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!

IMG_6828 (1).jpg

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.”

IMG_7004 (1).jpg

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!

Emily's Birth Announcement

I had a blast creating the invitations and printed items for my dear friend Cari's baby shower. I also had the privilege of creating a Sip n See invitation for Cari and her husband too. Creating a birth announcement for Miss E after she was born was a real treat.

Having gorgeous newborn photos made it all that much more fun. Newborn photography by Infiniti Foto.

I loved filling in all of the stats and features for little Miss M.

For the back I created this photo collage, inspired by one I saw on Minted.com to showcase all of the great photos. I love how it turned out!!

Welcome to the world Emily!! 

Julianna's Birth Announcement

Julianna's mommy JoAnna has been a long-time client of mine. We first worked together many years ago on her wedding invitations. Since then, I've been lucky enough to create baby shower invitations, a birth announcement and birthday invitations for her oldest son. Her second baby is here and we're so happy to welcome her to the world!

I have changed their last name to protect privacy.

Welcome Julianna! 

M's Birth Announcement

I've been lucky to be able to design a lot of fun items for this family, one of my favorite families. From their wedding to the birth announcement and birthday invitations of their oldest baby and now the announcement for their daughter!! 

All of the names have been changed to protect privacy.

For the back, I made a photo collage similar to one I saw on Minted.com a while back. I loved the diagonal lines for everything. It made for a much more dynamic collage.

A heartfelt congratulations to this beautiful family!!

Kari & Nathan

My cousin, Kari and her fiancé, Nathan were planning a destination wedding in Kauai and they loved the invitations I created for Joanna and Matt. So we stuck with the same basic design and added elements to make it their own. 

Everything was printed on linen card stock by Cards and Pockets. We also created wraparound address labels and the envelopes were from Paper Source. 

Friends and family members who had already committed to attending were the only ones who received an invitation. The inserts included a map to the ceremony and reception. (This was the very first time I saw less-than-stellar print quality come from Cards & Pockets. The blocks of color didn't print as vibrant as they should have.)

There was also an invitation to attend a luau with the bride and groom and their family in lieu of a traditional rehearsal dinner.

The back showed a map on how to get there.

This was one destination wedding I was thrilled to get to attend!

The long tables were decorated with orchids and ripe pineapples that smelled amazing. At each place setting was a menu that I designed with their graphics and an engraved luggage tag that served as both a place card and a wedding favor. Each guest's initials were engraved on the back of the luggage tag.

It was an absolutely GORGEOUS wedding and such an honor to get to contribute a little, take some photos, and share the special day with Kari and Nathan.