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Summer

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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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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Opening Minds to the Oquirrh Mountains

Veiled in mystery by the legalities and the eminence of the adjacent Wasatch mountains, the Oquirrh Range serves as the 10,000 feet dividing line between the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys. Equipped solely with the knowledge of a BLM public lands route provided by an outdated hiking guide, and a strong desire to summit a couple of the Oquirrh’s more prominent mountain tops, I took to the westernmost ridge of Kessler Peak.

It seems that the majority of Salt Lake residents simply lack the desire to trek into the Oquirrhs, given the close proximity of the sublime, and comparably larger Wasatch Range. Those who have opened their minds and weekends to the western green peaks have often suffered for it. They are met with the intimidating barrier of red tape and prohibitions deterring even the most intrepid outdoorsmen from entering for fear of hefty fines — or worse. Painfully evident by the violently dissolved mountain that is now the main Kennecott mining facility, the Oquirrh Range remains in a perpetual state of contractual inaccessibility since Rio Tinto’s colossal 1872 land grab that still holds control to this day.

With this corporate acquisition and grand expanses of private purchases, virtually the entire eastern face of the Oquirrhs is restricted to public use (with some exceptions to the far south). While some exploit the negligence of private landowners and trail-blaze in this region outside of the law, those who prefer risk-free, legal natural emersion are ultimately out of luck. Thankfully, the back westernmost face of the range offers a patchy network of BLM land allowing access to those extra-determined to explore Oquirrh terrain without paying heavily for it.

Following the guidance and antiquated advice of a 7-year-old online hiking guide, I made my way to that western back side with hopes of surmounting the ridgeline connecting Kessler and Farnsworth Peaks without deliberately breaking any laws. The guide I relied on did accurately get me to the approximate location of an access point, though it failed to compensate for the nascent housing developments along the base of these mountains.

The overlying drawback of hiking in a largely neglected public land is the total absence of trails, and the consequential abundance of wildlife and wilderness left to flourish independently of human obstruction. When I arrived, I was without the helpful understanding that the access point was at the perpendicular bend, and I began much farther back than I ought to have. I was thus left to bushwhack through dense, arid fields of overgrown dead grass, and the ubiquitous webs of hobo spider webs strung among them (yes, hobo spiders). Long pants and socks are highly recommended in this area in anticipation of the venomous arachnids that call it home — exercise caution.

Aside from the apparent danger of overgrown desert wilderness, the back face of the Oquirrh Range is beautiful. It serves as a tangible reminder of the desolate nature the remaining untamed American West provides.

While my lack of preparation and foresight forced my dejected party to turn back before completing the trek, an impetuous push up the ridge will eventually place you atop Kessler Peak. It is connected by an extended ridgeline to Farnsworth Peak, the more dominant of the two. Note: A section of this ridgeline is private land. Trespassing is not encouraged and would be done at your own risk.

Even if not for the explicit purpose of surmounting some of the more obscure peaks surrounding the Salt Lake Valley, exploration west of the Oquirrhs is sure to provide you with a palpable sense of connectivity with our forgotten 19th-century wild-western past. At the very least, you will come across the disheveled rusted railway spikes, and the scattered animal bones that are evocative of it. The radiant and largely untouched natural beauty is something worth seeing.

Immersion into this incredible yet inhospitable expanse requires only preparation and consciousness; all else is scenery.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

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Peakbagger’s Double Traverse: Mount Raymond and Gobbler’s Knob

Resting along the jagged divide bordering the Millcreek and Big Cottonwood canyons, Mount Raymond and Gobbler’s Knob are two idiosyncratic peaks connected by a single mile-long ridge, both surmountable in a single day. While these peaks are closer to sea-level than some of the Wasatch’s more formidable, with Gobbler’s Knob at 10,246 ft. elevation, and Raymond a mere 5 ft. lower,  this hike is strenuous and not for the faint of heart… or lungs. Courageous mountaineers willing to brace the summer heat and an 8.3-mile trek, however, will be rewarded with access to sublime wildflower meadows and a unique perspective of the Cottonwood Divide, Salt Lake Valley, and beyond.

