When a 7th Grade Hiking Field Trip Goes Awry

Last Friday was the perfect Colorado Fall day.  Sunny and high 60’s, absolutely ideal hiking weather.  My daughter’s 7th grade class was scheduled to do a class hike field trip.  I had the day off of work, and planned to join them.  Everything was right in the world. That is, until the bodies started hitting the floor. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Wait, Can We Bring Dog…?! So Friday morning we are scurrying around, packing lunches and getting ready for school.  I swear our Golden Retreiver Daisy must have spotted my daughter grabbing her hiking backpack.  You know those key items, that set the alarm bells off for a dog...”An adventure is afoot!!” Bless her 10 year old heart… she starts bouncing around like an excited puppy. “Oh Daisy, you can’t come on the field trip.”  Wait. Maybe she can? Since I planned on driving behind the school buses, and hiking with the kids – in theory, maybe we could bring the dog? Our plan was to have my daughter ask permission once … [Read more...]

Capturing Colorado Family Adventures

One of the things I love about living in Colorado, is that we do have four seasons. The variety keeps things interesting, and allows for different types of outdoor play different times of the year. And Fall means hiking and biking! No bugs.  Perfect temps for athletic endeavors. Gorgeous scenery of gold, orange, and red colored leaves.  It all makes for an ideal time to get the family outdoors for some adventuring. Capturing Your Family Adventure Memories I'm pretty good about taking pictures on our family recreates in the great outdoors.  I love looking back on past memories of the fun times we've had camping, fishing, and exploring.  This makes and preserves memories for us, as much as when we take a full-on vacation somewhere! Plus then I can share photos and video from our outdoor endeavors.  It keeps my family and friends up to date on the fun we've been having, which they love to see. And I'd like to think it also inspires other to want to go play outside, … [Read more...]

Tips for the Best Colorado Fall Drive & Family Adventure

You just can't beat Fall color in Colorado!  When those Aspen trees turn brilliant gold, and contrast against the Rocky Mountain evergreens... it's a breathtaking sight to behold.  Here's my "Insider List" of where the locals consider the best Colorado Fall drive.  Plus my tips on exploring a bit off the beaten path, and how to keep your kids excited about this awesome family outdoor adventure. A year-round outdoor lover, I'd have to say that fall is my absolute favorite season in Colorado.  I've polled the experts, and seen many of these for myself.  Here's my Insider List of best fall drives. Top 5 Colorado Fall Drives NORTHERN - Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park CENTRAL - Kebler Pass, part of the West Elk Loop that ends in fun ski town Crested Butte CENTRAL - Grand Mesa Byway (My favorite! More on this below), 45 minutes from Grand Junction SOUTHERN - Last Dollar Road, from Ridgeway to Telluride, both awesome mountain towns DENVER AREA - Guanella … [Read more...]

Best Hiking Baby Carrier Backpack for Petite Moms

Hiking with a kid carrier can be one of the most enjoyable phases of outdoor time with your child.  Now that my youngest is 6, my family is past this stage.  Although at the time, I occasionally pitied myself for being loaded down likka pack mule... now I truly miss these days. The days of hiking a nice long trail, without needing to turn back after .5 miles for a tired child who can't keep up. The days of knowing you are transferring a love of the outdoors to your child at a precious age.  Even as your baby dozes off for a nap in the fresh air, to the lull of mom's cadence on the trail. There are so many fantastic benefits to hiking with your child in a backpack carrier!  It's truly one of the best pieces of gear we owned for our babies/toddlers. But wait... what if your pack doesn't fit, causing you back pain and greatly hindering your enjoying of the experience?  No bueno. Calling on the [Petite!] Hiking Pros Although I've written about MY experience and tips for … [Read more...]

