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a.duong Author Just a math major trying to escape any and all responsibilities. Come play! Follow me on Instagram for outdoor & photography opportunities! @evergreene_anne

Getting Into Trail Running

I’m sure the thought of trail running seems like a superhero feat, but it’s actually not as bad as you might think. Trail running is similar to running on a track or road, with the added benefit of letting you reconnect with nature while getting in a little cardio. Trail running has other benefits that basic road running does not. Surprisingly, trail running puts less pressure on your joints, leading to fewer injuries in the long run. Now you’re thinking, “Well, running on uneven ground is dangerous,” which is true if you’re not careful, but along with road running, all sports have their pros and cons. For those who are just starting out, there are a few things you need to know before hitting the trails.

Start out slow

Obviously it’s called trail running for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you need to fully sprint up and down the trail. Start off slow to get into the groove of things. Rugged terrain can sometimes be tricky, so don’t be ashamed to slow down and take your time when running. If you’re prone to knee and ankle injuries, trail running is lower-impact compared to running on solid, hard surfaces like pavement or track, especially if you take it easy at first.

Be prepared

Like any kind of exercising, you’ll need water. Running up an incline while simultaneously dodging rocks, avoiding branches, and making sure your footing is correct can be quite the workout. Most small hiking backpacks will have chest and waist clips to strap that baby in nice and tight. I like to be extra prepared with snacks and a small first aid kit just in case as well.

Have proper footwear

Just like in hiking, ankle rolls are common. I suggest light weight, ankle high hiking boots for the extra support. Again, if you’re prone to ankle injuries, ankle braces can be helpful as well. If you just have tennis shoes, make sure they have a good amount of tread for footing purposes.

Know the rules of the trail

It’s good to know what kind of trail you will be running and the traffic it has because not all trails are the same. Yield to other hikers and runners and remember that it is better safe than sorry. Not doing so is potentially dangerous, and even without injury, no one wants to be shoved off the trail by someone else.

Elbows out

Use those arms! Balance is everything. Trail running is great in the way that it works out muscles you didn’t even know you had. Utilizing your arms will help you get better footing and help you balance as you run on rugged terrain.

Keep your eyes on the prize

While simultaneously watching your footing, dodging obstacles, and focusing on your breathing, always keep your eye on the trail. No one wants to trip over a tree root or rock and injure themselves. Running, tripping, and falling down a mountainside sounds like a nightmare. Avoid that by being attentive to your surroundings.

Take it all in

Last but not least, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers or the sheer sweat that you’ve worked up while running through our beautiful Utah scenery. The biggest benefit of trail running is the change of scenery anyway, right? Happy trail running!

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Hiking with a Furry Loved One

As much as my dog loves lounging around the house, Phillip also needs an open field or dirt to frolic about in with his furry friends. With the warm weather, Phillip and I have caught the spring fever bug early. Thankfully, if an urban stroll down the sidewalk isn’t fulfilling, there are plenty of (more exciting) alternatives for you and your canine companion.

Photo by Annie Duong.

Even though many of our beautiful mountain trails do not allow canine visitors, there are still some great wooded areas for dogs and their humans to play in the wilderness. Don’t let the ease of jumping in the car and driving less than 20 minutes to go play in the mountains with your dog fool you, though. You should always be prepared for not only yourself, but the furry love of your life as well. Watch out for:

-Mud: Since our so-called “winter” likes to come and go as it pleases here in Utah, trails can be wet and/or muddy. You may want to bring an extra towel and some wipes for the ride home. No one likes a muddy pup AND a muddy car.

-Other humans and dogs: There’s a very big chance you’ll run into other humans and dogs so be prepared to get your dog to your side quickly if they aren’t great in social settings. Don’t forget extra poop baggies! (I didn’t bring enough and had to bum some off a fellow human.)

-Sparse parking: Snow banks or wet terrain can prevent certain cars from parking. While some canyons close down parts of the road during the winter/spring season (like Millcreek Canyon), some hikes and their parking areas may not be available.