Gobblers Knob (Left) and Mount Raymond (Right) at a distance

Getting there

The ridgeline connecting these peaks is accessible from two routes: Alexander Basin from Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Bowman Fork from Millcreek Canyon. Which route is preferable/easier is a subjective question wrought with controversy; since I have only had the opportunity to undergo the latter, though, I’ll stick with that one.

To reach the Bowman Fork trailhead, follow Millcreek Canyon Road approximately 4.5 miles to the Terrace Picnic Area. It’s very easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled for signs. A narrow, paved road will lead you up several curves to a small parking lot near the trailhead.

Not far from the trailhead, you will be presented with signs directing you towards either Elbow Fork or Bowman Pass — keep towards Bowman pass the entire duration of the hike. Like other trails in Millcreek, dogs are permissible (off-leash on odd-numbered days). If you intend to summit Gobbler’s Knob, bring your pup; Raymond is a bit too technical for paws.

The trail progresses along a winding stream and later converts to steep switchbacks, flourishing alpine forests, and meadows. Midway, a fork presents itself between Alexander Basin and Baker Pass. Continue towards Baker Pass. Note: particularly during this time of year, the trail is near overgrown with varied foliage. It is quite beautiful, though be prepared for mild bushwhacking — long pants are recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail eventually lets off atop the smooth ridgeline between Gobbler’s Knob and Mount Raymond. At this point, you can progress either way. Continue left (North) for Gobbler’s Knob, and right (South) for Mount Raymond.

Mount Raymond 

Summiting Mt. Raymond requires an additional 1 to 2 hours and a good bit of scrambling. The trail carves along the ridgeline south, which grows progressively steeper until stabilizing before the final ridge. This section is not recommended for dogs.

 

Summit ridge at a distance. The beaten trail is barely discernable in the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflowers along Mount Raymond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The traverse becomes a bit dicey as the slope transitions into a jagged knife-ridge. While daunting in appearance, this ridge is not entirely too difficult or exposed and requires only class-three scrambling. Be conscious of your step, and you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.

Initial push up the knife-ridge. Climb along its jagged spine.

Approaching the peak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs fail to adequately capture the beautiful perspective atop the apex. The chain of jagged peaks ahead is the Cottonwood Divide (Broads Fork Twin Peaks far right).

Mount Raymond is the tail-end of the Wildcat Ridge separating Big Cottonwood Canyon and Millcreek. Expert mountaineers braver than me can traverse the entire ridgeline as far as Mount Olympus — this precarious traverse demands technical climbing skills over 11.5 miles of exposed ridgeline known for its significant rattlesnake population.

Climb down the way you came.

Gobbler’s Knob

Gobbler’s Knob is the most recognizable of the two due to its clear visibility from the Salt Lake Valley and distinctive saddleback shape. Powder-hounds are known to summit the mountain in winter months to carve through its untouched snowpack and steep incline; this activity is typically discouraged in consideration of the periodic avalanches occurring along its slope each year — and the skiers who have lost their lives to them. The Folklore circulated by the Wasatch’s earliest settlers warn of a supernatural presence in the knob’s forests after dark— more on that here. While steep and exhausting in and of itself, Gobbler’s Knob is the easiest of both peaks by far. Nothing technical, bring your pup.

 

The mountain’s saddleback apex — a great place for lunch before making your way down. To return to the car, you need only follow the trail back down in the same direction. Another trail from the connecting ridgeline carves into the Alexander Basin route — shuttle cars if you would like to do both (note: dogs are prohibited in Big Cottonwood Canyon, however, so any pup you bring to the other would need a stop-off point if you want to do both).

Transient sun rays captured from Gobbler’s Knob at dusk.

Aspen forest near the ridgeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be conscious of your body and exercise caution; food, water, and sun-protection are essential — best of luck.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

 

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Zion: An Outdoor Paradise

Zion National Park. Photo taken by Esther Aboussou.

If you’re short on time this summer, yet still anxious to explore the best that the Beehive State has to offer, look no further than the beautiful backyard of Southern Utah. Just outside of Cedar City lies 229 square miles of red rock country, towering canyon walls, dense forests, and beautiful sandstone buttes. This landscape is encapsulated inside the boundaries of the famous Zion National Park.

Zion is a paradise for outdoorsy people of every kind. There are activities and hikes anyone can enjoy, and the scenic drive alone is enough reason to go. Because of the wild popularity of the park, it’s best to plan a trip just before the summer tourist season kicks in to full gear.

