...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Pioneer Day glows!

This Pioneer Day we celebrated with lights.

We didn't have any fireworks, but we had lots of glow sticks!


So we accessorized...


Played Tron by throwing glowing discs at each other...


And tossed shining chains in the air to make a light show of our own.


 Combine that with the display of fireworks from the neighbors going off all around our raucous fun and it was a perfect way to spend a holiday evening (except for poor Josh who came away with a bunch of mosquito bites -- he is a feast for the creatures while the rest of us usually come out unscathed).

Hope your Pioneer Day was fabulous!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Bells Canyon Trail and invisible waterfalls

It all started on a morning like this.


Yup, the sun was red/orange and I should have know that was an omen that strange happenings would gather around our life that day.  

We had decided to take our crew to explore Bells Canyon which had some fun to offer.  The parking area is just East of 9800 south and Wasatch Blvd.  It is easy to find and there are bathrooms and drinking water available at the trail head so that is a plus.

We started off on our hike just before 9 AM (we left the house at 8) hoping to miss most of the heat of the day and it turned out to be a good thing we did that or the end would have been even more trying that it was.  

Our plan was to hike to the lower reservoir (about .7 miles from the parking lot) and then to the lower waterfall (supposedly 1.7 miles from the trailhead...but beware, it may or may not be invisible).

Anyway, we started to walk and the view of the valley was pretty incredible as we rounded the ridge heading toward the lake.


It only took about 20 minutes to reach the lower reservoir and the walk was not difficult at all.  The lake was shady and cool and there were ducks and fish near the shores.  It was a great place to stop and rest for a bit.



In fact, we encountered several friends from the animal kingdom while on our hike.

Lots of duck friends...


A little bunny buddy...


And a sweet, little deer.


Anyway, we continued on from the lake.  The walk stayed in the shade (mostly) and the trail was relatively easy to maneuver.  It was actually pretty gorgeous and very pleasant.


We trekked on knowing that a lovely waterfall (the lower falls) was waiting somewhere between the 1.6 and 1.8 mile mark.  Watching our pedometer we carefully kept our eye out for a small path on the north side of the trail possibly near a little spring.  

And we explored several little trails...but we never did find the big, powerful falls.

We often heard rushing, pounding water, but every time we investigated we just found the river.

There were plenty of lovely spots, but we didn't discover what we came to see.


We decided maybe it (meaning the elusive waterfall) was a bit further up the mountain than we thought.  
So we kept plugging away.

Pretty quick, the trail became much more steep and much more rocky than it had been before.


And it stayed that way for most of the rest of our trip.  It was slow going with small legs, but we didn't give up.

Still, the views were AMAZING!



Onward and upward!


Eventually we came across a cute couple who had been here before.  They told us we were well past the first waterfall (yeah, we sadly realized that) but they said it was only a little bit further to the second falls.

And they were right, just a smidge up the hill we found the second falls (it wasn't so tricky I guess).  It was less spectacular than the first falls is supposed to be (we wouldn't know) but it was shady and beautiful.  The perfect spot for our picnic lunch.


We had lunch and rested a bit and then headed back down.  We were just over 3 miles up the mountain by now and this was a pretty steep and pretty rocky climb.  This decent was asking a lot of our small ones.  This is NOT a hike we would recommend for families (head to the reservoir for sure and maybe even the first falls, but DO NOT go further, it is too tough for tiny people).

The trek down was rough on everybody.  The rocks make downward progress difficult, even though at least gravity was on our side.



 On the plus side, we found several patches of wild raspberries and that was a great little treat for some of our crew.  Most of our sweethearts had not eaten wild berries before (and we did have a chat about the danger of eating berries you don't know).  But I did know these.  They were raspberries, sweet and juicy.  They were tasty!


The hardest part of all was not what we expected -- the rather short walk from the lake back to the parking lot.  By the time we got near the lake we were battling the 100ish degree heat of the afternoon and we were low on water (we expected to hike just over 3 total miles, not 6 and our kidlets were water hogs early on so it's a good thing we brought extra just in case).

Josh went ahead with a couple older kids to cool the car down and refill water bottles for the rest of us when we reached the car.  That was angelic!  He really is amazing.

Ellie and I were the last to make it down (with my sweet little Parker there trying to keep Ellie's spirits up).  It was HOT as there was essentially no shade on the last mile of the trail and our youngest girl really struggled with the heat.  We encouraged her to toke on water regularly but she was tired and sore and hot and miserable.  Poor kid.

We finally reached the bottom and were so glad to be done.  

