Summing Up Our Zion and Bryce Canyon Family Vacation With Some Pointers For Others Planning A Family Hiking Trip

As you can tell from the last few posts we had an amazing time vacationing in Zion and Bryce National Parks. I credit our amazing time to a lot of research, planning, and mostly to what we learned from our guides the first time my husband and I took a guided trip to this area two years ago.

On this trip we were on our own and I want to share some pointers to help anyone else have a successful trip, as we did, to this same area..

#1 Trail Map: This is something you do not want to forget….and if you do go back for it! You are hiking in the desert where it is easy to miss a turn off, get injured, and with mountains surrounding you on all sides cell service is quite limited. We found a family on our trail through Echo Canyon miles from the trail they had been searching for. When asked if they had a trail map, their response was, NO we forgot it.

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#2 Cell Phone: Bring it just in case you would need help and are lucky enough to get a signal.

#3 First Aid: You don’t need much but you also should never be without some first aid items. We actually offered some of our first aid supplies to a family we met on the trail because they left theirs back in camp. You may not get so lucky and meet someone on some of the more remote trails and an injury could really make the hike back miserable.

#4 Headlamp: We all think and plan to be done hiking and out by sunset, although you really never know what will happen until it happens. Hiking out of the mountains in darkness can be even more dangerous than in daylight. So carrying a small light weight headlamp is a smart idea and worth the extra pack weight.

#5 WATER: I cannot stress this enough. You will need water, and a lot of water. If you are doing more than one trail in the park you will be able to refill water containers at each trail head in Zion NP.

#6 Do not feed the wildlife: There is a fine in the national park if you are caught feeding the wildlife.

IMG_2038#7 Watch your pack when you take it off: Squirrels, lizards, and chipmunks are VERY BRAVE here and they will chew a hole in packs very quickly.  IMG_2093

#8 Snacks: Bring trail snacks and don’t worry about counting calories while hiking. You will need the energy and will burn the calories quickly here with all the elevation so eat often. IMG_1818 #9 Flash flood warnings and weather: Check the park website for the flash flood and weather forecast warnings everyday. If it’s too high, choose an alternate trail for the day.

#10 Have an alternate plan: Keep in mind that accidents happen and this is a remote area so it takes search and rescue personnel sometimes hours or days to reach people in need. Have an alternate plan if you would come across your chosen trail head and find it closed due to search and rescue trying to find someone. We thankfully did our first hike into Echo Canyon on our first day because the second day the trail was closed down all day and night due to search and rescue trying to help someone.

#11 Permit/Back country Passes: Research before you hike and make sure your chosen trail is not one that requires you to have a permit or pass. Some do and some don’t.

#12 Sunscreen/Hat: Desert sun is hot, lather up and wear a hat if you can.

#13 Adequate Shoes/Boots: You will come across cactus, snakes, wildlife, dirt, rock, water, and so on. Wear adequate shoes/boots.  IMG_1992

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#14 Electrolyte Replacement: I will attest to this personally…..you will sweat like crazy here in the summer time. Prepare to have some sort of electrolyte replacement with you on the trail.

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#15 Groceries: Bring what you can from home or stop in the nearest town before arriving at the park. Groceries are outrageous here….a jar of salsa in the local store we saw was $8 compared to maybe $2 here at our home store.  Clif bars were $3.50 each. We brought all our trail food from home and thankfully did not have to purchase anything at the little grocery store near the park.

#16 Bring Ziplocs: These are priceless….great ice packs for sore muscles, water proofing personal items in the Narrows, rain protection, keeping your packs organized, carryout, sealable garbage bag, etc.

#17 Have Fun: A vacation like this takes a lot of planning but if all goes smoothly you should have tons of fun, leave exhausted, and have memories that will last a life time. I know we did, we were, and we have all of these:)

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Feel free to email me or comment if you have any questions in regards to anything you see or that we did. I will be glad to answer anything I can for you.

 

 

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Weekend Snapshots: Wine, Water and Wonderful Friends

What a great holiday weekend we had. After everything that has happened with both my husband and son these past few weeks, I can honestly say none of us needed to take a visit to urgent care over the weekend. Although, that is not to say we survived the weekend with no first aid needed. OUCH! My husband sustained a deep cut but the tendon is still working…hurray for small miracles.

