The Top 10 Most Memorable Mommy Hiker Moments of 2013 – A Year in Review!

Starting this blog has inspired me in so many ways, it’s virtually impossible to put into words, but given that this is a written medium, I’ll give it my best shot!
It’s hard to believe that it’s only been a year! It blows my mind and sends chills down my spine to look back at all of amazing experiences we’ve had, new friends we’ve made and all of the incredible stories that have been told here. Our love for hiking, camping, traveling and adventuring out to discover this bright, big world is our passion.
This passion has blossomed into a thriving community of families and collaborators whose sole wish is to get outside, get dirty, explore and discover the pure magnificence of Mother Nature in all of her glory. I have learned so many invaluable lessons of life, creativity, serenity and love and for that, even a thousand thank yous seem inadequate. And yet, I’m left with that. It’s been an honor to share a bit of our life with you and I want to thank you for sharing a bit of yours with us! Thank you! Thank you for reading. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for inspiring me. And thank you for, in turn, inspiring others!
And now…..on to our Year In Review! Here are my Top Ten Most Memorable Moments of 2013!
Wait for it… Wait for it…

Learning how to carefully plant seedlings in the scenic Cienega Sin Nombre valley of Calabasas was a great outdoor activity to teach V the value and importance of restoring habitats that have been destroyed by urban sprawl in invasive non-native plants.

I love discovering a new favorite place and the beaches of Oxnard are certainly a new fav! The peaceful and quiet pace you’ll experience there is a refreshing contrast to the throngs of transients and tourists you’ll find at most of the local Los Angeles beaches.

Malibu Creek State Park is a whole day excursion, loaded with a wide array of nooks and crannies just waiting to be explored! Hike, swim, picnic, climb, caves, it seriously is all that and a backpack!

#6 | thinAddictives’ Mommy Hiker Spotlight!

It was a huge honor to have been recognized and placed into the company of such accomplished and victorious women. Definitely a proud moment of 2013.

Life is made up of little, shining moments, overflowing with the pitter patter of little heartbeats and the warmth of a breath on a cheek as little mouths tell made up stories, full of wonder and amusement. Star gazing was full of these perfect, still moments.

Doesn’t get much better than watching life come into the world. Witnessing a mother nuzzle her baby for the very first time, observing the trust and tenderness between them and sharing it with my daughter was, indeed a beautiful life lesson.

This was literally one of my favorite days of 2013! This trip was chocked full of first time experiences for our entire family. We learned so many amazing things, saw wildlife basking in their gorgeous habitat and we are headed back in 2014 for sure, to explore the island’s terrain and trails even more by foot.

We spent four nights under the lush green canopy of Big Sur. Hiked its trails, sat next to its creeks, sketched its every detail and came home with memories to last a lifetime!

This was hands down the best camping trip with our toddler to date! It has been thrilling to watch V transform from one trip to the next (this being her fourth camping trip). She really came into her own during our week-long stay in Sequoia and as camping parents, so did we!

What I’m most looking forward to in the coming year is camping, watching her grow and bloom, surrounded by the safe and loving hands of Mother Nature. I can’t wait to see what treasures and travels await us in 2014 and I can’t wait to share them with you!

Hiking & Hijinks in the Majestic High Sierras – Family Camping in Sequoia National Park

We’re baaaaaack! Fully recharged, feeling rejuvenated and reconnected to this beautiful world we are blessed to call home. There’s something about being 6,700 feet up in the High Sierras that lifts my soul up, reminding me of just how grateful I am to have what I have and to do what I do and to be who I am, evolving and growing and mastering my awareness that I am always changing.

Hiking the Kaweah River Falls trail with toddler
Basking in the beauty of the Kaweah River Falls!

As is necessary when camping in Sequoia National Park during the summer months, we made our Lodgepole Campground reservations back in mid January and eagerly counted down the days. All One Hundred & Eighty of them! Fortunately, we had also planned a late spring camping trip to Big Sur as well, so we were able to bridge the seemingly infinite gap between trips. 