If you’d like to spend a few nights in Zion National Park, there are three campgrounds, and there are 176 campsites to choose from. These range from $20 to $30 for the week, depending on which site you choose. The more expensive ones include electricity. Reservations in advance are a must. These sites fill up quickly, and they tend to be full throughout the entire season. In areas surrounding the park, there are primitive campsites such as Lava Point Campground up in Kolob Canyon that are based on a first-come first-served basis.

The best part of Zion is the diverse landscape it offers. There is so much to do, and there is even more to explore. You can bike, hike, ride, or climb your way through Zion National Park and still find yourself yearning for more. Out of the 18 hikes to choose from, a few of the top attractions are Angels Landing, The Narrows, and The Subway hikes.

Zion National Park. Photo taken by Esther Aboussou.

There are amazing views to be had as you summit the 1400 feet of Angel’s Landing. Navigating the tight passageways and trudging through the knee-deep water of The Narrows is an unforgettable experience. The Subway is a workout, and it is certainly not for the faint of heart. A permit is required for this 9-mile banger, and you’ll need to be skilled in route-finding, swimming, and rappelling to make it through the intense slot canyon.

Don’t let this scare you away, however. Zion has quite a few easy to moderate trails that provide gorgeous views. The Upper Emerald Pool trail is a 1 mile hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall of refreshing water at the base of a cliff. The 3.5 mile Taylor Creek trail is a quiet trek that gives hikers amazing views of the majestic double arch alcove.

A visit to Zion National Park can provide awe-inspiring views and adventure, or solitude and relaxation. It all depends on which parts you choose to explore. What is certain is that this utopia of Utah wildlife and lush scenery is a treasure of the western United States, and it is an absolute joy to behold.

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

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The Most Underrated of the ‘Mighty Five’

Every summer there’s the magical little period of post-school, pre-work freedom. Ideally, this is a week or longer, allowing for some kind of big, planned trip to take place. This year I had a weekend. With much whim and little planning, we stuffed the trunk and backseat of my friend’s Subaru and headed off to Capitol Reef for a night. Little did I know I’d be stumbling into Utah’s most underrated national park.

Our expectations were low; nobody in our group really went to Capitol Reef. I had seen stunning pictures of the park on random Instagram posts before, but I was suspicious. Plenty of places in Utah caters to what I call the “tourist adventurer.” These are people who make it seem like they are incredibly remote when in reality they’re standing off the side of a highway. I did not want to be swarmed by the masses as we all crammed into a little parking lot and hiked a quarter mile to some awesome geologic formation. I wanted to actually be remote.

We decided to head to the visitor center where we knew we could get a map and ask the ranger’s advice on where to go. After a few PB&J’s and some deliberation, our decision had been made. We packed up lunch, hit a few of the touristy day hikes, and then headed off to our real adventure.

After an hour of getting lost, two hours of high clearance, dirt road navigation and good music we reached the imposing sandstone formations known as Temple of the Sun and Temple of the Moon — aka our campsite. Soon, our tents were pitched just outside the park on BLM land, but still within view of the Temples. We enjoyed dehydrated beef stew, red beans with rice, and beef stroganoff as the last of the sun’s light fell across the towers. A few more hours and their dark silhouettes provided the perfect juxtaposition to the star encumbered sky.

Our expectations were well exceeded. Capitol Reef can lead you into a trap of “tourist adventurers” if you stay on the surface. Venture deeper into the park, though, and you can visit sites like Cathedral Valley, where you’ll find something far different.

In this hidden gem, we were met with total solitude and expanse, even though it was Mother’s Day. The main road, which houses most of the park’s visitors during their time, was relatively uncrowded. The parking lots at the hikes would fill, but barely. Just hours farther south, Zion would be entertaining bus after bus of tourists, while in Capitol Reef we saw equal views and far fewer tourists.

After just 24 hours in the park, my perception of it shifted completely. Capitol Reef holds the stigma of being unimpressive or not worth visiting, but as I found out, this is utterly untrue.