Easy Family Hike in Vail, Colorado

Nestled in a valley, conveniently located right along Colorado's I-70, is the high altitude mountain town of Vail. In the winter, people flock here from all over the world for the epic skiing. But summer in Vail has it's charms too, including numerous hiking trails which offer the opportunity to enjoy the breathtaking alpine beauty in a warm weather season (my personal preference over cold and snow!) Vail has done an excellent job of offering hiking information for the area - including trail maps, hiking trail descriptions, and directions on how to find the trailheads.  You can even download a copy of the Vail Hiking Guide, which is what my family used on our recent hiking expedition in the area. Easy Family Hike in Vail, Colorado We had a late start, so selected a shorter trail.  I loved how easy it was to find (literally 2 minutes from the interstate exit), and it turned out to be a fun and easy family hike:  Trapper's Run. This spring and summer Colorado has … [Read more...]

Chasing Wild Horses

Have you ever seen wild horses... living and running free? Did you know such a thing still existed? Here in the Wild West, you *can* still find wild horse herds.  Exciting, isn't it?! (Or is it just me... the girl who used to cry herself to sleep at night, in wont of her own horse?) There are even a few dedicated sections of government owned land set aside as wild horse preserves, to protect these lovely creatures.  Located in Western Colorado, the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Refuge is one of three such ranges in the United States. Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Refuge There are a few rules to accessing and enjoying the Little Book Cliffs Wild Horse Refuge area, but for the most part they let outdoor enthusiasts have at it.  You can camp, hike, and horseback ride through this preserve... enjoying the scenery while you pursue your Ultimate Quest:  viewing wild horses. Horses were re-introduced (post Ice Age) to North America by the Spaniards in the 1500's.  Known as … [Read more...]

Tick Safety for Families This Outdoor Season

Longing to take your kids outside to enjoy some hiking, fishing, camping or other wilderness fun this outdoor season, but feel slightly deterred at the thought of contracting ticks?  It pays to give some thought to tick safety before heading outside. These creepy crawlers who like to dig in and suck your blood give most people the heebie jeebies.  Add the grim reality that you can contract a number diseases from ticks, such as Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Colorado Tick Fever, or tularemia - and they seem even scarier. Unpleasant as that may sound, don't let it prevent you from enjoying the outdoors.  It's part of the adventure, right?  Ok, maybe not.  But there are a number of things you can do to protect yourself and your little ones when venturing out into nature. Tick Safety Tips for Families So how can you best keep your family safe from ticks this season?  I did some research, as well as polled a panel of outdoor bloggers to gather some of their best tips.  … [Read more...]

Hiking With Babies and Toddlers ~ Child Carrier Tips

I've spent many fond hours hiking a trail, with my baby or even toddler children right along with me, in a child carrier on my back. This is an ideal activity for many reasons.  Babies and toddlers generally love being outside, and are so content when they are in motion. Hiking with them in a child carrier allows them to enjoy themselves, while you are also able to have fun and get some exercise in the process. We’ve hiked with a few different child carriers now, with a couple of different kids.  We've tried an inexpensive carrier, and a couple of higher-end styles, so can offer some feedback on each. Here are my child carrier tips and best advice from our experience in hiking with babies and toddlers over miles of terrain and with a variety of gear. (Note:  This is NOT a sponsored review post for a brand... just my authentic hiking mom advice!) When Can My Baby Start Riding in a Child Carrier? For safety reasons, it's always a good idea to check the manufacturers … [Read more...]

Plan A Family Adventure Day

Every once in awhile, we sneak off together as a family and have a “Family Adventure Day”.  We pack a snack bag and the cooler.  Gather some gear – making sure to bring lots of water, SPF, bug spray, and a variety of clothing layers and hats.  Then we load up the car with backpacks, baby carriers, (sometimes) fishing poles, and the family dog … and head out with a rough idea of a destination. While Family Adventure Day typically involves a brief road trip at the beginning and end, we try to keep it less than 2 hours travel time each way.  And unlike other road trips of varying duration, we leave the portable electronic entertainment at home. These brief journeys are about looking out of the car windows and enjoying the scenery, trying to spot wildlife, or a particularly nice view.  Just like the good old days when we were kids.  Ideally, the journey is part of the adventure itself! Stick With It I'll admit, Family Adventure Day sometimes starts out a little rocky, with … [Read more...]