Birthday Weekend – The Narrows at Zion

ZION NATIONAL PARK

This past weekend I celebrated my 26th Birthday with my friends Kristin, Lauren, and Inna in Zion National Park! It was the 2nd time I’ve been to the park, but this time we were able to hike The Narrows. I’ve also hiked Angel’s Landing and Observation Point, and those are so worth it! You can see my previous Zion blog post for that trip. We went Thursday night to Friday night to beat the weekend crowds and it was so worth it! The temps were in the 90’s but we started early in the morning to beat the crowds and heat.

We left our hotel at 6:30am to rent gear before heading into the park. The Zion Adventure Company rents water hiking boots, socks, and hiking poles for $25 just outside the park. It was so worth it to get the gear and get there right when they opened at 7am. We got into the park around 8am and got in line for the shuttle. Since the Narrows is the last stop in the park, we started hiking around 9am. The first half mile to mile is walking on a paved path that is accessible for everyone before getting in the water.

We started with a few other people on our shuttle, but overall the crowds spread out once we were hiking through the river. The temps were in the 70’s and we were shaded from the canyon walls for most of the morning. We hiked about 3.5 hours before taking a break for lunch. There were so many beautiful views and variety of depths to hike through. Some parts were dry, but most of the hike was between ankle deep and  waist deep water. We didn’t bring any valuables besides 1 waterproof phone, car keys, water, food, and an extra layer of clothing just in case we fell in. The water temp was around 60 degrees and it felt great to escape from the heat in the afternoon. We got to the part of the narrows where it split into 2 canyons, and after that the canyon walls got narrower and the current picked up.

After lunch we turned around and that is when the sun was on us and the crowds got more intense the closer we got to the start. We took our time on the way back and swam in the deeper sections when the sun started getting too hot. I loved doing this hike on a week day in the summer, it was so beautiful and comfortable with the hot temps. Overall it was an amazing experience and we couldn’t have asked for a better day at Zion! We finished our trip with dinner at Zion Brewery and drove home!

SALT LAKE

On Saturday I had a birthday get together with our friends in Salt Lake. We hiked to Lake Mary at Brighton (3 miles round trip) and it was the perfect hike for a large group! Most of the snow was melted and it has beautiful views for a shorter hike. The wildflowers were also in bloom, which made the ski resort area so beautiful! We stopped at Hog Wallow pub for a post hike beer, and the patio was perfect for our group! It was an amazing birthday weekend with friends and I am so thankful for our community in Salt Lake!

Portland Girls Weekend

Last weekend my friend Haley and I flew to Oregon to visit our friend Sam who lives there. We had a little over 48 hours to explore the state and it was amazing! We fit so much in a short period of time and got to see so many beautiful parts of the state. I will definitely be going back to explore more!

We got there Thursday night and got up early Friday morning to drive down south for a day of hiking and wineries. We were in the Salem area and hiked in Silver Falls State Park. The trail we did was Trail of Ten Falls, its 7 miles and has 10 different waterfalls along the route. It was so green and mossy compared to Utah, it felt like we were in a rain forest!

After hiking we drove to Willamette Winery and had some wine and lunch. The atmosphere and views were amazing, I would definitely go back!

That afternoon we drove back into the city and went to Salt and Straw for ice cream and explored the NW neighborhood. In the evening we went to an outdoor concert and Ecliptic Brewery and tried lots of samples of local beers! We had dinner down the street at Por Que No? Tacos after the concert. It was delicious!

On Saturday we went to the PSU farmers market and tried all of the samples! After that we drove to Cannon Beach and explored the coast. We saw the famous Haystack Rock and walked along the beach, it was a cold but beautiful day! We explored the downtown and had lunch at Ecola Seafood, the fish and chips were delicious. When we got back to the city, we had dinner at the food truck carts on the East side and went to a private concert at night. It was an amazing trip filled with so many activities, I can’t wait to go back!

Grand Teton Girls Weekend

My friends Kaylyn and Lisa from the Midwest flew into Salt Lake in the beginning of June and we made a road trip to the Grand Tetons for their Half Marathon race! We also decided to run the 5K together the night before. We got there Friday afternoon and checked out the race expo before going to our Airbnb before the race. We stayed in Teton Village near the ski resort and it was beautiful! I loved our studio and the location was perfect for the race and the National Park. We ran the 5K that night and the weather was cool and the views were great!

