When I'm out in nature, the feeling is euphoric. The pure beauty and strength of natural structures is so powerful to witness. I was adamant about exposing my son Leon to nature and instilling environmental stewardship values into him. However, this desire to integrate nature into his upbringing didn't come easy. Leon was born with multiple medical diagnosis' resulted in him having server mobility delays. Not only were we busy with doctor and specialist appointments, but I also felt limited on where I could go with a stroller and how adventurous we could be. The older he got, the heavier he became, the harder it felt to make trips to go hiking. But one day I decided to challenge that fear and make the journey to our first National Park. That journey turned into our first big road trip where we saw 3 other National Parks and it was the best decision I have ever made. Now we've traveled to 15 National Parks together and plan to see them all. Below you find our stories of each National Park we visited.
1. Don't start hiking early in the morning, there is quite a bit of fog, more wild animals and less people to protect you. It didn't take long to realize this, but luckily we had our futon laying in the back. We cozy-ed up together and watched the waterfalls start from above the clouds and make its way down the mountain side.
We began the Cascade Pass trail at 11 am. The sign read 3.7 miles, though two hours into the hike I knew it meant one-way... not round trip. Lesson number 2. check online to see what the round trip hiking distance is. Leon was feeling quite heavy at this point. Can I really hike 7.4 miles with a 40 pound child in a 15 pound backpack? We've come to far and climbed over too many fallen trees to stop now! Onward and upward I told myself. The higher we go, the deeper the valley view became. The sky cleared up and soon we were perched on what felt like the top of the world, peering out to the great beyond. No longer were the waterfalls lost in the clouds above us but right in front of us. There was not many people on this trail, a few friendly faces and a park ranger, so all we could hear was the singing of birds and the powerful crash of waterfalls. To reach the end, we had to trek across a steep slope of snow. Luckily I had ski poles to help but the running shoes did not have great traction. Lesson number 3. Get hiking boots. The view wouldn't reveal itself until we made it to the very end and it. was. glorious. The valley was covered in fields of green and snow caps. The feeling of fighting to get to the top, seeing the most spectacular view of nature and having Leon right there with me was the best experience of my life. and it turned into the first of many.
Montana horizon was gorgeous, but it does not hold a candle to their rainbow colored mountains.
We saw every color of blue, green and yellow on the road to Glacier. When we entered the park we began the drive up the slender road up the mountain. When we arrived to the top we were greeted by rolling fog. The surrounding mountains were hard to see and it wasn't until half way through our hike that the granite peaks were revealed to us. To see that view come to life all at once was extraordinary!
The hike up until that moment was wonderful too. We hiked the Haystack trail which went along the cliff side ( with rope rail for security D:). Along this trail we would enter different ecosystems. One moment your surround my rainbow granite rocks the next your standing among flowers as high as your knees.
Towards the end of our hike we entered the valley of this mountain that was covered in dandelions and its as if Julie Andrews herself emerged from the hills and began singing the Sound of Music. It was the perfect spot for lunch and local friendly marmot came out of their homes to join us.
The last stride of the hike was, again, a plain of snow. (I really should have gotten hiking boots on the drive here...) Luckily it wasn't an intimidating steep slope like North Cascades trail. The other side of the plain showed a whole new view of Glacier's layering mountain view. And in that moment Leon and I had the view all to our selves.
July 10th, 2016: We picked him at the small Yellowstone airport and went to straight to his site of choice, Old Faithful Geyser.
frankly so was Leon and I. We were wearing our dusty hiking cloths looking slightly wild and unbathed. You could tell by the everyones attire that the guest at this resort had no planned to go hiking or get dirty so we stuck out like sore thumbs. I have to admit though, the high pressure shower was nice... and the food was a nice upgrade from bagels and trail mix. But Leon and I had no intention to stay inside! No sir, we were going to hike and grandpa was just going to have to come along. Intead our regular 5+ mile hike, we took grandpa on a nice short 2 miles hike :)
We took a boat over to our hiking location, Inspiration Point. We walked along this grand waterfall and the loud crashing sound of water was music to my ears.... however, it wasn't as loud as my dad groaning "are we at the top yet?"
