'

s.marty Author

Peak Bagging Dos & Don’ts

“I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to,” Jason Stevenson, writer of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking, said. We’ve all been in those situations where the temperature is pushing 90 degrees, our sunscreen melted off hours ago, and our water bottles are empty, but still we are determined to continue onward. The last few miles can’t end in vain.

Photo by Sierra Marty.

Here in Utah, serious hiking and peak bagging are huge outdoor sports once late spring and early summer start to roll around. Peaks such as Olympus, located on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, draw tourists and visitors from all around. Last summer, on the straddle, I met a young couple on a road trip from Wisconsin, who were facetiming their parents, exclaiming that they could see the whole Utah valley because they were 9,000 feet up in the air.

The University of Utah especially has a huge outdoor presence, especially including the students who are from out of state or out of the country. Even so, for both those who are first time peak baggers, and serious climbers, it can be easy to underestimate the amount of supplies you’ll need to bring along, and potentially end up in a very dangerous situation. Like Stevenson, I have made my own mistakes as well. Here is a guide to things you should keep in mind once you start planning your summer hiking trips, so you don’t have to copy the mistakes I am familiar with making.

Water

Absolutely and most importantly, always bring enough water. Dehydration is one of the most common, and also most dangerous, risks of outdoor activities. I cannot exaggerate the number of times I have heard someone tell me they attempted to climb Mount Olympus and had to turn around because they didn’t have enough water. If you know you won’t be able to carry all the water you are going to need, purchase a water purifier from any outdoors store so you can replenish as you go.

Snacks

Even if you had a good breakfast, or plan to stop at In and Out on your way down from the canyon, you should always bring some kind of snack with you. Granola bars, gummy bears, an apple, or anything that will keep your blood sugar up should suffice.

Sunscreen

Unfortunately I am very guilty of saying, “I don’t need to wear sunscreen…” I have learned the hard way that I absolutely do. When packing your bag, always include a bottle of sunscreen. Additionally, always wear some kind of hat or sunglasses to protect your eyes if you can. Many popular trails in Utah, such as Grandeur Peak, are almost completely exposed and many hikers underestimate just how easy it is to burn, even on a cloudy day.

Clothing

Nobody likes chafing, blisters, or too much or too little clothing. Make sure that you wear good socks, appropriate clothing based on the weather, and good shoes. I once wore a pair of Nike Frees when I attempted to scale Pfeifferhorn, a peak up Little Cottonwood, and I was lucky not to fall off the side of the mountain and become mountain goat food. Traction is important!

Toilet paper

If you are on a multiple mile hike, and you don’t need to go pee at least once, then you definitely aren’t drinking enough water. Stuff a little toilet paper in your backpack for potential emergencies and good hygiene.

First aid

No matter how experienced you are, a small first aid kit is always a good idea. In fact, it is when you think that you will be fine, and come unprepared, that you end up being not so fine.

Backpack

A good backpack is imperative. String backpacks are terrible, and carrying your water bottle for 5 miles is also terrible. Good backpacks can be purchased from REI, Cotopaxi, and even Walmart. Backpacks with water bladders are also great at eliminating the need to carry around a water bottle and the annoyance of having to get it out of your backpack every time you need a drink. You’re also more likely to drink enough water if you can just stick a tube in your mouth and suck.

Navigation tool

Some kind of navigation tool is highly suggested. There are many great apps out there, such as All Trails and Gaia, which can pinpoint your exact location and show you the maps of a trail. Even a GPS watch can be useful, because it can help you estimate how far you’ve gone and how far you’ve got left. It is important to know your destination and be aware of possible turn offs. Even taking a wrong turn in Big Cottonwood can have you accidentally end up in Mill Creek Canyon unknowingly.

Weather prep

Last but not least, always make sure that you prepare for weather conditions. Starting a hike an hour later than the predetermined time can be detrimental, and potentially put you in the heat of the day. You shouldn’t be starting a 10 a.m. hike at 2 p.m., for example. Utah weather especially can change on the dot, so always be prepared for temperature changes, rain, and snow.

Camera

Always have a way to capture the moment. Whether it’s snapping a picture, or bringing a pen to sign the book of finishers in the shack on the top of Timpanogos, you won’t want to forget how hard you physically exerted yourself for that view.

Photo by Sierra Marty.

