Be Nice to Box Canyon

Have you strolled through Box Canyon lately?

It’s one of my favorite places to go when I just have a few hours and need to get outside.

Our kids love climbing the rocks.

We love having picnic dinners in the canyon.

Or packing library books in to read as we’re perched on the top of a rock formation.

We go there at least once a week.

I love Vedauwoo and a walk through Box Canyon is the perfect place for families.

But lately I’ve been sad, and angry when I walk through the canyon.

Because of things like this.

Excuse me while I step on my soap box!

Why on earth do people feel the need to carve their initials into aspen trees.


Is it because aspens along the path are already scarred with graffiti? Why not add my initials too?

Why not add my initials too?

Monkey see, monkey do?

Tree carvings suck.




It is NOT okay to carve into trees.

It’s called vandalism.

It’s called graffiti.

It’s not art.

It’s punishable by a fine, $325 for one family who thought it was cute to Instagram their family tradition of tree carvings on federal lands.

Wouldn’t it be great if they had a family tradition to clean up trails instead and didn’t turn aspen tree bark into their own twitter feed?

$325 is too light of a fine if you want my opinion.

Here’s what the US National Forest has to say about it, “Respect living trees. By carving or chopping into the trunks of trees, people unknowingly damage the tree by slitting veins right below the bark. These veins transport nutrients and water throughout the tree. If the damage becomes severe, it will deprive the tree of nutrients and food, and the tree slowly starves to death.”

We’re already dealing with a pine beetle epidemic. Why would we want to destroy more trees by being jerks?

There’s one problem with this.

The USFS doesn’t have time to patrol and hand out fines to people being jerks in our forests. They are understaffed and underfunded and doing the best they can with what they have and I think they are doing a great job.

Let’s help them by taking care of our local forests.

Let’s preserve them so our children’s children can enjoy them without seeing trees marred by jerks.

Let’s report anyone we see carving trees to the USFS and local authorities.

Let’s teach our children to be respectful of our natural world so they learn to respect it.

Let’s remind visitors to our local forests that this is our home and demand that they care for it too.

Because I don’t know about you, but I seek solace in the wilderness.

And seeing trees destroyed makes me angry, not peaceful.

Let’s be good stewards of the land.

{end of rant}

{thanks for tuning in}

{feel free to share this post and help get the good word out}


Toddlers & Seniors Hit the Trail Together

A few months ago the Little Laramie Hikers, a local kid-friendly hiking group that I started a few years ago ran into another local hiking group at Curt Gowdy State Park.

We were at the Visitor’s Center gawking at the mountain lion and wrangling kids in the parking lot when the Seniors on the Go pulled up.

The were fit, energetic and headed out on a much faster and more rigorous hike than us.

I was curious about the group so I started stalking them on facebook. I learned that both of our groups had similar goals and objectives. And we both hit the trails every Friday morning.

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow-

When I timidly asked if they’d like to team up for a multigenerational hike they agreed. I promised that they could hike at their own pace but wanted to see what it would be like for our children when they showed up at a trailhead just to be greeted by friendly new faces from fellow hikers decades older than them.

Over the past year I’ve been reading and re-reading the book, How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott D. Sampson. In the book, Sampson describes the concept of being a “nature mentor”– or a fellow explorer to children.  I’ve sought out ways to try to be a better nature mentor through WY Outside, an organization that I volunteer with and teaching kids from Beitel Elementary School about maps. But the truth is, I want my children to grow up having nature mentors, or someone besides me or Al who can explore alongside them and teach them new things.

A joint hike with the LLH & Seniors on the Go seemed like the perfect opportunity to start building friendships between the children in our group and adults who value time spent in nature just as much as we do. Maybe some nature mentorships will form?

But I had my doubts.

Would anyone from the LLH show up if they knew we’d be hiking with senior citizens?

Would anyone from Seniors on the Go show up knowing that they’d be chased down a trail by preschoolers with sticks and parents with whining babies?

Would Seniors on the Go want to see wildlife? The only wild animals we ever see are 2-year-olds…

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow- (1)

But yesterday morning, the day of our joint hike, I watched the parking lot at the trailhead fill up and conversations begin as hikers unloaded their gear, hoisted babies onto their backs and headed down the trail. I knew that I was witnessing something amazing.

Laramie hikers were coming together.

We were connecting children with seniors.

We were sharing a passion for hiking and the outdoors.

