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Hiking

A Dream Hike: Mt. Timpanogos

One mountain peak that stands above most in the Wasatch front is Mt. Timpanogos, also referred to as Timp. Technically speaking, it is the second highest peak behind Mt. Nebo, standing at 11,752 ft. However, between the two, Mt. Timpanogos is much more picturesque, and it is one of the most prominent mountains in Utah. It’s one I have yet to climb myself. Someday, I hope to. For now it sits on my list of “must do.”

On my very first mountain peak summit last year on Twin Peaks Salt Lake, I was able to see the tallest peaks in every direction from Ben Lomond down to Mt. Nebo. Being at the top of a mountain provides a unique prospective for anyone. You feel as though you are touching the heavens above. Climbing mountain peaks become more addictive the higher and higher you go.

Growing up in Salt Lake has put me around the base of Mt. Timpanogos many times. I’ve also seen so many different perspectives of Timp that I finally think it is time to conquer one of my missions to climb to the top. I have seen Timp driving through Provo, downhill skiing at Sundance, and riding on the Heber Creeper in Heber. Many of my friends have climbed Timp in the summer and told me what the hike was like. Most of them said it took an entire day to reach the summit — but they all said it was well worth it.

The hike to the top from American Fork canyon is a 15 mile round trip in the summertime. I would really like to climb to the top in the winter or early spring while there is still snow at the top, even though I would need to take more care to ensure that the snow is stable to walk on when the temperature increases. This is because I feel as though the mountaineering aspect of climbing to the top of mountain peaks is what draws me. I want to be able to look down on everything around me still blanketed with snow, reflecting the bright sunlight. I had a small taste of this feeling when I went on a backpacking trip to King’s Peak, the highest point in Utah at 13,528 feet. Being above the timberline is stunning knowing that other creatures do not venture above that height. The rock features are so unique that the only way to explore them is to go up.

In the mental planning I have already done, I know to go on a hike up to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, I would need a daypack at minimum with plenty of water. I know there are streams on the way up, but that I would need to rely on my own water bottle once I climbed beyond them. The view would be impeccable, especially looking North towards the South side of the Pfeifferhorn. If I was lucky on my adventure to the top, I might even come across a mountain goat just strolling along the cliffside. When I got to the top, I would be sure to have friends with me to enjoy the hike along with my camera to document every step of the way. After all, how would others know that I am having fun without seeing images in this technological world we live in? Last but not least, I would bring a University of Utah flag to wave at the top just so those at BYU could see that a Utah flag was towering above them.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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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

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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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Epic Picnicking

Growing up in Utah really helps you to appreciate the outdoors and the incredible opportunities just past your doorstep. The possibilities for travel within this state alone can take more than a lifetime. The question for any individual adventurer then becomes, how do you make these commonly enjoyed places more unique? My spin off answer to this question is to have a picnic, and epic picnic, at every location you visit, either figuratively or literally. Take your stereotypical red and white table cloth, woven straw lunch basket, and deli sandwiches and create your own picnic table in the most epic places possible within the wilderness. Make each and every experience your own.

One such epic picnic experience is peak bagging. Yes, you might have to carry a little extra weight to bring up all those picnic items, but hear me out, the experience alone will stay with you the rest of your life. I can speak from experience. I hiked King’s Peak, and what I remember most is carrying a tripod in my right hand and a subway sandwich in my left for miles. Was it difficult? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Am I insane? Most likely. Now, I have a great story to tell each time about how I hiked the highest peak in Utah, and I have the photos to remember the experience.

Another option is to take hiking to a new level. I recommend getting into mountaineering. This sport is truly breathtaking, and I’m not just talking about the lack of oxygen once you get above 10,000 feet. Mostly, I just feel like an astronaut walking on the surface of a foreign planet with the coolest glacial glasses known to existence on my head, ice crampons on my feet, and an ice axe in my hand. When you mountaineer this way, it is just you and the mountain. Let me tell you, once at the top of a peak after hiking through a glacial field, a delicious sandwich is one of the best tasting meals you’ll ever have. This was another epic picnic I have notched into my experience belt.

