Utah: Payson Lakes & Grotto Falls
This has honestly been one of the most summery summers I've had. And we haven't really needed to try. There's just so much around us in Utah, it makes it easy to go camping, or go down a river, or to a festival. A lot of people said Utah is great in the summer, and I know what they mean now (despite how hot it can get).
As soon as June hit, we took our first camping trip of the summer (I realize that it technically wasn't summer yet, but I feel like summer and June are synonymous so I'm going with it) to Payson Lakes. My friend Britt organized it and we met up with her, her husband Scott and their two kids Kalai and Griffey. Kalai is two years old and this was his first real camping trip that he could actively be part of (there's limitations when you're a baby) so he was really into exploring everything.
When we met with them on a beautiful Friday evening, we set up a campfire and hung out around it as it got darker and a little chillier. Kalai seemed to have an unlimited amount of energy, even when it got pretty late, and kept going off where we almost couldn't see him. So Matt and I took him on a walk, more like run, around the campground. Which really backfired: we were very tired at the end of it, but it seemed to give him more energy!
Eventually, we all got to sleep. Matt and I woke up for sunrise the next morning. We went to just outside the campground, surrounded by mountains, trees, a field full of purple wildflowers and so much green.
Some more friends met up with us in the late morning and we went over to the lake. There's minimal parking, so Matt and I biked. DJ and Natalie brought a lot of fun water stuff like a canoe and tubes which really proved important for enjoying the lake to the fullest because it was freezing cold.
Growing up by the beach, soaking in the summer heat on the hot sand and then going into the refreshing ocean water, it was definitely different. The sand was pretty rocky, the water super cold, and not a lot of waves. Mostly, it was just fun hanging out with everyone. Matt and I also took a bike ride around the lake, and later floated out on the intertubes. We tried to touch the water as minimally as possible, so instead of trying to get back to the shore we started from, we just floated straight across the river and walked back. It was very relaxing and kind of fun to see where we'd end up.
We had an incredible dinner back at the campsite before our final adventure of the day: hiking to Grotto Falls. It's an easy 0.6 miles out and back. The falls are located in a grotto — hence the name — and feels like an untouched treasure.
We went back to the campsite, had s'mores and hung out until late. Matt and I drove back to Provo since we had to get up early the next day anyways. Plus after not camping for awhile, and possibly because of my now older age, my back was hurting from not having any support. Fortunately, we've gotten a foam mattress topper since then (Walmart's got them for $10-$15! Well worth it) so we're much better prepared.