-Temperature change: Even though it’s warm in the valley doesn’t mean it’ll be warm in the mountains or shaded areas. Make sure to bring extra layers just in case.

-Food, water, etc.: Don’t forget hiking with your dog is different from an urban stroll through the neighborhood. Make sure to know your dog’s limit. Just like humans, they get tired, thirsty, and hungry when playing outdoors. Make sure to bring enough treats and water for the both of you.

Remember to follow all the rules for your pets and clean up after them. Now that that’s clear, here are a few places to try.

Tanner Park

2760 Heritage Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84109

This park is not necessarily a “dog park” but does allow leashed dogs on the majority of its trails. With trails and open areas accessible all year round, Tanner Park dips down into a gully with an exciting off-leash area where humans can let their dogs play in the creek. This off-leash area does not have any fencing, so if your furry friend likes to wander, make sure to keep an eye on them. This is a full hike, so be sure you and your dog are in shape enough to hike back out of Tanner Park. Tip: To avoid receiving a ticket, make sure to keep your dog leashed until you pass the “off-leash” sign.

Millcreek Canyon

3800 Millcreek Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84124Millcreek Canyon has trails for all humans and dogs. With difficulty levels that range from nature stroll to cross-country treks, this canyon will give you and your dog a variety of hikes to choose from. While on even dated days of every month (the 2nd, 4th and so on), dogs must stay on their leashes, on odd dated days they are allowed to have off-leash fun. This gives your dog the freedom to run up and down the trail while hiking.

Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area

383 Colorow Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Most locals know this area mainly for a hike called The Living Room. The Red Butte Canyon Area has plenty of easy, flat trails suitable for all ages and skill levels. While the surrounding trails are great for everyone, The Living Room Trail can be a bit strenuous with its inclines. If you and your dog don’t like it ruff, I’d make sure to give yourself and your dog extra time, snacks, and water to ensure a safe and fun hike. Though there are not any specific rules about leashing, it’s common for dogs to be off leash. 

Memory Grove/City Creek Canyon Trail

300 Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84103This beautiful little park is nestled away near the Greater Avenues. While your dogs must be leashed in the majority of the park, Memory Grove offers an off-leash trail and area in the most northern part of the park. In my experience, the dogs and their humans are the nicest here. It’s a great place to socialize your pup while being able to enjoy nature and the presence of others.

Other Great Dog Parks

As busy human beings, it can sometimes be a hassle to prepare and head to the mountains with your dog. So here are some other great dog-friendly parks within the valley that will keep your pup happy and will allow you to relax and decompress from the business around.

Lindsay Garden Dog Park: 426 M St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103Herman Franks Dog Park: 1371 700 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84105Wasatch Hollow Dog Park: 1631 E 1700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Liberty Park: 600 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Sugarhouse Park: 1330 2100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84106

Photo by Annie Duong.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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PRT & U

Have you ever wanted to try a cool recreational activity, but didn’t have the knowledge, equipment and/or money for it? Well, you’re in luck. Our beloved University of Utah offers credit and noncredit classes in a wide range of activities. They are listed under the “Parks, Recreational, and Tourism” or PRT section of the current semester’s class schedule. Among the classes offered are opportunities to take a weekend long trip to Zion National Park to learn landscape photography, or discover the basics of outdoor rock climbing, and that’s only the beginning of it.

While classes are offered fall, spring, and summer semesters, types of classes can vary depending on the season. The search acronym PRT within the semester catalog can be followed by a few different letters: L for land, S for snow, and W for water. This allows students to narrow down what kind of recreational sport or activity class they want to take. Most classes will cover the cost of food and most equipment. Some classes require camping, which means you’ll need to bring camping essentials like a sleeping bag, pillow, and tent, while classes like Pistol Marksmanship do not require camping equipment. Make sure to read the class description so you know what you’re getting yourself into, though don’t let concerns about equipment keep you from going as any outdoor equipment you don’t have can be rented from Outdoor Adventures in the Student Life Center for cheap. For classes that require electronics (like nature photography), students are able to check out cameras and other equipment through the Marriott Library via the Knowledge Commons. One other thing to keep in mind is travel, as all PRT classes require students to make their own way to the class rendezvous location.

