Thursday, August 25, 2016

Happy 100th Birthday: Sharing the Memories with the National Park Service

Dear National Park Service: Thank you or the many years of happy memories. Happy Birthday!

Bryce Canyon

Almost all of my favorite vacation memories come from visiting our nation's treasures, our national parks. My earliest memory was seeing a shadow of a bear outside our family's tent as a little girl at Yellowstone National Park

With my sisters at the Grand Canyon

One of my favorite photos with my sisters features the Grand Canyon in the background.
Angel's Landing at Zion's National Park

I've grown up with outdoor beauty and love the fact that I live in a state with plenty of National Parks. How lucky I feel to get to hike Angel's Landing in Zion National Park or paddle board with my own daughter and sons at Lake Powell in Glen Canyon National Park.

I even get to go caving in Timpanogos Cave with my boys where they get to learn in a fun way what a column is.

When my family visits San Francisco, we get to see the amazing Golden Gate Bridge 

Or how about a mother daughter trip to New York and a visit to the Statue of Liberty?

Really, the only thing that is more fun that visiting the national parks is the family and friends I get to visit them with. I once asked all three of my kids if they would like to visit Disneyland or Lake Powell for vacation. All of them said Lake Powell. 

At the edge of Bryce Canyon

Havasupai Tribal Land, Grand Canyon

I would love to hear from my readers. Please leave a comment telling me your favorite National Park memories

Mt. Baldy in Little Cottonwood Canyon: 2016 Peak Goal 10 of 13

The nice thing about hiking the peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon is that many of them are close enough together to easily bag two or even three peaks in one hike. Such is the case with Mt. Baldy. It sits in close proximity to both Sugarloaf Peak and Hidden Peak. I was going to do all three in one day but got sick and only did Sugarloaf Peak the first day. However, I was able to accomplish Mt. Baldy and Hidden Peak in one day, thus moving toward my 2016 goal much faster than expected.

Getting There

The easiest route to Mt. Baldy is to follow the dirt road at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon Road to the very top and park at the Cecret Lake Trailhead. I never find parking there so I usually park 1/2 mile before at the lot across from the Catherine's Park Trailhead. Follow the Cecret Lake Trailhead to the lake. At the lake, follow the trail to the right on the north shore of the lake and veer right to head up toward the dirt road. Follow the dirt road for just a bit to the trail right under the Sugarloaf chair lift. Hike to the top of the lift. At this point, turn right and head west toward Mt. Baldy. There is a rocky, steep climb at the first but ends up a fairly easy steady climb to the peak.

As with many peaks, there is a cell phone tower at the top and since it is a ski area, I wasn't surprised to find a ski patrol sled. I didn't take it for a ride but I did enjoy the incredible views. 

Once on top, I eyed my Hidden Peak, my next adventure. Just southwest of Mt. Baldy, Hidden Peak is less than a mile away and is an easy hike along the ridge line. It's also easy to find as the Snowbird Tram ends on the peak. It's hiking days like this that make my thirteen peak goal attainable and fun. For those who want to turn around after hiking Mt. Baldy, it is a four mile round trip of intermediate hiking. I try to add trail running whenever I can and had no trouble running most of the trail on the way back. Since the peak sits at 11,068 feet, I got amazing views on top. I'm already wishing I had made my goal a little more challenging. In fact, I'm going to add three peaks to my goal to make 16 for 2016.

View of Hidden Peak from Mt. Baldy

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Don't Recreate Without a First Aid Kit: Product Review #signatureredcase

Product received at a discount in exchange for an honest review.
I can't count how many times I am hiking, mountain biking or doing some other outdoor activity and scrape my arm or leg on a rock. While I don't always have room in my pack for an entire first aid kit, it is nice to have have a few bandages on hand and a first aid kit back at the car.

The Oak Tree Marketplace First Aid Kit is a great basic first aid kit to take on longer hikes or to leave in the car. For the price point, I am impressed with how many different size bandages this contains. It also contains quite a few alcohol prep pads, an emergency blanket a gauze roll, safety pins, scissors, tweezers, and an emergency whistle. It's the perfect starter kit with plenty of space to add additional items. I am adding ibuprofen tablets to mine. I'm also adding a larger roll of tape as the one included is on the small size.