The park is nearly twice the size of Zion meaning there are far more backcountry and off-the-path places to explore. As the least visited national park in Utah, it is not hard to find a landscape totally devoid of people. Even the nearby towns are small and relatively unobtrusive. BLM land surrounds almost every border of the park, offering free camping wherever you go. Everything about this place is wild, expansive; and entirely underrated.

n.halberg@wasatchmag.com

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Climbing Close to Home

As Utah finally decides to change its mind, and the weather begins to warm up, there begins a whole new season of rock climbing. This is the climbing Utah is known for: multiple pitch routes with unforgettable vantage points, boulder problems that will haunt you and also reward you, or class sport routes with a crux that include just about everything you can think of. Want to know the best part? The majority of these locations are within a half-hour driving distance. You can commonly find a group of climbers leaving after work at 5 p.m. who are still getting some laps in before sundown.

Little Cottonwood Canyon

One commonly sought out place to climb is up Little Cottonwood Canyon. The majority of these climbs are trad, or traditional, routes. If you are up for some world class crack climbing, this is the place for you. The difficulty of the routes will cater to the first timer, and it can also cater to the most advanced veteran dirt bagger. There are hundreds of routes to choose from up and down the canyon that will help fulfill your heart’s desire. The rock type is almost all white granite with a couple of areas that are limestone. My personal favorite area to climb is up Gate Buttress, which is about one mile and a half up the canyon. These climbs go from 5.6c at Schoolroom to 5.12c of Bloodline for the more classic routes in the area.

Getting there: Get off I-215 at 6200 South. Then, follow signs for the ski resorts. After that, follow Wasatch Boulevard for a few miles, and the road will directly lead up the canyon.

Climb difficulty: 5.6c to 5.12c

Big Cottonwood Canyon

Big Cottonwood Canyon contains another popular upward climb. Similar to its neighbor, Big Cottonwood also has hundreds of routes up and down the canyon catering to every skill level. This is the first place I ever went rock climbing outdoors. Ever since that first time, I’ve known there was no leaving this sport. The rock type is quartzite, which makes the rock more slippery and more difficult to climb, therefore it is mostly used for sport climbing. There are also a wide variety of trad routes as well. But don’t be fooled, this rock has many holes and holds in a wide variety of shapes and sizes which make this canyon an epic location to climb. My favorite locations are up near the slips or along Challenge Buttress. These areas are home to several multi-pitch trad routes or various sport climbs.

Getting there: Take I-215 to the 6200 South exit, then follow the ski resort signs for Big Cottonwood Canyon. You will reach the base of the canyon within a few minutes from exiting the freeway.

Climb difficulty: Varying

American Fork Canyon

The other main canyon to climb in northern Utah is through American Fork Canyon. American Fork is better known for its intermediate to advanced sport climbing. It is also home to some of the most difficult routes in the state with ratings of 5.14c. There are many 5.9c routes for those who are looking to explore the canyon for the first time. This canyon is also a great location during the hot summer months as most of the crags are shaded with plenty of trees, or they are hidden deep within the canyon. This will keep your belayer nice and cool while you conquer the crux of the project you have been working on for weeks. Keep this one on your list of classic climbs to scale this upcoming summer.

Getting there: I-15 to the Pleasant Grove exit. Then, follow along Highway 92 straight into the canyon.

Climb difficulty: 5.9c-5.14c

These are a few of the most popular areas to climb during the summer months in northern Utah. There are many other places to consider, too; but these three canyons should definitely be on your list. After all, there are enough routes within them all to keep you busy for a lifetime.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Dream jobs for the outdoor enthusiast

The dream job for most outdoor enthusiasts = spending a good amount of time outdoors and with like-minded people. Oh, and free gear.

Welcome to the lives of those working in the outdoor industry. Yes, it’s just as good as you’ve always imagined. How do you land a job like that? Workers at three outdoor retailers tell us:

Mark Cole, a business and sales executive at HippyTree Surf & Stone Apparel, graduated with a BA of social ecology from UC Irvine.

Jess Smith, vice president of Outside PR (which represents Cotopaxi), majored in communication at the University of Technology in Sydney, Australia.

Robert Shirley-Smith (see image above), sales director at Tentsile, studied human geography and anthropology at Sussex University in England.

Do you feel that your education applies to your current work?

Cole: I want to say yes because I’m a big fan of higher education, but truthfully, probably not. This type of industry and these type of jobs require a lot of on-the-job-training.