These are only two examples of  the “epic picnics” I have created for myself. I challenge you to create some of your own as well. You might be struggling at the present when trekking through the desert, but it is the memories you create along the way that matter most, and adding a picnic, to any already epic adventure, is a great way to make it even more so.

p.creveling@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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Wasatch Winter Mountaineers

Through each season, the peaks of the Wasatch transform with the elements to take on a radically different façade,

Courtesy of Jonathan Scott.

and during the period of snowfall and cold, this range is an entirely different beast. While the notion of climbing to the apex of one of the many cloud-carving goliaths seems intimidating and prohibitive to most in the valley during the summer, doing so while the Wasatch is encased in snow is downright unimaginable. For some impetuous local mountaineers, however, the endeavor is exhilarating, sublime, and worth the struggle and risk. If you’re an individual with a bit of cardio, grit, and interest in learning, surmounting one of the glistening peaks in the winter is merely a matter of will and determination.

Sports like this, of course, are contingent upon connecting with a community; knowledge is often best passed-down by a mentor, as it is not wise to approach these expeditions alone (particularly on one’s first attempt). While social media may be among the modern practices keeping people either indoors or buried in their smartphones, it has served as an incredible mechanism for bringing together like-minded folk from all walks of life. This sport is no exception.

Courtesy of Tanner Maxwell.

While many local groups have existed long before the induction of social media in contemporary consciousness, platforms like Facebook have played an essential role in uniting and organizing mountain junkies and their activities. The most prominent and active among them include the longstanding Wasatch Mountain Club and the accurately named Wasatch Mountain Wranglers, collectively comprised of 7,375 members (the latter having the most at 5,502). Each group routinely organizes a variety of expeditions into these mountains throughout the year, serving as an inclusive environment in which locals at any level of practice can get connected with exhilarating trips, as well as experienced, knowledgeable, and passionate mentors.

Over the course of the past few weeks, I reached out to some of the impetuous Utahns to determine just why they do it, what it takes, and what advice they may have for newcomers. At every level of expertise, these determined individuals all have something that drives them to these peaks.

Nicole Frazier Condie is a lifelong Mapleton local, mother, self-proclaimed mountain-lover, and is relatively new to winter mountaineering. She explains that while she has spent her entire life treading the slopes of the Wasatch, she has found recently that “the winter brings a gift: a quiet extreme. You experience this rush while at the same time you feel so at peace —  safe but not safe at all. It is an absolute juxtaposing experience. Its beauty is truly something straight from Narnia.”

Courtesy of Nicole Frazier Condie.

This quiet extreme is something Condie came to learn most profoundly on her perilous group expedition up South Thunder Mountain (11,154 feet) last March. While the weather had fared well for her group throughout the day, Condie says “the wind changed dramatically up after 10,500 feet to 50-60 mph gusts. One smaller woman on the team was actually lifted and fell from the wind during the last push to the summit. As sharp ice flurries burned past my face I worried that the wind would pick up one of those large pieces, sending me over the edge. But I pressed on, unable to see or hear the others in my party.” Despite the treacherous conditions, including — at one point —  making a wrong turn  toward a precarious ravine and later having to learn how to glissade with an ice axe on-the-spot. Condie persevered nonetheless, leaving her with the sense of accomplishment.

Courtesy of Nicole Frazier Condie.

“I really had done something. I really lived in that moment. Something beautiful truly awoke in me,” she says.

Each individual capable and driven in winter mountaineering seems to develop their own intimate relationships with the mountains and motivations for climbing them. Joe Butcher, an experienced mountaineer and Kaysville native, affirms his motivation for climbing “really is spiritual.”

“I enjoy being reminded how small I am in the grand scheme of things. I also enjoy the difficulty, and training my mind with the fortitude to overcome some of the most difficult obstacles I have ever encountered. My experiences in the mountains have provided me with the wherewithal to endure many other trials in my personal life,” he says.

Jonathan Scott, a Utah County native and active all-season mountaineer in the Wasatch Mountain Club, finds himself drawn to these peaks in winter due to the sublime challenge they hold.

Courtesy of Jonathan Scott.

“[In the winter] there are more variables that make it more difficult, but also more rewarding, like solving a 1,000-piece puzzle as opposed to a 100-piece puzzle. I like challenges, and the winter offers that for me,” Scott says.

