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Fall

How To: Purify Water

The most appealing aspect of backpacking is undoubtedly the remoteness. Few things are better than entertaining the fantasy that you are the first person to trot down that lonely dirt trail in a very long time. The last thing you want is for your range to be limited, and one of the most limiting factors is water.

The sticker about water is that it’s heavy, very heavy. Trying to pack around all your water for a week’s trip is absurd. You’ll find a broken back and dehydration before the remote peace and solitude you set out for. This means that gathering water as you go is your only option, and to do this safely you need to purify it. Fortunately, there are more than a few ways to do this.

The age-old tactic is boiling. Once water hits the magical 100° C (212° F) mark, it will begin to boil. It is at this temperature that all the nasty microbes that would result in a week in the outhouse are killed off, and the water becomes safe to drink. At higher elevations water boils at a lower temperature. There’s a whole bunch of technical, sciency stuff behind this, but the gist of it is that less atmospheric pressure means less energy to boil the water, and less energy means less heat. In order to ensure all those microbes are dead, you should boil water for longer at higher altitudes.

This tactic works very well in the winter. Grab some ice, or snow if no ice is available, and melt it down. You have a warm, safe drink ready to go. In the summer, this is the opposite of what you want. Why take that nice cool stream water and heat it up when it’s already baking hot outside? Boiling also requires some kind of stove. Although there are lightweight cook systems out there, they all are heavier than most of the other purifying techniques.

The next most common practice is using a pump purifier. This is a reliable, long-lasting method of combating dehydration. Essentially, a small tube extends into the water source and sucks water up into a big filter and then spits it out, all clean and pure, through another tube into your water bottle. You are safe to drink that water immediately and it will be as cold as the source you pulled it from. However, pumping enough water for several liters quickly becomes tedious and tiring and the pump itself still weighs a decent amount.

The last solution, and my personal favorite, is a chemical purifier. These come in the form of iodine drops or chlorine tablets. They are specially sold at outdoor retailers for purifying water and have explicit instructions on how to use them. Do not buy a bag of chlorine and start DIY purifying your water. You will be DIY poisoning yourself. These purifiers are lightweight, easy to use, and require very minimal effort. However, they do take time to work. You will not be able to drink your water immediately after adding it so some forward thinking is required.
Whatever your trip, don’t be limited by water. There is more than enough H2O spilling around the backcountry for you to take advantage of.   

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

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Quit trashing our public lands

In 2016, there was an abundance of news stories about visitors defacing national parks by painting, spraying, and carving on monuments and structures. Many of the culprits have unwittingly called attention to themselves by posting their “art” on social media. In June of this year, Casey Nocket was banned from all National Parks and 524 million acres of public lands after she posted pictures of her graffiti on Instagram.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens carved her and her boyfriend’s name with a heart at a national forest in Arizona. After posting a picture on Instagram, she was caught by fans and faced a $1,000 fine. Public shaming of these individuals has hopefully dissuaded others from taking up the hobby of graffitiing public lands. However, while pointing fingers some may also be defacing the land in a different way. All too often, hikers and campers leave their trash behind, and these culprits are much harder to find.

As an avid camper, I don’t think I could count all of the campsites I’ve been to that included a pile of garbage. I’ve seen everything from beer bottles and snack packaging to used condoms and clothing. Utah has such a beautiful landscape, but stumbling upon used paper plates or an old, torn-up t-shirt ruins the aesthetics of the great outdoors.

It’s not just about looks; trash and debris also affect wildlife. Many animals are lured out of their homes  by the scent of campfire leftovers, putting them in harm’s way. Some food is not safe for animals to consume, and smaller rodents can get trapped inside containers or bottles left behind. Many animals confuse packaging for food and inadvertently poison themselves. Debris left near rivers and streams cause build-ups and leave residue that could be toxic to aquatic animals. In Utah, littering is currently considered a Class B misdemeanor and carries a $100 fine.

For as many state and national parks that Utah has, there is a comparable number of primitive campsites run by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) that are free and accessible to the public.  The BLM manages over 245 million acres of public lands each year, and even with around 10,000 employees, it’s a lot of ground to cover.

