Summer

Essentials, extras, and luxuries: What to pack on a day hike

They say the hardest part of any journey is the first step. But when it comes to hiking, those people are dead wrong — packing your gear is by far the greater feat.

For me personally, I tend to be a Mary Poppins in my packing habits. Instead of a simple first aid kit, I could pull an entire operating room out of my backpack. I only wish I were joking. But for all the backbreaking woes of over-packing, bringing too little is also a problem. If you get stuck on a mountaintop without a Band-Aid, you could hemorrhage from a simple paper cut (just kidding, of course, though I’m sure I could find a WebMD article to back me up).

To be fair, what you pack really depends on how far you plan to hike (though, to be honest, I’m a proponent of Band-Aids for any length of trip). For those hiking the more-than-2,650-mile long Pacific Crest Trail … good luck. For those going on a day trip in Utah, you can pack pretty light — and I’m here to help. I’ve compiled this list of essentials, extras, and luxuries to help you prepare for all of your Wasatch adventures, hopefully making your first step on the trail a little easier.

c.tanner@dailyutahchronicle.com

@CourtneyLTanner

ESSENTIALS

-Good hiking shoes (seriously, I can’t stress this enough — break ‘em in before they break you on a tough trail)

-Water, water, and some more water

-Snacks (granola bars, beef jerky, trail mix — the usual)

-Sturdy backpack

-Pocketknife

-Compass + map (and know how to use them)

-Jacket (if you pack one that’s water-proof, you can skip bringing a poncho)

-Watch

-Hat

-Flashlight or headlamp

-First-aid kit (with Band-Aids, of course)

EXTRAS

-Poncho (I like one that’s big enough to cover my backpack if it rains)

-Matches (you probably won’t need these, but they’re good to have on-hand for emergencies)

-Camera

-Rope

-Bandana (doubles as a headband or a bandage, if needed)

-Bug spray, sunscreen, bear spray (put in a Ziploc bag to avoid leaks)

-Whistle

LUXURIES

-Trekking pole (preferably one that’s compactible)

-Binoculars

-Book (once I’ve reached my hiking destination, I like to sit and enjoy a good read)

-Water shoes or sandals

-Journal + pen

-Sunglasses

-Extra socks

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Top Five Hikes for You and Your Furry Friend

If you’re sick of binge-watching TV and your dog is even more tired of fighting Netflix for your attention, then it’s time to take things outside and hit the trails. As the summer heat begins to settle, it’s prime hiking time. Here are my top five trails for you and your canine. They’re laid-back, scenic, and will give you both a chance to hone your skills.

k.broschinsky@dailyutahchronicle.com

@KamrynLinda

Jordan Parkway Trail

40 miles (total length)

For trail-goers who love to be surrounded by nature without straying too far from civilization, Jordan Parkway is a perfect choice. It’s a 40-mile stretch of suburban trail that runs parallel to the Jordan River. The parkway also hosts an adjacent and equally popular paved bike path. In addition to the scenery, fresh air, and water features, the great thing about the parkway is that you can leave any time you want because you’re not deep within the wilderness. This is an easy hike, and both dogs and horses are welcome.

Big Water Trail/Dog Lake

6 miles

If you’re looking for a dog spot, then look no further because Dog Lake is the place to be. Millcreek Canyon is one of the few areas that does charge a usage fee, but it’s worth the $3. The canyon is extremely dog-friendly, so plan on seeing a multitude of slobbering and curious canines on your hike. On odd-numbered days, your dogs can even roam off-leash. This hike is a great beginner or intermediate hike; it’s mostly level with a just a handful of switchbacks. If you don’t feel like you’re in “Fern Gully,” you’re in the wrong place.

Killyon Canyon

5.6 miles

This trail follows a stream for almost the entire length which is great for your furry friends to drink from when they get thirsty. The path eventually forks, and you can go left for a longer hike up to Lookout Mountain. Avoid Killyon Canyon in rainy and snowy seasons, unless you and your dog are into mud wrestling. The trail is fairly narrow, so when you and your pooch encounter others, be sure to be courteous and friendly.

