Sunday, September 25, 2011

Tips for Getting Your Fearful Kids Climbing

Here are some tips to help to get your younger, and possibly a bit sheepish, kids climbing and having fun doing it:
1. Fix a rope to their back for lowering. Have the kid drag up an extra rope tied to their back.  This is helpful for those kids who have a little trouble with the lowering part of climbing.   Or like our son, who tends to kick to hard off the wall, rotate, and hit his head.  Or our daughter who often doesn't weigh enough to come back down.  We have an extra person (if there is one) help by pulling on the rope and guiding the kid away from the wall if they are having trouble lowering.
2. Find a kid friendly place to climb!  Often the routes WE choose are far to difficult for the kids to climb.  Find a good place to take them that had an easy approach, a route that can be set up quickly, and is attainable for them.  Often we loose our kids just as they wait for us to get everything ready!

3. Make it about them having fun- not you and your agenda. Kids have just as much bouldering, we've found.  And if they are afraid of the heights part of it- let them explore down low where they are more comfortable.

4. Fix a cow bell at the top! We haven't actually done this yet- but our church has a climbing wall and they put bells up for the kids to ring when they reach the top.  I have been quite astounded how the "ringing of the bell" gets them past their fear or discomfort and to the top.  Who knew?!?

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Dog Lake, Wasatch Range, UT

Goin’ to the Dogs!
Contributor: Nancy Henry

Location: Dog Lake can be reached from either Mill Creek Canyon via the BigWater Trail (end of Mill Creek Canyon Road) or from Mill D North Fork Trail in Big Cottonwood Canyon (Trailhead is 8.6 miles up Big Cottonwood, on the left, across
from Spruces Campground).

Cost: Free

What to expect: Beauty!! The wildflowers peaked late this summer, so we picked the perfect weekend to take in their splendor. It also made for some spectacular photo ops. We have also done this hike in the fall and it was incredible – lots of golden aspens.

We have only done the Big Cottonwood option, so what I say from here on out pertains to that one. There is plenty to see on the trail for kids. The beginning has some big rocks for climbing, and there’s a place to stop next to the stream about ½ way up. After the long hike, the lake is definitely the reward. We kept enticing our 4-year-old with the lake and the dogs; otherwise I’m not quite sure he would have made it. The whining immediately turned to glee when he rounded the corner and saw a dog bounding into the water after a ball. “Mom, I want to do what that dog
is doing!” – and he took off running. “Wait, no! You can’t do what the dog is doing!” Thankfully, he wanted to throw the ball to the dog, not dive in the water after the ball.

The lake is set in a wooded area, unlike most of the mountain lakes in Big Cottonwood. The reflection of the trees in the lake adds to the scenery. It’s a great place to kick off your shoes, throw some rocks in the lake, and see your share of different dog breeds. Oh, and have lunch if you happened to be smart enough to bring it.

Important stuff to know before you go:
- Dogs are allowed at the lake (hence the name), but only via the Mill Creek Canyon trail. You cannot bring dogs into Big Cottonwood Canyon because it is a watershed area, but the lake itself has no surface outlet, so dogs are allowed there. For kids, no matter which way you hike, the lake is the reward – all kinds of dogs, big and small, chasing all kinds of stuff into the water! What more could a kid ask for!
- Hike is 5 miles round trip from either trail, and approximately 1400 feet elevation gain. I would typically not recommend this for 4 –year-olds, but we remembered it as shorter and brought ours (having last done it about 3 years ago when he was riding in a backpack.) It is generally not too steep and has quite a few flat sections, however, the end is very steep.
- Mountain Bikers galore! But only on even days – well, we didn’t know this before our hike, which we did on August 6th – enough said. Constant jumping to the side of the trail. On the upside, all bikers were very polite. Also, the kids enjoyed watching them pass by.
- Bug spray is needed! We had just camped in Big Cottonwood Canyon two weekends before so we did know this – we just forgot. If not for meeting some friends on the trail who saw us slapping and scratching and were generous with their bug spray, we would have surrendered to the army of biting flies and headed back.
- Guidebooks say expect 1.5 hours up to the lake, but with one set of little legs and one kid in a backpack it took us just over 2. Since we set out at 10:00, we should have brought our lunch up with us, rather than leaving it in the trunk of the car – lesson learned.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Sherpani Messenger Diaper Bag - Gear Review