This fall semester, I decided to take Rock Climbing I. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but it turned out to be the most fun I’ve ever had while taking a college class. Offered for one credit or noncredit, this class met just once for two hours, to go over the syllabus, discuss class procedures/expectations, and plan for needed equipment before meeting up in Veyo, Utah where class actually began. Unfortunately, students had to find their own way down to Crawdad Canyon. Nick Rushford, our instructor, suggested carpooling to save money on gas and provided a sign-up sheet for just that purpose. Though it seems awkward to drive 4.5 hours with random strangers, it turned out to be refreshing to speak to new people.

A week after our mandatory meeting, it was time to pack the car up and head to Veyo. There, we learned the fundamentals of outdoor rock climbing. All equipment was provided (including helmet, harness, ropes, etc.), except for climbing shoes. The class lasted three days, starting on a Friday and ending that Sunday. For those taking the class with credit, the only additional requirement was to pass a short quiz and write a short essay due a few weeks later once class ended. I highly suggest taking advantage of the PRT classes because they’re fun, you can get credit for it, you get to learn about something you’re actually interested in, and it’s a whole lot cheaper through the University than through a third party. Get out and explore.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Keeping Warm in the Great Outdoors

Raise your hand if you’ve been personally victimized by the ice-cold temperatures while trying to enjoy the great outdoors. Whether you’re hiking or camping, staying warm is the only way to have a safe and enjoyable trip. If anyone claims they like being cold, they’re lying. Here are a few tips and tricks to staying warm during your winter adventures.

Keeping warm requires a variety of tools and tips during Utah’s cold months. Photo by Annie Duong.

Pack the Hand and Toe Warmers 

Keeping your hands and feet warm is essential to not losing a finger or toe to frostbite. No one wants to go through the trauma of that, so listen to the nagging voice of your parental figure in the back of your mind, and pack some hand/toe warmers, some nice thick socks, and gloves.

Stick to the Three-Layer Rule

This may be common sense but it’s important to make sure you have a tight-fitting base layer, a middle layer, and an outer layer. For your base layer, it’s best to have a synthetic or wool article of clothing. DO NOT WEAR COTTON. Cotton is very loosely knitted and takes a very long time to dry. Your middle layer should retain heat. Fabrics like merino wool, down and/or fleece are suggested. Finally, your outer layer should protect you from the elements so it should be windproof, waterproof and well ventilated. Just remember the three Ws: wicking, warmth, and weather.

Two Beanies are Better than One

Not only will you be the most stylish individual in your group, but you’ll also be the most prepared. If you didn’t know, you lose a lot of heat from your head, so it’s best to always have a beanie or warm hat. Bringing two can ensure you’ll have a dry and comfortable beanie to wear at all times. This goes for clothing, too. Wearing wet clothing will 110 percent make you colder than if your clothes were completely dry, so doubling up is a necessity.

Chug Olive Oil

Apparently chugging things like olive oil, and eating avocados and other foods high in fat content, will help keep you warm. The burning of calories leads to an elevated body temperature, so bottoms up. I’m sure to most people olive oil does not sound appealing to drink, so any alternatives that are high in carbs and fat (like chocolate and/or nuts) will keep your internal furnace well fueled.

Keep Your Butt off the Ground

Never leave the fire or you’ll freeze your butt off, and try not to sit directly on the cold ground or on rocks. That goes for sleeping as well. Be sure to sleep on a sleeping pad or a cot to ensure maximum heat insulation. For below freezing temperatures, shoot for at least two or three inches of insulation between you and the ground when sleeping.