Bonneville Shoreline Trail/Ensign Peak

100 miles (total length)/.86 miles

The shoreline trail is a work-in-progress that stretches over 100 miles. Dogs are welcome on- and off-leash on many sections of the trail. While the shoreline has many easily accessible entrances, the best places to hop on are by the U, close to Red Butte Garden, the top of the Avenues, and off the Ensign Peak trail. Coupling Ensign Peak with the Shoreline trail is great because Ensign is a short hike (only 380 ft. of elevation gain), but with a great view of the Salt Lake Valley. Whatever you feel up to tackling, the shoreline is perfect for an all-day excursion or a quick out-and-back with your four-legged companion.

City Creek Canyon

1.2 to 6 miles

City Creek Canyon is nestled right in the heart of Salt Lake City. Depending on who you ask, it could be considered more of a nature hike than a trail. City Creek offers options for people of all skill levels. Whether you’re a marathon runner or simply looking for a quick hike with no technical maneuvers, this is the perfect spot. City Creek Canyon has a trail that begins in Memory Grove Park with plenty of shade, so you and your dog can stay cool.

k.broschinsky@dailyutahchronicle.com

@KamrynLinda

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Thrifty Trips: See dinosaurs and other natural wonders for $90

If you haven’t heard of Harpers Corner, don’t worry — you’re not alone. Overlooking the confluence of the Green River and the Yampa River, the trail is located just outside Dinosaur, Colo. It is a beautiful desertscape situated 2,500 ft. above the water. My most recent trip there cost me just $90.

To get to Harpers Corner, you’ll first need to travel to Vernal, Utah, which is about 170 miles from Salt Lake City on US-40. From Vernal, Harpers Corner is just about 70 more miles away. After Vernal, keep straight on US-40 towards Colorado through Jensen, Utah. If you want to stop by and see the Dinosaur National Monument quarry (there’s a $10 entrance fee), turn left in Jensen just before you cross the Green River. Drive past the large pastures at the foot of Split Mountain.

In the dinosaur excavation building there are also replicas of a few different dinosaur skeletons. One of the coolest displays is a skull of an Allosaurus. It looked like a fierce creature back in the day and could have definitely ruled the land.

Once you’re done with the dinosaur exhibit, continue your travels east on US-40. Once you reach the Colorado border, you’ll immediately drive through the city of Dinosaur, where all the street signs are dinosaur names. We turned on to “Tyrannosaurus” just because we could.

Keep driving until you see the Canyon Area visitors center; then turn left and continue on the windy road for another hour to Harpers Corner. As you make your way up the plateau, you’ll see all sorts of landscapes every which way. There are a few overlook pullouts that you can stop at to see how vast the area is.

Once you reach the trail parking lot you’ll be enthralled by the beauty of the area. But hang tight — you have to get your hiking shoes on and walk the trail for about 1.5 miles to get to the vantage point.

Be sure to bring a lot of water because this area heats up fast. The beginning of the trail is all downhill and then flattens out. It is amazing to think that the river carved each of the deep canyon walls over millions of years.

While at both sides of the vantage point, if you look down on the river — be careful not to go past the fence — you might see some rafters floating during the hot summer months. The river is green because of all the active erosion taking place, but it is still beautiful to see.

When you’re done looking at the amazing scenery, head back the same way you came.

On your way back through Vernal, you’ll come across an iconic pink dinosaur welcoming you to the city. Go ahead and indulge your inner tourist, and snap a quick picture to remind you of your trip to Colorado.

k.creveling@dailyutahchronicle.com

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Editor’s Note, August 2015

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When I was a kid, I always wanted to be a professional explorer (sort of an Indiana-Jones-meets-Bear-Grylls type but with better hair and a flashier fanny pack).

On my exploits, I planned to bring with me only a compass, my disdain for maps, and an equal devotion to adventure — the fanny pack was just for looks, not utility, of course. I was prepared to fight off Sasquatch with my bare hands, discover a hidden treasure that was actually in plain sight all along and valiantly defend the sable fedora (you’re welcome, Harrison Ford).

But now that I’m older, I’ve realized that’s not exactly a profession, at least not one the IRS would recognize, so I save the adventuring for my free time. Luckily in Utah there’s plenty of opportunity for that and I don’t have to go without the chance to channel my inner Bear Jones (Indiana Grylls?).

With this month’s Wasatch Magazine, we want to help you, too, find your inner professional explorer with our “Summer Adventure” issue. Among these pages, you’ll find stories on rappelling down red rock cliffs, hiking to hidden lakes, and sliding through slot canyons. You can also check out our guides to camping in comfort and climbing outside your comfort zone.

