Another year has come and gone, and boy, did this one fly by! It was a challenging year, in the very best way. We jumped from one kid to two, learned how to adventure with a baby and a toddler in tow, and camped and hiked our way across Colorado and the western United States. While I am certainly ready to say goodbye to 2016 and welcome 2017, there are many highlights and happy memories from this year I know I’ll think back on for a long time to come.

On this day, the last day of the year, I’d like to share my family’s best moments of 2016. My husband and I really enjoyed reminiscing on all the fun we’ve had this year and trying to narrow down our favorite memories to only five (it was hard!). Here are the memories that made the cut.

The Best Moments of 2016

Soaking Up the View of the Spanish Peaks from Hogback Trail

Lathrop State Park in Walsenburg, Colorado

Soaking Up the View of the Spanish Peaks from Hogback Trail

It was one of our first significant hikes as a family of four. Both boys were fresh after long naps in the car on our drive south, making for an especially delightful and memorable family hike that day. After scrambling up the side of Hogback Ridge, we were treated to breathtaking views of the Spanish Peaks.

I will always remember handing the camera to my husband and asking him to take a few photos of my boys and I. The simple phrase “the boys” still felt new and special. I took Luke by the hand and we admired the view while Jack bobbed around on my chest, ready for a snack, and Andy captured one of my very favorite quiet moments of the year.

Read more about this special hike here and here.

Tandem Carrying the Boys on the Colorado Trail

Kenosha Pass near Jefferson, Colorado

Tandem Carrying the Boys on the Colorado Trail
Tandem Carrying the Boys on the Colorado Trail

A few camping trips in our new teardrop trailer under our belt, we finally started feeling like we had this camping with babies thing down! After waking up in a grove of aspen trees and cooking a lovely breakfast over the fire, we headed out for a family hike along the Colorado Trail.

We were a mile or two into our hike when Luke asked to be carried. Baby Jack already strapped securely to my chest, I handed the camera to Andy and told Luke to climb on my back. The brief and playful piggyback ride was enough to reset my boy for another few miles and elicit a few chuckles and sideways glances from other hikers on the trail. I felt strong and alive carrying both boys, an experience I’ve returned to and drawn from throughout this year.

Read more about this hike and camping trip here.

Swinging in Hammocks on Lizard Rock Trail

Lost Creek Wilderness near Lake George, Colorado

Swinging in Hammocks on Lizard Rock Trail
Swinging in Hammocks on Lizard Rock Trail
Swinging in Hammocks on Lizard Rock Trail
Swinging in Hammocks on Lizard Rock Trail

We were on our way back to our campground from Lizard Rock in Lost Creek Wilderness. Andy, the boys, my sister, and I had already hiked about five miles but still had one or two more to go. We saw a lovely grove of trees and decided to string up a pair of hammocks, strip off our hiking boots and socks, and take a much-needed break. Luke scrambled from hammock to hammock, laughing like a maniac while the rest of us tried to avoid getting kicked in the face.

This hike was one of Luke’s longest hikes of the year, made possible because of that delightful hammock break. After discovering the wonder of swaying the in the breeze in the middle of the woods, we never set out on another hike without our hammocks!

Read more about this hike and camping trip here.

Setting Up Our Favorite Campsite of the Year

Mazama Village Campground in Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Setting Up Our Favorite Campsite of the Year
Setting Up Our Favorite Campsite of the Year

1,300 miles into our epic family road trip, we finally arrived at our first national park of the trip: Crater Lake National Park. The four of us had woken up in Winnemucca, Nevada, at 5am that morning and decided to get an early start on the day’s drive. After many long hours on the road, we finally pulled into Mazama Village Campground and easily found what turned out to be our favorite campsite of the entire year.

Luke and Jack played in the dirt under the trees while Andy and I unpacked our camp chairs and hammocks and set up the kitchen. They wasted absolutely no time getting shockingly dirty from head to toe, a feat I was most impressed by on Jack’s part, given that he wasn’t even crawling yet. Once we were unpacked, we played with our boys and climbed in and out of our chairs and hammocks, enjoying the sounds of the birds overhead and the breeze rustling the leaves all around us.

Whenever I think of that amazing road trip, I don’t immediately think of the view of Crater Lake from Watchman Peak, or how big Mount Rainier looked from Sunrise Visitor Center, or how amazed Luke was at the sight of Old Faithful in Yellowstone. When I think of that two and a half week trip, I think of that simple, perfect afternoon with Andy and the boys at Mazama Village.

Read the introduction about this road trip here.

Beachcombing and a Picnic at Rialto Beach

Olympic National Park, Washington

Beachcombing and a Picnic at Rialto Beach
Beachcombing and a Picnic at Rialto Beach
Beachcombing and a Picnic at Rialto Beach

Another 800 miles under our belt, we found ourselves on the Washington coast. After waking up in our campsite at Sol Duc Hot Springs Campground in Olympic National Park, we piled in the car with a delicious spread of fruit, cheese, and cold cuts and headed to the beach.

It was foggy and a little chilly that morning, my favorite combination in the world. I carried Jack around in the carrier on my chest while Andy and Luke scampered up and down the large pieces of driftwood that paralleled the water. We listened to the waves roll in and out and took deep breaths of salty ocean air. After a few hours of exploring, we returned to the truck to grab our picnic and set up our spread on the beach, overlooking the water.

A very close second to my beloved memory from our campsite at Crater Lake, this simple, quiet moment on our family road trip this summer has remained a steadfast favorite of the year for me.

Read the introduction about this road trip here.

2016, you were quite the year. 2017 has some big shoes to fill.

Happy New Year, friends!