Author: jessica

Utah Weekend Wonders

Utah Weekend Wonders

This time of year has me feeling grateful for all of our outdoor spaces. How lucky it is that we live in a time that makes it possible for us to take adventures all over the world.
We can travel quickly, we have gear that helps us through all weather, clothes that fit our needs and so many places to find and explore.

I feel lucky that my Dad wanted to raise us in Park City, Utah. Close to 5 amazing national parks and in the center of the Wasatch Mountains. Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon are among some of the most beautiful places in the world. Not to mention all the areas that are not parts of the national parks that are stunning in their own right!

hiking southern utah pregnant

For Thanksgiving, we decided to head down to Escalante and Capital Reef and celebrate turkey day off the grid. Escalante is a very special place full of slot canyons to explore and waterfalls to see. Since I am pregnant I try to keeps hikes to around 5 miles in case I get too tired (the third trimester is rough)! We explored Zebra canyon, it’s a short hike into a slot canyon with beautiful textures of rock all around you.

Next, we traveled to Capital Reef (about 1.5 hours from Escalante), there is a beautiful 30 mile off road drive called Cathedral Valley and I have been waiting to go here ever since my Dad told me about it a couple years ago. Sandstone pillars that just jut out of the ground with beautiful shade of red. They are called The Pillars of the sun and moon. Can’t wait to head back to this park and explore more.

Bionica Shoes southern utah hiking
Thanks to Bionica Shoes for always helping me have the most comfortable footwear on all of my adventures! I rocked Orsola sneaker on this trip because they are so comfy!

Escape to Northen Italy

Escape to Northen Italy

I had always dreamed about visiting Italy…the food, the scenery, the mountains and so much more! I had the opportunity to explore around Northern Italy recently and it was such an amazing journey. We flew into Venice airport decided to rent a car and drive north towards the Italian Dolomite Mountains. We arrived in a town Called Cortina de Ampezzo, a little ski town that skis right in the middle of the Dolomites. Jagged peaks surrounded us everywhere, and you are just minutes away from some of the most beautiful hikes.

Lagos Sorapis was the first hike we did, it was moderate with some challenging vertical spots, winding you up around mountains and valleys. It was around 7.5 miles round trip, which if you start earlier is the perfect day hike. Hiking shoes are recommended and snacks and lots of water are also needed. It will take you to a blue lake surrounded by peaks of the Dolomites.

Our next stop was Lago Braies, Which is about a 30 minute drive outside Cortina, but totally worth it! This is just a park and walk around the lake sort of stop but so beautiful none the less! We arrived early morning to catch the sun coming over the mountains and not a surprise it was packed with people, but if you can ignore the surrounding people and just stay in the zone you will have a rewarding experience. The lake itself is picturesque, and generally, you can rent rowboats but it was closed when we were there. You can walk around most of the lake to find some peace and quiet.

Lago Braies hike
Our third top spot was Tre Cime di Lavaredo, there is so much to do in this one spot, and lots of history as well. There are jagged peaks to your right and the Tre Cime towers to your left, each good hikes but not too crazy of distances. One morning we took in the jagged peak walk and the other morning we went the other way. You can see old world war 2 bunkers and many little buildings up top the mountains, some of the places they have built things is remarkable. The three towers are beautiful at sunrise, the hike is around 6 miles if you do the whole loop and it is a must see spot.

Tre Cime di Lavaredo hike
Tre Cime di Lavaredo view

Gear: When we visited it was October and definitely starting to get cold, so I layered up with thick leggings, multiple shirts, and a puffy coat. You want to always be over prepared when you’re hiking out in the cold. I used my Bionica shoes the entire trip, some hikes I could wear my Orsola sneakers, but on longer colder hikes I opted for my Natick Boots and that seemed to keep me warm all hike long!