We stopped together for a photo shortly after leaving the trailhead. Then we split into groups of those who hiked at an adult pace, and those who hiked at the pace of a toddler.


I’ll cherish this photo forever because to me this is what community is all about.

Thanks Little Laramie Hikers, for being awesome. I treasure our hikes together. Thanks Seniors on the Go for letting us join you for a hike, and showing our children that outdoor adventure doesn’t have age restrictions.

Here’s to many more hikes together!


Trail Report: Turtle Rock 5/30/15

My kids woke up wild and energetic so I took them to Vedauwoo to try to wear them out.

How’s that for honest parenting?

We hiked, and climbed on the “big big rocks” and splashed in the creek.

turtle rock

The morning started cool and a little bit breezy but by 9 am we were down to shirtsleeves and one of my children may or may not have finished the hike pantsless.

We did notice that there were several fallen trees across the trail along the upper Turtle Rock trail, so be forewarned if you’re mountain biking. There were also several muddy places with runoff flowing across the trail but overall the weather was beautiful, the trails were dry and it was a pretty perfect morning at Vedauwoo.


Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 5/30/15
  • Time: 8-10:30 am
  • Temperature: 35-55°F (ish).
  • Weather: Sunny
  • Wind: Slight breeze
  • Trails Hiked: Turtle Rock
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were dry, there were a few muddy spots from runoff and a few fallen trees. Ironically the trails were not crowded, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of a moose but no such luck.

hike laramie (p.s. in case you’re wondering, my attempt to wear out our children was unsuccessful)


We do have a free trail map for the Turtle Rock trail. You can grab it here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?


Trail Report: Turtle Rock 5.5.15

I think I start to go through Vedauwoo withdrawals if I don’t get up there at least once a month.

Vedauwoo is a magical place. I love it there.

This morning I looked at the fog and rain on top of the summit and decided to bundle the kids up anyway and head to Vedauwoo.

turtle rock1

We hiked along the eastern section of the Turtle Rock trail until they got tired, then I schlepped them out, tossed one on my back and the other in our Chariot and walked up the road and along the paved pathway through Box Canyon (just past the Gazebo). In the canyon we did a little bit of scrambling around on the wet granite rocks. turtle rock 3

The weather was cool, wet and misty and we had so much fun hiking through the fog.

It was indeed a beautiful morning at Vedauwoo.

Here are the current trail conditions.

  • Date: 5/5/15
  • Time: 9-11:15 am
  • Temperature: 35-40°F (ish).
  • Weather: Cool, rainy, foggy, misty
  • Wind: None
  • Trails Hiked: Portions of Turtle Rock & Box Canyon.
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were damp but surprisingly not too muddy. There were a few patches of snow off the trail, but it won’t last long. Turtle Rock is perfectly hike-able right now, I’d give it a few days to dry out before trying to mountain bike there.

turtle rock 2

You can grab a free trail map for the Vedauwoo trail network here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?

Trail Report: Turtle Rock 3-8-15

It’s been slow around here lately. I spent last week in Vermont with my biathlon team coaching at the National Guard biathlon championships. While I’ve been hitting the trails on cross-country ski–they haven’t been our local trails.

But this morning I broke away with a few friends to go check out the trail conditions at Vedauwoo.

turtle rock 2

It was a beautiful bluebird day, the kind of spring day where we left our snowshoes in the car but wished we would have had them in certain places, microspikes in other places, our trekking poles for extra grip on the icy trail. We did some postholing in some areas and even enjoyed nice wet trails in others.

All in all it was a gorgeous day to hit the trails and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and spring.

turtle rock 1

Here are the trail conditions on the Turtle Rock trail at Vedauwoo.

  • Date: 3/8/15
  • Time: 10 am-12:00 pm MST
  • Temperature: 40-45°F (ish).
  • Weather: Warm, bright and sunny.
  • Wind: Slight breeze in the parking lot but not noticeable on the trails.
  • Trails Hiked: Turtle Rock Trail
  • Snowpack: There are areas of waist deep crusty snow and other areas of dry ground.
  • Grooming: Turtle Rock trail isn’t groomed but it was packed by boots, snowshoes and even a brave soul who skied it (hopefully on rock skis).
  • Wax: I’d recommend snowshoeing over skiing but if you ski I’d forgo trying to kick wax for the crazy spring conditions with a pair of waxless skis.

You can grab a trail map for the Vedauwoo trail network here.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?


12 Trails of Christmas: Vedauwoo


When people think of Vedauwoo they think of rock climbing, or mountain biking or hiking or just lazy Sunday afternoons of scrambling on the gigantic granite boulders that rise out of the vast prairie.

