Mountain Mom and Tots Monthly Outdoor Challenge

Happy New Year! What will your 2017 bring? If you made a goal to get outdoors more in 2017, you’re in luck! That’s my 2017 goal too. I wouldn’t call it a resolution because I don’t believe in those. Instead I’m thinking of it as an outdoor hobby of the month. A monthly outdoor challenge that will encourage me and my kids to get outdoors. Will you join me? There are PRIZES involved!

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Fall Photo Essay

I know some of you don’t get to experience the beauty of fall colors right outside your window. This time of year I feel sorry for you southern California-ites and Floridians (talk about role reversal).

There’s something magical about autumn. The leaves put on their kaleidoscope display, the air is crisp and the smell of nature is all around.

Several times in the past month I have looked around with awe at the beauty around me. I want to share some of that beauty with you through this photo essay. Enjoy.

Little G on the walk to pickup Big E from the bus.

Me, Mountain Dad and Baby L

The view from my hammock.

On the walk home from the bus stop.

In our yard. Little g is in a swimsuit, playing in the leaves.
Just after this she put on a winter hat. Talk about an all season girl.

Another view from the hammock.

The tots on the Grotto Trail.

Big E on the Grotto Trail.

Exploring the river with friends.

Go little g! You can do it.
Baby L on the MonkeyMat.

A parting shot of Mountain Dad.

Outlaw ATV Trail, Ashley National Forest, Utah

On our recent campout in Ashley National Forest we brought our Polaris RZR to explore the surrounding area. When we started out on our weekend getaway we weren’t sure where we were going to camp, what trails were nearby or what exactly we were going to do all day. We just knew we were headed to the Vernal, Utah area and that there’s a lot of off roading nearby.
We lucked out with our choice of camping in Ashley National Forest. Not only were there many off road trails, the area was secluded and beautiful. The most well known off-road trail is the 38 mile Outlaw ATV trail which traverses through forest, past lakes and over streams. 
Unfortunately, because of the spontaneity of the trip, we did not have an accurate map of the off road trails in the area (Click here for a map of the Outlaw Trail). Instead we attempted to explore off road trails using signs and an outdated Utah map we found under the seat of our truck. Now, I know. A little planning could’ve prevented a lot of hassle.

The Outlaw ATV Trail is known as a difficult ride through tree fall, over rocks and bumps. The trail is meant for vehicles 50 inches wide or less, not for wider off road options like our Polaris RZR. We made it through several mud puddles, around boulders and tree stumps and along the dirt trail until we reached this pinch point. At a previous dead fall area we were able to clear a tree trunk from the path, but here the thirty foot long trunk wouldn’t budge.

Since Mountain Dad and I had already endured complaints from kids, mud splatters, bumpy trails and slow going, we called it a good attempt and turned back. Luckily we were able to do a fun ride near Dyers park just down the road from our East Park Campground later.

So if you’re planning an off road trip to the Flaming Gorge/Vernal Utah area may I suggest one important tip: Have a map.

East Lake Park Campground, Ashley National Forest, Utah

Great things happened this month. Little g turned 3, Mountain Dad turned 42 and I went on my first camping trip since learning I was pregnant. 
In general, being pregnant is a whole lot of discomfort. It’s harder to walk, eat, sleep, even get comfortable. When I first found out I was expecting I would’ve never willingly slept in a tent on a pad two inches thick, but a lot can happen between the first trimester and the second.  When Mountain Dad suggested we get away to celebrate his birthday I weighed the possible discomforts of camping against the benefits of a few days of outdoor experience. 
The outdoors won, which is what brought the Mountain Fam out to East Lake Park in Ashley National Forest. This mountain lake campground is located at 9,000 feet and closes for reservations on October 1st. For us that meant no running water (we just brought our own) and complete solitude. My research beforehand didn’t say we couldn’t stay there, nor were signs posted saying to vacate the premises so we took our chances and were glad it worked out.
East Lake Park is a high mountain lake with boat ramp. Fishing is big there, although without a boat or fishing poles we abstained. Instead we enjoyed the nearby off roading trail, including part of the famous Outlaw ATV trail that runs along the shores of the lake. 
One major drawback of camping at 9,000 feet in late October is the cold. I’m grateful for previous camping experience that taught me to always have a winter coat, hat and gloves as well as warm sleeping gear. Since we came prepared we all stayed toasty warm and spent a little more time next to the campfire than we would’ve otherwise.
The trip was great fun and enjoying the outdoors with my growing family was worth the inconveniences.