Hiking My Way Retreat

At the end of March, I had the privilege of attending a retreat in southern Utah with more than a dozen really fantastic women. My friend Shanti is quite literally, a force of nature. She has a natural talent for bringing people together and does it in the most wonderful ways. She’s a writer for REI and Outside Magazine and the founder of Hike it Baby and Family Forest Fest and last year she published Hike it Baby: 100 Awesome Adventures with Babies and Toddlers. One of her recent projects has been her Hiking My Way Retreats. Twice a year she hosts women for a long weekend of hiking, exploration, running, yoga, and reflection. For the last few retreats, she’s had The Mirnavator, Mirna Valerio, as a co-host.

We explored trails around southern Utah, mainly close to Zion National Park. I enjoyed taking lots of photos, but we were lucky to have Arika Bauer with us on a few hikes too. She’s an amazing photographer and if you find yourself in southern Utah, consider reaching out to her for family photos. If anything, check out her website for amazing tips on hiking at Zion National Park and the surrounding areas.

Here are the trails we explored:

Timber Creek Overlook Trail, Kolob Canyons - This trail is north of Zion National Park, just off of I-15. We’ve driven past the exit many times, me wanting to stop and explore, but alas, with my kids, sometimes it’s better to just stay in the car and get home. This trail is short and a climb, but it’s absolutely gorgeous, especially at sunset. The clouds hung low and clung to the steep, red cliffs. The trail was extremely muddy when we hiked because of recent rain, muddy enough that I wished I’d brought my trekking poles. I almost wiped out a couple of times coming back down in the near-dark, my iPhone as my flashlight. It was an absolutely stunning hike and I cannot wait to bring my kids.

Photo by Zion Adventure Photog, Arika Bauer

Photo by Zion Adventure Photog, Arika Bauer

Image by Zion Adventure Photog, Arika Bauer

Image by Zion Adventure Photog, Arika Bauer

West Cinder Knoll - This trail is popular with mountain biking because it’s open and mostly flat. We did climb up to the Cinder Knoll itself and we had a beautiful sunset view of the contrasting red rocks and the snowy mountains in the distance. It was a beautiful end to a really fun day.


What a gorgeous trail!

Beautiful woman and a beautiful landscape.

Beautiful woman and a beautiful landscape.

Red Reef Trail, Red Cliffs National Recreation Area - I was lucky enough to explore this trail with Shanti last year. It’s truly a hidden gem, although it’s not all that hidden anymore and was quite crowded on the Saturday we went. Because of all the snow and rain we’ve had this past winter, there was twice as much water in the creek as there was last year. The trail has lots of space to play in the creek, little waterfalls, and as it narrows into a slot canyon, there’s a fun spot where you can climb up and over a waterfall.

Image by Zion Adventure Photog, Arika Bauer

Image by Zion Adventure Photog, Arika Bauer


We climbed up into that big cave to stop and have a snack. We had a lovely view looking out over the creek and there was even a pictograph on the wall!


Snow Canyon State Park - Snow Canyon was a wonderful surprise (I’d never been!) and I cannot wait to bring my family there. It’s a state park just outside of St. George. It features petrified sand dunes that my kids will love to climb. Jenny’s Canyon is a fun and short slot canyon. We practiced yoga on the sand dunes at sunset and it was really beautiful.


Gould’s Wash, aka Molly’s Nipple Trail - This one is another popular mountain biking trail and features a little mountain formation that is called Molly’s Nipple. Some opted to jog on this trail and the rest of us enjoyed a peaceful walk.


Grafton Ghost Town, Grafton Gap Trail - Grafton is a historic Mormon town that resides along the Virgin River, just down the road from the entrance to Zion National Park. It was abandoned in the late 1800s and a few buildings still stand. You can explore inside a couple of the buildings too, but first we hiked a mountain bike trail that climbs up a mesa and it gave us an amazing, panoramic view of the area.


Florence Williams talking about how important smell is when we spend time outside. The trail was lined with wild sage and it smelled lovely. I’m currently reading her book, The Nature Fix and loving it!

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Shanti told us that this little cliff is called the Grafton Gap and mountain bikers try to gain enough speed to jump over it.


