Our Top 12 Outdoor Moments of 2012

As 2012 is winding down, I feel a little sad that my family and I have not been able to spend as much time outdoors as we normally do.  With three rounds of family strep (yes, 3!!) and other medical issues, getting outdoors has been hard for us over the last couple of months.  So I’m really looking forward to getting back in the groove of outdoor livin’ in 2013.  To cheer myself up a bit, I decided to take a look back and reminisce on our favorite outdoor moments of 2012.

12. New Year tree huggin’ on Fiery Gizzard Trail (our fave trail), January 2012


11. Autism and the healing power of nature, February 2012


10. Nature day with mama, March 2012


9. First canoe trip of 2012, April 2012


8. Nature for all, May 2012


7. Mother’s Day Caving, May 2012


6. The Great Sand Dunes, June 2012


5. Mini Muddy Buddy Run, July 2012


4. Alone in the wilderness, August 2012


3. Adventure and the special needs child, June 2012


2. Alpine Views in Colorado, June 2012


1. Water fun and Little Man’s 1st Kayak, July 2012


OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASo what was your favorite moment of 2012? Any adventures you want to share before the new year falls upon us?!

Sharing Our Story

Today I am guest posting over at Tales of a Mountain Mama.  I am sharing our story and hoping to inspire others to live a life of adventure, no matter the obstacles that may stand in the way.  Please go check it out and maybe even learn a little bit more about us.

Oh, and you will love Mountain Mama’s blog.  She frequently shares tips, product reviews and giveaways to inspire families to get outdoors and explore.  You will love her!  Now go check it out, mkay?

Reviews and News Just for You! {The North Face Role Models Pledge, The Clymb and Duraflame Roasting Logs}

As we approach Independence Day, I wanted to leave you with some great stuff I think you should check out! The next week and a half is going to be a bit crazy for us as we spend time with extended family and embark upon some outdoor adventures. Blogging may have to take a backseat for a bit, but here are some awesome things to share before I go!

1.  The North Face Role Models Pledge

The North Face wants you–yes you! They are asking everyday adventurers to take the pledge to become  role models this summer. Go to their Facebook page to make a pledge that you will go on an outdoor adventure and take someone with you.  It’s easy to become a mentor, just a few clicks and you’ll be on your way.

Take this opportunity to ignite the spark that could lead to a lifetime of adventure. And remember, here at Hike. Blog. Love. we believe that adventure is for all, so no excuses! I pledged to get my kids hiking in a National  Park this summer (actually, let’s see how many National and State parks we can hit up!)
Go here to take the pledge today!


2. The Clymb

Do you hike, bike, travel, climb, camp or paddle? Do you like to save up to 70% off the price of your gear and apparel? Then this site is for you! The Clymb provides member pricing on the planet’s most sought-after outdoor brands. Just yesterday I joined and snagged some Lolë travel pants at a fantastic price. Want to join? It’s free!Click here to join now and check out the daily deals.

If you join through my invite above, I receive a small referral reward to use towards my next purchase. It is truly a site worth joining and I wanted to share it with you all as I am someone who has benefitted from being a member. Once you join, you can refer family and friends, too. There are many great deals that I hope you take advantage of!


3. Duraflame Campfire Roasting Logs

I was contacted by the kind folks at Duraflame a few weeks ago about trying out their new Campfire Roasting Logs. Here’s a bit of info about the logs:

duraflame® Campfire Roasting Logs
Great for backyard or the backwoods

“The first fire log specifically formulated for roasting and cooking, duraflame® Campfire Roasting Logs are ideal to use in the backyard and the backwoods. These logs stack and burn like wood for a robust fire that creates hot, glowing coals safe for roasting marshmallows, hot dogs or cooking other campfire foods.”

-Available in a 4-piece bundle (5 lb) for one campfire or a case of 6 bundles for 4-6 campfires
-Individually wrapped logs for clean handling and easy, no-hassle lighting
-Made from 100% renewable resources, including real wood charcoal
-Compact — easy to transport and store
-Ideal for backyard fire pits, campsite fires and beach fires
-Duraflame Campfire Roasting Logs are made with 100% renewable resources and burn 60% cleaner than firewood.

We decided to have a backyard s’mores party in order to give the logs a whirl.



What I liked: These logs are easy, safe, convenient and did the job! As you can see, the fire was easy to light and within the hour we had s’mores and banana boats in-hand.

What I didn’t like: I wouldn’t say that I necessarily disliked anything about these logs. I think they are a great option for backyard fire pits especially. I don’t think that I would purchase them for a backpacking or camping trip as collecting firewood and building the great big campfire is part of the fun for our family. I would, however, purchase these to use in the backyard or fireplace. They are super duper easy to use and give you more time to enjoy roasting!