Littering is a huge problem, but there are several ways to fight it. The first step is to take personal action. If you’re a hiker, carry a small plastic bag with you to pick-up litter. Campers should pack out their litter and take advantage of the trashcans that are available at most campsites. Use switchbacks and drive on designated roads. Call someone out (with respect, please) if you see them carving into a tree or dropping a stray candy wrapper on the ground. Every little bit helps.

The BLM and other organizations are always looking for volunteers to clean up the outdoors. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics initiative is a nationwide organization takes volunteers to clean up hiking trails and campsites.

It’s important to remember that, even if we donate or pay entrance fees to access parks, when we travel deep into the great outdoors we are guests, and we should behave like the visitors we are.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Kiffer Creveling

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How to: Hike With Your Pup in the Wasatch

If you enjoy immersing yourself in nature, odds are your dog does too. With four points of contact to the rocky soil and an instinctual connection to all things outside, your dog is a much more effective hiking buddy than you may think. This week, we share with you some helpful guidelines for experiencing nature with your pup safely and responsibly, as well as some opportune, and prohibited, places to embark.

Pack for Two: Dogs exert a great deal of energy while climbing a mountain, and they need plenty of food and water in compensation. Pack double water and enough treats for a subsequent snacks — especially on longer hikes. Rather than relying on your cupped hands or the tiny lid of a water bottle, bring a drinking bowl, ideally a durable one that won’t break in your pack or against a rock.

Be Conscious of Location: While the four-legged form is exceptionally well-equipped for steep and rocky terrain, it’s best to avoid anything too technical, lest you overwhelm or potentially endanger your furry companion. Smaller peaks and regular trails are fine, just avoid anything with serious scrambling or exposure. Many places are explicitly prohibited to dogs- more on that below.

Be Respectful: Be respectful and conscious when in the alpine. Regardless of how warm, kind, and obedient you think your doggy is, bring along a leash in any circumstances, one never knows how their dog will react to certain stimuli and personalities in nature. Bring along a few baggies to collect your dog’s sporatic waste. Yes, it’s gross, but you should carry a larger bag for trash anyway — you won’t even notice a bit of extra, contained cargo.

Also — and this one is important — be sure that your furry friend is in good health and up to the task. Last summer I had to carry Rosco (the smiling border collie above) down two plus miles of hiking trail on the account of an injured dewclaw that I had thought wouldn’t be a problem that day.

Where to Go: A Few of My Favorites and Permitted Areas
Grandeur Peak and Mount Wire are very close to campus and great for both humans and dogs — really, most trails along the foothills, smaller mountains, and Bonneville Shoreline Trail are exceptional.
Neff’s Canyon
East Canyon
Mount Olympus Trail — a bit of technical scrambling after saddle though virtually no exposure.
Mill creek Canyon — a multitude of great dog hikes, off-leash permitted on odd days.

Permanent Prohibitions: No Dogs Allowed, Watershed Areas
Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons
Parleys, Dell, and Lambs Canyons
I strongly recommend not marching your dog up any of the Wasatch’s 11,000ers, even those outside of watershed areas.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Dalton Rees

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What Kind of Adventurer Are You?

Author of “Desert Solitaire,” Edward Abbey, says there are three types of adventurers: Desert Rats, Mountain People, and People of the Sea. If you’ve ever wondered what type of Adventurer you are, answer these simple questions to find out. “Wilderness is not a luxury but a necessity of the human spirit, and as vital to our lives as water and good bread.”

You have the weekend off, what would you rather do?

A. Sail in the Great Salt Lake

B. Summit Mount Timpanogos

C. Climb sandstone pillars in Indian Creek in southern Utah

What motivates you?

A. Having a clear goal or set destination, and reaching it.

B. Being the first to reach my goals and making sure everyone knows it.

C. Having no set expectations, just enjoying the moment.

If you had a slogan, which would it be?

A. “If in doubt, paddle it out.”

B. “The mountains are calling and I must go.”

C. “Sand runs through my veins.”

If you had to be consumed by an animal, which would you choose?