Make Yourself a “Crotch Bottle”

Think back to a cold, dreadful night in your tent. Do you remember where your hands were for the majority of the night? Probably in between your thighs, right? There are important arteries in your inner thighs that are essential to regulating body temperature; so don’t put away the kettle or jet-boil just yet. Use this to fill that extra water bottle you packed with hot water and get cozy with it in your sleeping bag, placed perfectly between your thighs to keep your body temperature up.

Big Spoon or Little Spoon?

Don’t know your tent mate? Suck it up, buttercup. Get your pillow talk ready. It’s common knowledge that sharing body heat keeps you warm, why not do it?

Don’t Get Trashed

Even though chugging olive oil isn’t as appealing as the whiskey you packed, a liquor blanket can only get you so far into the night. I’m sure half the reason you’re going camping is to sit around the fire with a beer or bottle, but drinking alcohol makes you dehydrated, and dehydration makes you cold. That warm, fuzzy feeling inside is a trap. You are colder than you think; limit your drinks and make sure those friends of yours who maybe aren’t as careful don’t pass out in unsafe conditions.

Drink Lots and Lots of Water

If you’re like me, being out in the cold doesn’t particularly make me thirsty. The truth is though, the cold, dry winter air actually dehydrates you faster than warmer air. Obviously, water keeps you alive and well but sometimes it’s an easy need to ignore. As your body is working harder to generate heat under all your layers, water is vital. To keep your water from freezing, use a wool sock, invest in an insulated bottle, or use a DIY foam sleeve.

Splurge on Nice Gear

If you do enough cold weather camping, it may be time to invest in some high-quality gear. This isn’t really a tip but you’ll definitely feel a difference between that $30 sleeping bag compared to a $300 one. I’m not telling you to go buy the latest and greatest equipment, but it may be time to do a little research and invest.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Beginners’ guide to skiing and snowboarding

Living in Utah, you should already know that the winter season is a big deal. If you were like me growing up, I never saw the middle school skiing/snowboarding program, Snow Blitz, appealing as a young tween. Wearing layers upon layers of snow attire and falling down a mountainside didn’t sound fun, and the expense was unattainable — until now. Even though I’m interested now, I must warn you, the falling doesn’t stop. Which leads me to the first of many tips when you begin to learn how to ski or snowboard — get used to falling, but before you start falling, you’ll need the gear for it.

Gear

Buying skiing and snowboarding gear right off the bat can be quite the commitment and can start at $600 and easily reach into the thousands.

Luckily, if you’re a student at the University of Utah, you’ll find the cheapest rentals rates in the state at the Student Life Center. Pro tip: you don’t need to be a student to rent from the university, but you can get 20 percent off the already cheap rates if you bring your UID. You can rent a basic skiing and/or snowboarding package, which includes skis/snowboard, bindings, boots, and poles (if skiing). You can also rent a coat and snow pants. The staff is there to help you get fitted, teach you proper gear technique, and you can store all this information for future reference. While the U would be the cheapest and easiest rental place, there are places all over Utah you can rent gear from like Ski N’ See & ARCS, which offers discount lift passes if you rent from them.

What you’ll need:

  • Beanie
  • Helmet
  • Goggles
  • Gloves
  • Coat
  • Snow pants/overalls
  • Layers
  • Boots
  • Bindings
  • Skis/snowboard
  • A snowy mountain

Lift Passes

Lift passes are the other expensive part of this hobby. As a beginner, no one wants to dish out $400+fon a season pass, but it can be pricey paying by day. Brighton Ski Resort is a great place to begin. If you can handle the cold, single day evening passes at Brighton are your best bet. While single full day passes allow you to ride from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and start at approximately about $82, night passes start at about $47, allowing you to ride from 4-9 p.m.

Though it can get rather cold and dark, night riding is a great time to learn since there are less people around. While a seasonal night pass to Brighton Ski Resort is only $319-$419, a seasonal day pass can range from $599 to $750. The best part of Brighton is the promotional offers it runs during the season. You can always find promotional deals on night riding like “2 for 1” rides or a discounted night pass if you bring canned goods during their food drive. Find the entire list of promotional deals on night riding and lessons on the Brighton webpage.To do it right, you need lessons.