This was a pretty tough hike, but we made it and that was wonderful!  I'm very proud of my crew because this was NOT easy.  But I like it when they do hard things.  They stuck with this and didn't quit and I think they were amazing!  I am so lucky to be surrounded by such incredible people.

Today, we are all sore and a little stiff, but we had a good time and we managed to do it together -- that is something pretty great!

(P.S. I think next week, we'll take it easy on our hike.)



Friday, July 18, 2014

History under the mask of amusement

At the moment, our children have a new favorite television show.

And I LOOOOVE it!

Now, that has not generally been my attitude when it comes to TV consumption around here.  My poor, sad children receive a fairly limited supply of electronic entertainment each day (sometimes my small ones seem to feel their well-regulated allotment verges on cruelty...but that's the sad truth around this place).

I am not opposed to televisual amusement, but I am particularly drawn to it when my kidlets are spoon-fed doses of something more than just entertainment.

So when I exposed my sweethearts to "Mysteries at the Museum" and they fell in love with its glittering antique secrets I quietly did internal cartwheels while I said, "Sure, you can watch that show for TV time."

And that's how their addiction began.

I am thrilled that they sit expectantly as the host of the show explores the perplexing or lethal or unique pasts of odd relics and strange artifacts. My mind cheers as they hear about wars and historical events and politics and spies and the benevolence of people and everything else this Earth has to offer...real, true events that have shaped the world.  I exult as they come rushing into the room shouting, "Mom, did you know that there were people who were born with blue skin?" or "Have you ever heard of Bonnie and Clyde?" or "We should take a trip to see Mount Rushmore sometime."  Aaaahh, music to my ears.

That's right.

I am surreptitiously serving my children non-lethal doses of history under the guise of afternoon amusement.

Don't think less of me.  One day I'll come clean to them.

But until then, I will just sit back and enjoy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Cecret Lake...round two...skunked again

Ok, so last time we attempted to get to Cecret Lake it didn't go as planned.  The road to the trail head hadn't yet been opened so we hiked the road and then lost the actual trail to snow.  

No worries, we are determined and decided to try again.

This time around the area was overrun with people (even on a Tuesday morning) so there was nowhere for us to stash our car (without getting a ticket).

(stupid, full parking lot)

Sigh.

Time for a new plan.

We opted to attempt a different hike -- one we hadn't planned on or prepped for and really didn't know much about.  That's alright, we are always up for an adventure.  Good times.

We parked our Suburban at the top of Alta and plunged into the trail on the north side of the parking lot on our way to Twin Lakes.



First of all, let me say the area is GORGEOUS!!!

There were meadows of flowers blooming EVERYWHERE!

It was pretty incredible.



Also, the views of the canyon were spectacular.


Let it be known that this hike is much more hikey than the last couple hikes we have been on.  The trail was fairly steep from the get go and had some really rocky sections.  We had to kick things up a notch to progress up the path.  Hi-ya!!

The kids (and possibly their adult counterparts) had a harder time on this trail; it was still very do-able, but we had to take more breaks and moved more slowly than usual.

A small cave that my boys were disappointed I said they couldn't explore
(hey, no flashlights, I don't know the area, there could be bats or chasms -- don't judge!).

And that regular stopping and resting became a problem.  I teach piano lessons on Tuesday afternoons and about an hour into our hike we realized we were going to need to eat and head back soon or we would not make it back in time for that (we lost some time driving around looking for a parking spot at Cecret Lake and then adjusting our plans so that hurt us too).


Consequently, not only did we re-miss out on Cecret Lake, but we didn't make it all the way to Twin Lakes either.

Sad day.

Anyway, a little over a mile up the trail (it is 2 miles to Twin Lakes and we were more than half way and very near the crest of the mountain, but I'm not exactly sure how far from the end we really were having not been there before) we found a lovely little spot with a waterfall and some shade and made that our picnic place.

(Don't worry, he isn't actually drinking the water...silly guy.)


We made lunch, played around in the shade, and then started on our way back down.  There is a lot of mining equipment left from "olden" days and our littles had a great time searching old relics (ancient rail cars and tumble-down sheds and the like).  The way down was less demanding for the kidlets (down hurts my knees so I like up much better, but that's just me) and everyone was happy and having fun as we lurched down the trail toward our car.



And some of us even fell asleep on the ride home.  But only the girls. The boys were pretty proud of themselves for staying awake. 


I would like to try this one again and actually make it to the lakes.  I hate that we were bested by two possible hikes in one day, but that's just the way things go sometimes.  

It was still a wonderful day together, and that's what I like best.


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