Last Minute Hiking Mom and Toddler Wish List (2019)

I re-shared my last minute list from last year- but here’s one now that I have a toddler!

Base Layers!! Both mom and kids need them to stay warm during winter activities. They are also great for sleeping in on chilly summer nights. I love merino wool!

For mom I highly recommend the Kari Traa brand. They are made for women by women. The Rose set is their most popular and I love the pants! Just size up 1 size as these are thicker and don’t stretch like their others. I also have the Tikse bottoms which are thinner and paneled for when you are more active.

Wee man has 1 wool set by Simply Merino Kids and 1 polyester set by Odlo. I bought his current size in both and they fit well enough to wear now but should also last through next season too! If your kids hate tags just gently use a seam ripper to remove them and you are good to go!

And for proper wool care I highly recommend this wool wash by The Laundress!

SOCKS!! These will always be on my lists!

I still say Swiftwick for mom! This year they have their Vision FIVE socks in merino wool with some awesome winter designs! I’m totally rockin a pair and would love another! (wink wink) I get mine from my local running store RunnersRoostLakewood.com but they are available lots of places online too.

My favorite socks! The Aspire’s are my favorite for running! I use the Zero height for working out and road running and the One or Two height for trails. And I’m just in love with these fun winter Vision’s!

For wee man he needed warmer socks than just our standard what can we find at Target this year. @wasatchwildchild on IG recommended these by HowJoJo off Amazon. They are a wool blend, cheap enough to justify for a toddler, and keep wee man’s feet nice and toasty but not too sweaty. Only downside is they are a bit slippery with no grippers but he usually is wearing them with shoes.

Sunglasses! Well for mom at least (wee man never leaves his on)! Goodrs….

Not going to lie I used to HATE these….but they’ve grown on me. I have a pair from when the company very first started-they have been used as a teether, a baby toy, and have lots of scratches. The one thing I’ve always loved is the texture of the frames. I also keep my originals in my car as backups. I love that with them on I can still see my son in his car seat via the rear view mirror via the car seat mirror. Many other sunglasses block too much light for this. I also just got myself two more pairs! With their ever expanding collection of crazy colors and patterns I found one pair for night driving to cut the glare and one pair for indoor wear when I have a migraine. And then I found this cool pair that will be gifted to my Goodr lovin friend (I’m sure she knows who she is if she reads this but I couldn’t resist sharing because they match my socks above!). Of course I get these from my local running store – but they can also be found on their website Goodr.com.

Mittens – both my hands and wee man’s hands never seem to be warm….that is until I found these!!

Swany Toasters for mom. These have light gloves inside hefty mittens. You can unzip the mitten and get your whole hand out to use your fingers for fine things (zippers for one) and to use your phone. The touchscreen friendly finger tips REALLY DO WORK on these.

Polarin O.Pyret makes 100% merino wool mittens for babies and kids. They are double layered too. Wee man’s hands never get cold in these and they are super soft. Definitely use wool wash mentioned above. They will shrink on first wash but are true to size. If he wants to play in the snow or it’s going to be rainy – just put snow or rain mittens on top!

You can also always gift an REI Co-Op membership. It’s $20 ONE TIME and it’s good for life. This gives special access to sales, 365 day returns, and even dividends on full priced items!

Those are my top picks this year! Always will be more to come and many of these will always carry over year to year, so check out last year’s list too.

Lions and Tigers and Moose…OH MY! (repost from old site)

I want to talk about what happens when you see a moose. Now everybody knows I’ve spent a shit ton of time in the mountains. I’ve lived in the mountains basically my whole life. I grew up in Colorado Rocky Mountains. We’ve got lions and tigers and bears oh my. But really what happens when you get close to a moose moose is scary. There’s only two things I’m afraid of. And that would be mountain lions/bobcats/big cats and moose. I don’t care about Bear. I don’t care about wolves. I don’t care about coyotes but moose and cats scare the crap out of me.

Even in the winter this guy loves hiking!

