Happy New Year!

Diamond, Miles – 7 years old, Matt, and Erin. Stella, the cat, is somewhere in a sun spot napping.

This photo sums up 2020 for our family pretty succinctly.

Many of our outdoor adventures were cancelled in 2020 but we found other adventures awaited us indoors and nearby. We hope that we will see and hug many of you in 2021 on as many adventures as we can manifest! May this new year find you healthy, safe, and happy.

  • Learning about chores and baking treats were practiced over and over this year.
  • Matt hiked down and up the Grand Canyon in Jan 2020. MQ hosts concerts with fellow musicians, Matt Magic Fingers and Erin Smooth Swanny!
  • We played so many board games and completed dozens of puzzles!
  • Hiking was top of the activity list in warmer months and after two and a half months of in-person school MQ transitioned to school at home in November.
  • MQ rode their mountain bike with Devo’s program twice over the summer. And Matt is able to get some turns in at our local ski resort with his favorite skiing buddy!
  • We found our Christmas tree in the fog this year and the year was full of many, many cuddles.

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Casa del Eco, 17 Room, or 16 Room Ruin

When we first started planning this trip we could not find much information about access to this ruin besides an old blog post. Now that I’m trying to find that blog post (no luck), I am finding many other bloggers talking about the ruin.  We will be adding to the collective knowledge with how to access the ruin, specifically, if your are rafting the San Juan River from Montezuma Creek.

First and foremost, we strongly recommend that you submit a request for a hiking/camping permit – http://www.navajonationparks.org/permits.htm – this provides you with education about the area you’ll be entering and is part of your responsibility for traveling onto Navajo land.  Please do this whether you drive or boat in.  Thank you!

We put in with two rafts at Montezuma Creek and turned a long day trip into an overnight.  With our permit we were able to camp on river left, Navajo land, which does afford more options than river right, which is BLM. On day two of our trip we used a vague blog post and our river guide to find the hiking trail that leads from the river to Casa del Eco ruin.

In between river miles 8 and 7, there is a marking for “Location of Old Footbridge”.  We knew from the blog post that the footbridge is how people used to hike to the Casa del Eco ruin.  We kept an eye on the cliffs on river right and for any remnants of the old bridge.  Just as the cliff on river right ends there is a metal piling sticking out of the river on the opposite shore.  At the time of our float, there was several piles of debris on river left but we were able to eddy out with some creative maneuvering.

There is a road, visible from the river and very evident from the shore, that leads directly to the ruin .  We recommend following the road to the left when it splits, it’s a clearer path and you’ll have an eye on the ruin the whole time.  As you come up on the mesa, the road will split again, bear right past a homestead.  You’ll see a path leading up to the ruin.  If you are looking for shade, like we were, go a bit further and you’ll find a spot below the ruin that’s perfect for a picnic (please, practice leave no trace).

When we hiked out we made the loop but recommend retracing your steps back the way you came in as it is a more defined road.

Casa del Eco Ruin:

  • Moderate hike
  • 2 to 2 1/4 miles round trip
  • No drinkable water
  • Permit required

We made this hike with four little kids and highly recommend it!  We did need to follow-up with Navajo Parks & Recreation for our permit but they happily scanned it and emailed it to us after we chatted with them.

Happy adventuring!

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San Juan River: Montezuma Creek to Sand Island, Utah

We gathered up some new friends and took our “Green Machine” out for its first overnight rafting trip.  The kiddos were awesome river rats and we all enjoyed camping out under the stars.

We learned some lessons and worked out some kinks. Raft camping is different enough from car camping that we are working on adjustments and buying some new gear (Matt is so happy!).

Our next trip with “Limey” will hopefully be the Moab Daily turned into overnight…still working out dates for that trip.

In July we’ll be running a bigger section of the San Juan River with good friends where Matt will take “The Mint Julep” through rapids bigger than a class 1. Ha!


*If you can’t tell, we are still searching for the best name for our very bright green raft!


San Juan – Utah Territory from Matt Brandt on Vimeo.

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