Keeping Active While Pregnant

Keeping Active While Pregnant

Any of you that have been through pregnancy know how much transformation happens to your body. And you know it’s hard to continue doing all the things you once did before, your energy levels are lower, all you want to do is sleep, you could be more nauseous, hungry all the time and hormones running wild. I have had to keep reminding myself that activity will keep me feeling better throughout pregnancy even on those days I’d rather just lay there.

My key to hiking while pregnant have been comfortable clothes, lots of snacks and water, stretching and staying on trails within my energy levels. If at any point I feel it’s too much I have no shame in turning around, being safe on the trails while pregnant is also important. Pacing myself up vertical parts also helps me not be too exhausted along the way, it’s important to push yourself but also know when too much is too much. There is no doubt most days laying on the couch feels better than pushing to go up a trail or hit the gym, but every time I do I know it was the right choice, and it always re-energizes me.

bionica boots salt lake city
Wearing grey Bionica Boots

I am still trying to find the right balance as far as being “healthy” while pregnant, but I feel like the best answer is to try your best. Eat your fruits and veggies, find a well-balanced diet, don’t say no to cravings but also don’t overdo it. Sleep and relax when you can but also stay busy with activities. Be practical in your exercise, and know its ok to not be able to do all you did before, you’re growing a human!! It takes so much energy from your body to create, support and keep this new life healthy and alive.

pregnant hiking utah

Clothes have been a little difficult to adjust to with pregnancy because your waistline just disappears; my best friends have been maternity leggings with larger shirts, or maternity tanks. Make sure you find ones that are stretchy and flexible but that stay up. As the weather is getting cooler I have been wearing my Bionica Boots and tennys on the trails to keep my feet warm and comfy. I am new to this whole part of life, but any tips I pick up I will share along the way!
bionica boots utah

Fall Hiking Happiness

Fall Hiking Happiness

The leaves start to change, the crisp feeling in the air, warm sweaters and pumpkin smell everywhere….it’s Fall! Fall is one of my favorite times of year, you can see and feel so much of nature’s changes happening around you. As fall approaches it’s nice to get back outside in some cooler temps and hike all around the Wasatch mountains. Some of my favorite hikes are tucked away in the canyons and can’t be reach during the winter months, so I got to get out there while I still can! Utah has such an amazing variety of places where you can check out all the changing colors and different trees.
Albion basin hiking
Albion basin is one of my favorite places to explore in the fall, Ceret Lake is high on my list, as well as Lake Catherine, and Devils Castle. As the weather changes it’s also important to find the right shoes to hike around with in the cooler temps. Bionica Shoes has created a large selection of light weight, durable and warm shoes to fit everyone’s needs! Light weight is important when trekking up a trail and so is durability, then you can work less. Exploring Ceret lake the other day was absolutely beautiful; I could get lost up there all day long. This trail is about 2 miles long and great for any age or hiker type. Hiking doesn’t always have to mean intimidating trails, and climbing tons a vertical. The joy of nature is whatever you want it to be, but getting outside makes life much happier! As the days get shorter I have a lot of exploring left to do before the winter hits Utah. As least, I have warm shows to keep me hiking all fall long!
Bionica hiking shoes
You can find these awesome shoes at https://www.bionicafootwear.com/.

Belize It

Belize It

Traveling to new places is one of my favorite things to do, having the chance to go to a beautiful destination is such a privilege to be able to experience. Last February we traveled to Costa Rica, so naturally we decided to head back to Central America, only this time to explore Belize. I didn’t know many people who had gone to Belize so I really had to start searching on the internet to see what areas we were going to check out.

Belize is a great mix between mountains, forest and beaches. We flew into Belize City, rented a car and headed to San Ignacio to stay with some generous friends who ironically were also in Belize. San Ignacio is a cute small town right outside Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve; we enjoyed trying some new places to eat and walking around the town. We tried to go explore Xunantunich Maya Ruins but since there had been much rain fall the little road was washed out, But it is supposed to be an awesome place! So maybe next time!

mayan ruins belieze
After San Ignacio we headed into the Mountain Pine Ridge Reserve, we drove up a dirt road for about an hour before we arrived at the Hidden Valley Inn and Reserve, which to our surprise was in the middle of nowhere. There is much hiking to do all around the Mountain Reserve, Hidden Valley Inn in particular had some private hiking trails that are on their grounds for their guests to explore, which is fantastic because it keeps it very quiet on the trails. We were able to explore a couple of the falls while we were there, my favorite was Butterfly Falls. Its turquoise waters were amazing to take a dip in and cool down from the heat, and for once we had time to eat some snacks while relaxing!