So yesterday up here in Breckenridge, I was going for a snow hike (was intended to be a snow shoeing but that didn’t happen). Anyway, I digress. Hiking in the snow with my son, I am a quarter of a mile away from getting back to the trailhead and come around the corner and there are two moose. At this point I can’t quite tell. Do we have two cows? Do you have a cow and a baby? Do you have a cow and a bull? What do we have? I couldn’t quite see it, but luckily at this point my son and I had already been babbling and yelling and making all sorts of noise for miles and we did not startle them at all, which is a good thing. You don’t want to startle a moose. That’s even worse.

It turns out that I had come across a cow, which is a female, and her baby. Baby is clearly less than a year old and was probably born this spring. Mom was off in the willows, a good good distance off the trail, so closer than I’d like to be but good distance from the trail, munching down on some willow bark. But baby was like two steps off the trail. Mind you, I’ve got my son on my back. We’re hiking almost back to the trailhead. I’m tired I’m exhausted. I’m sore. There’s snow. The trail itself is packed. But if you step off the trail it’s knee deep. And then the moose are standing in a little creek. I kept talking.

I decide to tell these moose, “Hey I’m here. We’re just passing by. I’m not going to hurt you.” I just keep talking to the Moose. I Show them my hands. You know a lot of people think I’m crazy for talking to animals, but I really think they can understand us. Body language means a lot to me. And so I talk to animals when I come across them because it helps keep yourself calm. It helps to make sure you’re not startling them, and I’m pretty sure it helps them know that you’re not there to hurt them. So I keep talking to these moose. I tell them how beautiful they are. I tell them we’re not going to hurt them, we’re just passing by.

Momma moose

We get past Mom no problem. But baby is really close to the trail. And when we get a little bit closer to baby he decides to take a couple steps towards us. Now even a baby moose, less than a year old, weighs more than I do. If he wanted to he could easily have charged me and hurt me very badly, and mom would have come to his rescue, and mom would have probably trampled me to death. That is usually what happens when there’s a moose incident. Somebody gets trampled because they get in between a mom and baby or a dog goes after the moose. That is how most accidents happen. They’re very rare, but that’s what happens. So baby Moose takes a couple steps forward. I take two steps backwards. And then I just stand still for a minute. I show the baby moves my hands. I tell them again, “I’m not here to hurt you. I’m just passing by. We’ll take our time.” He stops, stares at me for a couple of minutes and then takes a couple steps backwards and turns around. He doesn’t totally walk off, but he at least walks farther away from the trail. While he has his back to us we manage to pass him, always keeping my eyes on him. It’s kind of hard when you’re trying to watch your step in the snow but always make sure you know where you are relative to the moose. Get around him and then keep talking to him. Don’t just stop talking because you manage to pass them. They can move a lot faster than you can.

All in all, it was scary but it was also a really wonderful experience. I’ve actually never been that close to moose. I’ve had lots of close calls with a dog and moose before.

Like I said the number one incident with moose out here in Colorado is that a dog off leash goes after a moose and the moose charges. Most don’t typically run away. Most moose will turn around and charge. They know they are a big huge contraption. So what do you do when you come across the moose? You talk to them. You should never startle an animal. You should always be making sound on the trail. You talk, you sing, you babble with your baby. Always be making some sort of noise. Yeah it’s nice to listen to the birds and stuff, but especially if you’re alone in an area with animals, make some noise. If you do come across some, gauge the distance. The farther away you are, the safer you are. Do you have a dog? Get a hold of that dog immediately. It needs to be on a leash or very well held in your hand. And I really hope that dog is well trained to not chase animals. It’s really hard to do. It’s something you need to train from puppy hood. But get a hold of that dog before it goes after them as you could be in very very big trouble if that moose does decide to come at you. Don’t try to outrun it. You will not win. It will outrun you. It will trample you. That’s just the way it happens. That being said, there are a couple things you can do. You want to protect your vital organs. So if you can get behind a big tree, get behind a big tree, because Moose can run fast. They cannot slow down fast. They very well might run themselves into that tree trying to get to you.

Baby moose

The other thing is kind of curl up in a ball to protect your vital organs. Put your hands behind your neck, tuck your head down, curl up in a ball. You’re still going to get injured if you get trampled, but you’re less likely to die. And yeah that’s kind of scary to think about. But it’s something you really have to know, especially if you’re out there by yourself, and especially if you’re out there with a dog.