Hiking is by far one of the most engaging and beautiful things you can do in Utah because of the many different landscapes in our state. Safety and preparedness are very important in making sure that your hiking experience results in those engaging and beautiful memories. One thing to never forget is that you should never be afraid to turn around if you run out of water hours before the destination, if it starts to get dark, or if someone in your group gets injured. Peak climbing in Utah is a challenge, but the 10,000 foot views are worth everything. Make sure to prioritize the prep.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

190

Read Article

Weed Outbreaks and Why You Should Care

Last fall, while taking a homework break to hike around the Bonneville Shoreline trail, I ran into two guys bent over ahead of me. At first, I couldn’t tell if there was something serious going on, but as I got closer, I realized they were leaning over their bikes, trying to pump up their tires.

Isatis tinctoria. Photo by Sierra Marty.

“This is the fifth time in two weeks that I’ve gotten a flat tire riding on Salt Lake bike trails,” one of the men told me. His tire had a few goat heads, a spiky weed famous for popping tires, sticking into the tube, which he had picked up biking around the city. As spring time starts to approach the valley, it becomes a notorious time for noxious weeds to start spreading around the valley and repopulating.

Onopordum acanthium. Scotch thistle. Photo by Sierra Marty.

I sat down with Neal Dombrowski, a botanist at Red Butte Gardens, who told me about some of the weeds they have problems with here in Salt Lake City, which include yellow dtarthistle, myrtle spurge, goat heads, dyers woad, and medusahead.

Most outbreaks of noxious weeds start in wildland-urban interfaces, where human population ends and wildlife begins. The avenues, mouths of the canyons, and Capitol Hill are good examples of this. “Within the city we can contain it, but once it starts creeping into the wild areas, it’s a lot less controllable,” said Dombrowski.

These different kinds of harmful weeds can be a huge problem for mountain bikers, because they could get their bike tires popped; hikers, because certain weeds could cause skin irritation and blistering; animals, because certain noxious weeds could be poisonous; and the environment, because they can kill native plants. Botanists like Dombrowski are able to control weed outbreaks by chemical, mechanical, and biological methods. Chemical methods can include any kind of herbicide, but chemicals don’t always work particularly well at killing weeds, and can have other unknown effects on the environment. Mechanical methods include weed pulling by hand, or using tools such as rakes and vacuums. Biological methods are used when native predators, such as weevils, are introduced to an environment to kill and control a specific weed. There are a few ways we as students can help prevent outbreaks. We can control what grows in our yard, and make sure we get rid of any kind of noxious weed that begins to grow. We can rinse off our shoes and bikes after hitting up different trails to make sure that we aren’t transporting potential seeds. Also, we can report outbreaks that we see before they spread to places like the Shoreline trail, leaving bikers at the risk of getting popped tires.

Myrtle Spurge. Photo by Sierra Marty.

The most effective way to get rid of weeds is with the help of volunteers. However, one must be very careful not to just go pulling anything that looks like a potential weed. For example, many plants in Utah look like different thistles, and while most thistle plants are no good, there are actually a few native plants to Utah. “Proper identification is key,” said Dombrowski. One good way to figure out whether a certain plant could potentially be a nuisance weed is by emailing Salt Lake County a picture of the weed just to be sure. Last year, weed pulling events hosted by Red Butte Gardens had an average of 37 volunteers, and were sponsored by big names such as REI, KRCL, and the Nature Conservancy. While spending a Saturday pulling weeds may not sound like tons of fun, knowing that I get to help protect the outdoor environment in Salt Lake City (and my bike tires) is enough motivation for me to get out and do it regardless. Anyone interested in learning more can contact Neal at nealdombrowski@redbutte.utah.edu

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

SaveSave

SaveSave

216

Read Article

Snowshoeing Guardsman Pass

When snow hits the ground, temperatures drop, and days become shorter, it can be a struggle to find motivation to do anything outside. Utah’s most popular snow attractions are skiing and snowboarding, but what is there to do besides this?

I’ll tell you: snowshoeing up Guardsman Pass in Big Cottonwood Canyon. This scenic byway connects Brighton to Park City. While the main road is actually closed during the winter, it is still an option to drive up, park at the road, and take off on the snow.

First things first, you have to find the best snowshoe rental. Our own Outdoor Adventures department at the University of Utah rents snowshoes for $10 a day, or $15 for the weekend. The rental also includes a set of poles if interested. It is suggested to make rental reservations in advance. You can make them by calling (801) 581-8516.

Photo credit Sierra Marty.