So go ahead: have one last crusade before school starts.

c.tanner@chronicle.utah.edu

@CourtneyLTanner

 

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Conquer Your Fear of the Cliffs and Go Rappelling

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I’m a native Utahn, which means I was born with an appreciation for both snow-capped mountains and red rock arches. But while I love both terrains, I favor the desert hills and dunes slightly more.

That’s why Kodachrome Basin is one the best places in the state. It’s an under-appreciated gem that I would never have discovered had it not been for a class trip.

The basin got its name from Kodak’s color film because of its vivid and photogenic nature. It’s about a six-and-a-half hour drive south from Salt Lake City, only 20 miles southeast of Bryce Canyon National Park. At 5,800 feet above sea level, I was surrounded by stunningly barren, sun-soaked canyon walls. It looks like a scene straight out of “Planet of the Apes.” In the heart of red rock country, I drove through the monolithic towers, double arches, hoodoos, and sandstone chimneys.

As I prepared for my trip, I had no intention of letting myself be strapped into a harness and dangled horizontally over a cliff-face, but with my final grade for class on the line, I had no choice: I was going to rappel.

Rappelling is all about the descent. You wear a harness fitted around your waist and upper legs, forming a makeshift woven seat. It’s supposed to be comfortable, but really it’s not.

Luckily, rappelling is a team sport — this calmed my nerves. There is a belayer down at the bottom of the cliff and then, for safety, another person on top to keep an eye on you from above. You say, “On rope!” to let the belayer know you are prepared for your descent; the belayer then replies, “On belay!” to let you know they are ready.

Another important word for rappellers is “rock,” which is used to alert anyone below you that something is plummeting towards them. Whether it’s shale, a rock, a boulder, a sandwich, or your dignity and confidence (as was the case with me), this lets them know to be aware and protect themselves, if need be.

While rappelling may look fun, it’s also pretty scary. Imagine it: You’re at a 90–degree angle to a cliff face with no faith whatsoever in your lower body strength and a terrifying number of total strangers responsible for your safety. I felt a fear that can only be described as a “127 Hours” degree of hopelessness.

The only thing not trembling was my right hand on the rope behind me. My legs had completely forgotten how to function, and I relied on muscle memory as I tentatively took my first few steps down the cliff face. I had to tell myself that it was just a few feet. Just a few vertical feet. That you have to walk down. While suspended. In the air. And backwards.

This was something I’d never done before, something I’d never thought of doing before, and something I never thought myself capable of doing.

For the rappelling experts reading this, I’m sorry. I’m sure you know that 75 feet really isn’t that far and, realistically, each individual rappel only takes about one to two minutes. That is, unless you’re me and you need 10 minutes, which actually feels like 10,000 years, and you can’t remember a time in your life when you weren’t hanging upside down having someone yelling at you from both above and below.

For those of you who haven’t rappelled, I have one piece of advice: Do it. Bring all the right equipment, choose your partners wisely, and for the love of God, don’t go any time between July and August because you may actually melt. But do it because there is no reason why rappelling won’t be the best experience of your life. Despite my fear, it certainly was for me.

k.broschinsky@chronicle.utah.edu

@KamrynLinda

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The Perfect Playlist for All Your Summer Music Needs

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This “outdoor playlist” of sorts was inspired by summer nights (no, not the ones from “Grease”). Rather, it’s the feeling of driving with your windows down through the canyons. It’s sitting around a campfire. It’s green trees and blue skies. Most of all, it’s music you can play while enjoying the outdoors or reminiscing about your time spent there.

1. “Sloop John B” by The Beach Boys

It feels kind of like a cop-out to put The Beach Boys on a playlist about being outside, but this is the first song that came to mind when I was brainstorming ideas. “Sloop John B” makes it feel like you’re right there with the narrator of the classic tune, and sometimes listening to it makes you feel like you’re sailing the ocean with them — or at least the Great Salt Lake.

2. “Hey Jealousy” by Gin Blossoms

This song is forever and always my go-to for rolling the windows down and cranking the music up as loud as possible. Maybe it’s the song’s actual lyrics (“Tomorrow we can drive around this town”), but something about “Hey Jealousy” always makes me want to be out enjoying the night with my friends.