A. Killer Whale

B. Grizzly Bear

C. Vulture

Who is your favorite poet or author?

A. Walt Whitman

B. Henry David Thoreau

C. Edward Abbey…duh.

What statement would you say best describes you in relationships?

A. My relationships are usually short lived, but my devotion is as deep as the ocean.

B. I enjoy company, but get cranky and need my space. I ultimately want to share my successes surrounded by people I love.

C. I need alone time and a lot of it.

Which of these smells turns you on?

A. Salty Breeze

B. Pine Needles

C. Sage Brush

If you answered mostly A, you are a Person of the Sea. People who know you may call you a Beach Bum, Sea Creature, mermaid or merman, or any other aquatic nickname. You tend to be wise and methodical in your decisions and a team player. For your next adventure, try floating the Great Salt Lake or rafting down the Green River.

If you answered mostly B, you are a bonafide “mountain man/woman”. You are brave outgoing and daring. You live for the moments where you can stand on top of the world where few others have stood. Take a weekend trip to Rocky Mountain National Park or hike any of our beautiful trails on the Wasatch mountain range. Try hiking up to Bell’s Canyon or Lone Peak on your next adventure.

If you answered mostly C, you are a Desert Rat. Congrats, Edward Abbey would be proud. You are now an honorary member of the Monkey Wrench gang. Well, maybe not. You enjoy challenges and being outside your comfort zone. You see beauty where others don’t. For your next trip, try backpacking in Moab or near Grand Staircase National Monument.

a.winter@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Carolyn Webber

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Fat Tires Expand — Mountain Biking Season

Ah, winter. The most wonderful time of the year. Snow on the ground means the skis come out, the lifts start moving, and everyone is happy. Everyone, that is, except mountain bikers. For them, snow on the ground means the end of a season and the beginning of a long wait. Trying to run a trail with even a little of that white stuff on it can be disastrous. Fortunately, there is a solution, and it comes looking like the monster truck of mountain bikes. It is the fat bike.

At first glance these bikes seem pretty standard. Handlebars, check. Seat, check. Frame, check. Tires, woah. This is the central difference between and mountain bike and a fat bike. A typical mountain bike tire is about two to two-and-a-half inches wide. A fat bike tire is usually four or five. Any other major differences on the bike, like a wider frame and specialized braking system, basically just accommodate this extra width.

Clearly a more massive tire and heavier bike means you will not be going as fast as you would on a traditional bike, but that is not the purpose of a fat bike. The key factor provided by larger tires is accessibility, not speed. Wider tires mean more tire contact with the ground and more cushion. This allows the rider to gain better traction and “float” across terrain previously impassable.

Because of this unique ability, fat bikes were quickly nicknamed snow bikes. The big, grippy tires certainly help open up new realms of biking like high alpine riding, but fat bikes don’t have to just sit in your garage all summer.

Any terrain that is either too rough or too slippery for a traditional bike is perfect for a fat bike. Be it rock gardens, flooded trails, hard packed snow, or fresh powder, the fat bike takes it all with ease. Improvements in frame design and material have transitioned the once touring specific beast into something that can now be used as a replacement to your traditional bike in many cases.

The best example of this is the introduction of suspension. Early fat bikes were locked solid, and although beefier tires slightly offset the bumps, it was not nearly enough. Now, however, front or double suspension bikes are available to the masses for a hefty, but not insurmountable, price. If you are willing to invest three to five grand for a new, shiny dual suspension fat bike, you’ll open yourself up to a whole new variety of trails.

The Iditarod Trail Invitational was the original jumping point for fat bikes. Every year, one week before the sled dog Iditarod, skiers, trail runners, and bikers are invited to tackle the 1,000 mile trail. Although it had been done on traditional bikes before, it was not easy. At least half the time the snow made the trail impassable, forcing riders to drag their bikes. The large tires of the fat bike, however, can handle the trail with grace, and is now the standard.

If you’re not quite up for a thousand mile battle across Alaska just yet, there are still ways to get out and enjoy your fat bike. For the more competitive, there is Frosty’s Fat Bike Race Series, a nine to twelve mile snow race that takes place in January on the Wasatch front. The more relaxed adventurer can rent a fat bike from Outdoor Adventures for $30 a day ($60 for a weekend) and hit up either Guardsman Pass or the Bonneville Shoreline trail for some cool winter views.