Product Features:

Removable diaper pad
2 Water bottle holders
Insulated bottle holders
Internal organization
Internal waterproof pocket
Floral fabric interior
Nylon fabric
Top zipper for easy access to internal compartment

7 x 13 x 18 inches

I received this diaper bag with our third child and it is versatile, easy to organize, and fits a remarkable amount of things!  I have loved it, and now that my youngest is 18 months old, I am looking forward to removing the diaper pad and using it simply as a messenger bag.  My favorite part is the small outer pocket for my cell phone and keys! It is the perfect size for the first mom that tends to over pack and someone like me who is packing snacks, cloths, water bottles, and bottles for 3 kids.  Nylon washes up easily.

The Sherpani Diaper bag has become slightly more difficult to find in stock, so my friend simply ordered the messenger bag and uses it as a diaper bag.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Scout Falls, American Fork Canyon, UT

Location: From the mouth of American Fork Canyon, go 8.4 miles up the Alpine Loop road and take a right at the Timpooneke Campground.  Go a short distance past the campground host trailer to the Timpooneke Trailhead.

Cost: $6/per car or annual national parks pass accepted

What to Expect: The hike to Scout Falls is approximately 3 miles round trip.  In and back- it is relatively gentle uphill to the falls.  As you near the falls the trail takes off to the left and proceeds up some rather steep rocky areas (steep for young kids, but possible).

This was our first time adventuring in American Fork canyon and we loved every minute of it.  The beauty is unreal.  However, on a scale of 1-5, I would give the actual hike a 3.5.  The trail is open to horse traffic so we found ourselves leaping not so gracefully over piles of poop and holding our noses every 10 minutes.  As you near the falls, the trail becomes muddy and slippery, difficult for younger kids.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Reservoir Ridge, Big Cottonwood Canyon, UT

Location: Approximately 3 miles up Big Cottonwood Canyon.  Look for Storm Mountain Picnic area, pass it and continue on till the road goes over the river.  There will be a chain link fence on the left and immediately after, a black shale parking lot.  Park there.  Head south towards the fence, go around and follow the trail along the river towards the dam.  At the dam take a right and follow the trail to the rocks.

Cost: Free

What to Expect: My husband and I explored this location last week and decided we must take the kids back!  It is a simple and short approach on flat ground from the parking lot to the climbing.  Nice flat area for the kids to play and simple 5.4 - 5.7 routes for them to enjoy.  There is a bolted anchor 15 ft up one of the routes - hotly contested by many locals and used by outdoor eduction teams for classes - but I say it is great for belaying my younger kids off of!

The down side? No harder routes for Mom and Dad.  But great for beginners and kids!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

City of Rocks National Reserve, ID

Location: Southern Idaho.  For more specific direction visit the link at the end of the page.

Cost:  Day use is free!  A camping fee for one vehicle and one site is $12.72.  There is a $8.48 charge for an additional car with a max of 2 cars and 8 people per site.

What to expect:  A lot of rock, a lot of climbers and mountain bikers, a lot of dogs, and a lot of fun... at least on a busy weekend like Labor Day.  I cannot claim any credit for reserving sites, our friends did that.  But just know to make reservations ahead of time and if available get a site with not a lot of hiking.

But this is an awesome place to go with kids and climb!  Huge rocks rise abruptly from somewhat flat, grassy land.   Most approaches are easy with lots of flat space for the kids to run and play.  And there is a great mix of trad and sport climbing.

For more information visit: