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Water Sports

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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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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Coping With FOMO

I ran into my buddy at the climbing gym the other day. He was planning a weekend trip to Arizona to kayak, and this was the first I had heard about it. He didn’t even think to invite me, and perhaps with good reason. I had my own plans to canyoneer in Hanksville, Utah with my UExplore class.

Most of the time, I think taking eight outdoor education classes in a single semester was the best decision I made since coming to college. But sometimes, I realize that while I’m practicing rappelling with my classmates, my buddies are out kayaking. While I’m learning quinzee construction in the Uintas, my friends are shredding eight inches of fresh powder at Alta. While I’m topping out on my first ice climb in Ouray, Colorado, my dorm friends are splashing around in the Subway in Zion National Park. Yes, it’s a little ridiculous to regret missing kayaking with your friends when you’re descending a canyon with other friends, but it’s hard to avoid; Utah is jam-packed with opportunities to have wild adventures. And the FOMO — the Fear Of Missing Out — can be all too real. Just look at the steady stream of ski hills and climbing routes inundating any outdoorsy Instagram feed.

Should we, as “outdoorsy millennials,” plunge headfirst into every random outdoor sport that comes our way — even if this means we won’t necessarily become expert or even proficient in any of them? Or should we focus our energy exclusively on one or two of our outdoor passions, sacrificing new and novel opportunities in other venues? There’s really nobody to tell you how to enjoy the outdoors, and moreover, no perfect recipe to balance your professional and academic careers with your outdoor passions. Sometimes, when you enjoy climbing,

mountaineering, canyoneering, skiing, ice climbing, kayaking, hiking and mountain biking, it’s a struggle to live in the moment — to fully appreciate the slope you’re skiing or the slab you’re climbing — because you’re so ensconced in indecision, in fear of missing out on other adventures. And don’t forget that finals are coming up and you’ve got a paper due Monday and you really should be studying. So how do you balance it all?

First of all, still go outside this weekend — even if you have seven papers due Monday. It’ll keep you sane. There’s no “recipe for recreation,” so go out and build your own adventure. Take eight UExplore classes if you want to — or maybe take two — or maybe take none. Let yourself be fully swept away when you’re kayaking and let climbing completely rock your world. Personally, the best means I’ve found to really live in the moment outside is to push myself as hard and as far as I possibly can. I want to be sure I am fully appreciating, exploring, and living in whatever space I find myself. There’s no use thinking the grass is greener or the peaks are higher somewhere else.

c.simon@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of Claire Simon

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Get a Job Outdoors This Summer

Birds are chirping, flowers blooming, and the stress of finals and unsolved summer plans grow with each passing day. Yes, spring is finally here. As students around campus scramble to bump their grades up just a few more points, the professional world is gearing up for the summer season. Entry-level jobs pop up faster than wildflowers, and the good ones are taken just as quickly. If you’ve ever considered working outdoors, get your resume. This list will convince you to snag that summer dream job.

Explore More

Melting snow and warmer weather unlock an entire realm of Utah activities. Peaks are begging to be climbed in the Wasatch, trails ridden in Moab, and canyons descended in Zion. While you can (and should) jump at these opportunities during your off-days, you will discover all the hidden nooks and crannies of these places, squeezing every drop of adventure from it. You get to spend way more time rafting down rivers or climbing rock faces and you’ll get paid to do it!

Add Some Spice to Your Resume

Eventually, college will come to an end and the years of work we put toward a degree will hopefully go to use in an actual career. On that day, we will be reduced to a paper of accolades stacked in with hundreds of others. Having an interesting summer job on there, like Kayak Guide or Vineyard Assistant, will set your sheet apart from the others. Plus, it will open the door for you to share a sweet story and connect with your employer.

Mold Your Job to Your Liking

Anna de St. Aubin landed a job on a local farm last summer. Her daily duties involved everything from feeding goats to selling vegetables. Each morning, “[she] woke up early, made coffee, and watched the sunrise,” and every evening she would time her chores, “so the sun would be setting just as I was finishing milking, so I could watch the bats come out.” This is a whole lot better than waking up to a screaming alarm and bussing tables until it’s too dark to see outside.

Live Outside

While there’s always an allure to showers and a soft bed, there’s hardly a better experience than weeks on weeks of camping. Backpackers pay no small amounts to go do it all around the world, but finding a job that lets you camp for the season means you’ll be the one filling their pockets rather than emptying them. If your goal is to dirtbag through life, make your mom proud and earn cash while doing it.

Pro Deals

Loving the outdoors means you probably love gear too. All of the greatest recreational opportunities require a boat load of expensive equipment, most of which marks well beyond the salary of a college student. As a guide, or affiliate of a guide company, companies will set you up with deals to get everything cheaper. They know that clients will see you use it and be more likely to purchase that brand over another. Score garage sale-like deals so you can adventure on.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Chris Hammock

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Raft through Southern Utah

Southern Utah is home to famous rock climbs, backpacking, and world-class canyoneering. It’s destination Red Rock. But it’s not all sandstone slabs — it’s also a place for epic whitewater rafting. On a stretch of the Colorado River called Westwater, in a little Utah town called Cisco,  adventure is waiting. Here is your itinerary:

Two months to 10 Days from Launch: Call the Bureau of Land Management at 435. 259. 7012. to get a permit for Westwater Canyon. Permits are issued on a first-come, first-serve basis, so depending on the time of year, call as early as possible. Your permit includes a $10 fee per person that must be paid 30 days in advance or at the time you make your reservation. You can check the reservation calendar through the BLM website in order to see availability for your planned trip dates.

Day 1: Drive to Cisco (four hours from Salt Lake City). If you arrive at the Westwater put-in a day early, camp for $10 a night. Bathrooms and potable water are available.

Day 2: If you are floating Westwater Canyon in a single day, start as early as possible. If not, you can put in around noon or later without much difficulty. Seeing as the first day is mostly flat water, plenty of snacks, along with your best songs, jokes and games, are a must. There is a class II rapid, Wild Horse, at mile 4.7 and a class III- rapid, Little Dolores, or “Little D” at mile 7.7.

If you are floating Westwater early in the season, bring warm clothing. Water is frigid and requires at least a wetsuit — preferably a dry suit — to comfortably navigate.

There are 10 campsites in Westwater Canyon, assigned at the ranger station at the put-in. If the Canyon isn’t crowded and you have your pick of sites, the Lower Little D site is beautiful, and has easy access to a kitchen area by the river with scads of secluded tent sites higher up the canyon wall. Look for the glowing canyon walls and red rock features illuminated by the sunset.

A fire-pan is required for each float group on the river, so make good use of your’s with a roaring fire at night. You will also need to bring your own groover or wag bags to dispose of waste.

Day 3: Explore Outlaw Cave. Approximately 100 yards down and across the river from the Lower Little D campsite is Outlaw Cave, a fun little stop filled with “outlaw” artifacts like old pioneer shoes and a wood-burning stove.

Then, get ready for rapids. Beginning less than a mile below the Lower Little D camp, Marble Canyon, Big Hummer, Staircase, Funnel Falls, Skull, Bowling Alley, Sock-it-to-me, and Last Chance are all notable rapids in a four-mile stretch in the canyon. These rapids range from class III to IV depending on flow levels. Skull Rapid specifically deserves special attention, as Skull Hole near the end of the rapid on river right and  Room of Doom further down on river right have been known to trap boaters. At higher flows, you don’t want to take a swim in the Room of Doom. Note that the rapids are largely constant in this stretch of the canyon, and are best navigated by someone with previous experience in the canyon. If you do have a mishap in one of the rapids, get back into your boat as quickly as possible to be prepared for upcoming features.

You might want to stop for lunch at some point when the canyon opens up after Last Chance Rapid. Also, keep an eye out for cliff-jumping opportunities as the canyon widens. A couple miles’ worth of flat water paddling will bring you to the Cisco take-out.

As you are driving out of Cisco, a ghost town on the road back to Highway 6 offers some spooky scenic views and photo opportunities.

Resources for guided and private trips:

https://www.blm.gov/programs/recreation/passes-and-permits/lotteries/utah/westwatercanyon

For permit information:

http://www.americanwhitewater.org/content/River/detail/id/1840#main

For river flows and features information:

https://www.oars.com/adventures/westwater-canyon-rafting/

For professional guiding services:

http://redriveradventures.com/utah-rafting/westwater-canyon/

c.simon@wasatchmag.com

Photo courtesy of Ruth Eipper

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Whitewater Thrills in Jackson

A Chicago city slicker with Ray-Ban sunglasses wrapped around his head with twine, a rugby princess with flowing red locks, a blind former professional gymnast, a blonde pun master with a brilliant fake Australian accent, me, and a handful of middle-aged parents. This was the crew that rode the Snake River through Alpine Canyon, just outside of Jackson Hole, Wy. Our fleet consisted of three hard-shell kayaks, two inflatable kayaks, and one raft. Our emotions were somewhere between panic attack and out-of-our minds stoked, corresponding to our varying degrees of river-running competence.

The morning of the descent, we drove about an hour from Pun Master’s family cabin in Driggs, Id. to the put-in. While some of our crew bumbled around unloading trucks, inflating boats, and running a shuttle vehicle to our takeout point, I was tasked with instructing our Chicagoan city slicker on righting a flipped inflatable kayak in the river.

The first stretch of river was calm with blue skies. The Chicagoans, having never set foot nor paddle in a river before, were frantically paddling over every little riffle in sight. Easy class II and III-waves were punctuated with stretches of flat, where cookie-eating and game-playing prevailed. After about two miles on the river, we came to Haircut Rock, the second class III rapid of the day and the only one of any real consequence. It involved a sharp right turn in the river, to avoid the rapid’s raft-flipping namesake. Eddy lines roiled around the infamous rock, threatening the kayaks in a Bermuda Triangle of unseen conflicting currents, ultimately flipping and holding our Pun Master and his hard shell in a hole, or recirculating current. I nearly shot straight into his flipped boat, skirting him as widely as I could. The city slicker clung to his own paddle and watched the water in front of him so closely that he failed to even notice the “Bermuda Hole”. Those of us that witnessed the flip shouted encouragements to roll back up and watched with avid trepidation to see whether our friend would stay in his kayak. Pun Master ended up taking a swim, emptying the water from his boat with some difficulty considering its drain plug was makeshift-stopped with a wine cork. The Chicagoans looked on in a state of impressed, frazzled awe as Pun Master relayed to the group the weird forces of the currents converged in the canyon.

For the next three miles, small surf waves and irreverent women’s rugby team sing-alongs, conducted by our fearless red-headed rugby leader, kept everyone occupied. The trip took a turn for the frigid when we lost the sun to gray clouds and Alpine Canyon enveloped us on either side in deep gray rock. We were soon upon the Big Kahuna class III rapid, closely followed by the class III Lunch Counter. Our cold woes quickly dissipated and the wave trains carried us hard and fast down the river.

Less than 7.5 miles after the put-in, we reached the take-out. Jackson Hole burgers and a bouldering wall at the park in town were beckoning. We’d made it — city slicker, blind gymnast, rugby star, fake Aussie, and all.

Photo by Eric Simon

FOLLOW OUR LEAD

Put In: West Table put-in has changing rooms, toilets, and super-hero rangers who will take note of your party logistics and inform you regarding river flows and any debris or hazards in the canyon. The ranger station has a manual pump for inflating kayaks and rafts. There is no drinking water available, so be sure to bring enough with you.

Features: The Alpine Canyon run of the Snake has two class II rapids, five unrated surf waves, and seven class III rapids. However, at low to moderate flows, Haircut Rock, Big Kahuna, and Lunch Counter are the three crucial points of challenge on the run.

Takeout: Sheep Gulch takeout is at mile 7.4 of Alpine Canyon. It is critical that rafts take out here, as it is the only point accessible to vehicles via takeout ramp. Kayakers can run some fun wave trains just below Sheep Gulch and still easily trek out to the ramp.

Area Attractions: If you’re looking to log more time on calmer water, a trip to Alpine Canyon is also the perfect opportunity to float around Grand Teton National Park, with 10 scenic lakes open to non-motorized vessels. The Tetons offer prime camping, hiking, climbing, and backpacking opportunities. If jet-boiled Ramen just won’t cut it after a cold day on the water, venture into Jackson Hole for some killer post-float food. The gargantuan nachos at Lift Jackson Hole are a personal favorite.

Do not forget warm, waterproof layers. In the spring, snow run-off makes this canyon run even more bone-chilling — especially out of direct sunlight.

If you have no experience running whitewater, Jackson Hole is home to scads of commercial companies that can guide you down the Snake River. Jackson Hole Whitewater and Mad River Boat Trips are two of the most reputable companies.

c.simon@wasatchmag.com

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How to: Keep Food Fresh

After backpacking for miles, any food can taste good. But what would you rather have: chilled, fresh string cheese or a warm stick of cheese? That’s what we thought. So, we’ve made a list of tips and our favorite coolers to keep your food cold and bacteria-free while camping.