But the biggest thing is, again, moose incidents are rare. Being well informed, making sound, talking to them, telling them, “hey we’re not here to hurt you,” it makes a huge difference. So yeah, while it was kind of a little scary to be that close to some big moose mom and baby, it was a beautiful experience. I actually got pictures of the moose. I got to see them. My son got to see moose, so that was really awesome. Hey don’t be afraid of animals. Again, just be smart.

Packing for a Toddler With Special Needs (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

The packing has begun!

Normally I wouldn’t even start until a week or two out but with a toddler that’s different. With a toddler with special needs it’s extra different. Then there’s that vacation before the vacation (HEY look! I’ll get a vacation from my vacation haha).

The guest room is currently acting as a staging area for gear layouts.

Clothing layouts are being done, taking a picture to remember, and put away. After all I still need those clothes between now and then. 

Working on first aid kit (don’t forget the pup)

Food..well that’s complicated. I have an idea of what I’m bringing, most of which is set aside I packed in a grocery bag. But toddlers are picky eaters. I have a feeling some of his food needs will change between now and then, therefore requiring a last minute grocery trip to get more goldfish (because #dontforgetthegoldfish ) and some other new snack he’s become fascinated with. I also have to consider his drink needs and that he doesn’t do well on just water or electrolyte drinks. He needs milk of some sort. This part I’ve decided to just deal with. They make his favorite almond milk in single serve boxes – so even though it will suck to carry I will bring 1 per day. He also LOVES chocolate milk and requires probiotics and digestive enzymes daily. Bonus my favorite “recovery” drink is essentially all this in powdered form just add water. Even tastes like chocolate milk and his pediatrician and dietician have both said it’s completely fine for him to have (Thank you Skratch Labs !)

Wee man’s clothing layout.

So the other part… the hard part… what do I bring for him? I’m not talking about clothes or food or basic gear, I mean to help with his special needs. My son is autistic. He has a history of self harm – should I bring his helmet which will be awkward to carry, hot to wear, and he’s never worn on the trail before- eh probably not but I’ve thought about it, especially when there’s a meltdown mid hike. Or the weighted blanket he loves – helps him sleep, relatively small, but weighs five pounds all by itself – again maybe not, that’s the weight of my pack and sleeping set combined. What about a chewy, a special ‘toy’ specifically designed for chewing on – DEFINITELY – we have carried one on every hike and he uses it almost every time and it weighs basically nothing. A blanket to cuddle – of course I mean a small blanket isn’t much, he’s only 23 months when we go, plus there will definitely be chilly nights- why did I even query this one?

tart of gear layouts day 1….lots more sitting there now.

The list goes on. And I haven’t even touched on sorting out diapers. We cloth diaper. Which has actually made so many things including hiking better, but I still haven’t quite nailed down how many to bring (I’ll wash daily).

Definitely coming together but time to step it up and sort out the rest of the kinks.

Last major hike before leaving on our pre backpacking vacation.

SCORE! Budget Saving Deals (Originally Posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

Disclaimer: No affiliation with any links provided in the post. No commission being earned.

Backpacking, hiking, running … supposed to be the ‘cheaper’ sports. Just lace up and go. But anyone who’s done even the slightest bit of research knows that it still ain’t cheap.

So with a major trip coming up that requires a major purchase (a pack in my case) how do you save money?

First off, not everything needs to be new. Check out Craigslist and the Facebook marketplace for local used stuff. I recommend staying away from used shoes unless they are a pair someone tried once and just didn’t work for them. If you are an REI member they have Gear Swaps once a year and often have killer deals in their garage sales (now available online too YAY). In CO I also recommend checking out local small gear shops. We have tons scattered around the state. And a newer up and coming bigger store is Feral Mountain Co. (https://feralmountainco.com/)

For new stuff: The biggest money saving thing is to remember that 90% of the time last year’s model is just as good (sometimes better) than this year’s new model. Closeouts can pretty much always be found 25-50% off their original retail price. For example, I’m getting last year’s model of the Deva 80 pack by Gregory. This year’s model retails at $349.99. I’m getting last year’s model for $179.99!! That’s $170 saved just for getting last year’s model.

