and although it was cold, the views were fantastic.

Morning Glory Arch — March 2014

In March, instead of our regular spring Escalante  trip, we headed down to Needles during spring break and hiked Elephant Hill and Big Spring Canyon to Lost Canyon.  It was windy on the trail, and we were about blown away as we came to the tops of the cliffs and down over the bluffs.

On Sunday, we stopped at the Morning Glory Arch trail and hiked it for a quick trip on our way home.  It’s really funny to think we tried to hike this about 6 years ago and turned around before we got to the arch because we were so tired out.  Now it’s just a quick morning jaunt to get us going for the day — took about 2 hours including ample picture time.

lucy and eden march  2014 morning glory arch better waiting for the ladder at elephant canyon

Brett’s New Favorite Class: Man Choir at UVU

man choir

Brett’s discovered he loves to sing in a group.  As part of his music major, he is required to be part of a large ensemble, and this semester he auditioned for the man choir.  We were privileged to see their end of semester concert last night.  It was wonderful — and fun.

Coyote Gulch April 2014

We did our second trip to Coyote Gulch this spring.  We had planned two different trips last year, one in the spring, one in the fall.  The first trip was canceled because Brett was overwhelmed with the work to finish and graduate high school, so we shortened our trip and went camping close to home instead.  In the fall, the weekend we had chosen was totally rained out (as was much of the fall) and Hole in the Rock road was closed due to a wash out.  We figured even if we were able to get in, we wouldn’t be able to get out again.  So, the first time the weather got warm enough this spring, we hurried down as soon as we could.

It was as beautiful as ever.

lucy fixing shoes


Since Dad wasn’t with us, Lucy had to take his place fixing her shoes (we always have a picture with my Dad arranging his socks or clipping toenails while we’re hiking.)  The hike in from the Hurricane Wash trailhead is very sandy but not as hot as last time — we were earlier in the year, and earlier in the day.

max's new backpack


Max got a new backpack and was able to carry some of his own gear — good for us since Brett was unable to go with us this trip.  He’s usually our packhorse.

max and desert toad


We found a little desert toad just as Hurricane Wash met Coyote Gulch.  This was a good trip for seeing wildlife:  elk, deer, antelope, and a juvenile bald eagle on the way down, deer, big lizards and this toad in the canyon.

lulu in coyote gulch max climbing at jacob hamblin


After a pause for climbing at Jacob Hamblin arch and refilling our water bottles at the spring around the corner, we hiked nearly to the natural bridge, to the best campsite ever.  On a high bench inside a huge alcove, it was just above a beautiful little waterfall.  Huge rocks blocked our campsite from view of other hikers in the river.  It was fabulous.

eden in coyote gulch max at waterfall by camp max and lucy on rocks at camp campsite coyote gulch


On Saturday, we hiked down to where Coyote Gulch meets the Escalante river, and then back to rest at our beautiful campsite before packing up and heading back out.

pretty water coyote gulch coyote natural bridge coyote gulch meets escalante


The water from Coyote Gulch meets the Escalante — Escalante is green and deep.

It was a great trip and felt good to be out on the desert again.

Book Review: Before They’re Gone by Michael Lanza

Front Cover

If your summer has been like mine, and hiking isn’t happening with the frequency you’d hoped, you probably shouldn’t read this book.  It will create jealousy and sadness.  This great account of hiking with kids in America’s beautiful national parks will leave you desperate for a hike — TODAY!

In just one year, Mr. Lanza hiked with his 10 year old son and 8 year old daughter to locations in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Glacier National Park, Joshua Tree National Monument, Yellowstone, Rocky Mountain National Park, the Everglades, Glacier Bay in Alaska, Mount Rainier National Park and the Olympic coast.  This book, half climate-change warning, half hiking journal, speaks to a desire most people have– to share the things they love with the people they love.  Unfortunately, many of the things we love, including the national parks, are endangered by global climate change.  While Mr. Lanza speaks very definitely about the way climate change is and will effect some of the world’s most beautiful places, he also talks about the wonderful character growth kids experience with frequent exposure to natural places.