-Start cold. Coolers retain temperatures, so dig it out of that hot storage shed and let it cool down for a day before you pack it. A few hours before packing, fill the cooler with a bag of ice to bring the temperature down. Discard this ice and start fresh before adding food.

-Use the layer system. Start with a layer of ice, then add raw meat and other perishable foods. Continue to layer ice and food as you pack. Keep items that don’t need much refrigeration (such as condiments and vegetables) near the top. Cover with a top layer of pellet ice.

– Keep your cooler sealed tightly and out of direct sunlight.  Pack drinks in a separate cooler to save on space and stop you from continually opening your cooler throughout the day.

-Prepare your food. It’ll stay cold longer if it starts out chilled or frozen. Pre-freeze water bottles and chill drinks. Prepare meats and marinades, then freeze and seal them in Ziploc bags. Freeze or chill as much of your food as you can before packing it into the cooler.

-Ditch the packaging. Seal your food in Ziploc bags so you can pack them tightly. Use space-saving Tupperware to pack fragile items or things that need to stay dry, such as eggs, cheese, and fruit. Prepping meals and cutting up produce beforehand keeps things from getting too bulky and cuts down on cook time.

BEST COOLERS

Hiking and Backpacking:

Norchill air series backpack cooler bag $39.99

This bag is cleverly designed to turn any backpack into a cooler bag. Its versatility makes it an easy over-the-shoulder bag or an addition to your pack. This lightweight cooler (one pound) has room to hold up to six beverages and the padding inside has double usage. It insulates and provides protection for your gear. The waterproof exterior shell and roll-down top ensure that at the end of your hike, you’ll have cold food and a dry pack.

 

Camping:

Coleman 54 quart steel belted cooler: $149.99

 

There’s nothing better than a classic. This stainless steel cooler from Coleman is a sturdy icebox. Coleman began producing this model in 1954 and it still stands up to hot summer temps and the dead of winter. In 90 degree weather, the cooler has a four-day ice retention rate. Forgot your camping chair? No problem, pull this guy up around the fire and use it as a stool. It can withstand 250 lbs of weight. It’s leak proof and large enough to hold upright 2 liter bottles, or 85 beverage cans if you’re having a party. With 54 quarts of space, you’ll have more than enough room for all your food and drinks.

 

Boating:

IceMule Pro Cooler:$99.95

 

This cooler bag from IceMule is perfect for a day out on the water. The backpack straps make carrying it easy, which comes in handy if you’re portaging your canoe. It holds 18 cans plus ice and the double-layered insulation design keeps it waterproof.  Plus, you’ll never lose your lunch because this bag floats. You can strap it to your tube and let it trail behind you as you float down the river, or take advantage of its flexibility and store it in your boat or canoe. The bag itself weighs three lbs. and rolls up into a neat package for storage.

 

Biking:

Local cooler saddlebag pannier: $79.99

This waterproof insulated pannier is a great addition to your bike accessories. Whether you’re heading home from the grocery store or biking across the state, this bag will keep your lunch nice and cool. The pannier is compatible with all standard bike racks, and there are interior mesh pockets inside if you need to bring along any extra utensils or small items. As if this bag isn’t cool enough, it also has a bottle opener mounted on the outside.

 

Fishing:

Yeti Tundra 45 quart cooler: $349.99

If you’re looking for a cooler that means business, look no further than the Yeti Tundra 45. This bear-proof ice box can keep your freshly caught camp dinners nice and cool with a cold retention of five to seven days. There is permafrost insulation, a roto-molded exterior, and anti-condensation features. You’re guaranteed to get through a fishing trip without worrying about the temperature of your food.  These coolers are highly recommended for their longevity, so chances are you’ll never have to use the lifetime warranty that Yeti offers.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Esther Aboussou

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Four tips for winter emergencies

Backpackers, hikers, and campers should be prepared for more than a simple hike when out in the winter months. Being in the mountains means there is always the danger of an avalanche. But there are also dangers of getting lost, injured, running out of food, or medical emergencies from the cold such as frostbite. Here are a few tips to prepare for winter hikes:

#1 Winterize Your Backpack

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine went on a short, two hour hike. It was -4º F on the mountain and, although he was prepared, some people in the group struggled to breathe in the cold, and one girl lost feeling in her fingers.