In the winter we think of something else…snowshoeing!


If you think Vedauwoo is magical in the summer you need to go there in the winter when a blanket of white coats the landscape.

Usually we just park in the parking lot outside of the fee booth and either head down the road or meander our way through the campground not really following a trail but going wherever our snowshoes take us.

Vedauwoo doesn’t always collect a lot of snow and sometimes there are bare patches combined with huge snowdrifts so it’s also a good place for winter hiking if snowshoeing isn’t your thing.

Here’s the summer video but we love Vedauwoo year-round.

Have you ever snowshoed Vedauwoo?




On Sunday morning Al and I were so confused.

Our phones kept buzzing.

Each buzz meant that someone had ordered a Trail Deck.

Each order made us smile and jump up and down with glee (seriously).

We couldn’t figure out what was going on, why the sudden interest in our Trail Deck?

And then we remembered Roger, a fellow outdoor lover, writer, and explorer who had said he was writing up a little something about Just Trails for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Suddenly all the Trail Deck orders, new subscribers to our blog and web traffic made sense.


And we are so thankful.

Here’s our favorite quote from his article, “This Snowy Range & Pole Mountain Trail Deck with its accompanying web material opens up a lot of country for hikers, some of it never before mapped. They will also be invaluable to mountain bikers, cross country skiers, fisherman and hunters. It is up-to-date, more comprehensive and easier to tote than previous guides, such as Mark Smith’s classic Hiking Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest.”

We’re still smiling!!!

Yesterday the social media world caught up when the newspaper published Roger’s story on their website.

So thank you Roger!

If you’re new to the blog we welcome you just the same way we’d welcome you into our home, only we can’t offer you a hot cup of tea or cold bottle of beer.

The stars are aligning and we’re excited to see what’s next on this wacky hiking journey.

p.s. If you didn’t get a chance to check out Roger’s full article you can read it here and be sure to check out his website.



Top Spring Break Adventures Near Laramie, WY

Spring break is almost upon us.

It’s the time when college students plan on leaving Laramie in search of epic adventures. But, if you plan on staying in town or visiting Laramie, don’t worry. There are plenty of places to explore without burning a full tank of gas.

The best part about planning a spring break adventure here is that you could be wearing shorts at Vedauwoo one day and ski clothes in the Snowy Range the next.

Here are our four favorite local spring break activities.


1) Night skiing or snowshoeing. A few of our favorite places for night skiing are Tie City & Barber Lake Road in the Snowy Range. Just dress warmly, bring some drinks and snacks, a headlamp and set off to explore.

2) Exploring the trails around Red Feather Lakes. When we were college students at UW rarely did we venture beyond the Snowy Range. But, every once in a while it’s nice to escape the wind and head to Colorado for a day of exploring.

3) Ski or snowshoe to a yurt for the night. There’s really no better place to winter “camp” than in a yurt. They are warm and cozy and fun and relatively inexpensive to rent (especially when you go with a group and split the cost). Last fall we stayed in a yurt in Colorado’s State Forest State Park and while it’s not a ‘local’ place it’s highly recommended.

4) Sledding at Happy Jack. If you’ve managed to go the entire winter without hauling a sled up the old ski hill at Happy Jack and then blazing down it you’ve really missed out! Before the snow’s gone for the season you’ve got to try out this sledding hill. Bonus points if you sled at night on a tray you stole from Washakie. (PSA: we don’t encourage stealing trays from cafeterias but if you do and we see you sledding we won’t tell)

What are your plans for spring break? What activities do you recommend around Laramie?

Top 3 Hikes Near Laramie

Do you ever have one of those days where you just have an hour or two but absolutely need to go play in the mountains?

Curt Gowdy State Park

One of the things we love about living in Laramie is that we’re just a 15 minute drive from Pole Mountain, and a 30 minute drive to Vedauwoo and Curt Gowdy State Park. Here are our top 3 favorite hikes within 30 minutes of Laramie.

  • Turtle Rock Trail: 2.3 miles of beauty in Vedauwoo. The best part about Turtle Rock Trail is stopping to boulder and take in the breathtaking scenery along the way.
  •  El Alto (via Stone Temple Circuit and Albert’s Alley) Trail: If you haven’t checked out Curt Gowdy State Park you don’t know what you’re missing. But don’t take our word for it, check out our flickr page.

What’s your favorite trail near Laramie?