I'm impressed with the scissors. Most first aid kits in this price range contain tiny scissors that can hardly cut through the gauze. The scissors in this kit not only cut through gauze but can cut through clothing as well. The tweezers included in this kit are a nice metal instead of plastic like I've seen in other kits. They're a great addition since I often get slivers in my fingers hiking that can't be removed without tweezers.

The case is the size of medium size book and is waterproof. Because it has a little harder shell for the waterproof material, it is a little bulkier than some but easily fits into a day pack. I like that it doesn't take a lot of space in my car and I plan on leaving it there. We have several high school mountain bike races coming up and I'm sure I'll need it. The price for this kit is fair. I would have a hard time putting one together for much cheaper. Overall, an excellent basic first aid kit for the outdoor enthusiast.

FTC Disclosure:  I received the product in exchange for an honest review.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Summit Sugarloaf Peak, Alta Utah: Peak Goal 9 of 13

As I get nearer to my goal of 13 peaks for the 2016 year, I'm feeling proud of getting near my goal. I'm also feeling frustrated that I can't get out more than I am. Every day I'm at work, I get antsy that I'm not climbing a peak. I'm so lucky to live in such close proximity to many peaks which helps make  meeting my goal easier.

Sugarloaf Peak

I admit, Sugarloaf Peak is an easier 11,000 ft peak to hike. The trailhead sits at an already high elevation meaning the hike to the peak isn't too far.

The Trail

The easiest way to get to Sugarloaf Peak is via Albion Basin Cecret Lake Trailhead. Take Little Cottonwood Canyon Road to the top at Alta Ski Resort. On weekends it is best to park at the top at take the shuttle bus to the trailhead. On weekdays, drive past the paved parking to and up the dirt road. There is small parking lot at the end by the campground. I like to park at the first lot across from Catherine's pass and hike the extra 1/2 mile to the trailhead. It's usually easier to find parking at the first lot. 

Take the Cecret Lake Trail to the lake which is just under one mile. At the lake, veer right around the north shore and onto the trail toward the dirt road. There is also a trail that is directly across the lake but it is harder and rockier. Hike up to the dirt road. At this point, the easiest and most direct route is to head west on the trail underneath the Sugarloaf lift. I had a hard time finding it at first but it became visible as I left the road under the lift. I had to contour west around a buttress or outcrop.
At the top of the Sugarloaf lift, the trail to the north ridge and peak is on the left.

The trail becomes rocky at exposed near the peak but it's easy to follow. Be careful on the rocks. They can be unstable. One moved out from underneath me, causing me to fall and cut my leg. Luckily, it wasn't major and I was able to finish my hike.

It can get windy on the top but it's worth the reward. It's only about a mile and a half each way. I added some extra mileage by trail running on the road. Since it is a shorter hike, Mt. Baldy and/or Devil's Castle can be added for a multi peak day. I slipped on a rock at the ridge and ended up with a bloody leg and a migraine so I nixed the idea. However, I looking over Mt. Baldy and Hidden Peak, I found my next two peaks.

Cecret Lake
On the way down, I made sure I stopped at Cecret Lake along with the many other hikers. I loved the view from up above but loved it better from the lake. Sugarloaf is a great peak to bag on a day when I only had a two to three hours to spare.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mt. Timanogos Hike From American Fork Canyon, Utah: 8 of 13 #Goal

I'm not going to lie. Mt. Timpanogos has by far been the most difficult peak I've climbed this year. It's difficult because of the distance of 7.5 miles each way which makes for a long day. The trail is not particularly difficult but the climb from the saddle to the peak is hard. At 11,749 feet, it is the second highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains and a very popular destination. No matter what day of the week you choose to go, there will always be somebody on the trail. I climbed the peak from the Timpanooke Trailhead.