Pack extra dry clothes, preferably made of wool or polyester, a space blanket, a lighter, and dry tinder for a fire. Hand warmers and an insulated bottle filled with warm water or hot chocolate can also come in handy.

#2. Improve Your Skills

When stuck in a blizzard on a hike, everything is harder. By mastering these skills, you will feel more confident facing whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Some examples are:

  • Starting a fire without matches or lighters
  • Knowing how to melt snow if you ever run out of water. Never eat the snow directly, but use a bandana to pre-filter debris and let it melt into a container.
  • Layering. It might sound easy, but knowing what materials wick away moisture and when to remove layers because of sweating can save you from freezing later on.
  • Basic first aid skills.

 

#3. Forage off the land

There’s nothing like hot tea to warm you up and fill your stomach while you are waiting for a storm to pass. Pine needle is are extremely rich in vitamin C and other micronutrients, just make sure you don’t consume toxic ones such as lodgepole, ponderosa and montery. Be careful though, as some are toxic: Lodgepole, Ponderosa and Montery. Other wild edibles you can cook or make tea from are cat tail, wild onions, acorns, chickweed, and dandelions.

#4. Preserve Energy

When you have limited supplies of food and water, you need to save every ounce of energy you can. Even when you’re not in a life and death situation, calories are extremely important. Given that the only way to get more when you’re up on the mountain is to eat the food you carry or forage, do your best to save your strength by avoiding unnecessary activities that will waste energy.

Guest writer: Dan Sullivan

Photo by: Carolyn Webber

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Watch: Pass or Fail–Swimming in the Salt Lake

The Wasatch Magazine staff tests out swimming in the Great Salt Lake in an attempt to dispel the negative rumors locals seem to hold on the lake.

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The Real Reason Locals Don’t Swim in the Salt Lake

The Great Salt Lake: the largest lake in the Great Basin, the namesake of Salt Lake City, and the body of water everyone ignores just northwest of town. In the summer, the lake reeks of rotting brine shrimp carcasses. In the winter it just sits there, frigid, while everyone is preoccupied with the more enticing skiing nearby. Sketchy chemical plants and refineries appear to drain into the reservoir. Plus, it’s really salty — five times saltier than the ocean.

Perfect conditions for a swim.

It seems like very few people from Utah have swum in the Salt Lake and/or have no desire to. I embarked on a personal quest for answers as to why this is the case. I approached some friends and asked if they had been in the lake before, receiving looks of confusion in return. Swimming in the lake was heresy to them; the in-staters had never even considered it. When I asked if they wanted to join me in my baptismal dip to find out what we could be missing, I was greeted with a more alarmed reaction of repulsion: “You’re going to swim in the Salt Lake?! That cesspool? Ew!” These responses only ignited my fire to give it a try. After this investigation, the only real option that remained to understand why it seems nobody swims in the Salt Lake was to jump in it myself. The only never-before-swam-in-the-Salt-Lake Utahn willing to come along was Wasatch editor Carolyn Webber. We headed out to Great Salt Lake State Park in the afternoon on a Thursday after class.

Arriving at the beach, we were initially discouraged by the sand reeking of a sulfuric scent and the refinery smokestack towering above acting as a likely suspect. But we pushed on, and the lake itself wasn’t too smelly. The only possible gross deterrents were the expected foam and a few live brine shrimp.

Finally on the shore, it was the moment of truth. We tested the water for temperature (not bad!) and went for it, sprinting in and going all the way under. The first words from Webber were, “Don’t open your eyes! It’s salty!” That about summed up the experience: salty. The novel fact that you can float without any effort because of the salt content held true. The water tasted significantly more salty than the ocean. The salt burned a scrape of mine as the online guides said it would. After getting out and drying off with a towel, a layer of salt remained behind.

However, this saltiness was secondary to the tranquillity of the lake. There were no waves and the flat lake extended for miles. This unique beauty was easier to appreciate while  actually soaking in the water, altogether surprisingly close to an ocean-swimming experience.

So,  swimming in the Salt Lake: pass or fail? We rate it as a pass. Just make sure you bring some lotion.

c.hammock@dailyutahchronicle.com

Photo by Chris Hammock

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