Although the tires may seem comically large, the fat bike is one of the best ways to get out and explore. Any terrain in its path will likely be conquered. No more will a ride be riddled by annoying stop-and-carry spots and no more will mountain bikers dread the day snow falls for the first time. Thanks to the fat bike, winter really is the most wonderful time of the year again.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Gessie Eaton

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CampingFallSummer

Watch: Wasatch crew camps near Strawberry River

The Wasatch team got together for a camping trip at the Strawberry River near Heber. Watch the fun!

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A Tinfoil Thanksgiving: Four of our Favorite Recipes

Near-naked trees and chilling temps can only mean one thing: ‘tis the season to load up on food and shrug off your guilt. The United States has even dedicated a holiday for you to stuff your belly and build up extra “layers” for the winter months. However, Thanksgiving suggests a four-day weekend, which tempts many outdoor adventurists to ditch family dinners and escape into nature. Lucky for you, we’ve found ways to bring Thanksgiving to the wilderness, so you can binge eat and give thanks for this beautiful world while being surrounded by it.

THANKSGIVING HOBO DINNER

10 turkey cutlets

2 cans of gravy

1 bag of frozen green beans and carrots

1 package of cranberries

Pour an inch-layer of gravy on the bottom. Place the turkey cutlet on top. Sprinkle frozen green beans and carrots over the turkey. Top with more gravy and a handful of cranberries. Wrap up and place in the fire. Repeat.

Cook time: 20 minutes

Tip: Don’t use all the gravy in food prep. You’ll want some to pour over after the meal is cooked.

POTATOES AU TINFOIL

1 can of cream of chicken/mushroom soup

2 lbs. of small yellow potatoes

1 onion

1 bag of shredded cheese

Salt and pepper

Spread a layer of soup on the bottom. Cut the potatoes into thin slices and place 3-4 potatoes, worth on top. Slice onion and add. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle a handful of cheese, seal, and place in fire. Repeat.

Cook time: 30 minutes

Tip: Potatoes often take the longest to cook, but the thinner you cut them, the quicker they soften.

Photo by Chris Hammock

Photo by Chris Hammock

MOM’S SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

3 medium-sized sweet potatoes

1 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

1 cup of marshmallows

4 sheets of graham crackers

Chocolate bars (optional)

Dice the sweet potatoes and toss onto the tinfoil with cubed butter and brown sugar. Wrap up and place in the fire. After you pull the food out, open and place marshmallows, graham crackers and, if desired, chocolate, onto the steaming potatoes.

Cook time: 20 minutes

Tip: Try to keep the brown sugar toward the center of the potatoes or it will quickly burn.

APPLE PIE-IN-A-HOLE

6 apples

1 cup of brown sugar

2 tablespoons of butter

¾ cup of rolled oats

Cinnamon

Cut the core out of the apple. Dice butter and place a few cubes inside the hole, along with brown sugar, cinnamon, and rolled oats. Wrap in tinfoil and toss in the fire.

Cook time: 15 minutes

Almost all of these recipes received thumbs up and smiles from the Wasatch crew on a staff camping trip. Enjoy!

c.webber@dailyutahchronicle.com

@carolyn_webber

Feature photo by Kiffer Creveling

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CampingFallSpringSummerWinter

How to: Build a Campfire With Purpose

Camping — one of the most fun, and easiest, activities in the great outdoors. While escaping civilization, sitting around the campfire is inevitably how you’ll end the day. What you want from your fire is completely dependent on how you build it. Fires need two key ingredients: oxygen and fuel. When you first construct your campfire, you will need tinder — small twigs, sticks, pine needles, sagebrush, and paper. This will go on the bottom of the fire to initially get the kindling ignited. The next layer of your campfire is kindling, or small branches and twigs as well as parts of a log that you have chopped down with a hatchet. The last layer of a fire is the fuel (or logs) which take the longest to ignite. There are three main types of campfires: tipis, lean-tos, and log-cabins. Each campfire type has its own purpose.