If there are no open rentals at OA or if you can’t make it up to campus to grab a pair, you can also rent a pair of snowshoes at the REI Sandy or Salt Lake City locations. Members can get a pair for $12 the first day, and non members can get a one day rental for $15, and $10 for every additional day with a deposit of $100.

After you’ve got your snowshoes, you’ll need some other equipment. A water resistant pair of snow boots and snow pants, a warm coat, a pair of gloves, and a beanie to keep yourself comfortable in the cold canyon temperatures are highly suggested. Another thing you should make sure to bring is a camera, because you won’t regret capturing the beautiful winter snow around all the forest trees, trust me.

Guardsman Pass is a great place to go snowshoeing because it is just far enough that you can get away from any city life, but only about a 40 minute drive from campus. The trails aren’t very steep, the snow is always great, and the landscape is beautiful. Getting there is typically easy also, because Big Cottonwood Canyon is maintained all winter long. The best time to go snowshoeing in Guardsman is definitely around 3 or 4 p.m. when the sun is barely starting to go down, but there is still enough light and the temperature is still bearable. At this time, the sun will be hitting the snow and the trees just right, making for some fantastic pictures.

Snowshoeing is a great winter outdoor activity and it is something for all ages and experience levels. The best part is that it keeps you completely dry and warm  as long as you put your snowshoes on the right way. Winter snow can last up to February or March in Utah, making it a perfect activity anytime during the winter and even early spring. Before the snow melts, whether it’s at Guardsman Pass or anywhere else in the Wasatch, I highly suggest going out to explore the greatest snow on Earth on foot.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

212

Read Article

Improving Air Quality

We all know what winter in Utah is like. Crowds will travel from all over to see the lights at Temple Square, thousands of skiers flock to experience the best snow on Earth, and we all get to experience our favorite thing about Utah—never ending smoggy air. With Salt Lake City’s ever growing population projected to double by 2050, it seems that the air quality is only getting worse from here on out.

According to a study conducted by the American Lung Association, Salt Lake City ranked as the 7th most polluted city in the nation in 2015. The same study gave a letter grade to every state based on the quality of their air, where Salt Lake received an F. This is because every year there is a substantial increase in the number of bad quality air days with short term particle pollution, which is a mixture of primary particles like dust, volatile organic compounds, and emissions and their reaction in the atmosphere. We Utahns definitely have experienced this, and unfortunately not just during the winter time. If you’ve ever been on the top of one of our many mountain peaks and realized you couldn’t really see the city clearly, then you know what I’m talking about.

HEAL, which stands for Healthy Environmental Alliance of Utah, is a group here in Salt Lake City that advocates for clean air and renewable energy sources, and helps to protect Utah from nuclear and toxic air hazards. HEAL originated from another group called Families Against Incinerator Risk (FAIR), a grassroots organization that started in the ‘90s, aimed at stopping the Army from incinerating toxic weapons in Tooele. FAIR was worried about the downwind effect that surrounding communities might face from nuclear and toxic threats being introduced to their environment.

Sitting down with Noah Miterko, a grassroots organizer at HEAL, I got to learn what this organization was all about.

“When HEAL is working on something, we try to work on the grassroots and advocacy side, you know, getting people involved, connecting concerned communities and individuals with the tools and education they need to make a difference,” he said. “It’s important and people really care about this. People get sick from the air quality here, or people even move away because of it. It really blindsides people, I think, who move here from out of town. They think, Salt Lake City: beautiful mountains, the Olympics; it must be super clean. But then they get here, and well, not so much.”

HEAL works to help preserve Utah air by advocating about hot topic issues, educating the public, helping to enact different policies and bills by working with regulatory agencies, and also by encouraging the public to participate in citizen lobbying.

While there are many small ways for individuals to improve Utah’s air quality, such as biking to school and work, switching to renewable energy sources, and being more pollution conscious, the solution to Utah’s air is also tied to legislative work.

“One of the most effective things you can do as a resident is speak to your representatives, speak to your senator, and speak to your city councilperson,“ Miterko says.

University of Utah students, and other community members, interested in clean air or sustainability can find many ways to get involved with HEAL. This upcoming winter they will be holding meetings during the legislative previews, and teaching people how to citizen lobby. In addition, HEAL also hires students for prestigious internships during the spring, summer, and fall. Students involved in these internships work closely with HEAL on research projects relating to Utah air. Anyone interested can contact Noah Miterko at noah@healutah.org.

