Winter Fun: Snowshoeing with Kids

The weather broke here, for a minute, and instead of highs in the 10s we had a high of 40 degrees on Friday.  We grabbed our opportunity to go try out snowshoeing.  A local town has arranged a yurt in a canyon park to rent snowshoes, and there are several miles of groomed trails to try out.  This was my first experience with snowshoeing.  Aside from re-doing Max’s straps every 5 minutes, it was great fun, and so WONDERFUL to be outside in clear air after several weeks stuck indoors.



lulu in snow Eden snowshoeing

resting Max

Snowshoeing is hot work.  My one word of advice (since I am truly not an expert!) is don’t dress too warmly!  The kids took breaks laying in the snow to cool off.

taking a breakWe were the only people enjoying this park in the middle of Friday afternoon (yay, homeschool!) So the quiet was wonderful, and although we didn’t see any animals or birds, really, it was just great too be listening to the quiet.

wintertime creek

snowy rock

Howdy to everyone, and hope you’re enjoying your winter.

mitten salute


Candles in the Dark

I would enjoy winter more, even the snow, if it didn’t include so many dark hours.  This is one way we brought some light into our home this week — after breakfast!

candle and fruit bowl

candles with fruit bowl

Candles and a wood fire — just trying to stay warm until summer!  Hope you’re having a good, warm day and a happy family wherever you are.



And Winter is Finally Here

We’ve been in the “blahs” of winter without any snow . . . until today.

snowy tree

Snow season has finally arrived.  Ready for some snow shoeing or cross country skiing anyone?  Just one of the ways I plan to enjoy the season this year.

sandbox snow

Hope you’re have a great start to winter.

Upper Muley Twist — Capitol Reef National Park

Upper Muley Twist, in Capitol Reef National Park, should definitely be rated one of the most scenic.  After all, how often do you hike past 10 arches in 6 miles?  Last weekend, with snow flurries and wind chasing us to hike quickly, we hiked into the bottom of Upper Muley Twist.  We stopped at the first trailhead, although only about 1/10th of a mile to the next trailhead was rough (it was the first 1/10th, and we turned around.)  The first 2 1/2 miles to the real trailhead was easy road walking, and the first arches were spotted on that part of the hike.  Peekaboo Rock is the only arch found in the white sandstone, the rest all on the east, red sandstone side.


The only two arches marked on the map are Peekaboo Rock and this one, called Double Arch.


Keep your eyes peeled, don’t just stare at your feet, or you will walk right by some spectacular arches.


All of these arches are quite high on the canyon walls, as you can see in the picture below.

This one was our favorite, and is our designated lunch spot for next time we visit this hike.  It was the only one accessible to climb into, and had a wonderful alcove below it.

We definitely want to return to Upper Muley Twist soon, because we did not get to hike the rim route.  There is a loop hike that goes to the top of the canyon to see the Waterpocket Fold, and while we hiked to the top, we did not hike along the top because of the gusty wind.

We really need the perspective from the top to see the angles and beauty of this canyon.  It is definitely a “revisit soon” hike.  In the meanwhile, we are congratulating ourselves on stretching the hiking season:  this weekend was exceptionally cold and blustery for November, with 30 degree temperatures and snow squalls, along with 20 mph wind gusts.  One reason there aren’t many people pictures for this hike:  no one wanted to stand still long enough to get their picture taken.  The little kids enjoyed it, though, and Lulu bragged about wearing 3 hats!

All in all, a great trip — one we would love to repeat.

Hope you are enjoying great autumn times wherever you happen to be!  Leave me a comment below.


Hooray for Winter!

Hooray for winter and Daddys who have a day off in the middle of the week!  We finally got a little snow, and were able to make use of it before everyone else sledded it off the hill.  Hooray for homeschooling, too!

Happy Wednesday everyone!

Running Outside and Fixing Our Nature Deficit

I had a breakthrough moment this morning as I got ready for my run.  I have been reading The Nature Principle by Richard Louv, and he describes people as going out to nature for their exercise, and then dulling their senses by blocking their ears with Ipods or other media.  When I read this, I realized that I was guilty of that myself.  Instead of going on my early morning runs with ears and mind wide open, I have been building a barrier between myself and the restoration that being outside brings by listening to podcasts or a playlist while I run.