Lesson

Once you have your gear and a pass, it’s time to hit the slopes.

If you don’t have a patient enough friend, adult lessons will help develop your skills. While you have the option between group lessons or private, you will learn skills and techniques to help ride more of the mountain while having fun with other riders. Keep in mind; resorts, like Alta, are for skiers only, so instructors may not know how to teach you how to snowboard. While lessons can range from $50 to $100+, Brighton offers the cheapest skiing/snowboarding lessons starting at $55 for a night lesson. Remember, safety first. I highly suggest not trying to teach yourself how to ski or snowboard as it can be fairly dangerous without proper skills and technique.

Tips

  • Don’t compare yourself to anyone else on the slopes.
  • Helmets are cool; wear one.
  • Skiers, don’t cross your tips.
  • Always keep your knees bent, but not too bent.
  • Wear proper winter clothing. Do not wear cotton (it absorbs and holds water, making you colder).
  • Save money on gas by using your pass as a ticket for public transportation.
  • Snowboarders, there are such things as butt pads.
  • Look for promotional deals.
  • Bandanas/masks make a big difference in keeping warm.
  • Your boots should be snug, but still have enough room for when your feet swell.
  • Have fun, but safety first.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Eating Outside the Pack

I don’t know about anyone else, but when I camp, cooking is the last thing that comes to mind. My preparation for any outdoor adventure revolves around gear and water. I’m perfectly happy living off of granola bars, trail mix, and fruit if it’s a short trip; but we all know that is not enough to survive anything longer. A fulfilling, hearty meal is key if you want the energy to play all day–and here are some of my favorite and easy meals you can use for any outdoor adventure.

All these meals can be fully prepped before your adventure even begins; a quick run to the grocery store should be the most complicated part. These recipes can provide the hearty nutrition you need to enjoy the outdoors to their greatest capacity, without draining much of your precious adventuring time. Campfire French Toast, Walking Tacos, and Tinfoil BBQ Chicken – all three are based around easy purchases and simple methods. All you need are a few simple ingredients, a campfire, the great outdoors, and good company. They were all found on Pinterest; and there are plenty more where they came from.

Campfire French Toast

Ingredients:

1 loaf of bread

2 eggs

1 cup of milk (or premade French toast mix)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1 cup of fruit (optional)

Syrup of choice (optional)

Supplies:

Aluminum foil

Parchment paper

Mixing bowl

Instructions:

If you decide to not use the premade: mix eggs, cinnamon and milk.

Loosely wrap the load in parchment paper and tin foil so the bread slices fall slightly open.

Sprinkle fruit over loaf.

Pour egg mixture over entire loaf.

Set in an area of the fire where there is no open flame or coals (or, in other words, cook in low to medium heat).

Cook for 6-10 minutes before serving with syrup.

Walking Tacos

Ingredients:

1 package/roll ground beef

1 packet of taco seasoning

2 tomatoes (diced)

1 bag of shredded lettuce

1 small tub of sour cream

1 package of shredded cheese

1 large bag/mini bags of Fritos

Supplies:

Nothing at all

(Maybe a bowl/cup)

Instructions:

To make a quick and easy meal, I would suggest prepping everything before the trip.

Cook beef until well-browned. Add taco seasoning.

Dice fresh tomatoes.

Crush chips in hands and add toppings into snack sized bags to combine in taco when eating.

Note: If you don’t have snack-sized, mix crushed chips and toppings together now, and enjoy later!

Tinfoil BBQ Chicken

Ingredients:

1 rotisserie chicken (or any precooked chicken)

1 bottle of BBQ sauce

Any kind of chopped vegetables

Supplies:

Aluminum foil

Instructions:

Shred cooked chicken.

Dice chosen vegetables.

