2nd class looks a lot more like a 1st class act to me!

I was honored to help plan and lead a first ever backpacking trip for Nick, age 11, who needed to complete a 5 mile trip to earn his 2nd class rank in BoyScouts.
Nick is from Wiley,Texas and very driven to earn his Eagle Scout rank someday. He has never hiked with a pack before nor cooked a meal in the great outdoors. Though he was able to use a map and compass to gain his bearings! Well done.
This was Nicks first time in Flagstaff. As soon as he arrived, after a long 2 day drive, with his grandfather, the first thing he asked me was; ” Can we go on an adventure now?” I knew right away he was in the right place and that we were going to have a blast!
So we wasted no time and hiked around Sandy’s canyon and down to the popular climbing area called ” The Pit” . He loved all the rocks and wanted to climb them all! We got caught in a rainstorm and the rocks became slippery so we hiked back to the car for a short drive to Lake Mary. We spent the next hour getting extremely muddy and desperately seeking to catch a live crawl daddy . Which in Texas is called a decapod.

The next morning we threw on our backpacks and headed out for the Kachina Trail. I had asked what he and his grandfather,John, had packed before we left just to make sure they were completely prepared. They had everything! What I didn’t consider was to ask how much their packs weighed. Mistake number one.

Nick and John pose in front of the trailhead sign. Looking ready for the easy 5.5 downhill hike I promised them. I wanted to make sure Nick enjoyed himself and would fall in love with hiking like I have. Here comes mistake number two. The 5.5 mile hike is actually 8.1 miles. I did not account for the distance before reaching the trailhead nor the distance from the end of the trail to back to where we had parked our second car !!

Mistake number 3…. there is indeed some steep uphill sections on this trail which I didn’t remember. This is probably due to the fact last time I hiked it I just had a small daypack. Nick asked if we could take a rest break. This is when I discovered this 93 pound kid was carrying about a 25 pound backpack!! When I tried to lift Johns backpack I realized he was probably carrying over 50 pounds!!! Clutch and I tried to lighten their loads by taking water and a few other items out of their packs into ours. Nick immediately said he felt so much better so I felt better. I also gave him one of my trekking poles to help balance with the rocky up and down sections.

Mistake number 4…. I wanted this to be a leisurely hike with as many rest breaks as we wanted. Well, dark clouds rapidly covered the mountain and the rain started. No worries, we had our rain gear ! The worry came when the thunder started and we were totally exposed in a meadow. Our pace had to rapidly pick up to reach a more protected area. At this point I feared Nick would never go hiking again, nor speak to me again.

Nick was such a great sport, even though he was tired he kept going!

Finally out of danger with the storm moving away from us we finally could take a rest.

Nick cooked his first meal outdoors during this rest. Top Ramen noodles! He had just completed all his requirements to make rank of 2nd class! John, Clutch and I cheered and congratulated Nick!!

Nick is definitely a class act!!!

He definitely had a unexpected adventure this day!

And just a side note.. he had one last adventure before heading back home

He was “robbed “while on a train returning from a visit to the Grand Canyon!!

Here’s to Nick and his achievements, adventuresome spirit, card trick skills, and awesome attitude!!!


The Best Of Glacier National Park

Let’s start with few words and several pictures, shall we?

This day hike was in Waterton, Canada. Still officially part of Glacier National Park. We missed the free shuttle that would have taken us to the top of the mountain, allowing us to have enjoyed a leisurely hike down into these lakes. But alas, we started at the bottom and hiked UP to Alderson and Carthew lakes. Upon climbing 7.5 miles and reaching the last lake we needed to turn around and hike right back down due to a storm rolling in. But it was a beautiful 15 mile hike.

The very next day we hiked from the border of Canada to Many Glaciers. We walked from Chief Mountain through the Belly River Valley to Elizabeth Lake, then up through Ptarmigan Tunnel and down into Many Glaciers. This 20 mile hike felt like another big milestone in my training. And a great learning hike too… like, always bring an extra pair of socks in case your feet happen to get wet; buy boots at least 1/2 size larger than you normally wear; pack moleskin (and something to cut it with!); and if you feel like you are walking on a sharp rock, stop, remove boots and socks, inspect carefully, and treat as needed. And finally, don’t wait until the end of hike to realize you allowed blisters to multiply and cover both your feet (I’ll spare you the gruesome pictures).

Cracker Lake; a 12.2 mile backpacking trip, isolated, and only 3 total campsites in the area. Captured some early morning pictures on this beautiful lake and as you can see it is hard to see where the land vs. water is with all the reflection.

There were only two people sharing the area with us, teachers from Minnesota. We enjoyed visiting with them and eating our freeze dried dinners before being driven back into our tents by rain and wind storms. The wind gusts were so strong that the top of our tent was literally smashed down on our faces a few times.

These next set of pictures were taken at Avalanche Lake, Two medicine Lakes to Oldman Lake, and Trick Falls/nature hike.



How does one possibly capture a trip to Glacier and do it justice? I think in this case pictures speak louder than words. So instead of more stories I will leave you with a few more pictures of my favorite place on the planet.


The Colorado Hike that Started it All

Welcome to Ice Lakes near Silverton, Colorado



Ice Lakes is a 7 mile round trip hike that climbs 1600 feet within the first 2 miles, with the highest elevation point reaching 12,270 feet.

The trail is a beautiful trek that winds in and out of lush forests and beautiful meadows – replete with wildflowers and gorgeous views. It ultimately leads above the tree line to a gorgeous turquoise blue lake. (These pictures are not re-touched at all. That is the actual color of the lake. A simply spectacular site!) It was here that I first realized there is something magical about Colorado.


Our tent, having the perfect view (as evidenced by the first picture) was the lone tent as far as our eyes could see. In the middle of the night it became perfectly clear why we were the only ones camping overnight. With frozen toes and uncontrollable shivering, in spite of proper clothing, we unzipped the tent and soon learned part of the lake was frozen over! Ahh, the name Ice Lake became as crystal clear as the water.

I highly recommend doing this hike late May through the first week of August. Otherwise, you might lose a toe or two. 🙂