Saturday morning the girls got up around 4am to head to the start line and I met them at the finish. Since the course was along a busy road and on a bike trail there were no spectator spots, but it was fun to see them finish and take pictures at the golf course with beautiful mountain views!

After the race we went to Cafe Genevieve in Downtown Jackson and it was so good! We headed into the National Park and drove to the north end to hike Lakeshore Trail at Jackson Lake. It was a 3 mile hike with a couple hundred feet of elevation change, so perfect for after the race. The beach and views were gorgeous! We also stopped at the Snake River Overlook on our way out of the park. That night we went to dinner at Mangy Moose Saloon in Teton Village and called it a night!

On Sunday we spent most of our day in the National Park and hiked around Jenny Lake Trail and saw Hidden Falls along the way. It was a 7 mile loop trail with about 1000 ft of elevation change. There were a lot of tourists and half marathoners at the waterfall but other than that very few people that hiked the entire route. It was beautiful and right up against the mountain range. There is also a boat shuttle that takes people across the lake if they didn’t want to hike far to the falls. That night we tried Snake River Brewery for dinner and a beer and it was great! We did some shopping downtown and grabbed ice cream to finish off our last night there.

On Monday we had time to do a shorter hike before making the drive back to Salt Lake and the girls had to fly back that evening. We decided to do Bradley & Taggart Lake Trail and it was really pretty! There was still snow at Bradley Lake so it was slippery and we couldn’t get a great view. But we loved the views at Taggart Lake. It ended up being about 6 miles and 900 ft of elevation change with the two lakes combined. Overall we had perfect weather in the 70’s, saw about every wild animal in the area including a bear, elk, deer, and moose, and I can’t wait to go back!

1 Year Anniversary Trip!

I can’t believe how fast the past year has gone! Matt and I have been married one year, and it has been our best year yet! Some of the highlights include getting married, moving to Salt Lake City, moving in together, and exploring a new state together. This past weekend we went to San Diego to celebrate, and it was so fun to go on our first trip alone! We love traveling with family and friends, but it was nice to get away from the city and explore somewhere new on our own. I planned a detailed itinerary (the type A in me needs a plan) but the trip was so relaxed and set to our preferences each day! We fit in everything we really wanted to do and had plenty of time to relax and reconnect. It was the perfect way to celebrate!

DOWNTOWN/GAS LAMP DISTRICT

The first night and last morning we had in the city was spent downtown near where we were staying. We stayed in the Little Italy neighborhood downtown, and we love it! It was a central location to downtown, the airport, and our day trips outside the city. We used the scooters to explore the downtown, marinas, and Embarcadero area. We had dinner near the Padres Stadium on Level 9 rooftop, and it was a great relaxed atmosphere with a beautiful view.

LA JOLLA

La Jolla was one of my favorite areas to explore. We started the morning at Caroline’s seaside cafe near the UCSD campus and it was the cutest patio and right on the water. We walked along the beach after breakfast before heading to hike. The rain held off most of the day and we were so happy! It was chilly but perfect weather for exploring the area.

We met up with my childhood friends Kayla and Connor who live in CA for the afternoon, and it was so fun! We went to the beach, hiked at Torrey Pines Nature Reserve, went to a brewery, had apps in downtown La Jolla, and saw the seals at the cove. We visited my friend’s house before walking up to Mt. Soledad and taking in 360 views of the whole city. Matt and I had dinner at Duke’s in La Jolla and it was super fun! We loved the food and Hawaiian feel.

CORONADO

On our last full day in the city we went to Coronado for a relaxing beach day. The island is beautiful and has so much to do! We went to Hotel Del Coronado first to check out the area and enjoy our morning coffee. It is so historic and beautiful with plenty to do nearby. We spent most of our day at the beach and it was so relaxing! The views and weather were perfect. We finally got some sun (maybe a little too much), but we were so happy to spend our anniversary relaxing. We had the most delicious lunch at Brigantine and explored the surrounding neighborhoods before leaving the island. We went to Mimmo’s for dinner in Little Italy near our hotel and explored the neighborhood. The food was amazing! Overall we had the best Anniversary, and I’m so glad it will fall near Memorial Day so we can always plan a long weekend getaway!

On our last morning before leaving for the airport, we used the scooters again to get to Breakfast Republic in Gas Lamp District and it was amazing! The atmosphere and food was great. Overall it was an amazing trip and we will definitely be back!

Arches National Park!