Getting There: Timpanooke Trailhead

From I-15 heading north or south, take exit 284 (Highland-Alpine) and head east on SR-92. About 7.5 miles, there will be a fee station with a required fee to enter the canyon. Stay on the right fork of American Fork Canyon which is part of the Alpine Loop. On the right side of the road, look for a sign to the Timpanooke Campground. It is about 1/4 mile on a paved road through the campground and the trailhead will be at the large parking area on the left. We stayed the night in the campground so we could get an early start.

The Trail

The trail begins at the parking lot. Facing the trail, head right toward the forest service shelter where there are also signs and map boards. The first part of the trail is a gentle uphill climb in the shade of the pines and aspens. Be sure to watch the cliff areas in the distance for gorgeous waterfalls.

Above Scout Falls, there are several switchbacks that lead to Middle Basin. Several big loops and switchbacks through this area make for a big gain in altitude. Take a moment to stop and enjoy the vast array of wildflowers.

After climbing a headwall, you enter the Timpanogos Basin. This area is unmistakable as it is the first time you see the views of the summit.

As I made my way to the summit, I encountered some Rocky Mountain Goats. I made sure to keep my distance as I took photos. Though the goats are not aggressive, they are still wild animals and should never be approached or harassed. I even got to see a mommy goat with her baby. 

The views from the saddle are spectacular and many hikers stop here, rest and turn around. Not me! It was the peak or bust which meant I had to head into some cloud cover. Not a good idea if it would have been stormy but it wasn't so up I went. From the summit, the trail stays heads to the left and is  easy to see. The trail zig zags up a steep canyon often referred as The Stairs.

The last part of the trail is rocky and exposed but the trail is well defined. The Glass House (not really glass) sits at the top and there is a guest book to sign to prove you made it. It was really crowded when I got there but I was able to leave my name. Sorry to all those who don't know me but ended up in my photos anyway.

Making it to the top of any peak is an accomplishment but the top of Mt. Timp made me feel especially proud. I definitely need to change my goal. I have no doubt I'll make my 13 peaks this year. I should have set it at 16 for the year 2016. It's never too late to change, right?

Be sure to take enough water and food. I used all of my water. I was grateful for my running pack but wished I would have had an electrolyte replacement snack along with my bars.

Clouds blocked my view of the valley but still breathtaking on the peak.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

Get Out the Grill For Lightlife Smart Dogs: Review and Giveaway

Product received at no charge in exchange for an honest review.

Barbecues are supposed to be fun and bring the family together. But for me, it's often a time of stress trying to find food that my adult daughter will eat. She is vegan but the rest of the family is not. That makes main meals challenging and means I usually have to cook a different meal for her than the rest of the family. Since my daughter does not eat gluten, it is hard to even find vegetarian meat substitutes she can eat. Most contain wheat products.

It's a relief to find the Lightlife Smart Dogs. Now my daughter can join us for a barbecue and feel like she is part of the same meal. The Nightlife Smart Dogs are made with all plant products and include soy protein as one of the main ingredients. I didn't see any wheat or wheat byproducts listed in the ingredients so she was more than willing to try them with us.

I cooked up a whole package of the Lightlife Smart Dogs and didn't tell anyone else but her that they were vegetarian dogs. My teenage son was able to tell right away that they were different than he was use to and he wouldn't finish his. However, my husband didn't mind. He did comment that the texture was different than other hot dogs but didn't guess they were vegetarian.

My daughter liked them and gladly took home the extra package I had on hand. It's nice to be able to have all of my family together for a barbecue and having the food preparation easy.

Giveaway Details

One of my lucky readers will receive 2 free product coupons to try Lightlife Products. Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. By entering, you acknowledge you have read the terms on the form and agree to them. Contest ends 8/9/2016 at 11:59 EST

I received this product free from the sponsor of the Moms Meet program (, May Media Group LLC, who received it directly from the manufacturer. As a Moms Meet blogger, I agree to use this product and post my opinion on my blog which may not reflect the opinions of the May Media Group LLC or the manufacturer.
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