Mix chicken, vegetables and BBQ sauces together.

Wrap mixture fully in tin foil.

Cook for 5-10 minutes in fire or until hot.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Guide to Salt Lake Paddleboarding

When most people hear the term “outdoor water recreation,” they automatically picture intense white water rafting or some other adrenaline pumping form of water sport. That’s only a portion of what the phrase entails.

If you’re looking for a casual, relaxing day at the lake, for example, you can find it through paddleboarding. Paddleboards are a great way to enjoy Utah’s beautiful lakes and reservoirs, and also allow you to incorporate other sports and hobbies. They work for rough water, too. There are two types of paddleboards: the SUP — or stand up paddleboard — and the traditional “prone,” or kneeling board.

While the prone paddleboards are mainly used for choppy, rough water, they are also perfect for the rapids of Utah’s rivers. Note: for first timers, I highly suggest signing up with a river guide before embarking on such a journey.

For those (like me) who just want to enjoy a day on the lake, a standard SUP is perfect. You can find plenty of rental shops that allow you to rent paddleboards, though it may cost you a little more than a college student can afford. This is where Outdoor Adventures, located at the University of Utah’s Student Life Center, can come in handy. Don’t forget your UCard for that student discount — with it, a SUP is only $25 a day. Since most rental shops charge $15-20 an hour by comparison, this is a significant money saver. Take advantage of what your tuition pays for.

 

When it comes to the actual process of renting from OA, it’s as easy as walking in and asking to rent anything they have to offer. Be aware though, SUPs are one of their most popular items, meaning that you should call ahead to reserve your board as early as 1-2 weeks before you want to use them.

OA carries two different SUPs: rigid and inflatable. I recommend the inflatable ones are because they come all nicely rolled up in a backpack that is fully equipped with an oar and pump for easy transportation. The rigid SUPs are 12-14 feet long, and they can be a little tricky to transport. The benefit to the rigid boards is that you don’t need to make reservations for them, and the OA staff are more than willing to help figure out a safe and easy way to tie it to your car.

Want to paddleboard but don’t know where to go? Utah has plenty of places to paddle around without a care in the world. While most lakes allow boats (and are designated motorized), there are some places that are specifically restricted for non-motorized water recreation. Below is a list of lakes and reservoirs that are easily accessible from Salt Lake County:

  • Causey Reservoir (Non-motorized)
  • Deer Creek (Motorized)
  • East Canyon (Motorized)
  • Pineview Reservoir (Motorized)
  • Jordanelle Reservoir (Motorized)
  • Willard Bay (Motorized)

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Sun Tunnels and Spiral Jetty Provide Change of Scenery

For those who enjoy the outdoors and art, Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels and Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty can be a nice change of scenery compared to your usual mountain adventures. Located on the Utah/Nevada border, the Sun Tunnels are roughly three and a half hours away. If you’re looking for something a little closer to our beloved city, the Spiral Jetty can be reached in under two hours as it sits on the northeastern part of the Great Salt Lake.

Holt’s four 18 foot long tunnels were installed in 1976 when she purchased a total of 40 acres for her contribution to the Land Art Movement of the 1960s and ‘70s. It is as simple as typing in “Sun Tunnels” on Google Maps to find precise directions to getting there. It’s wise to download and/or print out your planned route just to be on the safe side, as well as to bring a GPS.

With two routes to choose from — one being only 10 minutes faster than the other — I chose to head west on I-80. This will take you past the Bonneville Salt Flats.

Keep in mind that you must leave no later than 5 p.m. to make it to the tunnels before sunset, and you must leave earlier if you need time to make any pit stops. As you pass through Wendover and take Exit 378 towards Oasis Montello, it’ll probably feel like you’ve been driving for an eternity.