My friend Brianne from my hometown came to visit Utah this past weekend. We filled the weekend with some hikes around the city and made a spontaneous trip to Arches National Park in Moab! It’s about a 3.5 hour drive each way, and we had time for an 8 mile hike and a couple of lookouts to see the arches along the main road. It’s a beautiful park full of red rock and arches, but very touristy! We are glad we went and checked it off our Utah bucket list.

We decided to do Devil’s Garden Primitive loop trail to make the most of our day in Moab. It’s an 8 mile hike with 1000 ft of elevation change and is very gradual. We were able to see 7 arches along the way, each unique and a different size. It was an 80 degree and sunny day, perfect weather for down south! Later in the season it gets over 100 degrees, so we’re glad we fit in a trip before summer.

We fit in a couple of other hikes while Brianne was visiting, including Bell’s Canyon Reservoir, Avenues Twin Peaks, and Grandeur Peak, each a different view and landscape from southern Utah!

Bell’s Canyon is a 2.5 mile hike with 500 ft of elevation. It’s an easy after work hike and the views are great this time of year! We went Friday right after Brianne got into town.

Avenues Twin Peaks is a 4-5 mile hike with 1000 ft of elevation. There are a few different ways to get to the top, but we took the longer route and the temps and views were perfect this time of year! There were lots of wildflowers blooming as well.

Grandeur Peak is a 7 mile hike with 2800 ft of elevation in Mill Creek Canyon. This time of year was perfect, because almost all of the snow is melted and the temps aren’t too hot. The views of the snow capped mountains at the top were my favorite part. It was worth the tough elevation climb! I would like to try this one again in the early fall to see the trees changing. It was the perfect hike to end our weekend!

Escalante Spring Camping Trip

Our friends Katie & Sam planned a camping trip to Southern Utah the last weekend in March. We made the 5 hour road trip from Friday evening and drove back on Sunday afternoon. It was fun to experience Escalante with friends and camp this time instead of staying in the Yurts. We even got to celebrate two of our friends getting engaged! While the camping weather wasn’t ideal (25 degrees overnight), we embraced it and soaked in the sun on our hikes during the day!

Saturday

After getting to camp around 11:30pm and sleeping in below freezing temperatures, we were all trying to warm up and drink all the coffee on Saturday morning. After breakfast we made the short drive to Spooky and Peek-a-boo slot canyons. We hiked the 3 mile loop with our group of 12 and it was a blast! The sun made the hike so warm and I had a great experience hiking these slot canyons for the second time. It came with challenges like climbing down boulders and sneaking through the narrow parts of the canyon.

After eating a quick lunch we kept making our way down the dirt road to Coyote Gulch trailhead. We hiking on the opposite side of the road and made our own path to sunset arch. There was no one around, so it was the perfect time and place for our friends Emma and Davis to get engaged. He proposed on top of the arch (amazing!) and we got to celebrate them with champagne right after. We made our way back to camp after some pictures and had a campfire, dinner, and drinks to celebrate the engagement!

SUNDAY

After a long day of hiking and a 10 degree temperature difference overnight (YAY 35 degrees!) we all slept amazing and were refreshed for our last day. The next morning we packed up camp and headed to our next hike, Lower Calf Creek Falls. It’s a 5 mile hike with little elevation change that leads to a beautiful waterfall! The canyons and views along the trail are incredible as well. We took some pictures and made our way back to the car for a lunch and the long drive home. Overall it was an amazing trip with friends and I can’t wait for more this summer and fall! Next time I’ll be more prepared with layers and warm blankets for overnight. The foot and hand warmers were definitely needed! Thanks to our friends Sam and Katie for planning the whole thing!

Bryce Canyon National Park

This past weekend Matt and I took a road trip with our friends Kate and Jeremy to Bryce Canyon National Park, 4 hours south of Salt Lake. We left Friday morning and got back to Salt Lake on Sunday afternoon, and we were able to fit in 4 different hikes! It was one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been, and the fresh snow made the red rock and hoodoos even more breathtaking. While it was more like winter weather when we got there, it was fun to explore new trails inside and outside of the National Park!

FRIDAY

When we got to the National Park on Friday afternoon, we saw that hiking options were very limited due to heavy snow amounts and avalanche warnings. We opted to hike the rim trail that day since it was the only hike open in the park. The views were incredible after the snowstorm they had earlier that week, and we had a blast exploring the amphitheater section of the park and going to the different lookouts.