Scott urges newcomers not to shy away from the challenge, however daunting it may seem.

“Don’t be so afraid of a winter objective that you don’t try it,” he says. “Just like when you project a boulder problem or climbing route outside of your current abilities, start at the bottom and work your way up the mountain, even if it takes you 10 times.”

Tanner Maxwell is an avid Wasatch Mountain Wrangler and photographer. He finds a sublime aesthetic and self-actualizing potential on these ridges.

“Solitude and incredible beauty that can only be found in high places in the winter is what drives me to the Wasatch in the winter months,” Maxwell explains. “Challenging myself and setting summit goals is what keeps me sane. There is no place like the mountains, and seeing them firsthand in all types of weather and seasons is what makes it worth undertaking. I feel like I better myself when I am up there.”

Courtesy of Tanner Maxwell.

Each of these practicing winter mountaineers had their own perspectives on the greatest risks associated with the mystifying sport and tips to ensure a safe and positive experience, but one thing that remained consistent in their responses was that avalanches are among the greatest possible dangers. One must always be mindful of conditions on the mountain — to “know before you go,” if you will.

Mike Gibby, a well-seasoned climber and mentor figure in the Wasatch Mountain Club with dynamic experiences both domestic and international, claims that the ideal conditions to keep an eye out for are “low avalanche danger, snow consolidation, cold weather — to help stabilize the snow — good visibility, and no wind.” It is ultimately best to pick a cold, clear day and push-off as early as 2 or 3 a.m. This is such common practice in the sport that it has been named an “Alpine Start.”

Gibby also advises aspiring winter mountaineers to recognize that safety must be taken as the primary objective, and to always “be prepared to turn around if conditions change.”

Other potential dangers associated with this sport are dehydration, exposure to the elements, snow and ice hazards, like melting cornices and snow bridges, and, of course, involuntary sliding and falling.

Regardless of outdoor experience level, potential newcomers to winter mountaineering are encouraged to 1) begin by practicing in shorter and less precarious winter hiking locations to familiarize themselves with the equipment and conditions, 2) take at least one avalanche course, 3) develop a habit of assessing snow-levels on the Utah Avalanche Center site, and 4) acquaint themselves with people well-experienced in the practice, like the Wasatch Mountain Club and Wasatch Mountain Wranglers. It is also important to 5) be transparent with yourself to ensure you have the composure to lead your body up such an icy mountaintop. Aside from a firmly level and clear head, the essential equipment for winter mountaineering largely depends upon conditions, but the basics include:

Courtesy of Jonathan Scott.

>ice axes

>crampons

>full-shank boots

>many layers (top and bottom) for varied conditions

>multiple glove layers

>water with freezing prevention methods

>helmet

>sunglasses/goggles

>gaiters

>trekking poles with snow-baskets

>snowshoes or skis with climbing skins for the approach

>short, mountaineering, or climbing rope depending on route

>avalanche safety equipment (like a beacon, shovel, and probe)

>knowledge of weather and avalanche conditions

Courtesy of Tanner Maxwell.

While you don’t necessarily need to break the bank when attaining equipment, particularly while you are still uncertain whether or not the sport is for you, you should always err on the side of quality equipment, since cheap and unreliable gear can either ruin your day or even cost you your life. It is a general rule of thumb that any gear you will trust your life with — this includes ropes, harnesses, carabiners, etc.— should not be bought for just this reason.

Though virtually any snow-covered peak or route can be taken on with sufficient gusto and preparation, some of the most popular and appraised are the Pfeifferhorn, the Everest Ridge, and Timpanooke routes on Mount Timpanogos, South Thunder Mountain, White and Red Baldy, Lone Peak, Mount Olympus, and the Tripe-Traverse goliaths: Dromedary Peak, Sunrise Peak, and the Broadsfork Twins.

Stay safe out there.

Title photo courtesy of Tanner Maxwell.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

 

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Enjoying the Snow in Snow Canyon

Utah is famous for its five beautiful national parks, Zion being the most famous of them all.

While lesser known, there are plenty of state parks in the area that offer many of the same views and amenities as the more popular Zion National Park for a fraction of the cost and a fraction of the crowds.

Photo by Esther Aboussou-Shaw.