As a lover of the Utah outdoors, I am grateful to organizations like HEAL that are actively working on helping to clean the air, so that I can hopefully one day breathe without wheezing when I go for an outdoor run in our not-always-so-clear Utah air.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of HEAL Utah.

240

Read Article

See the Stars in Utah’s Dark Sky Parks

Over my fall break trip to Utah State University, I noticed something that I wasn’t used to seeing at my home in Salt Lake City — the starry night sky. Here in the crowded city, the stars in the sky are next to invisible. Thankfully, it is a different story once you drive a few hours outside of it.

Starry shot within Dead Horse Point State Park. Photo by Bettymaya Foott.

Bettymaya Foott is the coordinator for the Colorado Plateau Dark Sky Cooperative. A University of Utah graduate herself, Foott’s coordinator position allows her to work closely with the Consortium for Dark Sky Studies, located here on campus in the College of Architecture and Planning. The Consortium for Dark Sky Studies is committed to the preservation of dark skies in Utah.

DarkSky.org defines certified Dark Sky Parks as  “lands possessing an exceptional or distinguished quality of starry nights and a nocturnal environment that is specifically protected for its scientific, natural, educational, cultural heritage, and/or public enjoyment.” In other words, these parks are certified places where you can actually see the stars. Luckily for Utahns, we have the most certified International Dark Sky Parks in the world. Utah has nine IDSPs, which include Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef National Park, Cedar Breaks National Monument, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Hovenweep National Monument, Natural Bridges National Monument, and two located very close to the Salt Lake area; North Fork Park, which is located in Ogden, and Antelope Island State Park.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park in Colorado from which the Milky Way was viewable. Photo by Bettymaya Foott.

Parks must apply to the International Dark Sky Association Dark Sky Places Program to become certified IDSPs. The parks must have at least 67 percent fully shielded lighting — light that only points downward — at the time of the application process, and must commit to having 100 percent fully shielded lighting within 10 years. In addition, the parks must agree to have at least four dark sky-themed events per year.

Foott explains that outside of an International Dark Sky Park status, parks can apply to three additional programs: the International Dark Sky reserves, which is a dark zone surrounded by a more populated periphery; the International Dark Sky Sanctuaries, which describes the most remote and dark places of the world, which are the most fragile; and the Dark Sky Developments of Distinction, which includes towns and places that focus on dark sky conservation, but aren’t qualified enough to become an IDSP.

While unfortunately, it won’t ever be realistic for anywhere in Salt Lake City itself to become IDSP certified because of light pollution, the good news is that this pollution, unlike most others, can easily be prevented and is reversible! Foott offers a few suggestions that we can all integrate easily into our lives:

1. Put lights only WHERE you need them. Excessive light causes light pollution.

2. Use lights only WHEN you need to. Use motion sensors to turn lights on and off as needed. This improves security and reduces light pollution.

3. Select bulbs with WARMER COLORS. Consider using amber or yellow colored lights to minimize sky brightness.

4. Select the most ENERGY EFFICIENT lamps and fixtures. Replacing poor quality outdoor lights with efficient fixtures saves energy and money.

“Get involved locally,” Foott stresses. “Ask your city or county about existing lighting ordinances that help protect the night sky in your area.”

Photo of the night sky from the Aztec Ruins National Monument. Photo by Bettymaya Foott.

Next time you are on a biking, climbing, or hiking trip in any one of Utah’s National Parks that are IDSP certified, make sure you look up at the stars and appreciate just how much more visible they are than when you are in the city.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

369

Read Article

A Day in the Life of a Wasatch Urban Ranger

Have you ever heard of the Wasatch Front Urban Ranger program at the University of Utah? I bet you haven’t. Most people wish they had known sooner once they learn about the important work the folks involved do.

This program began in 2015 to advocate for trail users and land resources of the Jordan River Trail and the Bonneville Shoreline Trail. The Rangers, who are U students, patrol these trails while completing a variety of tasks: talking to users to collect data about their experiences on the trail, picking up trash, reporting any graffiti or maintenance problems, and even handing out treats to dogs and humans alike.

The Rangers start off their patrol by recruiting one other U student. At least once a week, Rangers complete about a three-hour patrol on one of the two trails — the Jordan River Trail, which is patrolled from about 200 South to 3900 South, and the Bonneville Shoreline trail, which is patrolled from Utah’s Hogle Zoo to Dry Creek. Rangers carry an assortment of items in their backpacks which include dog treats, gloves, and first aid kits, so they can be ready to pull noxious weeds or deal with small trail accidents. The Rangers also have access to the Gaia GPS app so they can track places that need trail maintenance.