Don’t worry, you’ll take that right turn after the exit, and after about 20 miles, you’ll enter this tiny little town called Montello. I highly suggest you top off your tank here, as gas can be a little pricey since it’s the middle of nowhere, and use the restroom. From there, you’ll notice several “road closed” signs, but don’t worry, you can go around those. After turning off the main paved road, you’re about 25 minutes out from the tunnels. The use of a GPS and downloaded trip plan is very helpful for the last stretch of dirt roads leading up to the tunnels. You’ll need it to find your way back to the main road after your experience with this famous piece of art.

The Spiral Jetty is a good option if you don’t have the time to trek the 100+ miles to the Sun Tunnels, but still want to enjoy some Utah land art. Smithson created this massive walkway in 1970, also as a part the Land Art movement.

Heading north on I-15, you’ll take Exit 365 towards Corrine. Take the opportunity to fill up there as there are no other gas stations for miles. After following the signs to the Golden Spike National Historic Site, turn left onto Golden Spike Road to the visitor center. Had too many snacks and drinks on the way? The GSNHS Visitor Center is your last hope, and it’s only open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Plan accordingly.

This is where cell phone reception goes out, too, which is why it’s wise to download and/or print out your planned route ahead of time, as well as bring a GPS along for added security. At this point, you’ll never appreciate road signs and paved roads more. After the visitors’ center, the main gravel road will take you west towards the middle of nowhere. Keep following this road for 5.5 miles, then take a right. Keep your eyes peeled for Spiral Jetty signs. They’re sparse, but they do exist. At this point, it probably feels like you’re lost, but there will be a T-junction, and you’ll take a right turn. The road will curve around Rozel Point for what seems like an eternity — 9 full miles — and will finally come to the end at a cul-de-sac where you can park.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Misadventures Down the Weber River

Utah’s summer can go from frying an egg on the sidewalk to ground-shaking thunderstorms with a 110% chance of downpour in what seems like very little time at all. Throughout those summer months, whether you’re trying to escape the heat or racing home to find shelter from the rain, the Weber River always prevails. Named after the American trapper Henry Weber, this 125-mile stretch of flowing water begins in the northwest ridges of our beloved Uintah mountain range and finds its way to the Great Salt Lake. For the outdoor adventurer, floating that stretch makes for a perfect day activity.

If you’ve ever floated a river, you know you must carefully pick your choice of floatation device. A $10 floatie that was on sale at your local grocery store isn’t going to cut it. Trust me, I know.

The first time I had ever floated the Weber was an utter disaster. It started when my friends and I realized we were not about to waste a beautiful summer’s day sitting inside watching TV. Instead, we found ourselves out in the heat, sitting around what looked like a campfire–but was, in fact, a small plastic kiddie pool. I had the brilliant idea of filling it with ice and water to keep cool (because, you know, we’re poor college students who don’t have access to a nice pool). With a beer in one hand and sunscreen in the other, this got real boring real fast. My roommate mumbled about how uncomfortable and sweaty she was and she wished she could lie out on the giant ice cream-shaped floatie she had just bought at the mall. She continued to talk about how she got it on sale and suddenly she stood up, an idea on her lips. “Let’s float the Weber river, guys!” she screamed. At this point, all I could think of was submerging myself in ice-cold running water, so we threw our swimsuits on and departed.

For preparation all we did was Google “Weber River” and Google maps took us towards what we hoped was the correct location. I had no idea what I was doing other than floating a so-called river out in the middle of nowhere. We continued driving alongside the river until someone saw an area of the river where people were occupied. We took the nearest exit shortly after the sighting and headed towards the people. From there we hopped in the river and started our adventure, following a family down the stream. It was all fun and games until the massive boulders in the river began creating rapids, at which point it became clear that my ice cream-shaped floatie and I were not equipped for this moment. I began to kick my legs, maneuvering around the rocks with some little success, occasionally experiencing sudden pain whenever my body collided with the partially submerged rocks all around.