SATURDAY

Since we covered most of what was open in the park on Friday, we decided to explore Red Canyon on Saturday. This canyon is on the way into the Park, so it’s only a 15 min drive from where we were staying. We did a hike called Golden Wall Trail, it was a 4.5 mile hike that took us back into the canyon and had incredible views of the hoodoo’s and red rock. When the snow got too deep to trek through, we went off trail and hiked up to the top. The 360 degree views were incredible and we ate lunch up there before making our way back. Our friend Jeremy sled down part of the back side of the mountain, and he had so much fun we all decided to join and sled down the mountain instead of going back on the trail. It was so much fun! After it became too flat to sled, we made our way through the deep snow until we got back to the trail head. It was an adventure to say the least! We decided to cross the highway and do a few shorter hikes before heading back to our hotel. We spent the afternoon hiking Pink Ledges and Bird’s eye trails and the snow was completely melted on this side of the canyon. The views and hoodoos were amazing here too!

SUNDAY

We started the morning early by catching the sunrise at Sunrise Point in the National Park. The views were amazing and we got there early enough to watch the whole sunrise. The pictures don’t do this place justice 🙂 After the sunrise, we did one more hike before heading back to Salt Lake. At dinner on Saturday we had a hike recommended to us that is part of the National Park and was the only other hike open to the public. It has a cave and waterfall, and we went of the trail and did some exploring on our own. We found a beautiful hole in the red rock with the light pouring in and walked along the river up to the top.

 

Over all we had an amazing trip and are so glad we went, despite the weather. We can’t wait to explore the rest of the National Parks in Utah and come back here in the fall when the temps are a bit warmer 🙂

Arizona Getaway!

Over President’s Day Weekend on of my close friends got married in Phoenix, so my college friends and I made a girls trip and flew down for the weekend to celebrate! I arrived on Thursday and got to spend that night and Friday with my brother who recently moved there. It was so fun to catch up with Blake and his girlfriend! I hadn’t seen them since my wedding last May, so it was awesome to see their new home.

FRIDAY

Blake took my friend Rachael and I to South Mountain Hike near his home in Tempe, and it was gorgeous! The weather was 65 and sunny and we had a blast exploring the desert. It was a really nice change of pace from the cold and snow in Utah.

For lunch we met up with my cousin and his family downtown Phoenix, and it was so good to see them and meet his baby girl Willow! I hadn’t seen them in a few years, so it was so nice to catch up with them and be with family in Arizona.

IMG_4332

We met up with my other girlfriends who were in town and went to our friend Kelly’s wedding that evening. The weather and scenery were gorgeous! It was a venue out in the country next to the mountains, and it had a vintage/rustic feel. Everything was outdoors, including the reception and dance and that was something I had never experienced before. It was an amazing atmosphere and I had a blast catching up with my girlfriends and the bride and groom!

 

 

 

SATURDAY

In the morning we went to OHSO brewery in Scottsdale and it was so cute! The back patio is huge and faces Camelback mountain. Every meal comes with a mimosa or beer which was so fun! Since we were so close to Camelback, we decided to do the hike afterwords! It was a gorgeous day and we had a blast hiking together and soaking in the sunshine. It was more challenging and steep than I anticipated, but it felt so good to do a hike again after only skiing for the past couple of months! The views from the top were also incredible!

The bride and groom hosted a cookout at their home in Phoenix that evening after the wedding, and it was a great chance to see them again and socialize with everyone at the wedding who stayed in town! They have the cutest back yard with a fire pit and it felt like a summer BBQ.

SUNDAY

On Sunday my friend Haley and I had brunch at the cutest crepe restaurant in Tempe, and it was nice to have the morning to relax before our flight home. I left that afternoon and came home to a blizzard and freezing rain, so I missed the warmth immediately. I’m so excited to have friends and family down in Arizona so I can go back and visit often!

 

Home for the Holidays

This year was our first Christmas as a married couple, and it was so fun to be back in Wisconsin for the Holiday’s with both of our families! We fit in so much during our 10 days home and I can’t wait to share our favorite traditions and memories back home. It was bittersweet coming back to Utah after such a fun week, but we felt ready to be back and start the new year in our new home.

HUDSON

We spend the first 4 days of our trip in Hudson, where my Husband Matt’s family is from. We got lots of family time with his immediate family and extended families on both sides. It was so great to see everyone! Some of the highlights were going to Christmas Eve Mass with Matt’s Grandpa, that is his favorite tradition. Another favorite memory was hiking at Willow River State Park with Matt and his siblings to the waterfall on Christmas Day. It is gorgeous this time of year! We also played lots of rounds of our favorite board game, Ticket to Ride.