3. “Young Fathers” by Typhoon

Sure, the song’s lyrical content is kind of a bummer (it’s all about resentment over having young, incapable parents) but its booming orchestration, unique percussion, and frequent mood changes feel like an adventure.

4. “La Loose” by Waxahatchee

Waxahatchee has been one of my favorite artists for a long time. Until her most recent release, however, her music was suited mostly to sitting at home by yourself, rather than exploring the world. “Ivy Tripp,” her newest album, offers music for many occasions, particularly feeling carefree and content. “La Loose” feels most like that to me, partially thanks to its upbeat drum machine, catchy bass line, and sing-along chorus — you can’t do better than a good “ooh ooh.”

5. “I Want You Back” by The Jackson 5

Making playlists has been a hobby of mine since early adolescence, and last summer was no exception. When I sat down to make my “songs for summer 2014” playlist, this song had been stuck in my head for weeks. What resulted was an eclectic mix of music — and by eclectic, I mean “I Want You Back” over and over again. A year later, this song still holds up, and I include it on any sort of outdoor/summer playlist. It’s a good throwback song to set a positive mood. You can also play it when you’ve left the outdoors because sometimes you just want to go back.

6. and 7. “Hurricane Waves” and “Can’t Complain” by Bomb the Music Industry!

Remember the carefree, content feeling I associated with newer Waxahatchee songs? I get a similar feeling with songs from “Vacation,” a Bomb the Music Industry! album. In fact, the feeling is so similar that I couldn’t even choose just one song to put on this playlist, so I’m putting two. “Hurricane Waves” is a rambunctious, heavy ode to finding happiness, and “Can’t Complain” is a lighter, more relaxed song about appreciating the happy things that are already around you. They’re a perfect complement to each other and to any sort of adventure you might find yourself in — whether isolated in the wilderness or just strolling down the street.

8. “Chicago” by Sufjan Stevens

This is one of Sufjan Stevens’s best-known songs, but that’s not why I’m including it on this playlist. The reason is that it’s an absolutely perfect song for a road trip. I could drive across the entire country for weeks and weeks and only listen to this one tune. It fits the grandiose of experiencing new places and new terrain perfectly, whether that’s the sprawling Rocky Mountains or the flat and endless terrain of the Midwest.

ivy.smith@chronicle.utah.edu

@IvyASmith

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Thrifty Trips: How To Do the San Rafael Swell in $40 or Less

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If you’re looking for an inexpensive trip full of beauty and thrills, check out the San Rafael Swell, in southern Utah. You can experience the gorgeous landscape in a quick overnight trip without spending a lot of dough.

I recently traveled down to the Swell to see the Little Grand Canyon and hike some slot canyons. The overlook is stunning, with the river far below. The colors of the rock walls truly take your breath away as you stand on the cliff’s edge.

For our first night, we camped on BLM land, which made for some inexpensive camping. The next day we drove down into the Swell on our way to Little Wildhorse Canyon. The drive is on a long and winding dirt road that wraps down to the river bed, with plenty of petroglyphs to see on the side of the road.

A little further down the road, you come across an old bridge. We stopped to read about it and found out that 2,000 people showed up to the dedication ceremony back in 1937.

The drive from the Wedge Overlook to the mouth of Little Wildhorse Canyon is about a three-hour drive through the swell. Though it is a longer drive, it’s well worth your time. There are three different options for hikes once you get to the parking lot. You can do the shortest hike, Bell’s Canyon; the middle distance, Little Wildhorse Canyon; or you can do the loop which encompasses both canyons. I prefer the loop. It’s eight miles round-trip and takes about four hours to complete. If you start by going up the Little Wildhorse Canyon side, it’s a little easier and you’re not in the sun as long.

The slot canyon of Little Wildhorse can get pretty narrow at times, which is a nice shield from the sun. It’s a true natural beauty. There may be some puddles in the slots if there has been recent rain, which makes getting across them tricky, but you can also take your shoes off and wade through them — it’s awfully refreshing. Do plan ahead and watch weather forecasts to avoid flash floods in the narrows.

After you get through Little Wildhorse, the top of the canyon widens into beautiful desert scenery. It gets much hotter here, so if you’re hiking during the summer heat don’t lag too much and pack plenty of water.

As you meander along an old rancher’s road, you get to the top of Bell’s Canyon. At this point, you’ve completed about two-thirds of the hike. The last part of the trail is all downhill, which is easy to hike if you’re tired.