To learn more about these convenient logs, visit the duraflame website.  You will also find some yummy recipes there as well.

I was provided a complimentary package of roasting logs to review. As always, all opinions expressed are my own.  And please be careful to always use safety precautions to keep your little ones safe around the fire, and make sure to fully extinguish the fire once finished.  Also be aware of fire bans and fire hazards that may be in effect in your area.


Special Needs Kids and Adventure: when is it too much? (or not enough!)

[I’m skipping around in sharing our Colorado adventures. Stay with me, I promise the chronological ordering is not important!]

It was our fourth day in Colorado and we were looking to take a break from our daily mountain escapades. Right down the road from our cabin was a riding stable. On a whim we decided to check it out. Little Man loves horses and although he hasn’t ridden much, it’s something he absolutely enjoys. Big Brother had never even seen a horse up close and personal before. Big Brother is not really into animals, or so we thought.

When we reached the stables, I asked Big Brother if he wanted to ride a horse. He quickly said “yes.” A nice man took us out back to see the horses and brought one near. Big Brother immediately put his nose against the horse’s face. It took him a year to even pet our sweet, gentle and very old family dog…but this giant creature he had known all of two seconds was invited into his close, personal space without even so much as a slight hesitation.

So the staff kindly placed him upon this horse–the most kind-hearted and mild-mannered horse they had–and led Big Brother and his horse around in a small circle.

I held my breath, waiting for the meltdown that I was sure would ensue….


He sat on the saddle quietly, listening to the horse’s footsteps and reaching down to smell her back.

I was baffled. Here was a child that “does not respond to discipline,” and “cannot sit still for any length of time,” and who normally has continuous, disruptive verbal stimming. Here was a child that did not like to be high up in the air, deathly afraid to even ride on Daddy’s shoulders.

And here he was now, as quiet and still as a mouse, sitting up high upon a large creature, listening closely to the giant beast breathing.

The man looked at me, waiting to see what I thought.

“Let’s do it,” I said. And just like that, I found our family about to embark on a horseback ride through the Colorado praire.

Big Brother ready and waiting to go

Little Man rarin’ to go

“This is ludicrous,” I thought to myself as we trotted out onto the praire. “You just can’t take Big Brother out on an hour trek into the wild on a horse, he’ll never be able to do it. He needs more time to practice and learn about how to ride. He can’t even make it through an entire day of school without a violent outburst or having to be restrained, What are we doing here?!”

But I quieted my brain and instead, listened to my gut. “I think he can do this,” it whispered.


And so I realized that with the help of the very kind and compassionate staff, Big Brother was safe and that he could, indeed, do this. In fact, this was the first time in his life that he was doing something without direct help. That feeling must have been overwhelming for him.


Before I knew it, our ride was over. Somewhere along the way I was able to see Big Brother in a new light…from a perspective I’ve never seen before. And in that moment, I felt ashamed for ever thinking that he couldn’t do it. I’m his mother for crying out loud! I, most of all, should be the one to know he is capable of so much more than this world gives him credit for. As for the special and instantaneous bond between Big Brother and his horse? Well, it’s not at all surprising given the many stories of similar happenings in the autism community (check out the documentary Horse Boy, for example.)

As for me, I learned an important lesson that day. Sometimes you have to cast rational thought aside and follow your instinct in order to accomplish that which seems impossible. If adventure is about sailing away from the safe harbour, Big Brother must have traversed the entire globe that day.


“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
― Shel Silverstein

An Off-Road Trek Up Mount Antero in the Colorado Rockies

On our first full day in Colorado, we did some hiking (that’s for an upcoming post) and then visited Mount Antero via an off-road expedition. I filmed our trek with my phone and I’m sharing the clips below. If you become bored with them, just skip to the last two videos of the kids where an overload of cuteness awaits you. I’m not a very good videographer, so be gracious!

“Mount Antero is the eleventh highest peak in Colorado, with an elevation of 14,276 feet (4,351 m). Also known as Antero Peak, it is named for Chief Antero of the Uintah band of Utes. It is located in the central Sawatch Range in Chaffee County between the towns of Buena Vista and Salida. The mountain itself is prized for its gemstone deposits and has one of the highest concentrations of aquamarine in the country. There are several active private mining claims being exploited on Mt. Antero and surrounding peaks.

The peak is located entirely within the San Isabel National Forest, due south of the more visually prominent Mount Princeton. Mount Antero is one of the most prominent peaks of the Sawatch Range rising an impressive 7,000 feet above the town of Salida, Colorado to the south east. There are two popular climbing routes on Mount Antero. The generally accepted hiking route, which begins near the ghost town of St. Elmo, is from the east starting at the Browns Creek Trailhead and paralleling Little Browns Creek to its upper reaches where it crosses Forest Road 1A, then following the road near to the summit. The other route follows the same forest road from the north up Baldwin Creek. This route has heavy mining and tourist traffic in fair weather during the summer months.