When it is cold out and you need immediate heat, the best fire type is the tipi. The kindling is stuck into the ground and forms a single point in a radial direction resembling a Native American tipi. Inside the tipi is the tinder which you will ignite. The kindling will catch fire after the tinder has ignited and then you add logs to the fire to keep the flames roaring.

When it is windy out, the best design is a lean-to. This differs from a tipi in the sense that a large log is placed upwind to act as a wind break. The kindling is then placed by leaning on the support log and the ground. The tinder is placed inside the wind-protected area. Again, light the tinder and the kindling will ignite shortly. Keep placing fuel on the fire by leaning the logs on the wind break.

When you need to cook dinner at your campsite, go for a log cabin. The log cabin uses a rectangular shape with logs stacked parallel to one another by laying logs across from one another. The final result will be a small log cabin. Inside the log cabin you will construct a small tipi where the tinder will ignite the kindling and then will progress outwards to light the fuel. The log cabin needs to be large enough to support cookware.

k.creveling@dailyutahchronicle.com

Photo by Kiffer Creveling

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Hiking the Subway — What You Should Know

We were a motley bunch. Between the five of us we had one broken (and un-casted) wrist, three wetsuit-less fools, and one amateur who had never done so much as a rappel before. I knew the risk was high, and despite my most tremendous efforts, I could not shake the doubt that crept into my dazing mind. A wrong turn, a bad hold, a slipped foot — SCREECH! We stopped. Out the front window I could see the headlights illuminating “Wildcat Canyon Trailhead.” We had arrived; we were at the entrance to the Subway.

Immediately the doubt drained away only to be replenished by a surge of adrenaline and excitement. As we placed our first steps on the trail the freezing morning air bit at our bare legs, but with each step I couldn’t help but think of all the hurried research I had done the night before and the men who has first set foot on this remote route.

Crossing over the slick rock and continuing to descend toward the beginning of the canyon, I did not once think of a lack of wilderness. In fact, had it not been for our guidebook we almost certainly never would have found the canyon at all. Even with the book our directions sounded like something out of “Treasure Island: “continue fifteen feet across the slick rock until you pass over a large, fallen Ponderosa Pine tree.” There was no shortage of “where to now” questions.

Many wrong turns later and we finally were standing at the bottom of the first descent. In front of us was a small trickle of a creek. Little did I know, I would come to fear its icy grasps. Progressing further, we came upon the only possible spot you could really go the wrong way once you enter the canyon. Putting our 90 years of combined knowledge together, we spent a careful fifteen minutes checking directions against compasses and logic. We agreed, the trail had to be left.

An hour later we returned to the junction soaked, freezing, and grumpy. We went the wrong way. If you find yourself at the bottom of the canyon facing your first T-intersection, DO NOT GO left. There is nothing but despair and aggravation hiding around that bend.

On the right track, we began to hit a rhythm. The rappels were handled with ease by all able-bodied participants, and for the hindered, we set up an ATC. The swims, however, were much worse. Without a wetsuit, the water was stingingly cold. Submerging fully meant succumbing to a cold-induced headache comparable only to drinking a liquid nitrogen milkshake.

The day before, picking up our permits at the ranger station, they warned us of this. Our permit was even highlighted and underlined in the section where it details wetsuits as “mandatory but not required.” I thought this confusing, and already surpassing my budget for the trip, opted to not invest the $30 for a rental wetsuit. Standing on the other side of the 15-foot swim, slowly regaining brain function, I very much regretted not spending the $30.

The deeper into the canyon we got, the better I felt. The water had not warmed at all, but the sun was high enough to at least provide the illusion of heat. Incredible features appeared before us.

Photo by Reeves Coursey

Photo by Reeves Coursey

We traversed through slots just narrow enough to brush your shoulders on, rappelled down waterfalls, swam through crystal clear potholes, and even stepped thigh deep into quicksand. It was a true adventure.

As it is, though, all good things come to an end. Taking our classic picture at the actual subway part of the Subway, we said our last goodbyes and started the rather normal, and comparably boring, hike back to the trailhead.