In the program’s annual report for the 2016-17 school year, rangers reported 548 maintenance issues and removed 807 pounds of litter on the two trails. That is no small feat.

Urban Rangers out on the trail. Photo by Sierra Marty.

The data collected by the Rangers is meant to make a difference and is sent to important agencies like the National Park Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Jordan River Commision, Campus Security, Red Butte Garden, and the United States Forest Service.

This year, the program is lead by three guys in the Parks, Recreation, and Tourism department: Nick Rushford, Nate Furman, and Jeff Rose. However, students do not have to be majoring in PRT to join the team or volunteer; you can be studying anything.

These Wasatch Rangers aren’t paid for their time. This project is entirely service correlated, but what better service project is there than getting to walk on a trail and have a good time making it a good time for others? Essentially, anyone can be their own Urban Ranger. Have you ever picked up trash on your way out on a trail? Have you ever had the unfortunate experience of having a bike tire popped by puncturevine, a nasty weed that has mace-like seeds? Then you might be a good fit for this program. Anyone who loves the outdoors and is looking for service hours can volunteer to go on a patrol — general inquiries to UrbanRanger@utah.edu or call (801) 581-8542.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

SaveSave

492

Read Article

Local Artists Showcase Utah’s Beauty at UMFA

The Utah Museum of Fine Arts (UMFA), located at the University of Utah, reopened a few weeks ago after having been closed for 19 months. The remodel of the museum came with an exciting feature — a new usage for the space called the “Great Hall.”

American artist, Spencer Finch, was invited by the UMFA to work in the Great Hall, where he created the “Great Salt Lake and the Vicinity,” a descriptive pantone color chip piece.

Throughout the hall, Finch’s pantone chips line the walls, color matching to what he saw on a three-day journey around the Great Salt Lake. Traveling by foot, boat, and motor vehicle, he matched pantone chips with the landscape he saw. Searching to consider landscapes in new ways, Finch used colors not usually associated with the Great Salt Lake, such as deep pinks and bright blues, to describe things like algae and the reflections he saw on the lake.

In an interview with senior curator Whitney Tassie, Finch said, “The more I learned about the lake, the more I realized that a lot of people who live right near the lake never go to the lake. No one’s interested in it. They think it’s polluted; they think it’s smelly; they think there are lots of flies; they think it’s ugly; it’s not a natural wonder. But it’s pretty spectacular, I mean, it’s pretty amazing.”

Finch’s “site-specific installation” has already attracted many visitors, including myself, and is a contemporary art piece I recommend seeing.

In addition to “Great Salt Lake and the Vicinity,” UMFA collaborates with the Dia Art Foundation and the Great Salt Lake Institute at Westminister College to maintain two other awesome land art pieces: Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty and Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels.

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970, black basalt rock, salt crystals, earth, and water. UMFA photo.

In the museum’s permanent collection, you can see an original photograph from Nancy Holt of her Sun Tunnels. The photo features 24 photos taken every half hour for 12 hours, from sunrise to sundown, through the angle of one of the tunnels. You can see the gradation of light change as the sun moves over the tunnels, while you are still looking at the same view. Holt was inspired to create these tunnels because she “wanted to bring the vast space of the desert back to human scale,” as cited in “Nancy Holt: Sightlines.”

Since its reopening, UMFA has become a kind of “jumping off point” for art and interactive learning. Inside the museum you can find three different conversation areas named Trailhead, Basecamp, and Lookout. In these conservation areas, you can find informational pamphlets, biographies about local artists, and activities for kids to do.

Admission into the museum is free for U students and faculty, and thanks to its cafe, conversation areas, and quiet environment, it can make for a perfect study place, as well as a perfect date idea during its late open hours of 9 p.m. on Wednesdays.

If the museum atmosphere isn’t your scene, you can take it a little further to create your own art adventure. In Spencer Finch’s piece, his art started as soon as he left, and the same can go for you. Plan a road trip out to see those two amazing Utah land art pieces, or even camp out in the desert at the sun tunnels alone, the important thing is just to go and get yourself out there.

Before you go, make sure to check out a Spiral Jetty Backpack from UMFA, which includes a microscope, binoculars, thermometer, compass, maps, and a sketchbook, to make your adventure into Utah’s salty desert an even more interesting trip. These backpacks can be found at the front desk of the museum or at the Salt Lake City Public Library’s Children’s desk downtown.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

369

Read Article