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Friday is when our weekend officially started since we all had the day off. I very rarely have a day completely without children during the week so I needed to do a few daycare chores before our fun began.

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After chores we decided to stick close to home and enjoy the nice weather by having some fun in the Bay of Green Bay. Our son gave the standup paddle board a try after suffering with a back injury all week. This made me nervous but I know from experience sometimes movement is the best thing for back pain, so I stood close by and watched.

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Saturday we were up bright and early loading the truck for a day I have been looking forward to for the past year. Last year a good friend of mine bought herself a kayak after giving one of ours a try. Since then we have been trying to find a day that we could make it back to their cabin and kayak the lake together. This turned out to be that day….and it could not have been more perfect. The lake was calm, the sun was shining….it was perfect. We arrived, unloaded, and hit the water immediately. It had been at least two years since I had paddled one of our recreational kayaks, so I was surprised to find that I was a little nervous. Which is so odd since my whitewater kayak is so natural, but a few strokes into it and all the nerves disappeared.

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While visiting we also had the opportunity to meat her son and daughter in law for the first time. They both had their first experience with a standup paddle board and needless to say her son granted us some pretty good laughs.

Here he is attempting to stand up

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He’s standing….look fast

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And here is is falling into the lake after a few seconds of standing

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This was his one and only attempt….at least he was still smiling after his little swim.

After some fun they took us for a tour around the lake on their pontoon and then we all shared a very nice dinner prepared over the campfire.

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Dessert was chocolate chip smores…yum!

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The night ended with fireworks over the lake before we headed home very late. It was one of the best July 4th holidays I have ever had.

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Sunday brought a day to sleep in. I cannot remember the last time I was up until midnight but Sunday I was not motivated to do much at all. We clean and put away all our weekend water toys, did numerous loads of laundry, made it to the gym in hopes of finding some energy which was somewhat successful, and pretty much relaxed the rest of the day.

I have to say, with my husband still suffering with a pinched nerve and on weight restriction, my son just coming off a week long back injury, and me trying to handle mainly everything around the house, it did turn out to be a very nice, relaxing, and fun weekend. Exactly what I needed. And the small parts that were not so relaxing I handle with a little help from the wine bottle:)

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Have you ever tried standup paddling?

How did you do?

 

Blister Prevention Supplies

After a lot of research I have finally settled on blister prevention supplies I think will come in very handy on our next hiking vacation.

Our son will be joining us this time and he was blessed with feet just like me…..blister prone. Which can make hiking any distance very painful. After many, many years of experimenting with numerous items, I have finally found my happy solution to my problems. I now wear toe socks by Injinji and they have been a life saver. However, he can not find a pair that fits him so this is not an option. Which meant I needed to figure out how to keep him blister free or at least cover the blisters he does get so he can continue hiking in the least amount of pain possible. Here is what I came up with after reading many hiking forums.

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Apparently, everyone uses these four items to prevent and treat blisters. Thankfully we start our training regime a week from today which will give us plenty of time to test these products out and see if they work.

Here’s to hoping for pain free training and pleasant hiking in the near future.

 

Do you have a blister prevention plan you care to share with us.

Kayaking Safely With New Paddlers

It’s that time of year again. All our “seasonal friends” are letting us know that this will be the year they give kayaking a try. I laugh every year I hear them state this fact. In the back of my mind I know it all sounds great and exciting UNTIL it comes to summer and time to bite the bullet and actually come along. Then they all seem to chicken out…..but we play along and usually have a few give it a try.

Anyhow, here are a few basic facts that we have learned over the years that will make guiding a trip with newbies much more enjoyable for you as a guide. Plus, by following a few basic guidelines you can ensure that it will be safe, fun, and very enjoyable for first time paddlers.

#1 Check that everyone has the proper gear before leaving home. Examples:PFD, helmet, spare keys, water, sunscreen, portage shoes, snacks etc. Also, make sure their PFD fits them.

#2 Let someone (neighbor, friend, parent) know what river you are doing, from what point to what point and when you expect to return home. Just in case!

#3 Get the current weather forecast. If possible, try and take a newbie on a nice day. It’s not so cold and miserable for them then in the event that they decide to swim instead of paddle:)

#4 Give details of the river they will be paddling. Some of the most common questions for us when we are guiding a trip is: How do we portage? How many portages are there? Do I have to portage? Is there a place to change? What should I wear? (These last two are normally asked by females) Letting them know what to expect always seems to help.