Smith: Absolutely. 100 percent. It just sets you up in terms of who you are as a person, what you like to do, and how to utilize your skills and talents the best.

Shirley-Smith: No crossover whatsoever. When I graduated in 2010 during the economic slump, there were no jobs available so I retrained as a carpenter. The founder of Tentsile reached out to me originally because of my experience with treehouses; that was involved in his goal of creating a tent that would fit all trees.

Did you always know you wanted to work with an outdoor company?

 Cole: I kind of figured it out when I was about 17 or 18 when I saw people older than myself living a pretty sweet lifestyle and told myself, ‘If they can make money doing that, I don’t see why I can’t.’

Shirley-Smith: No—I didn’t even know this industry existed back in England! My real passion was for building. But I just rolled with the punches and ended up here.

What is your favorite aspect of your work?

 Cole: I like that this industry is fun and it can be pretty irreverent at times. There’s a whole lot of lines that get crossed on a pretty regular basis and I can’t say that it shares that with a lot of other industries. It’s unique in that way.

Shirley-Smith: I respect the business’s ethics; it supports reforestation and sustainability, which aligns with my own values.

What is your all-time favorite piece of equipment or gear?

 Smith: I’m really drawn to Cotopaxi’s Kusa line of products with llama fleece and poly-insulation products. It’s helping to assist a lot of Bolivian communities because they’re working with farmers and the agricultural production there. Nobody else is doing llama. And the items look great, too.

Shirley-Smith: The Connect Model Tensile. After I survived an 11-hour rainstorm in it, I bonded with it.

Do you have an outdoor tip to share with fellow enthusiasts?

 Cole: Don’t be afraid to push your limits, but always stay within your comfort zone and be prepared.

Smith: Layer up. Always have a Buff on hand. Buff is the most versatile piece of equipment you are going to have for any sport.

What is your favorite aspect of the outdoors?

 Cole: It’s kind of like church for me personally. You are able to connect with nature on a deeper level when you step outside your comfort zone and experience new things and kind of see the raw splendor of Mother Nature.

Shirley-Smith: I grew up in the city in London, where the outdoors are viewed more as an escape from an urban environment than in other areas. So that is initially how I learned to love the outdoors, as an escape. It also helped that my parents were hippies and roamed the country with me in a van.

c.simon@wasatchmag.com

Photo by Claire Simon

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Discover a Warm and Groovy Place for a Soak in Monroe

One thing to know about me: I hate being cold. I absolutely loathe it. If I could be wrapped in a heated blanket all through winter I wouldn’t object. Unfortunately, this is not an option, so instead of becoming a hermit all winter long I’ve found that visiting one of the many hot springs in Utah is a much better way to stay warm and have fun.

When I moved here from Pennsylvania five years ago I was determined to take advantage of as many hot springs as I could. One of my favorite springs in Utah, and one that I love returning to, is Mystic Hot Springs in Monroe.

The first thing that sets Mystic apart from other hot springs is its accommodations. Along with tent camping spots and cabins, the resort has some very funky, and very cool, vintage converted buses to spend the night in. Each bus is different; some are set up with bunks to be party buses, and others are cozy for two.

My boyfriend and I stayed in the Ripple bus and spent most of the day soaking, napping, and eating. Mystic is a well-kept secret. It’s never ridiculously crowded and there are so many different pools you never have to wait around to get a tub all to yourself.

The heart of this small town feels like a bubble of calm. There are no loud noises or lights to intrude on the tranquility of the campsite. There’s nothing better than getting into a hot pool at 12 a.m. after relaxing by the fire after dinner. Above, the stars shine brightly due to the lack of light pollution.

It’s not a typical resort with fresh towels and room service, but for what it lacks in modern amenities, it makes up for in atmosphere. The resort has been around for a long time, and when “Mystic Mike” Ginsburg purchased the place back in 1996, he was able to keep the 70’s charm of the resort despite new cabin builds and renovations.

Mystic Hot Springs attracts a diverse group of outdoorsmen and women. It’s a place that invites musicians, artists, story-tellers, hippies, and soul searchers to come and relax. The owners leave personal touches such as chocolate mints, incense, and handwritten welcome letters for each new guest. It’s little things like this that make visiting Mystic worth the drive every time.

 

e.aboussou@wasatchmag.com

Photos by Esther Aboussou

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