The peak was surveyed by the Pike Expedition in 1806. A forest service sign at the Browns Creek trailhead commemorates the expedition camp at the eastern base of the peak.” -Wikipedia

Going up and rocking out to Phineas and Ferb (this video is kind of boring and poorly executed, but I’m posting them all so here it is!):

On our way to the peak:

The one where I have a panic attack on film. I would have happily hiked this mountain, but in our FJ Cruiser, it was just too much to see us teeter-totter on the edge of the blind curves:

Looking for snow:

Looking for a lake:

Baldwin Lake:

Big Brother’s Take on Colorado:

Little Man’s Take on Colorado:

I’ll be back with photos from our other hikes and trails soon!

A Rocky Mountain Adventure for an Appalachian Girl (and her family)

yours-truly rocking the 80+ mph wind gusts 12,000 ft up near Pomeroy Lake in the Colorado Rockies

I’m a southern, Appalachian Mountain girl through and through. Born and raised in the foothills of Appalachia, I love my old growth cove forests, raging waterfalls, lightening bugs, sweet tea and steamy summer nights where the forests glisten in an almost magical, ethereal way in the wetness of the surrounding air. After traveling 24 hours in the car, I found myself here, within reach of the clouds. Toto, we’re not in Tennessee anymore!

traveling off-road up to the crest of the Continental Divide

We spent a week climbing up the spectacular mountains of Colorado in our trusty FJ Cruiser. We hiked to alpine lakes and waterfalls and even managed to go horseback riding (a first for my son with Autism!), visit some ghost towns and mine ruins, and also visit the Great Sand Dunes national park. It was an exciting trip filled with breathtaking views and new landscapes to explore. I have hundreds upon hundreds of photos to download off of both my “good camera” and my iphone! I’m not sure when I will be able to tackle it all, so bear with me. I have so much to share…not only of pictures and trails, but reflections from travel and adventure with a special needs child and more. I also have some reviews I would like to do. So stay tuned, I’ve got a lot in store for you all!

Adventure: Is it really for everyone?

20120606-013428.jpg Big Brother’s fortune at his “welcome to the family party” mere hours after he was declared our son in a court of law.

Tonight I found myself reminiscing about the past 1.5 years that Big Brother has been with us as I gazed upon the hundreds of pictures I have saved on my computer. Most of the pictures were taken during a time when he was trying something new. Pictures of Big Brother in a canoe, on a hike or in a cave are sandwiched among pictures of him playing with his brother or celebrating a holiday with family. He certainly has been on a lot of adventures since being home. I remember so clearly the words of concerned loved ones who were afraid that by adopting Big Brother, our adventurous lifestyle would come to an abrupt end. On the contrary, we have found that it has just begun.


I truly believe with every fiber of my being that adventure really is for all. But does the world think so? Probably not. And although my brain is screaming that it doesn’t matter what the world thinks, I know in my heart that it does matter. It matters because I get tired of “defending” our right to be somewhere to others who think we should just stay at home. I want the world to know that my son with special needs has just as much right to venture out into this world as anyone else. He has just as much right to be on a hiking trail, at the climbing gym or on an airplane as anyone else. Although he may be unusually loud or need special accomodations at times, he is, after all, just the same as any other human being. There seems to always be people around us that act perturbed to see our family come near. Not everyone we encounter feels this way, but it’s happened enough that it really gets me thinking.

And then tonight as we sat in the office of our much loved pediatric specialist, he said something that grabbed my heart. “A lot of people with children like Big Brother tend to retreat to their homes and not venture out…”

What a shame that our society can make an innocent child feel like a burden to society, as if he is not worthy of the same rights to explore this world of ours.

So, if you see our family out and about and are bothered that the likes of us would join the ranks of ordinary adventurers, you may just get a kind but thorough lecture from me a la Ms. Cho style. I promise I don’t bite, but I will defend my creed of adventure for all fiercely and relentlessly.

How about you? What is something that you are willing to stand up to the world for…something you believe in so much that you are willing to raise your voice as to be heard by all the world?

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela


P.S. Thanks for all the kind and encouraging comments on my last few posts. I may not have responded to each and every one, but please know they are all appreciated and loved by yours-truly. You are the best readers a gal could ever hope for!

Do You Like Adventure?

Well I’ve got three of them for you! My latest post on the Civilized Travel site shares my 3 favorite off the beaten path adventures and tells you how you can explore these spectacular places, too.

See how this…








add up to one big adventure in the southeastern US. What are you waiting for? Go check it out and then join me the next time we venture out into the wild!