Butterfly Falls Belize
There is so much to explore in the Mountain Reserve that we will definitely have to go back to discover some more places. The only difficult thing about exploring this area is the dirt roads can be a challenge after rain, and we had more rain than expected. On our drive out towards the beach we stopped at Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary and found out that that area is how you access one of Belize’s highest peaks and backpacking trails, although Victoria Peak is 3-4 days long so another one to save for our next trip. But also in there is some shorter day hikes, we ended up hiking Tiger Fern trail which takes you to views overlooking the larger peaks in Belize, you also pass along a waterfall in the lush green atmosphere.

Cockscomb Wildlife Sanctuary Belize
Last but not least we ended our vacation In Placencia, which is a great beach town down towards the end of the peninsula. There are amazing restaurants and lots of amazing beaches to spend some time in the sun! One of our favorite restaurants was Rumfish y vino, we went back twice! We enjoyed the freshness of all the foods in Belize and the fact that most of it is locally grown. On our last day in Belize we took a tour out to Ranguana Tropical Island, I am not generally one for tours or for just sitting on the beach but it was a small group and we were able to snorkel in crystal clear waters. They also cook you an awesome Belizean Lunch while you enjoy the views on a private island, I am telling ya this island is so tiny you can barely see it on a map! I would say next time we would stay a bit longer in Belize if we van, there are still many caves, waterfalls and hike we have yet to do! Thanks for taking your time out to read about my experience in Belize!

Placencia Belize
Ranguana Tropical Island Belize

Share the Wild

Share the Wild

What inspires you to get outside? What would you say sharing the wild means to you?

I am often asked what brought me to get outside in the first place, well something a lot of people may not know about me is I struggle with anxiety. I am not just talking about a stressful day or anxiety about one thing but something that has been going on my whole life, and nature has a magical way of helping it. A lot of us aren’t open to sharing what we struggle with or what our downfalls are. But I am here to tell you no matter who you are, what your life has been like, we all have something that has been hard for us. When I started to see the benefits of going outside when I felt this way my world was opened to new places, new activities, and like minded people. I wanted to share that experience through Instagram, I wanted to show people how amazing this can be for all of us.

A year and a half ago I decided to start a hiking group, so I could personally show people the healing there is right outside our front door. My sister and I brainstormed and she helped come up with the name New Heights, I loved it! I hosted a meetup and wasn’t sure who was going to come, we had four of us to start, and everyone was so amazing. As the year has gone on we have grown each time we hike new people come along, I have made so many amazing friendships from this group, and for that, I am so thankful. We talk about life and struggles if we need to, or we laugh, or we just hike so hard we cant talk much at all! This is the best way I can share the wild, showing others how amazing it is to be a part of nature, how important it can be for our lives, and how much we need to stand together to protect these wild spaces.

I have partnered with WildHorn Outfitters to share this message as far as we can, we have made a short documentary video and created personalized t-shirts that express how being in the mountains is like going home. We have T-shirts available on their site and all proceeds will go to the hiking group to help us enjoy more activities outside! Thank you to each and every one of you who have been a part of New Heights, and we hope to keep seeing new faces!

5 Favorite Scenic Hikes near Salt Lake City

5 Favorite Scenic Hikes near Salt Lake City

Who doesn’t love to make it to a beautiful destination at the end of a hike? It gives you something to look forward to while you’re out and about walking the trail. Luckily in Utah, there are many places to hike to with stunning views and beautiful mountain lakes. Most of the time it takes more effort to get to those high peaks, but I promise it will be worthwhile!