The town of Grafton from the trail we climbed. I can see our van from here!!


Confluence Trail, Virgin River - This trail was really close to the AirBnB houses where we stayed in La Verkin. The trail meanders past a golf course down to the Virgin River and then you can just explore the area from there. We tried to get there closer to sunrise than later and it was quiet and peaceful with no other hikers. We saw a few desert wildflowers too.


On our last night, we were all gifted this bracelet engraved with “Hiking My Way - Slow AF.”

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All in all I had a wonderful time and I really hope I can get the pleasure of attending one of these retreats again some day. It was amazing meeting every one of the wonderful women there. Thank you so much Mirna and Shanti!

What's in My Pack?

Not at all art-related, but I’m an avid hiker and I love to explore the trails around where I live in the Salt Lake Valley and beyond. We just got home from spending a weekend at the Devil’s Garden Campground at Arches National Park with eleven other families and we had a blast exploring trails, arches, climbing boulders, and eating really well. A few weeks before that trip, I got to spend five days in the Zion area of southern Utah with a group of amazing women where we hiked and explored a bunch of really fantastic trails.

Image by Arika Bauer - Zion Adventure Photog

Image by Arika Bauer - Zion Adventure Photog

Spending time with other hikers ALWAYS results in us “shopping” through each other’s clothing and gear. We are always on the lookout for items that make the experience easier or more comfortable for us. This is even more helpful when we’re hiking with our kids. Sometimes there are little items that you don’t even realize could be useful to you until you see another hiker rocking them.

This post has LOTS of affiliate links. You are under no obligation to shop through these links, but they do help keep my business going and it’s very much appreciated.

In My Pack

  • Deuter Speed Lite 22 Backpack (it’s probably bigger than I really need for most of my hikes, but it’s comfy and it’s sometimes nice to be able to throw in something extra).

  • Peak Design CapturePRO Camera Clip (attached to the shoulder strap, gives me the security and confidence to bring my DSLR on trail, this clip also fits on baby carrier straps or a standard belt)

  • Canon 50mm f1.4 lens, Canon 18-135mm f3.5 lens, Canon 70D DSLR, and a zipper pouch with spare batteries (obviously the camera and bigger lens were used to take this photo. This camera has been so good to me in the years I’ve had it. Eventually I would love a 24-70mm lens… someday)

  • Matador Mini Pocket Blanket or Wenzel Mini Blanket (downright handy to have, the Wenzel blanket is waterproof too)

  • Adventure Medical First Aid Kit (FYI, these have the BEST tweezers for removing tiny splinters)

  • Black Diamond Carbon Z Trekking Poles (they fold down nice and small, small enough to fit in the water bottle pocket of my backpack. When opened, they are too tall for my kids to use, I did that on purpose! For poles my kids can use, I have Cascade Mountain Tech poles from Costco)

  • Deuter Zip Pack Lite 2 - My Period Go-Bag (contains a few pads, tampons, wet wipes, and a pair of Thinx undies, useful for when I hike with any women)

  • LifeStraw (I’ve never had to use it, but I still bring it, just in case)

  • Fifty/Fifty or Hydroflask Water Bottle (size varies on the length of the hike, for long hikes, I’ll use a 2L or 3L Camelbak Water Bladder)

  • Travel bottle of sunscreen (current fav for my face/body is Super Goop and Alba Botanica for my kids)

  • Deuter Dirt Bag (In cahoots with the Leave No Trace initiative, Deuter made these waterproof, reusable bags designed to hold trash you find on trail. Donate to LNT and you get one of these bags for free.)

  • Lots of hair rubber bands

  • Bottle of useful medicines, usually Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Excedrin Migraine, and Zyrtec.