Previous models are regularly found on discount sites. They often carry clothes and footwear seriously discounted as well. All have reasonable return policies too for when it doesn’t work out. These are my favorite to check out and all run their own sales and coupons too. (No affiliation with any, just sharing)

Sierra.com

Backcountry.com

TheClymb.com

MooseJaw.com

For the newest and latest REI often has great sales, especially around Memorial Day and Fourth of July. Plus their members discount days, 1 year return policy for members, and the opportunity to earn dividends (aka money back), makes them a great choice. Also, most major gear companies run their own spectacular sales. If you can wait for major sale weekends I suggest you do and shop around.

If you’re a blogger with major audience or a professional in the outdoor/fitness industry in some capacity, chances are you probably qualify for some pro discounts too.

Going the distance…with an infant?! (Originally posted on AllWomenAllTrails.com)

I often get double checked on my distance when sharing my adventures with my son.

With my upcoming backpacking trip people keep asking how far I think we’ll go each day. And then their jaw drops to the floor when I answer 12-15 miles.

Most people don’t realize my background. I’m an ultra distance trail runner. That means I run further than 26.2 miles at a time on mountain trails. I’ve been doing this for years.

Me running in the Leadville Silver Rush 50 mile run

My last multi day trip was 155 miles in 3 days. The longest day was 55 miles. That’s all carrying about 30lbs dry weight (not counting water weight). So when you compare that to miles carrying weight and sometimes a kid that’s not too bad.

We’ve also been hiking together since he was a few months old; working on building my strength carrying him and his tolerance to altitude. So far our longest single day hike (leaving after breakfast and being home before dinner) was 12.34 miles and gaining about 2300 feet in elevation.

First overnight with the wee man. This pack doesn’t fit right and made for some rough times.

So when I say for a multi day trip I think we can do 12-15 miles each day, I’m not joking. If you break it down. 12 miles per day at 2 miles per hour (30 min mile) is only 6 hours of hiking. That means more than enough time for lunch and breaks and naps and never rushing out of camp in the morning. We’ll be going in July when sunrise is before 6 am and sunset isn’t until well after 8 pm. This leaves more than enough time to have daylight for all activities without setting up or taking down camp in the dark.

Another consideration is that my last multi day trip was in the same area. We’ve also done lots of day hikes in the area. I’ve hiked every single mile of trail in the wilderness area we are going. So while I don’t have our exact route planned yet, I know the area very well.

I know many people think I’m crazy and that’s ok! It’s crazy fun and I love it.

Memories from my last multi day trip in the area we’re going. This was about 5 pm after a day of torrential rains.

First overnight with wee man. So peaceful once I got him down to sleep. We share a double sleeping bag.

Pre-Planning and the Darn Budgeting (Originally posted on allwomenalltrails.com)

REI…

Anyone with even the slightest sense of adventure could easily spend thousands of dollars here. Plus they work as a Co-Op and advocate and work towards saving our precious environment. What’s not to like?!

Our family probably only visits two other stores more frequently- the grocery store and local running store (Runner’s Roost Lakewood).

They have just about everything adventures require.

The iconic flagship REI in Denver, CO

So to the point. Why was I looking at summer adventure gear when we were expecting a good 9-12” of snow the next day?

Simple- I have a super epic trip planned with my wee man! This summer is crazy, with ultra distance trail races, remodeling the kitchen, family time, and birthdays. But the big trip is just going to be me and my mini me (and probably the dog).

Kitchen remodels aren’t exactly a safe environment for a 23 month old who gets into everything. And construction and toddler sleep schedules don’t mesh. So I figured it would be better to go backpacking!!

We hiked all summer last year. This year he’s walking and running! It will be so much fun. But also requires quite some planning.

It’s not like a 23 month old can carry his own stuff….so I will carry it ALL…plus him a good majority of the time.

I’ll also need extra gear I wouldn’t typically carry by myself (I’m a minimalist when it comes to gear). So to REI we went to start figuring out what I need that I don’t have and planning a budget (eek money).