I have known for a long time that being outside is restorative for me, but since the days have been shorter and the weather colder, I have been lacking motivation when I go outside for my long runs.  I decided today to try running without any noise in my ears again, although I took along my music and earphones “just in case.”  I had a great run.  I didn’t see any wonderful wildlife, and the birds were not singing, but I was able to listen to the movement of the air, and listen to my breathing as a way to improve my running.  I also was able to concentrate my attention on some work problems that needed resolved.

I will be reviewing The Nature Principle here soon, and telling you more about my thoughts on nature deficit disorder.  In the meantime, let me share some other ideas we have used lately to get outdoors:

  • Walking when the moon is full.  We went on a moonlit walk on Monday at one of our favorite walking paths.  The kids spotted Casseopeia and Orion, and we talked about Betelgeuse and Rigel and why some stars are red and others are blue.  We also scared up a few ducks — literally, they were very scared.
  • Hiking to look at ice at some of our favorite spots.
  • Lunch at the park.  This is wonderful because the park is empty this time of year, so the kids can have the equipment to themselves if they want, or wander around playing hide and seek or other invented games.  I take along a blanket to wrap up in(along with my coat) and a book, and enjoy half an hour of winter sunbathing while the kids run around and enjoy themselves.  This is especially wonderful if you have hot soup to take for lunch.

Hope you are able to be outdoors a little this winter.  Do you have a suggestion for us?  Please leave a comment.

Box Canyon/Maple Canyon Hike

Friday was another  beautiful day, and since I worked in the morning we had to play do school in the afternoon.  We stopped by to pick up my mom, and went on a short hike in Maple Canyon.  There is an unmarked canyon that all the locals know as Box Canyon that branches off to the north.  In fact, people come from all over to rock climb on the conglomerate canyon walls.  We just scramble, but it was a great place to see in the ice.

We got off to a scary start.  We parked the car on the packed snow and ice at the side of the road, and got out noisily, as we always do, warning each other not to slip.  Just as Eden slammed the last door, the car started to slide.  It slid about 6 feet, stopping just over a large rock.  Thank goodness everyone was out of the way!  I grabbed little kids and tried to get uphill, but if someone had been behind the car, they would have been in serious trouble.  Well, that got our adrenaline going for the day.  Shandy thought we were stuck tight, but he was able to drive the car back onto the road and park it a little further down the road on the dirt.

Lucy and Max were delighted to see conglomerate rock up close and personal, and identified some quartz in the canyon bottom.

There was more water than we expected in the bottom of the canyon, mostly in the form of ice, but some running water.  The ice appeared to have thawed and refrozen, so that it really looked more like a slow motion photo of running water than ice, Shandy thought.

The waterfall appeared to be completely frozen, but by looking closely we could see water moving under the ice.

And one last picture to show one of the reasons we love hiking:  brothers having fun together.

Not to rant and rave, but every time we get to spend time outdoors, I remember many of the reasons we choose homeschool.  Imagine spending these wonderful afternoons shut inside a school building with people, many of whom don’t even like you!  Instead, we spend our time with people we love, doing interesting things that we enjoy.  I truly believe that when we enhance our connection to the earth, we enhance our connection with the humans in our lives as well.  We refresh our mental powers for sustained efforts, and we give ourselves good reason to be alive.

Hope you are enjoying your January.

Hiking In January: Big Springs

It was over 50 degrees in northern Utah today.  Over 50 degrees and sunny, in January.  It is a crime worthy of imprisonment to stay indoors on a beautiful sunny day in January.  After all, how many can there be?  We didn’t want to be in prison, so we were forced to have hiking school instead of our regular lessons today.

We drove up the South Fork of Provo Canyon, above Vivian Park, to hike to Big Springs.  This is actually a spring that provides much of the drinking water for the city of Provo.  The trail was clear at the bottom, although the water had made some beautiful ice sculptures.

As we  climbed higher, the trail was very icy.  It appeared that snow had melted, and refrozen in the sunken trail, making a river of ice to hike on.  Everyone except Mom had fun sliding on the ice.  Max had several “nuclear butt stomps” that involved falling down and sliding, leading him to declare that this was “practically the best hike ever!”

