Hike 34: Bell Canyon Reservoir

Hike 34
9/8/2016
2.06 miles
Bell Canyon Reservoir

With September being a Hike it Baby 30 Challenge month, I have been adding a few more hikes to the calendar. Thursday morning I added a quick hike to Bell Canyon Reservoir. The weather has been really beautiful and cooling off, so hikes down in the valley are much more comfortable again.

Three local moms met up with me for the hike, all of them new to me with Hike it Baby. I swooned a little when I saw that two of them were wearing Lillebaby carriers. We may or may not have convinced the third mom that she needs one too.

We headed out a little after 10am and with the cooler temps, the parking lot was already full, I had to park in the overflow lot. We got to the reservoir quickly and headed for where the trail splits off. To the left heads into Bells Canyon (and a hike for another day). To the right is a trail that meanders around the reservoir making for a convenient loop.

This is the lowest I’ve ever seen the reservoir. Lots of mud, not a lot of water. Supposedly normal for this late in the summer, I hope!

Matthew was thrilled that there were still some ducks there.

And enough water to get a good splash with a rock!

It’s amazing to watch the leaves changing already!

Looking south towards Draper and The Point of the Mountain. It was a beautiful day for a quick two mile trek! I love hiking in September!!

Gear:

Líllébaby CarryOn Air Toddler Carrier
Hydroflask 21oz Water Bottle
Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Hiking Boots
Canon 70D
18-135mm Zoom Lens

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Hike 33: Bonneville Shoreline Trail / Draper

Hike 33
9/6/2016
3.5 miles
Bonneville Shoreline Trail to the Bear Canyon Suspension Bridge

Since we were gone over Labor Day weekend, I forgot to schedule a Hike it Baby hike for my birthday. I did it last year and had a lot of fun with it, so when we got home on Monday, September 5th, I scheduled what we call a pop-up hike for the 6th… essentially a hike planned last minute with the understanding that many may not be able to come. I lucked out that a couple of moms were free to join me along with their kids.

We met up at what I’ve been calling the usual spot. You can get to Bear Canyon from many locations, but my current favorite is from Hidden Valley Park in Sandy. The park has plenty of parking, clean restrooms, water fountains and a playground that we can promise to kids to motivate them to finish the hike. The trail itself is a great length for a morning hike, and if you go early enough, the majority of the hike is in the shade of the mountain. It’s a great variety of up and down, plus it has a little wooden bridge, a pretend cave and beautiful views of the Salt Lake Valley. All in all, a fun hike.

I forgot to bring my nice camera, so these are all from my phone.

It was such a beautiful day!

Matthew happily informed me there were no bears in the cave… because they are too scary.

Rocks to collect!!

Gear:

Líllébaby CarryOn Air Toddler Carrier
Hydroflask 21oz Water Bottle
Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Hiking Boots
Roshambo Baby Sunglasses (they’re awesome!)

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Hike 32: Alamere Falls

Hike 32
9/4/2016
8.2 miles
Alamere Falls

I was born and raised in the Bay Area and family vacations were almost always camping and hiking, but I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Alamere Falls until this year. The majority of our camping trips were either in the Sierras or the Santa Cruz Mountains, we rarely ventured up into Marin County unless it was for Girl Scout Camp in Fairfax. I didn’t visit Stinson Beach, Muir Beach, Muir Woods and Point Reyes until I was a teen and young adult, exploring the area with my boyfriend (now my husband).

We were in the Bay Area for Labor Day weekend to celebrate my birthday and my sister-in-law’s birthday and because of the long weekend, we had all day Sunday to play. I asked my siblings if they’d like to join me and my brother Patrick and his wife happily agreed. From our parents’ home in Hayward, it was an hour and a half drive just to get to the trailhead, which is just inside the Point Reyes National Seashore. We left early, just before 7am, as the road into and out of the little town of Stinson Beach is very windy. It’s a road I really enjoy driving on.

I fully expected the coastline to be socked in with fog and for the temperature to be downright chilly. When we got to the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge, I could see that the Marin Headlands were free from fog!! The views of the coastline were breathtaking and we had the best weather that day, albiet a little windy!

When we got the to trailhead parking lot, it was already starting to fill up on this holiday weekend. I was SO grateful we decided to get there early. We hit the trail and started the long trek out to the falls. Thankfully, you get to the coast pretty quickly and then meander above the coastline.