Snow Canyon State Park located in Ivins, UT just outside of St. George is a wonderful example of this. This beautiful state park is located just one hour west of Zion National Park, and, while not as large, contains a very similar landscape and quite the selection of hikes to keep you busy.

At $6 per vehicle, the entrance fee for Snow Canyon State Park certainly won’t break the bank. Camping is $20 a night for a basic site, and $25 for a campsite with hook-ups, water, and electric. The 27 campsites are set against a backdrop of stunning red and white sandstone that southern Utah is famous for.

Snow Canyon was founded as a state park in 1959 and was named after Mormon settlers Lorenzo and Erastus Snow. The park is famous for its cinder-cones, lava flows, and tubes that have formed over the years after the Santa Clara volcano erupted.

Photo by Esther Aboussou-Shaw.

Though the campground is small there is plenty to keep you busy. Hiking, biking, and horseback-riding trails are available to explore in the 7,400 acres of Snow Canyon State Park. Out of the 38 miles of hiking trails, I would recommend the Johnson’s Canyon, Whiptail, and Cinder Cone trails. Johnson’s Canyon is an easy two mile hike that leads to great views of an arch spanning 200 feet, reaching it after winding through lava flows and red rock canyon. Whiptail is a bit longer at six miles roundtrip but is still fairly easy and accessible. The Whiptail trail is great for hikers and bikers alike and it’s a great way to take in the flora and fauna, with many plants that are native to Snow Canyon observable along this trail.

If you’re looking for something to challenge you, Cinder Cone trail is the way to go. This hike is difficult — even being only one and a half miles round trip. What makes the effort worth it is the end sight of a crater that was left behind when the Santa Clara volcano erupted.

While Snow Canyon certainly has its own unique features because of its volcanic origins, there are still many similarities in its landscape to Zion National Park, such as the eroded sandstone waves, red rock towers, and sandstone cliffs. Additionally, because of the mild weather year round in the St. George/Ivins area, Snow Canyon is open year round. The campsites are also accessible year round. Hikes may sometimes close due to flash flooding or maintenance, but updates are usually posted on the park’s website ahead of time.

Photo by Esther Aboussou-Shaw.

Until word gets out about how awesome Snow Canyon is, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy the solitude while taking in all the beauty that southern Utah has to offer.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

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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

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Hiking Through the Mental Illness Struggle

Contributor piece by Jenna Baker of Wildhorn Outfitters. Published first at https://www.wildhornoutfitters.com/blogs/sessions/its-like-going-home on January 30, 2018. 

Almost everyone today has been, or knows someone who has been, affected by anxiety, depression, or some kind of addiction. In the words of Jessica Grambau, “we’re in a heavy epidemic right now–whether it is drugs or depression or anxiety,” which is why she started New Heights Hiking.

New Heights Hiking is a nonprofit, Utah hike group for anyone who has struggled with any type of mental illness. As Jess herself has anxiety she understands how overwhelming it can be. The group supports people in all walks of life and helps them to find happiness and wellness in nature. They meet for hikes throughout the year to explore trails in the Utah mountains.

She invites everyone who wants to come and states how if you’re having a bad day, a hike can be the perfect remedy to help you heal. You can make new friends, get outside, and experience something you haven’t before.

Through New Heights Hiking, Jess has found a way to share her passion by encouraging others to get outside and enjoy the wild around them.

When asked what “share the wild” meant to her she explained, “for me I guess ‘share the wild’ is just showing everyone how beautiful it is and how magical it can be for your life to just take that hike or take that walk or take that hour to just experience something that you wouldn’t have seen otherwise. I feel more alive, I feel way more alive out here than I could ever probably feel at home. I think when I’m traveling and hiking, I am at home. That is where my home is…that’s where my heart is and that’s where I feel the most alive.”

With the following Jess currently has on Instagram, she wanted to use it for more than just pretty pictures of her on a mountain. She wanted to give a purpose to her platform, to voice her thoughts on the sometimes taboo topic of mental illness.

We fully support Jess in her cause. To raise awareness, we are selling Jess’ Session T-shirt, where 100% of the proceeds go to New Heights Hiking. Help us raise awareness for mental health while sharing the wild!

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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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