Lake Blanche

It is said to be a strenuous hike in Big Cottonwood Canyon, but it depends on your hiking abilities. Lake Blanche is 7 mile round trip hike, you pass by a river, into aspens trees, and views of the valley behind you and sundial peak in front of you. Plan on packing a picnic there is a great spot at the lake to have some lunch. This trail is very easy to follow and is well marked. And if you walk to the right of the Lake you will find another small lake below. This is also a great backpacking trail, perfect for staying overnight and waking up to beauty all around you. Definitely one of the best fall hikes!
lake blanche utah

Grandeur Peak

There are two starting points for this hike, one is city facing (and very steep might I add), the other is located up a canyon. My favorite and easier start is at Church fork in Millcreek Canyon. This trail is rated moderate, brings you through pines, wildflowers, into sweeping views. The trail offers a number of activities and is accessible year round. Grandeur Peak is 6 miles round trip, with 2,800 ft of elevation gain along the way. The end of the trail is the best treat of all, panoramic views of Salt Lake City! Good news for dog owners too, this trail is dog friendly!!
Clayton Peak UtahGrandeur Peak Utah

Lake Catherine via Sunset Peak

This is one of my all-time favorite hikes and is best in summer or the fall because the best way to access it is through Albion Basin Road. This trail has some of the most beautiful wildflowers I have ever seen, and the views already stunning at the start. This is a moderate trail, with a few steeper sections but is the most scenic trail all the way up. First, you reach Lake Catherine overlook, you can walk down to the lake but if you are continuing on to sunset peak you take the trail to the right. This trail is 4.3 miles round trip, making it a good work out but not so long it can’t be done in a few hours. It is unfortunately not dog friendly because it is up in Little Cottonwood which is a watershed area.
Lake Catherine Utah
Lake Catherine SLC

Clayton Peak

Clayton Peak is a strenuous trail, mainly because it’s very steep in a short amount of miles but I promise it’s worth the climb! You will start to the right of the parking lot at the top of Guardsmen Pass, and head up towards 10,420 Peak. This trail overlooks Deer Valley, Heber City, and Brighton Resort. Once you reach the first peak you head down to another little valley and then continue on up to Clayton. This trail is only 2.5 miles round trip but with an elevation gain of 1,500 ft. It is also dog friendly if dogs are kept on a leash, so you can take in the gorgeous views of Utah with your pup. Summer and Fall are the best times of year because the road to Guardsmen Pass is open and you can start right at the base!

Clayton Peak Utah

Red Pine Lake Trail

Red Pine Lake Trail starts up Little Cottonwood Canyon, it’s rated difficult and is 7.1 miles round trip. You wind up through aspens and pines, with a beautiful view down the canyon. As you continue up the trail you pass over a river and up to a lake. You can camp at a lot of these places but just be sure to always camp 200 feet away (or the areas regulations) and remember it is a watershed area. You can hike all around the lake taking in mountain views from every angle.
Red Pine Lake Utah
I hope you enjoy these trails just as much as I do, and just remember to always leave no trace and protect our nature around us!

Mountain Trek

Mountain Trek

Where do you go when you need to recharge and re center? I know I always go to the mountains in that time of need, so when I had to opportunity to head up to Mountain Trek for a week I was ecstatic! Even the most balanced ones need a place to go when life is a little more chaotic than usual. I was intrigued by Mountain Treks program and how they not only take you out into nature but also show you the nutrition side of health and also the meditative side. If you know me you know I believe nature is not only a necessity to our lives but also food being a healing power.
mountain trek lodge
I headed up to Spokane not sure what to expect when I arrived, and to my surprise, it was everything I had imagined. The staff is welcoming and extremely friendly, the property is peaceful and beautiful, and the food was outstanding. With your stay, you receive 3 massages, access to the hot tub and work out room, even though I am pretty sure after you try this program you won’t be working out any extra during your stay!