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#5 Stress proper hydration/nutrition throughout the day. Tell them to bring water and somehow secure it into their kayak. Remind them throughout the day to drink. You would be surprised how many people forget to drink. Also, ask them often how they feel. Would they like to stop for a snack? Are they comfortable?

#6 Assist them on paddle strokes and the feel of the kayak upon entering the water. Before you even start paddling, make sure they understand how to hold the paddle, what strokes do what, make sure their seat is adjusted correctly, and they are comfortable with their kayak. Making adjustments mid river is not always easy or possible for that matter.

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#7 Make sure you take them to a river you are familiar with. I cannot stress this enough!!! They are depending on you to know what is coming next. If they change their mind when they start to hear the rapid around the corner, you know where and how much time you have to get them out to portage before they are committed. Be a knowledgeable guide about the river you are on.

#8 Don’t push them too hard. Ask if they are tired and would like a break. Remember you paddle often, they do not. If they want to try something new, let them. On the other hand, if they need to think about it for awhile or watch someone else first, let them do so.

#9 Stress what to do in a roll over. This is usually the scariest thing for newbies, but let’s face it, it sometime happens. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them in what position to float downriver, never to get between their overturned kayak and a rock, and to swim to the rivers edge when possible. Explain to them how to wet exit their overturned kayak.  Remember it’s all about priorities. Rescue order should be people, boats, equipment.

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#10 Bring First Aid. This is what dry bags are for. Accidents happen. You don’t need much, but when you need it, you will be glad you had it. We have used our first aid a couple times. From simple bandaids to gauze wrapped with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape! Holds great in water)

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#11 Keep Alcohol For The End Of The Trip. We do not allow anyone in our group to consume alcohol while with us on the water. Maybe it’s being over cautious, but it’s hard enough to help and rescue a sober person when they are in a panic much less if they have alcohol in them. We have no problem asking anyone to leave the alcoholic beverages of choice for the end of the trip. This is for their safety as much as ours.

These are the basics for taking a newbie kayaking. Just keep in mind, a great guide can really make a great trip. If you want your family and friends to join you, show them you can be fun and knowledgeable all at the same time.

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Safe and Happy Paddling Everyone!

 

 

Every Parents Nightmare

You know that call that every parent dreads…. we received that call Sunday night from a friend of our son’s. It went like this,”Mrs. Byrnes, Quade has been in a skateboard accident and I brought him to the ER but they think he will be ok!”

It’s like your world is turned upside down in a few seconds. We dropped everything and headed out the door. Imaging the worse but going off those few last words of,”THEY THINK HE WILL BE OK.”

We arrived in the ER a few minutes after that call to find his buddy sitting in the exam room alone hanging his head and feeling like crap. Our son was taken to radiology before we arrived. I couldn’t help but think that these kids (young adults) all have learned a hard lesson on this night but we praised him for making the right choice and getting our son help as fast as he did. This was the one night he forgot to grab his helmet.

Shortly after arriving we were briefed by a nurse and shortly after that they returned him from radiology with a neck brace and visible signs of loss of blood from his head. He was thankfully medicated for the pain by that time and quite aware of everything around him.

To my surprise another one of his buddies also showed up and they all stayed and kept his mind on other things while the ER doctors and nurses did their thing to evaluate and treat his injuries.

In the end he left the ER a few hours later with some staples, a concussion, a broken clavicle, lots of road rash and bruises.

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We left with a son that thankfully should make a full recovery in time. We will have a week or so of lots of bandage changing and doctor appointments but in the end we will also have the knowledge that he will not forget his helmet ever again.

We are also very thankful that he has a great group of friends that care for him. They were there the night it happened. And have been popping in to visit ever since.

 

 

Kayaking With A Newbie- A Guide’s Checklist

It’s almost time to start thinking about dusting off our kayaks and going for a paddle. I thought I would give you all some good information we have learned over the years about taking a newbie kayaking with you. I remember clearly all my fears as a newbie and think this could benefit many others.

I will never forget the first time my husband begged me to try kayaking with a friend of his. I was not willing and said I never would be. So he took our son and the three of them went. Our son tipped over the first paddle stroke he took and they arrived home raving about the experience. I just shook my head in mom fashion and said I was glad they had a good time. End of discussion!