LA CROSSE

The day after Christmas we went a few hours south to the La Crosse Area to spend time with my family. We got to see my parents, Grandparents, and a few friends! I missed not having my brother home since he recently moved to Phoenix, but I will get to celebrate with him in less than a month when I visit. A few highlights were going to our favorite spots in our college town, including Grandad’s Bluff, our college campus, and favorite Bar & Grill Howie’s. We also played lots of Ticket to Ride with my parents, and Grandma surprised us all being the champ her first time playing!

APPLETON

For the weekend after Christmas we traveled to the East side of the state to visit my extended family. On our way there I was able to celebrate my college friend Kelly’s bridal shower and see all of my college besties! After that we went to our family Christmas and did a secret Santa gift exchange and played lots of rounds of catch phrase. The boys pulled ahead this year, but I’m confident the girls will take back the lead next year 🙂

PACKER GAME

The next day we traveled north to Green Bay to cheer on our favorite NFL team, the Packers! It was a great experience being at Lambeau Field again, and the weather was around 30 degrees so we weren’t freezing! They had a tough season and didn’t score any points this game, but we still had a blast and the crowd is amazing.

NEW YEARS

After our long trip across the state, we decided to stay close to home & the airport for New Years, especially since we were flying back to Utah the next day. We spend New Years dinner with Matt’s friends and the evening in Minneapolis with my college friends! It was so fun catching up and playing our favorite game, salad bowls.

Overall it was a great trip back to the Midwest, but we are so excited to be making Utah our home. I can’t wait to make this a yearly tradition!

San Francisco Friendsgiving!

For Thanksgiving break I flew to San Francisco to visit friends from my hometown in Wisconsin! It was different not being home with family in Wisconsin, but we had so much fun exploring the Bay Area. Our hosts Gabby and Kyle planned out three packed days for us to see different parts of the city. They hosted the perfect weekend trip, and I can’t wait to go visit again, hopefully with my Husband next time!

DAY 1 – PACIFIC COAST

On Thanksgiving day we drove Hwy 1 and visited all of the small towns along the coast. It was my first time seeing the Pacific coast on the US side and it was beautiful! We started with the Santa Cruz pier to watch the surfers and sea lions and made our way north to Davenport, where we stopped for lunch. Next we went to the Pigeon Point Light House, and then drove to Half Moon Bay where we had a sunset picnic and went to Thanksgiving Dinner at the Moss Beach Distillery. The food, drinks, and company was amazing!

DAY 2 – SILICON VALLEY

On Friday we went to Palo Alto to visit Stanford University’s campus, downtown, and a few tech company headquarters. Stanford’s campus was incredible! We walked around the main quad, visited the bookstore, and pretended we went there 🙂 Next we visited downtown Palo Alto and grabbed brunch at Local Union and coffee at The Blue Coffee shop. Their downtown restaurant and shopping area was adorable and packed with black Friday shoppers! We visited Google’s campus and rode the bikes around, then saw Instagram and Facebook. Their campuses were pretty incredible! Our last stop before heading back home was for a Winery tasting and Thomas Fogarty Winery in the mountains. It was pouring rain and foggy at that point, so we didn’t get to see the incredible views of the bay but the wine was delicious! We went to a local favorite Mexican restaurant in Redwood City for dinner and had some drinks downtown!

DAY 3 – SAN FRANCISCO

On our last day we drove into downtown San Francisco to visit Gabby and Kyle’s favorite spots. We had just enough time to see the highlights of the city before I left for the airport. Our first stop was driving down Lombard Street. It was pretty cool to see in person! Next we get to the top of Coit Tower to see 360 degree views of the city. It was the first clear day in a while with no fog, so the views of the bridges and downtown were amazing! Next we drove to see the Golden Gate Bridge and took lots of pictures. We drove across the bridge to have lunch at Barrel House Tavern in Sausalito, CA. The restaurant had great views of the Bay and the downtown area was very cute! We went to a spot north of the Golden Gate Bridge to take in views of the city from up above before heading back to downtown. We drove past the piers where there were tons of tourists, through the Little Italy and Chinatown neighborhoods, and stopped at the Painted Ladies houses from Full House before leaving for the airport. There were so many fun spots in the city and I can’t wait to come back so I can explore them more! Overall it was a great Friendsgiving trip to the Bay Area!