Friday, May 31, 2013

Big Springs Hollow Hike

This hike was a nice easy family hike. It is located up Provo canyon. To get there, head east up the canyon. Turn right at Vivian Park and continue up South Fork about 3 miles. When you see the National Forest Area sign on the left side of the road turn right into the parking lot and continue to the end where you can park. The trailhead is in the Southwest corner of the park.
It is a very mild hike that is about 3.4 miles round trip. It was beautiful. There is a slightly steeper section towards the end of the hike as you approach the springs, but that only lasts about 0.2 miles.
The trail continues past the springs and some of our group didn't realize so they continued on. You can make the hike as long as you want.

This is very pretty in the spring and full of green. Spectacular views of the snow covered mountain peak above the meadows.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Backpacking - Getting Ready

Preparation is always half the battle. When backpacking with our children we find that if we are prepared with good gear everything seems to go so much smoother. In an effort to be useful to those of you just starting to backpack with your family here is our list of must have items.

1. Good water filter - reduces the amount of water you have to carry and therefore reduces weight
2. Down sleeping bags
3. Sleeping pads
4. Backpacks with padded hip belts
5. Backpacking stove
6. Cooking pot
7. Fuel for stove
8. Lighter
9. Lightweight backpacking tent
10. Headlamp
11. Walking sticks for does wonders:)
12. Extra underwear
13. Extra socks
14. Extra set of clothes
15. Spork
16. Toothbrush and toothpaste
17. Thermals if it is going to be cold at night
18. Down jacket (they compress small and are lightweight)
19. Trail snacks...a plethera of trail snacks (food does wonders for little tired people)
20. Dehydrated meals
21. Toilet paper
22. Shovel
23. Plastic bags for garbage and to carry out what needs to be carried used toilet paper :)
24. Chaco or keen sandals for camp
25. Sunglasses
26. Sunscreen
27. Bug repellant
28. Camera
29. Good sturdy hiking boots
30. First Aid kit containing mole skin for hot spots or blisters
31. Chapstick
32. Nalgene water bottles
33. Dice game
34. Biodegradable soap
35. Hand sanitizer
36. Rope to string up wet clothing or food in bear country

We often take our GPS and go geocaching along the way or when we are at camp for a fun activity. The kids love it and it lends itself to some exploring.

Most of all, when the kids need a break, we take a break. It is that simple. A great time is had by all when the kids are happy. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Backpacking The Box in Escalante

We took our family backpacking to The Box in Escalante, Utah. This particular trip requires a vehicle shuttle. We started at the top and backpacked down. The shuttle is needed to retrieve the vehicle at the trailhead.

This canyon starts off in an alpine environment and half way down switches to a desert landscape. The trail follows a river the entire trip. This is fun for the kids as we crossed the river maybe 30 times or so. Your feet will most likely be wet when you finish. One of my boys, with the help of a walking stick, was able to avoid getting his feet soaked.
Rock cairns like this one mark the river crossings.

Crossing the river.
All the data we read on this canyon said that it was about 8.5 miles long. We found it was closer to 11 miles by the time our GPS calculated all the river crossings into the mix. It was all downhill which is nice for a beginning family backpack trip. A 7 year old, 5 year old and an 8 year old all carried their own packs and made it just fine.
Taking a break and smelling the trees... 
We proved it to be true. Ponderosa pines smell like butterscotch!
We camped at 6-6.5 miles in. The camping sites are few (we only saw about 3 good sites) and are trailside. There was plenty of water to filter. The next morning we hiked the remaining 5 miles out.

All in all everyone was happy and well.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Orderville Canyon

Two summers ago I was introduced to canyoneering. 
Canyoneering is a fun sport that allows the participants to explore beautiful slot canyons. Canyoneering at a beginning level may be nothing more than a walk through a narrow canyon or it can be technical needing harnesses, ropes and a good amount of knowledge and skill. There is something for everyone in canyoneering, but please be sure to go with someone who has already been through a canyon and has had some training so you don't find yourself on the news being rescued or worse. Be smart, be careful and have fun if you go.
Zion is a beautiful place to canyoneer. The slot canyons are gorgeous. We went and did a canyon called Orderville this week. It is classified as a non-technical canyon meaning ropes and harnesses aren't necessarily needed, but they are recommended for those who are not experienced and proficient down climbers. We did not take them because we had a good group of experienced people. 

Once we got past the approach to the canyon (where we ran across a rattlesnake who was up and ready to strike, rattles going and all :O) it was beautiful. There were several difficult down climbs along the way. It was a rugged canyon in my opinion. Rugged because there were so many rocks that it was difficult to walk quickly and I found my ankles wanting to turn and my knees feeling weaker. Take really good canyoneering shoes if you go. This is a must in this canyon. 