Tommy was already for a rest afer about 1/4 of a mile. It was a gamble bringing him with me on this hike. The night before we had a serious chat where he needed to choose who to spend the day with. He could sleep in, chilling with his grandparents in the morning and then go with my sister and brother-in-law to visit his brother and their kids for the afternoon. Or he could wake up early with me, take a long drive to the coast and then do an 8+ mile hike. He doesn’t love hiking and is prone to whining when he gets even a little bit bored. This would be the longest hike he’d ever done before too. There was also no guarantee there would be a cell signal to be able to do any geocaching or Pokemon Go (there was no service). After thinking about it for a bit, he chose to go on the hike. I’m glad he did, but it was still a struggle in a few parts. At least the pretty views helped!

The trail is a good mixture of climbing and flat, sunshine and shade. The overall elevation climb is only 250 feet and the main trail is wide and easy to follow, making this hike great for hikers of all ages and abilities.

We passed two small lakes, this one, Dog Lake, is supposedly fun for swimming. We saw a few people swimming on our way back.

The turnoff to the falls is unmarked and we would have completely missed it if fellow hikers hadn’t left the rock arrow pointing the way.

The side trail was very narrow and you had to duck under tree branches in more than a couple of spots, obviously not nearly as maintained as the main trail. I was also grateful we followed online suggestions to wear long sleeves and long pants as there was plenty of poison oak and wild blackberry bushes.

After a short distance we emerged into the sun with a wide view of the ocean and the upper falls below us.

You can just barely see Melissa and Patrick in the middle, Melissa has her arms up. You can also see the traffic jam of people working their way up or down the trail. It was a tricky scramble to get down to the upper falls in a section that has been carved out by water and lots of hikers. I had no problem getting down with Matthew on my back and Tommy made it down with no issues. The upper falls were beautiful, the water was icy cold too.

The stream meanders until it reaches the 40 foot cliff and drops down to the beach.

Looking north:

Patrick and Tommy worked their way down the cliff first to get an idea on whether Melissa and I would be able to do it with the babies. Patrick offered to wear Matthew for me (for which I was grateful, he’s 28lbs!!). I’m kicking myself for not taking any photos of the “trail” that allowed us to get down to the beach. It was a sight to see for sure. It was also a testament to courtesy and friendship as fellow hikers helped us down and then back up and we did the same for others. At one point, Patrick stayed and helped about nine guys down one portion.

Wow!! Turning around and seeing it kind of took my breath away.

Tommy was content to just sit at the base and play in the wet sand. He could have stayed there for hours!

The water was very, very cold and you definitely got splashed a bit when standing here, which may explain Patrick and Melissa’s faces.

I experimented with a slower shutter speed to see what I could get without a tripod. Apparently the slowest I can do is 1/20 of a second with my elbows braced on my knees. I still want to go in and fix the sky on this photo.

Photoshop can’t do much for goofballs though.

There was also a fun beach to play on.

This photo pretty much sums up Tommy’s day: a well-earned Whatchamacallit bar and wet, filthy pants and shoes (he was reminded again that waterproof shoes only work in water shallower than the top of the shoe). Despite some whining and grumpiness at various parts of the trail, I’m proud that he accomplished this long hike. Having his Uncle Patrick along to motivate him was tremendous. Not too shabby for a kid who’s not quite seven yet.

We realized that this was Avery’s very first visit to the beach too! She honored the occasion with a pretty epic blowout.

Gear:
Líllébaby CarryOn Air Toddler Carrier
Melissa & Patrick’s baby carrier: Líllébaby Complete Airflow Baby Carrier
Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Hiking Boots
Keen Koven Waterproof Kids Hiking Shoe
Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
Lifestraw (just in case)
Canon 70D
18-135mm Zoom Lens

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Hike 31: Doughnut Falls (again!)

Hike 31
8/6/2016
~3.5 miles
Doughnut Falls

Today was my brother and sister-in-law’s last day in Utah and they wanted to do one more hike before flying home. Being a Satruday, that meant that pretty much any hike to a waterfall or lake was going to be busy. Regardless of that warning, they opted to hike to Doughnut Falls once more.

As we turned onto Big Cottonwood Canyon Road, we saw the sign stating that the road would be closed from 2-4pm for a Tour of Utah stage that was coming through the canyon later in the afternoon. It was just after 11am, so we knew we’d have enough time. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a cycling race that takes place in stages throughout Utah, similar to the Tour de France, just smaller.