You have hikes planned all days you are there, some shorter than others and some with more elevation than others. We started on some easier hikes just to get everyone comfortable with their method of Nordic Fitness trekking, not just hiking. Nordic Fitness trekking helps make hiking become a total body workout, engaging your core, and using your whole body to help you up the mountain. I had never used hiking poles before, and I was surprised to find they help a lot on any hike.

A day at Mountain Trek generally is like this: wake up 6 am, sunrise yoga at 6:30. Breakfast at 7:30am, followed by nutrition/sleep/stress management lecture. There is no caffeine or sugar at Mountain Trek, scary I know but I promise you’ll feel amazing still! If there is no lecture then you head out to your hike, they give you a morning snack, afternoon snack, and lunch. To help jump start your metabolism you are on a 1,200 or 1,400 calorie day. You spend time on your hikes for 3-4 hours and then head back to the lodge, where you can relax before dinner. After dinner, you have a 40 minute cardio class to bring your body into a fat flush mode. Everything at Mountain Trek has a reason behind it and it’s rewarding to learn about it all. While this is not realistic for everyday life, Mountain Trek Helps you plan how you’re going to take this program home with you and how to utilize it on a daily basis as a realistic lifestyle.
mountain trek british columbia
mountain trek meal
During your hikes, you have different groups you hike with according to your own fitness level and how hard you want to push yourself. So even if you are not a huge hiker they work with you to find the right pace and balance of Nordic Fitness trekking. We were able to make it to a peak that had 360 views of lakes and a glacier, our last hike was to a beautiful mountain lake created by glacier melt run off. At the end of each day, I felt tired and slept incredibly well. After 6 days up at Mountain Trek I felt revived, my energy was up, and vitality high. I lost some weight, felt lighter and more toned by the end.

I especially loved that our entire group was like a family by the time the week ended, everyone had a great opportunity to bond with each other. This is an experience I will carry with me forever and hopefully have the opportunity to experience again, thanks so much Mountain Trek for showing me a beautiful week.

You can find Mountain Trek on Instagram and through their website, for more details and how to sign up!
@mountaintrek
www.mountaintrek.com
jessica grambau mountain trek
british columbia mountain trek

When in Banff….

When in Banff….

As we wrapped up our stay in Glacier, we started our drive up to Banff, Canada. I have been waiting to see Banff for years, I always heard how amazing it was there. I felt a little overwhelmed when we arrive because there are so many things to see there, so where to start first? I knew I wanted to hike the East end of Mount Rundle, because the views over Hiling Peak are breathtaking. There we stood at the base of the trail ready to climb 1.8 miles with 2,965 feet of vertical. As we started up the trail we winded through trees, and then as the trees got thinner the views got better and better. You have amazing views on every side you look at. Half way up the trail my legs really felt the burn but there was no stopping because once you see this beautiful place you know you want to go to the best spot. It is no surprise that Banff is an extremely popular place to go, even busier in the summer months. So we figured that if we either went super early morning or later in the evening we would miss all the traffic, and luckily it worked most the time.

Banff Hiling Peak

(Mount Rundle is dog-friendly)

That same evening, we headed over to Lake Moraine for sunset, and we found a parking spot right away. I’ll admit this place is as beautiful as everyone says it is. Lake Moraine can either be a longer hike or a shorter walk. We just did the .8 mile trail to the rock pile, but I believe there is an overlook if you scramble up or you can make your rounds around the lake. The waters are as blue as can be everywhere you go, I had to pinch myself because it didn’t look like real life. We sat at the rock pile and watched the sun reflect off the peaks, all while swatting mosquitos away from us. Can anyone answer me if mosquitos do anything good for the world besides bite people and make me swell up!?

Banff Lake Moraine

A lot of people always ask me about where to camp when you are adventuring around, and I couldn’t really find an answer before I went to Banff. I booked a campsite at a trailer park because it was the only thing available for the airstream. Then we discovered that you really can find first come first serve sites all over. We stayed in Monarch camp ground in Yoho National park for our last three nights, it gave us much more of an authentic camping feel. Just make sure if you are doing it this way you arrive early to find spots!