  • Nite-Ize Flashlight Keychain (damned handy, I keep one on my keys too)

  • Bag of random snacks, varies on the day, but usually contains fruit snacks, fruit leather, random trail bars, string cheese, and sometimes candy… because I’m all for bribery. I also like bringing cheese, salami and nuts for myself)

  • My own business cards and Hike it Baby stickers

  • Random carabiners, the non-climbing variety (handy for clipping random stuff to my pack, like a child’s backpack when said child can no longer carry their own)

  • Glow sticks or bracelets (usually purchased from the dollar section at Target, they’ve saved me from many-a-meltdown)


I hiked the summer of 2016 in running shoes and after rolling my ankle on trail twice, I reached out to my brother (a shoe buyer for a big retail company) and asked for suggestions on hiking boots and trail running shoes. I hated the way hi-top hiking boots rubbed my ankles when I was a teen, but my brother convinced me to give them a try again. Merrell and Ahnu are really the brands that seem to fit my slightly-wide feet and pronating ankles, AND come in sizes larger than a woman’s 10. Ahnu was bought by Teva a while back, so the models I have may be found under Teva now.

When one mom finds a great pair of shoes, others follow suit!

When one mom finds a great pair of shoes, others follow suit!

I rarely wear leggings on trail anymore, favoring breathable pants that have real pockets instead. The biggest selling points for me are great pockets, lots of stretch, and LONG enough. I’d also like them to be available in my size, which isn’t a single digit number. I have a hard time supporting companies that stop at a size 12 or 14, when I personally know PLENTY of amazing women who are bigger than a 14 who love to hike. I don’t think I’m asking too much.

When it comes to tops, I buy whatever I can find that fits. I’m not loyal to any one brand. Sometimes I find athletic or running shirts from Target, Costco, Sierra Trading Post, or our local outlet stores. Some of my favorite shirts, tanks, and pullovers are from Champion/Target, Columbia, and Under Armour. These are my favorite bits of clothing for hiking that are worth singling out:

  • 5.11 Women’s Mesa Pants (I love these pants SO much, they come in Long, have lots of stretch, a real waistband that can handle a belt if needed, and wonderful, deep pockets. They have pockets on the hips that can hold my phone and allow me to sit comfortably. I wear them all the time, even not hiking.)

  • Columbia Women’s Saturday Trail Stretch Pants (very comfortable with lots of stretch, my only complaint is they aren’t easy to find in the Long length and Regular is about 2-3 inches too short on me, so I wear them as capris until I can find the long ones at my local store)

  • Merrell AlphaTherm Mid-Layer Fleece (lightweight, warmer than it lets on by feel)

  • Lolë Packable Down Jacket (not as pricey a other brands, it packs down small, includes a cinch bag)

Other Accessories, Sometimes Weather-Specific - Random other stuff that I only sometimes carry that also isn’t apparel or shoes, this stuff is sometimes seasonal.

  • RoShamBo Baby Sunglasses (designed for kids but also made in adult sizes, so they’re kinda indestructible, which means I can cram them into a pants pocket or my backpack without worrying that they’ll get damaged, and they’re only $35 with polarized lenses)

  • AlaskiWear Hooded Scarf (warm and snuggly without giving me hat hair, I love them so much, I have two)

  • Fingerless Gloves (handy for when it’s cold but I still need dexterity to take photos or tie kid shoelaces, these are handmade by my aunt, but you can find plenty online)

  • Kahtoola MICROSpikes (handy for hiking in the snow or on ice. I also own YakTrax that work well and are WAY less expensive than Kahtoola, but they sometimes slide off my boots. If you opt for YakTrax, spend the couple extra bucks to get the YakTrax Pro with a strap that goes over the boots)

  • Sunday Afternoons or whatever trucker hat is actually in my car and my oldest hasn’t stolen (I’m on the lookout for a proper wide-brim actually looks decent on me)

  • Art Toolkit (this thing is freaking awesome for the rare times I can sit in one spot and paint, everything you’d need has been well thought-out)

  • Way 2 Cool Mesh Cooling Towels (handy in the summer, especially on hikes with no shade, just get it a little wet and it stays cool on your skin)

  • Líllébaby CarryOn Toddler Carrier (if I have room in my pack, I may bring it if I think my son will need a ride, we’re almost to the point where I won’t be carrying him anymore… almost)

  • Onya Baby Pure Baby Carrier (always in my car in case another parent needs it or if I am volunteering to wear someone’s baby. I actually prefer the fit of the Onya Baby Outback carrier, plus it has a big pocket and a hood, but the Pure is what I currently have)


That’s all I can think of for now. I’m sure as I do more hiking and camping this spring and summer, I may add more.