Negotiating a down climb

Putting on neoprene socks for the chilly water
The start of another down climb

The Virgin River portion of the hike

Why walk it when you can float it?
I am not going to give any beta about the canyon as all of that is easily and readily found online in several other spots. Canyoneering is an amazing activity. At the end of this canyon our feet had blisters, my muscles were sore we had a few scratches and bumps, but overall it was a fantastic and beautiful outing.
I would not take anyone under the age of 12 and then they need to have good gear and be in good physical condition as the hike totals out to be 12.3 miles. To top it off there is good amount of scrambling and rough terrain.
Happy canyoneering:)

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Fifth Water Hot Springs Hike

With spring officially here it is once again time to get the family out and explore new hikes and fun places to go. We started our hiking season out by going to the Spanish Fork hot springs we have heard about, but never visited. 

Directions: They are located up Spanish Fork Canyon. Follow Highway 6 until you come to a sign for Diamond Fork campground. Turn left here and follow the road until you come to Three Forks. Turn right into the parking lot. There is a toilet at the trail head. The trail head is to the right of the toilets. Follow the trail staying on the left side of the not cross the first bridge. Cross at the second bridge. As you get close you will be able to smell the sulfur. 

There are lower and upper pots. We spent most of our time in the lower pots. There are about 5 pots in the lower area. Some are more private only holding a handful of people and there is one big one as well. There are 2 more that we saw at the upper pots. There is a nice little waterfall that the older kids went behind and stuck their heads out of.
The men decided to take the kids up to the upper pots and were surprised to find a man skinny dipping on a Saturday morning at a family, :) just be aware...and for those of you wanting to skinny dip, it is against the law I am told.
The hike is 2.5 miles each way 5 miles round trip. I would classify it as an easy to moderate hike depending on your level of fitness. It is a gorgeous hike that follows the river up the canyon. It has a little incline that is very doable, in fact an energetic 3 year old made the trip with us. We went with another family and had two 13 year olds, an 11 year old, a 10 year old, two 7 year olds, a 3 year old and a 9 month old plus a dog...yes, dogs are allowed on this hike. Our hike time was 58 minutes on the way there. We took our snacks and lunch and ate up at the top. 

This is a busy destination for families and groups. We passed several scout groups hiking out and many families coming and going. Please be respectful and don't leave anything behind so we can all continue to enjoy this beautiful place...and please keep your clothes on:)

Friday, May 3, 2013

Fallen off the fitness wagon? How to get back on.

Life isn't considerate.
It doesn't wait until we are ready
or realize that we have a lot on our plate
before throwing us for a curve.
Life events, lack of time, lack of motivation are a few reasons
some of us occasionally "fall off the fitness wagon."
Once off, it is easy to fill our time with other things and neglect our bodies
and mind by not exercising.
So, let's talk about successfully hopping back on the wagon.

First, decide what kind of exercise personality you have.
A. Social
B. Challenge Me
C. Me Time
D. Bragging Rights
E. Be Healthy
F. Skinny Minny

A. Social - You are this personality if you love the social aspect more than anything else. You enjoy the friendships and the time spent with others.
B. Challenge Me - If you set out to accomplish something because you know it is hard, something you don't love to do or love to push yourself to the limit.
C. Me Time - Prefers to use exercise time to reflect and think and to essentially be alone with your thoughts.
D. Bragging Rights - Some times people don't want to admit that this is the heart of their motivation. Being able to say, "I've done that" or "hey look what I did" is top of the list. If you doubt me, just hop on FB and look at all the things people are posting about their accomplishments. It is a huge motivator for many.
 E. Be Healthy - Knowing eating right and exercising are good for you. Motivated by the fact that you will be stronger, feel better, reduce the risk of disease, have better bone health and much more.
F. Skinny Minny - It is all about how you look. You want to maintain or improve your appearance.

Knowing your "exercise personality" will aid you in the next step which is:
Determine what motivates you.

Referring back to your "fitness personality" will make this step easier. Here are some examples for each area.
A. Social - get a friend to commit to start the journey with you, set up a group at if you don't already know others, put together a group inviting many members so someone will always be there.
B. Challenge Me - Sign up for a race that will push you, try a new activity sticking with it for 3 months, workout with someone in better shape than yourself and try to keep up.
C. Me Time - Download talks, books or music that you want to listen to, try to exercise with a clear mind void of all thoughts for a stress free you time, go during your favorite time of day, carry a pepper spray for protection so you feel more empowered. When you reach your goal
D. Bragging Rights - set a goal for a race or activity you want to accomplish and post photos when you do it, do something new that you have always wanted to do, keep posts of runs or fitness accomplishments on a blog or social media site, recruit friends and family to support your efforts by following you.
E. Be Healthy - Create a check list of healthy behaviors and check them off daily when accomplished, find others interested in the same healthy behaviors and exercise together.
F. Skinny Minny - Cut out a visual reminder of what you want to look like and put it on the bathroom mirror, reinforce in your own mind that you can get where you want to be, maybe give yourself a small shopping spree when you reach your goals.

Write down your short term goals -
Make them concrete. For example you can choose how many days you want to exercise, how long you want to exercise, the intensity at which you want to exercise, weight you want to gain or lose, strength or endurance gains you want.

Last, put your plan into action
and stick to it!

Each day is a new day to do better than the day before. If you don't make it one day, don't throw in the towel. Give it a try the next day. One day at a time, one foot in front of the other.