Although the places they visited were probably among the most beautiful and unique in the world, many share one problem in fitting in with my hiking plans:  too many people.  Hiking in a line to see Upper Yosemite Falls doesn’t sound like a way I want to spend a day.  In fact, we spent a recent holiday hiking with many other people, and while I am glad to see others out enjoying nature, I have a hard time enjoying my day with that much noise around.  The time for me to see those wonderful sights will have be a time when no one else is around (I think I’m going to be waiting a long time.)  In the meantime, I will continue to enjoy more pristine (if less beautiful) areas without the company of crowds.

My favorite parts of this book were his details about hiking with his children.  Hearing his children try to decide which was their favorite trip must have made him so happy.  I feel similarly when my kids are making top 10 lists of their favorite hikes.  In a world where so many kids have no exposure to nature and no love of the outdoors, hearing them express their feelings is delightful.  Of course, no one loves the exertion and effort of hiking all the time, and this is reflected in his children as well.  I laughed over his “potty break” to put a little distance between him and his (stationary) children so that he could calm down after listening to the kids complain and bicker.  And his advice about feeding them often is something we’ve put to use in the last couple hikes to good effect.

I hope you find this book and read it.  You’ll enjoy it.  Have you read any good hiking books lately?  Please leave me a comment.

3 Secrets to Backpacking with Kids


  • No pressure.
  • Destination.
  • Motivation.

The three secrets to a great backpacking trip with kids are really no different than the secrets to a hike or even great daily living with kids.  Keeping these secrets in mind, you can plan a great trip with your family.

1.  No pressure.  Remember that hurrying takes the joy away from any project.  If your lives are too hectic to schedule in a backpacking trip, wait longer.  Pushing ahead to do something you really don’t have time for will only make everyone unhappy.  Sometimes work, school, or other commitments require the days you really wanted to spend in the back country.  Release them gracefully, and move on to planning at a time which is better for everyone.

Another place to ease up on the pressure is on the amount of ground you are able to cover.  When hiking by ourselves, my husband and I like to keep moving, but the kids enjoy time in camp to explore, build “houses” and relax.  Keeping our mileage goals realistic helps everyone to have a good time.

2.  Destination.  Destination is everything in a hike with kids.  They don’t want to head out for a certain number of miles, or until they feel tired (this could happen in the first 10 feet!)  A waterfall, a great place to climb on the rocks, a lake, or even a certain view, helps kids to keep going cheerfully.  Try to research your trail well enough to find that sort of a location for your kids to hike toward, and the payoff is happier kids.


3.  Motivation.  Pack your motivation in your pack in the form of sweet and salty snacks to be consumed at set times along the trail.  Pack your motivation in your packs in the form of a special food or card game to be used at camp.  Boost motivation from the start by helping kids plan the destination and length of the trip.

Follow these secrets, and you too can have a great trip with your kids of any age.  Do you know another backpacking with kids secret?  Please leave me a comment.

Backpacking with Kids — Naturalist Basin, Uintas 2013

Our first backpacking trip of the season finally happened last weekend.  Although we had planned two other weekends earlier in the year, one was foiled by cold weather, and another by too busy schedule.  We were so excited to make this trip finally happen.

We went into the Naturalist Basin area of the Uintas, starting up the Highline trail just past Mirror Lake.  This was the first year Lucy carried a backpacking pack with her sleeping bag and clothes in it.  She weighs about 80 pounds, and we gave her 10 pounds to carry — a good start, we thought.  She did so fabulous, we couldn’t even believe it.  No complaining at all.  In fact, the view we had of Lulu and Max for most of the trip was just their backs as they led us along the trail.

lulu and max leading the way

We made sure of the more important things . . . Max was well stocked with sugary treats.

max with nerdsWe woke up on Saturday morning with a little buck patrolling our camp site.

two point buck in campWe also spotted this beautiful bird, who was not shy at all, but showed off to get his picture taken.  We think he is a pine grosbeak.

unidentified red headed birdThe wild flowers were fabulous this year.  We climbed to high meadows in the basin and enjoyed the view before having a quick snowball fight in July.

view from blue lake

The only problem we encountered at all was the mosquitos — huge as horses and swarming to carry us off alive at our second campsite, we scurried for home early in the morning because movement was the only was to avoid them.  A good time was had by all, and after a quick wipe-off and change of clothes at the car, we were ready to buy our “reward” hamburgers in Park City.

Have you been backpacking this summer?  Where is your favorite spot to go with kids?  Please leave me a comment.