We had two more days in Banff and Yoho, so of course, we had to sneak some rock climbing in! We arrive at Lake Louise early and the parking was already crazy, it’s a beautiful place but very crowded with tourists, if you keep walking along the lake (about 2miles) you find some great climbing walls. As the evening approached Peyto lake was the next stop! I had read that there was a .8 hike trail to this lake, but turns out if you come later on the walk is even shorter because of upper parking. The colors of the clouds were amazing and I would definitely suggest this as a great place to catch a sunset!

Our last day in Canada sure came quick! We started the morning at Emerald Lake, not only was it beautiful but far less crowded than the other places, I was so excited to canoe around! This is a great place to enjoy a morning or a lunch picnic! Next stops to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks!

Banff Emerald Lake

Key things to bring/know while hiking in Banff:

Dry meals/snacks/water
Bug spray and lots of it
Bear spray/bell
Comfy shoes to walk all over
Warm and cooler clothes
Arrive early
Pick longer hikes to avoid crowds
Spend lots of time there it takes a lot of time to drive around
Research trail/road closures so you know

Road Trip to Glacier National Park

Road Trip to Glacier National Park

As we packed up the airstream the excitement set in that the trip was finally here. We decided to take two weeks off and travel through Glacier National Park, to Banff, Jasper and back down through yellow stone and Grand Teton. Through these next few blogs I want to share some favorite places we went, traveling/hiking tips, and some videos of our travels.

We left Salt Lake City around 4:30, as we drove into the night we both became sleepy as we had had crazy busy work days before. After much conversation, it looked like a rest stop outside Butte Montana was our best bet for some shut eye. Continuing along to Missoula we had to grab breakfast and check out the cute college town, I use to spend a lot of time there so I wanted to relive some memories there. And then on to Glacier we went.

I had never explored Glacier before so I was unsure exactly what was worth checking out. Turns out everything is worth checking out this place is beautiful! We had a few things on our list from short hikes with tons of people to longs hikes where you see no one at all. When we arrived in Glacier we were tired from driving so we decided to go check out Hidden lake (5 miles RT), I had plans to jump in the lake and enjoy dinner out there, turns out after 1.5 miles they blocked it off because of bear activity. As I travel more I have learned not everything goes as planned, and you just have to go with the flow. The overlook at hidden lake was still gorgeous, and much worth the snow slip and slide!

glacier national park view

The following day we met up with a friend of mine to hike Mount Reynolds, a pretty tall peak around 9,000 ft. I was excited to finally hike something high up with insane views. It clocked in at about 7 miles’ total, some flat, some vertical, and then some scrambling. We lost the trail a couple times in our scramble but then luckily Chris found the way up, as we approached the summit, I was so excited to see these breathtaking views of Glacier. Turns out it was even more amazing than I had imagined, 360 views of so many peaks and parts of the park. This is a must do if you ever visit Glacier.

mountain goat glacier national park

Our final Hike was last night, Iceberg Lake, a total of 10 miles round trip. We heard this was a very common place for grizzly bears to hang out, as we hiked along the meadows and forest we didn’t see any wildlife. There are amazing peaks that surround this lake and we were stuck in a cloud covering everything….bummer. Then it started to rain, and then more rain, but we kept going determined to see the lake that has icebergs sitting in it. We finally reached the lake and it was extremely blue and beautiful. Even though I was unable to get all the photos I wanted we made do with the weather that was happening. On our way back down singing and laughing to try and keep bears away, we rounded a corner and there was a mamma grizzly and her cubs! This is my first bear encounter so I was excited yet terrified, we just gave them some room to scurry away and there they went. I am excited to return to this park one day I still have so much to explore and see!

overlooking glacier national park

Key things to bring on Glacier hikes:

Bear spray
Bug spray
Lots of water and snacks for hiking
Layers: your never know what the weather is going to do

glacier national park hike to happy
iceberg lake hike