z i o n
Okay. It has been said the first several birthdays you throw for your child are not for the kid... they are for the parents. Maybe this is true - but who doesn't love an excuse to take a trip or have a little fun?
As fun as a big birthday party sounded, it also didn't sound fun for us. We wanted time to enjoy being with Kai and our families who have done so much to help us raise and love on this boy his first year. We knew camping wouldn't exactly be the easiest, but we knew we'd also have a whole range of helping hands if we needed it.
This trip to Zion was probably one of my favorite trips to the park. It's incredible to see the world through Kai's eyes, spend time with family, and take a break from the regular nap/home routine. The weather was great and we missed any rain and hot days. Zion is really a great place for families. There were plenty of easy, moderate, and hard hikes. We planned our days with one easy hike in the morning and one harder hike in the afternoon. Kai napped in the stroller or in our ergo carrier when he was sleepy. Honestly, our site couldn't have been better. It was close to clean & warm bathrooms - which we all know most camp bathrooms are plain gross. We only had one person to the side of us, who thankfully slept in an RV - so they couldn't hear Kai crying all throughout the night. Haha. We had a nice little play area behind the site, so Kai could walk around and collect rocks. I am so grateful for the way the Lord worked the site out.
So, what is it like to camp with a 1 year old? It was hard. It was fun. It was pretty much what we expected.
Andrew and I camped/backpacked before Kai joined our family. Which meant we already had our methods/gear/food/etc. Adding Kai just added a bit more preparation. We bought a bigger family sized tent (thanks REI employee discount & tax return). We also brought our pack n play, which unfortunately Kai didn't use. He ended up sharing my sleeping pad...well taking over my sleeping pad. More on that in a second..
First - clothing. The weather was going to dip into the low 30's at night & be cloudy throughout the day. So we had to be more intentional with what Kai wore.
For day we chose Patagonia Fleece Infant Pants, smart wool socks, a cotton onsie, layered under a Patagonia Capilene top, and Patagonia Fleece sweater. When it got really cold, we tossed on Kai's Puff Jacket and a beanie. It worked great, and honestly Kai seemed to be comfortable the entire time.
At night, we did a onesie, Patagonia Fleece Onesie, and a snow suit our sister had bought us. I bought Kai a duvet sleep sack, which was layered under his usually fleece sleep sack. While it all kept him warm and snug at night - it was so many layers Kai couldn't turn over in the pack n play!! The first night, I took kai out of his crib & basically helped him turn over every 30 minutes while he slept on my pad (I was sooo tired the next day haha). The second night, we ditched the fleece and another layer, and he was able to sleep more soundly - but still not great. When my mom offered her hotel the third night (she was going home early to take my brother back to the airport) - I quickly said YES. Having solid sleep for one night before a day of driving was AMAZING.
Next - food. We kept food for this trip simple. Yogurt & bagels for breakfast, sammies for lunch, lentil soup for dinner, and pizza that my mom went into town for on the night we celebrated Kai's birthday.We packed easy to eat dry snacks for kai and extra water for all of us!
Lastly - hikes. For those planning a trip, be very aware that Zion gets PACKED during the regular season. We planned any hikes that required a shuttle/or were prone to be crowded, in the morning. This allowed us to miss most of the crowds! When we came back from hiking the Riverside Walk, there was a line 5x the length of when we first hopped on. INSANE.
We recommend the Pa'rus Trail which is THE ONLY dog friendly part to Zion. Once you walk through South Campground (we don't recommend this campground to camp), you get incredible views. We loved the Overlook Trail - which is a tourist favorite. Just be careful, there are a few narrow sections on the trail. Andrew and his family really enjoyed the Watchman Trail, I stopped halfway to enjoy some snacks with my nephew Logan while his dad (my brother in law) ran to catch up with the group. The Riverside Walk was lovely too, we went at the start of the day so it was quieter and less crowded.
In short, camping with a little is worth it - just be prepared, have some instant coffee ready for those sleepless nights, and be flexible. Having helping hands while you set up/tear down, cook, etc. is the best advice (until babe understands boundaries). Layers, and investing in a few solid outdoor gear pieces for babe is worth it! We cringed when we purchased a few items, but we used them and honestly needed it for the weather (for our next babe, we might just go big and get the Patagonia Hi-Loft Down Sweater. Less layers!!) Other than clothes, babe doesn't really need toys - the outdoors provide enough entertainment!
We can't wait to go one more trips with Kai. Well, in one way we can cause we LOVE our sleep haha. But it can only get better as Kai adapts more and we learn more...right?
Quick little shoutout to:
Andrew for keeping the humor light when we felt like zombies, keeping me calm when I start to stress, and supporting husband to me - especially in all my big/semi-crazy ideas.
Rosie for helping me shop, go over lists, pack, playing with Kai in the backseat for HOURS and keeping Kai entertained as I prepped for the trip!
Momma Boyce for Kais embroidered birthday shirt, the pizza, helping me make decisions, and for the wonderful/warm hotel room.
Momma Farison for the super cute decorations and for bringing the last minute things we forgot!!!