As the path got steeper by the spring, the ice got harder and harder to climb.  There had been plenty of traffic along the trail, and there were plenty of side paths where people had tried to bypass the ice.  We didn’t have much time to spend at the actual spring, but it was as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer.


I read a recent article about nature deficiency that talked about a teacher leading a class along a stream to help them understand which direction water flows.  I guess that’s the lesson we were learning today.  We also learned that very tiny steps help keep your balance on ice, and that when the weather is nice, going outside is more important than anything else you could be doing.  Wouldn’t you like to be tested on those lessons?

Oh, yes. We also learned that there is nothing finer than a family being together in God’s sunshine.  Hope you had a wonderful day, too.

Hiking on New Year’s Eve: Pleasant Creek, Capitol Reef

Ever since reading on FIMBY about their family’s commitment to hike every week throughout the year, I have been dying to try out hiking in the snow.  Our family is pretty determined about hiking, but we have never hiked when the ground was really snowy.  On our get-away to Capitol Reef this weekend, though, we were able to experience a little snow hiking, which led us to believe we could do a little more closer to home.

We drove down the scenic drive at Capitol Reef National Park to where the pavement turns to dirt, then continued on a few more miles to what (I believe) is the end of the road at Pleasant Creek.  Just like the Fremont, Pleasant Creek was surprisingly full and not quite frozen over.  In places, the ice was thick and clear across the creek, but in most places it was not safe to cross on the ice.  Well–it was safe, if you wanted to be cold and wet.

The snow was much deeper here than it had been on our other weekend hike — whether because of the altitude or because of the exposure, or a combination of the two, I am not sure.  Anyway, hiking was more difficult as we were “postholing” wherever the snow was deep.  We also were not ready for this deeper snow, since we were hiking in fabric boots and were getting quite wet.

After just one mile, which felt much longer since there was no trail and we were bushwhacking most of the time, we decided to look for a break and resting place.  We found a protected alcove where we could eat our lunch.  Meanwhile, the little kids did some mining (don’t tell the Park Service please!)

Yes, we kept all the gold they found.  No, we won’t be moving to paradise (also known as Torrey, Utah) anytime soon.

After our sunny break, we headed back to the cars along a snow covered road.  On our trip home, we discussed what we would need to do to enjoy some snowy hiking closer to home.  We are looking forward to trying it out soon, especially if temperatures stay as warm as they have been in the last weeks.

All in all, we had a wonderful weekend.  Everyone arrived home with sun-kissed cheeks and big smiles.  Hope you enjoyed your weekend, too!  If you have an idea about winter hiking, please leave a comment below.  Thanks!

Hiking into the New Year: Navajo Knobs, Capitol Reef National Park

Dad invited us to go hiking in Capitol Reef with them this weekend.  The forecast was temperatures in the 40s and 50s, and with sunshine on the way, we were excited to go.  We drove down early Friday morning, arriving at the Hickman Bridge trailhead at 9:30.  The river was lined with ice and snow, and it looked cold, but we knew we would soon be high up into the sunshine.

We filled our packs with our some of our usual hiking food:  chicken adobo (a recipe I must share with you soon), hard boiled eggs, some hard rolls and cheese.  We also took along plenty of water, because even in the winter it is easy to get dehydrated during hard exercise, and plenty of candy (helps with motivation.)

We took our first breather and photo op at a viewpoint of Pectol’s Pyramid.

We soon began the long climbing switchbacks that would lead us first to the Rim Overlook and then to the Navajo Knobs. These climbs are along the edges of cliffs, but are wide enough not to be frightening while hiking with children.  There were just a few areas where we had the little ones hold hands with an adult, but for the most part this was like climbing long, sandstone sidewalks.  Any time the slope faced north, it was covered with a few inches of soft snow.

The views were incredible.

There was a great place to sit and look at the whole word from the top of the knobs, but not such a great place to take a picture of the family sitting on the top of the knobs.  One more step backwards would have been a long way down.  Anyway, this is part of what we could see.

What a fantastic hike and what a wonderful way to spend the New Year’s weekend.  We feel like the luckiest people in the whole world to be: strong and healthy enough to do this hike; close enough to Capitol Reef to do this hike; have parents who take us on trips like this; be alive!

Tomorrow I’ll let you know what we did for New Year’s Eve.  Hope you’re enjoying your weekend, too.