I had no expectations that we’d actually get a parking spot right at the trailhead, so I didn’t even try. We parked along the street and walked the extra mile or so to the trailhead and then on up to the falls. To say it was a busy day would be an understatement. We opted to hike up the fire road that skirts the edge of the creek rather than take the normal trail. We saw significantly fewer people on that part of the trail. It only goes about halfway though.

We got to the falls quickly and there was quite a traffic jam of people scrambling up the boulders to see the doughnut in the rock. We even passed one family who had stopped for a picnic, and they were eating doughnuts!

Melissa found a somewhat comfy rock to chill on and nurse Av while Patrick strapped Matthew onto his back and he, Tommy and I worked our way up to the falls.

Tommy was having a rare day where everything was a chore and he whined incessantly. It took quite a bit of negotiating to get him to come up to the top with us. I’m glad he did, because it was awesome!

I had the GoPro with me, so I’ll see if any of the video is worth sharing.

I thought Matthew was freaked out by how loud the waterfall is when you’re up close to it, but he told me later that he was scared because he thought there was a bear sleeping in that cave. 😀

Because Matthew wasn’t thrilled with the waterfall, we didn’t stay long to play. He took one last look before we left… looking for the bear.

Heading back out, we stopped for a couple of pictures at this lovely spot.

It was a fun hike and we had some really excellent timing with it. We made it out of Big Cottonwood Canyon with ten minutes to spare before they closed the road. As we headed down, they had already stopped letting cars go in. Then, as we were driving to a place to have lunch, the skies opened up and dumped a ton of rain and hail on us, there was standing water on the freeway it came down so fast! The outside temperature dropped into the mid 50s and we actually put on jackets as we ran into the restaurant for lunch. An hour later the skies cleared and it was back into the 80s. Welcome to the end of summer in Utah!

My Gear:
Líllébaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier
Ahnu Women’s Tilden Sport Sandals
GoPro Hero4 Silver
Canon 70D
18-135mm Zoom Lens

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Hike 30: Cecret Lake

Hike 30
8/3/2016
2 miles
Cecret Lake

While Patrick was off attending meetings and being schmoozed by retail vendors at the Outdoor Retailer show in Salt Lake City, Melissa and I did a short hike to Cecret Lake up above Alta.

This is one of the most popular hikes, rightfully so as it’s really beautiful, especially in July when the wildflowers are flourishing in the Albion Basin. But it can be a huge pain in the butt to get there. The parking lot at the actual trailhead is very small and there is no parking along the summer road. So, if the lot is full, you can either park back at Alta and add an extra mile and a half (uphill) to your hike, or you can try again another day. On the weekends, the town of Alta runs a free shuttle for hikers. But the wait can be long if it’s a busy day. I have done the shuttle thing once, and I really don’t want to do it again.

Melissa and I hoped that hiking midweek and in the morning would work in our favor and it did! The lot was only about half full when we got there. Woo hoo! It was clear and gorgeous and the temps were in the low 70s. Perfect!

I snapped photos of lots of wildflowers, because I love to!

This photo shows the start of what I consider the hard part of the hike. Switchbacks are carved into the side of the hill until we reach the top where the lake is. It’s not super steep or anything, but continuous and rocky and all uphill at over 9600 feet in elevation can be hard unless you live at that elevation.

We made it!

Rocks!

We walked around to the other side where the view is a little prettier and let Matthew play in the dust and collect rocks.

So. Much. Dust.

Before we left, I asked Matthew to sit on a rock and smile for the camera. He showed me his best GQ pose that had both Melissa and I laughing.

My Gear:
Líllébaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier
Ahnu Sugarpine Waterproof Hiking Boots
Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
GoPro Hero4 Silver

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Hike 29: Stewart Falls

Hike 29
8/1/2016
4 miles
Stewart Falls, Aspen Grove

Today we did our best to get out the door a little early so we could explore Stewart Falls in Provo Canyon. It’s a very popular hike and we didn’t want to deal with a crowd. Thankfully, we were greeted with a parking lot that was only about a third full. Woot!

I’ve hiked to this waterfall before, but I hiked from a residence in Sundance. This was my first time hiking from the trailhead that’s in the Uinta National Forest. We paid $6 to park and then it was approximately two miles to the falls from there.