Soon enough, the pickup area was in sight. We watched the family ahead begin packing their things in a car they had left previous to getting in the river, and slowly, we all realized exactly how big of a mistake we had made. Everyone had been so excited about escaping the heat, no one had thought about how we would be getting back to the car.  All I could do was the classic face palm. “How did we not think about this?!” I thought. Luckily, my friend Andy hurried over to the family and asked for a ride back up to our car. They agreed and we patiently waited for Andy to arrive.

While this makes for a great story, I think any one of us would rather be prepared than taking the chance of being stranded in a canyon. So I suggest one of two different ways you can float this magnificent river and avoid the mistake we made.

Option One: Self-Service

Take two cars, parking one at the end before starting, and then using the other to drive to your start point, and bring your own tubes and life jackets.

What you’ll need:

  • Two cars— One to park at the drop-off site and one to leave at the pickup site.
  • Tubes— This isn’t the lazy river at a water park. You’ll occasionally run into sharp rocks, which can pop your tube. So bring an extra and strap it to your current tube. You can also rent tubes/life jackets at the University of Utah’s Outdoor Adventures located in the Student Life Center if you have room to pack it in your car.
  • Life Jackets— Safety first; it’s the law. Weber County DNR officers frequently drive up and down this river to make sure everyone has a life jacket. It’s a hefty fine if they catch you without one so make sure it’s on even if you decide to take a pit stop on the shore.
  • Sturdy Shoes—Don’t wear flip-flops. No one wants to chase after a rogue sandal or stub a toe.
  • Relevant Clothes— Rapids means a chance of flipping over. Plants mean a chance of getting caught in branches and/or weeds. Being outside means a chance you’ll smell. I wore a swimsuit and swim shorts.
  • Waterproof Bag— Some keys aren’t meant for water. Even with the bags, best to leave cell phones in the car.
  • Snacks— Don’t forget this float is approximately two hours. You’ll probably get hungry. DRINK ANYTHING OTHER THAN WATER AT YOUR OWN RISK. If you decide to do so, make sure you are still able to guide yourself around rapids, and through the right tunnels. And be warned, there’s always a chance of getting arrested for public intoxication. No matter what, don’t forget to pack out what you pack in. This means DON’T LITTER.

How to get there:

  • If you’re coming from the good ol’ SLC, take I-15 north towards Ogden.
  • Continue onto Highway 89.
  • Head east towards Evanston, WY on I-84.
  • Continue east through the beautiful canyon, and then take Exit 108 to drop off the second car where you’ll end. A left turn off the ramp and under the overpass will take you to a parking lot.
  • For the first car, continue on I-84 until Exit 111 for Croydon (this is where the fun starts).
  • Follow the road under the bridge and you’ll find parking on your right.

Barefoot Tubing Co. Photo by Annie Duong.

 

 

Option Two: Business Service–Barefoot Tubing Co.

Tube through an actual business. This is one I highly recommend, especially if you don’t have the gear on hand. Barefoot Tubing Co. was the service I have had experience using. The people there are great, the equipment is provided, and they’ll give you a good idea of what you’ll be going up against before you hit the river. The best part about this service is the shuttle rides. For $25 dollars, they provide you a heavy-duty tube, a life jacket, and shuttle rides up and down the river.

 

What you’ll need:

  • Reservations— With a max of 25 people per shuttle ride, you’ll need to call ahead and let them know how many are in your party.
  • Money— You can’t put a price on fun but you sure can on rentals. The $25 per person fee includes: a heavy duty tube, life jacket, and shuttle rides up and back down to the parking lot.
  • Sturdy Shoes— See above
  • Relevant Clothes— See above
  • Waterproof Bag— See above
  • Snacks—See above
  • Forgot something? Unprepared?— Barefoot sells sunscreen, water shoes, sunglasses, and waterproof pouches!

How to get there:

  • The address is 1400 E Round Valley Way, Morgan, UT 84050. It’s as easy as searching “Barefoot Tubing Co.” in your Google maps.
  • Once you’ve arrived, all you have to worry about is leaving your keys safely with Barefoot and you’re off for some floating fun.

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