Are you a hiker, what items are essential for when you go hiking?

Hike it Baby Artist Series Stickers

I started doing design work for Hike it Baby a little more than a year ago, and it’s been SO much fun to create whatever I can for them.

Every year they host hiking challenges that encourage families to get outside with their kids. Up until 2018, they had quarterly challenges in January, April, September, and November, and the goal is to hike 30 miles in 30 days or spend 30 minutes outside three times each week. Participants can log their miles or time on the Hike it Baby website, they’re entered into drawings to win awesome prizes from sponsors, and they get to join in a Facebook group solely for participants of each challenge where we share photos from our hikes and encourage each other to keep getting outside. We get to see some pretty epic photos from hikes in the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Oregon coast, the mountains in Alaska, and even some great hikes in Japan. It’s an inspiring group to be a part of for those 30 days.

Everyone who registers for a Hike it Baby 30 challenge also gets a sticker to commemorate. In the past stickers have always been a solid color with a fun little graphic. The color and design is different each challenge and participants love to collect them. I had the privilege of designing two of them from 2017; the brown sticker with the foxes and the navy blue sticker with the buck and fawn.

For 2018, the folks at Hike it Baby decided to up the ante on the Hike it Baby 30 stickers and they asked me to do a landscape watercolor painting for the four challenges; each representing the season and a different landscape in the Hike it Baby world.

I was so pleased with how these turned out in sticker form.


January Challenge (I have a better photo of this one somewhere on my computer!)

April Challenge

April Challenge

September Challenge

September Challenge

November Challenge

November Challenge

Three of these designs made for great t-shirt designs too.


More than a few people have joked that we can’t possibly go back to the older style anymore, so we’re brainstorming ideas for 2019. We shall see how it turns out!

Hike it Baby T-shirts

After my youngest son was born in 2014, I finally had the motivation to explore some of the fantastic hiking close to where I live outside of Salt Lake City. With my husband working and my oldest in school during the day, I didn’t want to hike by myself and many of the trails local to us get pretty crowded on weekends. My husband isn’t a huge fan of hiking either, but he comes sometimes when our oldest asks really nicely (or begs).

I also have a love for babywearing, so when I saw a post in my local babywearing Facebook group about an organized hike where babywearing was encouraged, I jumped on the chance to join and see what it was all about. And I discovered Hike It Baby.

June 2015, Albion Basin, Alta, UT. He was so little!!

June 2015, Albion Basin, Alta, UT. He was so little!!

Hike It Baby was created a couple of years ago by a mama named Shanti in Portland, OR who had the simple desire to get outside after having her son. She didn’t want to hike alone and wasn’t quite ready for jogging or long bike rides and she didn’t want to juggle finding a sitter so she could join a gym. She invited friends to hike with her and word began to spread. Now she inspires and encourages families to get outside and explore with their kids, all over the country.

Through social media, families can hike together, make new friends and encourage and support each other. It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, they all have your back and no hiker is left behind. Local chapters are led by volunteers and, best of all, hiking is usually free!

From my first Hike it Baby hike! Bells Canyon, UT.

From my first Hike it Baby hike! Bells Canyon, UT.

About a year ago, Hike it Baby held a design contest for a new t-shirt design. I entered and won! My t-shirt was made and sold to Hike it Baby members. Even my dad bought one. This was the design:


Shortly after, Shanti contacted me about designing a couple more t-shirts for various fundraising campaigns. Here's what we made:


My oldest has the Earth Day shirt and he still proudly wears it.

Provo River Falls, Kamas, UT

Provo River Falls, Kamas, UT

Cut to now, I'm thrilled to work for Hike it Baby, providing as much as they need when it comes to graphics, whether it's a t-shirt, a sticker, social media graphics and more. These are some of the more recent t-shirts I've done for Hike it Baby:


This t-shirt with the moon and mountains was sold during the January 2018 Hike it Baby 30 challenge. There will be new t-shirts for the April, September, and November challenges this year too.