He was a champ though! He carried Leon on his back and got a good work out in.
tallon tuesday - bird show.
little animals were camped out of the hill behind us. Unfortunately, my phone died and I wasn't able to capture a photo of the sunset but I got to be in the moment with Leon. We saw Mt Adams, Mt St Helens and the cascade range take on different shades of purple. the further the mountain the foggier it looked. completely enchanting.
Nibs on outdoors adventures. He has grown into a mellow old man, though every time he gets in the shotgun seat of my Subaru, he becomes his old rambunctious puppy self! We began at Rainshadow Trail, a short round about trail that shows the layer of mountains with valley's that cut in between. We then traveled down to the falls for lunch by the water. I kept the futon in the back from when Leon and I road tripped to California. We laid in the back of the car, listening to the water flow and observing the natural foliage take over the surrounding hills.
Yosemite and back. We got to grandmas house on in Vancouver Washington on Friday evening after work and the next morning at 5 Am we began our drive down the hwy 101 along the Oregon coast.
radio. The smooth low tone of the radio host and the fog that hovered over the ocean made for the perfect drive. We made a couple of stops along the way to look out at the view. once at Restless Waters Trail, then Yaquina Head Lighthouse, then Face Rock State Beach. We then did a big hike over in Brooks Oregon and it was incredibly. Sometimes it's the journey to the destination and the stops along the way that really make the trip worth while.
August 6th, 2017: We slept in Brookings Oregon and would continue our roadtrip to the redwoods from there. The town is right along the coast on hwy 101. We did early morning hike on the Samuel H. Boardman State Scenic Corridor trail and look out at an ocean that wasn't going to visible for hours later, though the fog was an experience in itself. we continued down hwy 101 and crossed over into California which is right next to the Redwoods entrance.
The state has a nice golden haze that I think takes effect the moment you cross state lines. The trees certainly held up to their reputation. We stuck around the coast, stopped by the entrance shop with large lumberjack statue and went to the Ossagon a 3.6 mile trail. We park the card and Leon is ready to nap. I lay him in on the futon and tuck him in for the nap. I sit and take in the scenic road with the impressively tall old-growth redwoods. These tree were too tall for panorama photos. When Leon woke up we began our hike felt engulfed by shrubbery. We got to see a moose sticking out between the trees. We landed on the secluded beach. seeing trees as tall as the coastal mountains. we picnicked blanketed in the hot sand and relaxed to the sounds of crashing waves. looking out and the endless horizon we saw seals stick its head up out of the water spying on us seeing what food it could snag I'm sure. Leon loves to put everything in his month so naturally he scarred down a bunch of sand.
were revealed. The sky littered with sparkling dots and you could see the whole mass of them arch over us like a dome. The brightness of the stars created haunting silhouettes of the mountains and cactus. Leon and I took a blanket and laid on the hood of the car watching the sky sparkle. I never wanted that moment to end. I never wanted that feeling to go away.
We arrive at our Nevada hotel, which, no surprise, was also a casino. What was surprising was that they placed us in the room right next to slot machines. No worries though. I'm okay with waking up to the lobbies 80's rock mix. It helps me pump up the start of our great adventure.
We had complimentary breakfast and got to overlook the full casino and flashy light which Leon was a huge fan of! I plugged in the first trail destination in google maps. The drive in was beautiful the land was gold and the mountains pail grey blue. Google map sends up a rocky road which looks private... But I'm committed. I want to see where it ends. The drive up is awesome! Its a steep road and we get a straight view of the mountain. I knew it was too good to be true though when it told me to make a left on an unmarked path. I went way further than I should have because it was definitely not a road i don't even think it was a hiking trail. So I had to back my car up a good quarter mile till i was back at that turning point. From here i could see so much so I sat on my car and took in the view. The wind was really picking up and I could see big dust storms from afar. It was a little to windy to take Leon out from where we were parked at.
see anything 20 feet in front of you. Scary but so incredibly magical. I felt like I was crossing worlds and then suddenly I was on the other side and low and behold a sign that reads Zion National Park straight ahead. It was presidents day and the park was overwhelming packed with tourist.
canyon overlook trail
pinnacles looked like statues of people. We arrived right before sunset and booked our way to Double Arches to watch the sunset to what the sun fall behind the horizon.
"And into the forest I go,
to lose my mind and find my soul”
to lose my mind and find my soul”