This marked our third trip to the high Sierras and we enjoy it a little more each time! Within minutes of entering the park’s main entrance, we were greeted by 3 deer crossing the canyon floor. Early the next morning we were treated to another deer having breakfast 10 feet from our campsite!

Deer in Sequoia

Then, we all watched in amazement as a gorgeous brown bear made it’s way across the rocky creek bed a mere 100 yards from our tents! We were all so caught up in the awe of the moment that none of even thought to grab our cameras, but when the momma bear showed up later to fish in the creek with her cubs, thank goodness Uncle Joey snapped some pictures!

Mama Bear with her Cub in Sequoia
Mama Bear with her Cub (Can you spot her cub?)

We walked the land that John Muir fought so passionately to preserve so that we could all drink the deep breath of its wild air. “Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine into trees. The wind will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves,” he said and we did.

Hiking Tokopah Falls Trail with a toddler
Snack Break on the Tokopah Falls Trail

The more we camp with our toddler (this is her 4th camping trip), the more experience we gain, the more organized and prepared we become, the more we realize that we can do this….MORE! Thanks to our much smaller and more useful tent, our meticulously packed camping bins and tons of food prepared ahead of time, we were able to spend much of our days playing, exploring, discovering and taking lots of pictures!  

kid hiking
Frolicking through fields of wildflowers
kid hiking
Discovering hidden creek-side beaches
kid drawing in sequoia
Sketching the sweeping Sierra vistas
kid skateboarding
Learning how to skateboard with Uncle Joey
kid swimming with trout
Swimming with the Trout

On our last night, my hubby and I sat curled up next to a crackling fire, V tucked snugly into her sleeping bag, and we were already discussing how we are going to squeeze in another camping trip before the end of the summer! We can’t wait!

Operation: Camping Checklist! Check!

In a constantly evolving effort to be more efficient when on family camping trips, I decided that it was time to sit down and take inventory of what is actually in those disastrous camping bins of ours! First, I reorganized them, then I made an inventory list. I’m not a list-maker by nature (or even a frequent user of the word “inventory” for that matter), or at least I wasn’t before I became a mother (haha), but when you’re out in the middle of nowhere with a toddler, it never hurts to be extra prepared!

toddler hiking
Exploring the Limekiln River in Big Sur, California

So, in anticipation of our Sequoia camping trip next month, I sat down and created a packing list for our camping bins! We have been using the bin system for a few years now. It definitely cuts down on our packing time and we are less prone to forget the little things! Most of the items in our bins are permanent bin fixtures. When we get home, they get cleaned and put back into the bin, so they are ready to go for the next trip!

Psst, want to know another way to make camping even easier?! Rent camping and backpacking gear, delivered to your door. Free shipping and returns. Full Kelty camping kits from start at $18 per day. Doesn’t get easier than that!

Side Note: This bin list is catered to car camping where you have easy access from your tent and campsite to your car.

Camping Bin #1

This is what I lovingly refer to as the kitchen sink. It contains all of the necessities to prepare and cook our meals and a few other essentials.

Camping Bin #2

This holds all of the necessary tools for seeing, burning and cleaning.

The Kid Bin

A must have for any camping family because even though you are out in nature with so much to discover and explore, kids still get bored. I have also found it to be comforting for our two year old to bring a few of her favorite toys along.

toddler playing with bubbles camping

Make Ahead Camping Meals

I also plan our meal menu ahead. I have found this to be the most economical and efficient way to do things. We used to just go the the store on our way out of town and we would end up spending TOO much and usually only use HALF of what we bought. Planning and prepping everything before we leave means, saving money, less work at the campground and more time relaxing and exploring!

toddler sitting in the woods
A little down time…

I buy a box of the gallon Ziploc freezer bags and use them for all kinds of prep like marinating the meats, filling them with pre-chopped veggies to roast over the fire or make-ahead salads that only needs to be dressed when it’s time to eat. I also love to make easy-to-grab, finger food lunches like quiche and zucchini fritters, perfect to throw in the backpack and eat on the trail!

What are your camping bin essentials? Your must-have make-ahead meals?