In the end, this is a good option for a short trip packed with adventure. There is a lot to do in just an overnight trip, though if you have an extra day or two, I would suggest visiting Goblin Valley before you leave.

Part of the draw of this trip, especially for college students, is the inexpensive price. The most costly item is the gas to get to the swell. If you eat on the drive there, you only need to bring food for breakfast and lunch the next day. And if you camp on BLM land, there isn’t a campsite fee. All together, $40 was plenty for a fun adventure.

p.creveling@chronicle.utah.edu

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White Pine Lake Might Be an Uphill Battle, But It’s Worth It

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When you set out to hike in the Wasatch, you have to accept that nine times out of 10 there will be an uphill struggle. Usually I’m up for the struggle because 100 percent of the time it’s worth it, which is why when I heard about the White Pine Lake hike in Little Cottonwood Canyon, with slightly more than 2,500 feet of elevation gain, my interest was immediately piqued.

The White Pine hike is about 10-miles round-trip. To be honest, this didn’t sound too bad — trudging up mountains is one of my favorite pastimes. First, like any good and experienced hiker, I acquired a hiking companion: my dad. He also happens to be a trail runner and pretty much lives for criss-crossing the Wasatch. Even though I can’t even pretend to be on his level, I enjoy his knowledge, quick pace, and sense of humor.

We planned on heading up on a Tuesday when the masses would hopefully be confined to the city. I usually like to get an early start when I’m heading out on longer hikes, but because of my dad’s schedule we planned to get on the trail by 3 p.m. I was a little skeptical about the late start time. My dad, however, brushed it off with confidence.

“We’ll be able to bust out our ascent in two hours, no problem,” he said. This statement coming from the mouth of a trail runner didn’t exactly ease my concerns.

As it usually goes, we ended up on the trail about 20 minutes later than anticipated, due mostly to some road construction up the canyon. This was just a minor setback though, and soon enough we were pulling into the half-empty parking lot and strolling up the trail.

The path is actually an old mining road, so it is clear-cut and easy to follow, with loose gravel underfoot. This unstable ground isn’t really an issue until you reach the fork in the trail where you go left for White Pine lake and right for Red Pine lake. Once you hang the left, your uphill struggle has officially begun. The gravel on the steep sections made me want to give in to my slipping feet and just slide back down, sit under a tree, and pretend I made it — luckily I’m too stubborn for that, and I wasn’t about to let my dad get to the top without me.

The trail is incredibly beautiful, with pines and aspens creating much-needed shade on a hot summer afternoon. There were also quite a few clouds in the sky, and the temperature was pleasant, with a breeze that kept the biting flies at bay.

Soon after we started up the White Pine fork we spotted wildlife: a young deer near the trail, lightning fast chipmunks, and pretty birds we couldn’t name. To top it all off, the wildflowers were just starting to bloom. All along the side of the path, vibrant reds stood out among shades of blue, white, pink, and yellow flowers. The diversity of the trail kept me enthralled, with aspen groves one minute and an open alpine meadow the next, with picturesque little waterfalls sprinkled in between.

After all this, we reached the treeline and exchanged green meadows for barren boulder fields. This is one of my favorite moments on any hike. You’re suddenly able to see for miles, and all the peaks seem deceptively near and conquerable. At this point there is also a clear view of the trail winding ahead of you.

The clouds looked more ominous as we rounded the final switchback and caught our first view of the lake. It was perched about 500 feet below us and reflected a deep blue-green color. We made the small ascent to rest our legs by the water for a few minutes. There were only two other people by the water, so it was easy enough to find a quiet boulder and enjoy some snacks in solitude.

It turns out my dad’s predictions weren’t as off-base as I had thought: We made it in just two hours and 20 minutes. Though it didn’t end up raining on us, we made our trip down a quick one. I savored the downhill as a time to concentrate on keeping my footing and clearing my mind of everything else. We were off the mountain and back on the highway all too soon, and I was already looking forward to my next adventure.

If you’re up for a bit of a challenge and some serious Wasatch beauty, then plan on a trek up to White Pine Lake. Our canyons are so close to home that there is no excuse not to lace up your hiking shoes and hit the trail.

f.rhinehart@chronicle.utah.edu

@Unchained116

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