On our way up to Shelf Lake. Little man’s highest elevation hike so far at just over 12,000ft

Things I need:

A new pack. Mine isn’t big enough to carry everything and my larger one doesn’t fit right anyways. What am I thinking: Gregory Deva 80L (which is actually 76L)

A ‘kitchen sink’ aka a collapsible wash bucket. Why?! Diapers!! I decided it would be much simpler to use cloth instead of trying to pack ALL the disposables a trip would require. No one wants to pack those out anyways. With cloth we wash and sun dry (July = nice and toasty) and use again. This means less space taken up by diapers and no carrying a ton of dirty ones.

Pack towel!! There’s a ton of water where we’re going. I assume there will be water splashing times that leaves me a soaked child.

Left: Break time! Right: No one wants to carry dirty diapers. 

Maybe need:

Charging system for phone. Normally I don’t carry my phone but multi-day trip with the wee man means bring it just in case. Plus -WATERPROOF CAMERA!! (There is actually cell service on and off through the area we’re going)

Gear straps. Might need to strap things on to outside of pack. Definitely want some sort of ‘clothesline’ for diaper drying on the go.

Soft bottles. My dogs chewed up my favorite ones. I prefer these as the weigh almost nothing and can be stuffed anywhere in the pack.

A little pack for the little man. This will be decided last minute depending on how much he’s hiking on his own during day trips. This will be a 100% just for fun item because kids always love to do it themselves.

When you take into consideration the upcoming member sales and Memorial Day sales you can estimate this to cost around $300-$500. This doesn’t include any food costs.

So pre-planning is done!! Next up – logistics of the where.

This is why we pre-plan and plan. Sometimes it just sucks and you need to be ready.

Biryani aka Yummy Indian Goodness

Since y’all asked here’s my recipe real fancy style 😂

Recipe:

Sauté veggies (chopped small) of choice – I used zucchini, yellow squash, carrot, onion, and orange bell pepper this time – and nuts (cashews or peanuts 1/4 cup to every 2 cups veggies) and raisins (1/4 cup to every 2 cups veggies) in olive oil with curry (2 tbs oil and at least 2 tbs curry per every 2 cups veggies)

Separately cook white rice to sticky (basmati rice works great but any white will work) 2 cups per every 2 cups veggies

Separately cook meat of choice (optional) here I have 1.5 lbs chicken thighs to about 8 cups veggies

Mix all up and eat

Can drizzle plain yogurt on top if desired

Summer Full of Mountain Climbs

And we return to mountain conversation:

Our family has a rather huge summer planned! It’s exciting…and overwhelming

I’m back to racing this year! Woot woot!!!

So June 1 is race #1 back for me. These means so much to me (I’ll talk more specifically about this later)

Hint hint I’m running here!!

Then the man made it to Western States this year!! We’re all heading out to CA for the race and some family time.

When we get back the kitchen is getting remodeled. Yay!! But this means the house will be a disaster for a bit and not exactly a safe place for an almost 2 year old. SOOOOO LittleD and I are going backpacking (stay tuned for updates on the process of getting ready and how it goes). I’m super excited about this. It’s going to be so much fun. But I have to pretty much have everything ready before we go to CA for Western States. So we’ll be gone for a while then home for maybe 2-3 days then out in the mountains!

Layout from before my last big backpacking trip

Talk about getting a little crazy!

Then it’s LittleD’s 2nd birthday (already?!) and hopefully family is coming out again.

And then end of September brings my big race!!

And in between all of this will be lots of hiking and running and as much mountain shenanigans as we can fit in.

BONUS: I’m super excited to announce that I’ve been invited to share our backpacking trip and some other adventures on the AllWomenAllTrails.com new upcoming blog collaboration. You can check them out there when the post or look for “Originally posted on allawomenalltrails.com” posts!!

(PS they run awesome Facebook groups ladies!!)

Stand Still

Sometimes you just have to stand still

Forget the heaviness in your legs

Forget the growls of the hungry stomach

Forget the burn in the lungs

Sometimes you just have to stand still

Spread your arms out wide

Feel the warmth of the sun on your bare skin

Feel the cool breeze cover your body with goose bumps

Sometimes you just have to stand still

Take in the cool crisp air

Admire the snow capped mountains

Sometimes you just have to stand still

To become one with the trail