It was such a pretty trail! It was also a good mix of up and down rather than a trail that is up the whole way or down.

It’s also easy to see why this trail is called the Aspen Grove. A large portion of the hike was through a lot of aspen trees.

There were a couple of spots that offered a pretty view looking back through Provo Canyon.

We saw the falls a ways out before actually getting there.

The hike from this direction deposits us at the midpoint of the waterfall, and then there’s a narrow trail that winds down the hill to get us to the bottom.

Once at the bottom we found a shady spot to park our bags and started playing in the water. It was very cold, but also very refreshing on such a warm day.

Melissa was the first the hang out under the waterfall, and then Tommy was all excited to go too but chickened out.

I got the GoPro all set and was going to go with him, but he chickened out again. Then Patrick grabbed him and carried him under.

I followed them with the GoPro, so I’ll try to get that posted soon. It was awesome!!

Matthew wasn’t sure about the water. He usually loves to play, but today he wasn’t having it. He was happy to just throw rocks into the water. He didn’t even want to get his feet wet.

Looking back the other direction toward Provo Canyon:

Patrick, Bill and Tommy climbed up to the middle of the falls to explore and take photos and video.

Bill took this panoramic photo from that spot:

Matthew needed a milk break, because Av had one too.

Before we started to head back, we stopped for some last photos with the falls behind us.

With so much of the Wasatch Front protected watershed, there aren’t a lot of hikes that reward us with a waterfall or lake we can actually play in. It makes Stewart Falls such a winner!

My Gear:
Líllébaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier
Ahnu Women’s Tilden Sport Sandals
Camelbak M.U.L.E. Hydration Pack
GoPro Hero4 Silver
Canon 70D
18-135mm Zoom Lens

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Hike 28: Deer Valley

Hike 28
7/31/2016
2 miles
Deer Valley, Park City

We headed up to Park City on Sunday with plans to explore and try to do a little bit of hiking. Some online research led us to the Deer Valley Resort and the option to buy tickets for the chairlift and then a hike back down to the car. That’s kind of what we did.

We drove up to the Deer Valley Resort and purchased tickets to ride the Silver Lake Express chairlift, once we got on after bathroom breaks, diaper changes, and a quick bit of Pokemon GO. The ride was beautiful and breezy at the higher elevation, but I would have liked the temps to be a bit lower.

My acrophobia was mostly under control and once Bill, Tommy, Matthew and I were settled in our 4-person chair, we realized that we left the nice camera in the car and Bill’s GoPro fell out of his backpack right as he was getting onto the chairlift. DOH! Thanks to the wonders of technology, he was able to call the resort and ask them to look for it. The guy working at the lift sent it up the mountain on another chair and we were able to pick it up a while later. Whew!

We rode the Silver Lake Express up to the Deer Valley Resort and then we took another chairlift, the Sterling Express, up to the top of Bald Mountain. It was an extra $7 to take and it was well worth it! There was a 360° view of Deer Valley, Park City, the Jordanelle Reservoir, and neighboring Heber Valley.

The only drawback was that because of recent wildfires in northern Utah, the view was quite hazy. But it was still beautiful.

Matthew photobomb!

We snapped a bunch of photos and then decided to head back down because we could see a thunderstorm working its way over to us. The wind picked up quite a bit while we rode the chairlift back down. I’m not ashamed to admit that I had to close my eyes and do a little deep breathing to calm myself down.

We chilled at the resort and had some snacks while Av nursed and the boys ran around. Once we figured out that the thunderstorm looked WAY worse from the top of the mountain than it really was, we started hiking back down to our car.

We hiked down a street between small resorts and what we assumed were rental properties before getting to the actual trail. Once we got to the trail it was two miles to the car. It was really pretty and nice to spend the whole hike going downhill for once.

Once we got back to the car, we rode the funicular up to the St. Regis to take in some of the views. Their outdoor bar was busy, but we managed to snag a couple of Adirondack chairs that looked out over a span of grass to rest.

The boys ran around while we sipped our respective, overpriced beverages. It was a relaxing way to end the evening before figuring out what to do for dinner.

My Gear:
Ahnu Sugarpine Hiking Boots
Líllébaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier
GoPro Hero4 Silver

Pat’s Gear:
Líllébaby Airflow Baby Carrier
Hydroflask Water Bottle

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