Approaching the car a few hours later I looked around at our group. If we were motley before, we were decrepit now. Full of sand, covered in blisters, soaked to the bone, and smelling absolutely rancid we stood there with the giddiest, most ridiculous smiles on our faces. It took no words to communicate what we all felt. That was gnarly, but we all knew we’d be back to tackle it again as soon as we got the chance.

Follow Our Lead

Trailhead: The trail starts at Wildcat Canyon Trailhead (which appears on Google Maps if typed in) and ends at Left Fork Trailhead (also map-able). If you have two cars it is a good idea to leave one down at Left Fork and shuttle up to Wildcat Canyon. They are on the same road and only about a twenty-minute drive apart.

Trail: The beginning of the trail is very confusing and requires route finding. You can purchase detailed guides in Springdale or Zion itself. It would be impossible to make it into the canyon without one of these. Once in the canyon, there is only one possible place to get lost, otherwise it is a relatively straight shot through. After exiting the canyon, it gets a little more confusing. Follow the river for a good distance until eventually cutting off to the right and scrambling almost straight over the side wall of the canyon.

Permits: Because of its popularity, only a few permits are given out each day for the Subway hike. You can either apply for a regular permit (which must be done three months in advance and costs $5 for the application) or a last minute drawing (which must be applied for a week in advance and is very, very hard to get, also $5). If you’re lucky enough to get a permit, you must go to a ranger station the day before to pick it up and pay the additional fee (anywhere from $15-$25 depending on the size of your group). (https://www.nps.gov/zion/planyourvisit/subwaypermits.htm)

Additional: If it is not the middle of summer, or if you are prone to getting cold, you need a wetsuit. The hike is far less grueling and more enjoyable with one. Making the naive mistake to tough it out was idiotic and potentially very dangerous. Do not attempt to do this hike later than August without one. In addition, a 60-foot rope is critical. You will not complete the hike without it. If you are nervous about the hand over hand rappelling, then bring a harness and ATC as well. A dry bag to keep a change of clothes in is also advisable.

Photo courtesy of Reeves Coursey

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Super Moon to light up the sky tonight

The moon has always been an object of fascination for humans and has long been explored in science, literature, and art. Whether you’re an astronomer, a romantic, or just enjoy looking at the night sky, make sure you look up tonight and tomorrow.  The anticipated “super moon” will be the biggest, brightest, and closest to earth than it has been since 1948. The next time the moon comes this close to Earth will be November of 2034.

A super moon is when the moon is full as it makes its closest pass to Earth. The point at which the moon is closest to Earth is known as perigee. At perigee, the moon can be as much as 14 percent closer to Earth than when the moon is farthest from it, according to NASA. The full moon will appear larger in diameter and because it is larger, shines approximately 30 percent more moonlight onto the Earth. That’s a lot of extra moonlight. As a bonus to an already spectacular astronomical evening, if you’re lucky, you may be able to see the Geminid meteor shower dotting the night sky.

If you’re wondering when and where to catch a front row seat of the cosmos, here’s what you need to know: the moon will be at its fullest at 6:52 am MST (Mountain Standard Time). So get up early, or stay up late, to see the moon in all its glory. Here are some of the best spots to take advantage of the lunar views this Monday.

Emigration Canyon —

Emigration Canyon has many great pull-out spots along the road so you can observe the night sky.  Just a few miles up the canyon and you are above the haze and light pollution from the valley. If you have a telescope, it will be a great place to set up. Remember to bring a blanket and warm clothing as it can get chilly at night in the canyon.

Big or Little Cottonwood Canyon —

Drive up the canyons and park near one of the ski resorts to really escape light glow from the city. The air is cooler and crisper, making it easier to see astronomical phenomena. Plus, the backdrop of the mountains is incredible for photos or simply viewing.

Antelope Island —

About a two-hour drive from Salt Lake City, Antelope Island State Park offers the ability to camp overnight, allowing for uninterrupted viewing time. The Ogden Astronomical Society also hosts star parties regularly. Check their website here for more information on any upcoming events.

a.winter@dailyutahchronicle.com

Photo by Kiffer Creveling

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