However, that was not the end of my husband trying to get me to go. It’s all I heard about, everyday, for days on end. Then one night he arrived home from work and waited patiently for my last child to be picked up and my work day to be over. He told me to go change, and get in the truck, we were going kayaking with his friend and he was not taking no for an answer. I spoke my mind, said I was not going and that was that. Well, about 20 minutes later I found myself in the truck, not speaking to my husband and very unhappy. I finally just gave in, because I figured it would just be easier. I assumed I would hate it and I would never have to hear about it again. Little did I know how wrong I was.

We bought our first two recreational kayaks that next weekend. One more a few weeks after that. One year after having those, we bought our first two whitewater kayaks and a year after that I purchased my whitewater kayak. Which left us with two recreational kayaks for friends to join us. And we sold the third recreational kayak to my brother.

We wasted no time learning the ropes of this sport. We took a rescue class in a pool setting during winter one year, we purchased all the proper gear and also made sure to read up on the rivers we wanted to kayak. We knew this would all be very important if we ever wanted to have friends join us. A great book we find very useful for our area is:

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Since then, we have taken friends and family along for some paddling fun. Many really have no idea what to expect and others are into trying everything the first time in a kayak. When you are the one guiding the trip of the day,  there are a few important rules you should follow. Like everything in life, their first time in a kayak can be whatever they wish it to be. It can be an adventure, a wild ride, a relaxing paddle, a way to connect to nature or quite the workout. However, it can also be a terrible, dangerous, miserable experience if they are not prepared for what could happen on a river in a kayak. That is where you, as the “guide” comes into play. A good guide can really make or break any trip. Here are some important pointers as a guide of a newbie:

#1 Check that everyone has the proper gear before leaving home. Examples:PFD, helmet, spare keys, water, sunscreen, portage shoes, snacks etc. Also, make sure their PFD fits them.

#2 Let someone (neighbor, friend, parent) know what river you are doing, from what point to what point and when you expect to return home. Just in case!

#3 Get the current weather forecast. If possible, try and take a newbie on a nice day. It’s not so cold and miserable when they decided to swim instead of paddle:)

#4 Give details of the river they will be paddling. Some of the most common questions for us when we are guiding a trip is: How do we portage? How many portages are there? Do I have to portage? Is there a place to change? What should I wear? (These last two are normally asked by females) Letting them know what to expect always seems to help.

#5 Stress proper hydration/nutrition throughout the day. Tell them to bring water and somehow secure it into their kayak. Remind them throughout the day to drink. You would be surprised how many people forget to drink. Also, ask them often how they feel. Would they like to stop for a snack? Are they comfortable?

#6 Assist them on paddle strokes and the feel of the kayak upon entering the water. Before you even start paddling, make sure they understand how to hold the paddle, what strokes do what, make sure their seat is adjusted correctly, and they are comfortable with their kayak. Making adjustments mid river is not always easy or possible for that matter.

#7Make sure you take them to a river you are familiar with. I cannot stress this enough!!! They are depending on you to know what is coming next. Especially with a river that has rapids. If they change their minds when they start to hear the rapid around the corner, you know where and how much time you have to get them out to portage before they are committed. Be a knowledgeable guide about the river you are on.

#8 Don’t push them too hard. Ask if they are tired and would like a break. Remember you paddle often, they do not. If they want to try something new, let them. On the other hand, if they need to think about it for awhile or watch someone else first, let them do so.

#9 Stress what to do in a roll over. This is usually the scariest thing for newbies, but let’s face it, it sometime happens. Tell them exactly what to do. Tell them in what position to float downriver, never to get between their overturned kayak and a rock and to swim to the rivers edge when possible. Explain to them how to wet exit their overturned kayak.  Remember it’s all about priorities. Rescue order should be people, boats, equipment.

#10 Bring First Aid. This is what dry bags are for. Accidents happen. You don’t need much, but when you need it, you will be glad you had it. We have used our first aid a couple times. From simple bandaids to gauze wrapped with duct tape. (Yes, duct tape! Holds great in water)

These are the basics for taking a newbie kayaking. Just keep in mind, a great guide can really make a great trip. If you want your family and friends to join you, show them you can be fun and knowledgeable all at the same time.

Safe and Happy Paddling Everyone!