Wednesday, December 30, 2015

My Top 2015 Adventures

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2015 was an amazing year for me! 

I am always amazed that I am able to travel so much on my budget. I don't make a lot of money, so I consider myself very lucky to be able to have hiked, camped, and seen the places that I did this year. Many of these trips and hikes were accompanied mostly by old friends, but along the way met new friends, did some solo travel, and was able to create fantastic memories.

In 2014, I started a hiking log to see how many miles I hiked, how much elevation I gained, how many hours of my life were spent hiking, and rated each hike on a 5 point scale (5 being the best). I took things like beauty, serenity, views, the trail, the companionship, and just an overall vibe of the trip into account. In 2014, I had hiked 518 miles! Keeping a hiking log not only reminds me of where I've traveled to or hiked, but a great way to keep track of my outdoor accomplishments. At the end of the year it feels good to look back and say, "I did that."

2015 was no different - I traveled to several places that had been on my hiking "to do" list for a long time, namely in Yosemite National Park and Acadia National Park. Not only did I get to visit Acadia NP as a tourist, but also as a local having lived there for a whole month on an internship through The Student Conservation Association

Here are my hiking stats for 2015. Keep in mind this does not take into account the countless dog walks with Charlie at the dog park.

Hikes: 85
Miles: 412 
Elevation gain: 106,565 ft
Time spent hiking: 277 hours
Peaks summited: 18
1 pair of hiking shoes 

Here are photos from my most memorable trips this year.

Peekaboo Slot Canyon
Spooky & Peekaboo Slot Canyons 
Upper Calf Creek Falls
Upper Calf Creek Falls - my favorite Utah waterfall hike!
Antelope Canyon, Arizona
Antelope Canyon, AZ
Rattlesnake Canyon, Arizona
Rattlesnake Canyon, AZ with my parents
Twin Peaks, Wasatch Mountains
Twin Peaks, Wasatch Mountains
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
 On top of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
  At the base of Half Dome, Yosemite National Park
Mt. Agassiz, Uintas
 Mt. Agassiz with Charlie, Uintas
Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park
 Wheeler Peak, Great Basin National Park

Acadia National Park, Maine
Acadia National Park, Maine
Ibapah Peak, Deep Creek Mountains
Ibapah Peak, Deep Creek Mountains (NV/UT border)

One of the biggest things I learned through my adventures this year is how important it is to travel on my own. It felt so freeing, exciting, adventurous, and amazing to travel alone. Not because I didn't have anyone to answer to (though that was nice too), but because I was able to reconnect with myself and learn more about me, it gave me more confidence to travel and hike alone and to know that I could do anything myself, it also taught me that traveling alone doesn't mean I am lonely, and lets be honest - it gave me a mental break from reality.

I appreciate all those who have been in my life, and support me in my outdoor goals.

I have a lot in store for me for 2016, and am excited to see what adventures come my way.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Cross Country Skiing at Mountain Dell Recreation Area

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Mountain Dell Recreation Area, Mountain Dell cross country skiing
Mountain Dell Recreation Area is a cross country (xc) skiing area and sledding area in the Winter, and converts to a golf course in Summer. During Winter, Mountain Dell is maintained by TUNA.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

First XC Ski of the Season!

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If you live in Utah, you know that the Salt Lake valley and surrounding areas got around 12-18 inches of fresh snow in the last 3 days! I've been having some major powder fever and needed to get out! It's been hard for me to sneak out of work early the past two days to do some downhill skiing, so this morning I woke up at 6am, so I could be up Millcreek Canyon early enough to get a quick xc ski in and still be to work at a decent time. I love coming up here early in the mornings during the week, because nobody else is up here! The mornings offer fresh snow as well, so I can make my own tracks.

This morning was my first time out for the Winter season, so I only wanted to go out for less than an hour. I decided to just ski past the winter gate, up to Elbow Fork, then return the same way. Skiing up the road is very mellow, with beautiful scenery, and is only 3 miles round trip. 

The same leash laws are used during winter past the winter gate: Dogs can be off leash on ODD days only, and must be leashed on EVEN days. Dogs must always be leashed in parking lots.

Directions: In SLC, head West on I-80 towards Park City, then head south on I-215. Take exit 4 for Wasatch Blvd/3900 South. Turn left at the stop sign, then left again onto Wasatch Blvd. Turn right at the next light for Millcreek Canyon. Drive to the very end of the road where the winter gate is. There are restrooms available. Keep in mind that Millcreek Canyon charges a $3 fee upon exit. You can also get an annual pass for $40 at the booth, and is separate from the National Park Pass and State Park Pass.

What the winter gate parking area looks like. Nobody there at 8am!
In the Wasatch National Forest territory.
 Beautiful snowy trees and trail.
 I could not get enough of these trees and how beautiful everything looked!
 Winter wonderland!
Even doggies like snow masks!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Lookout Peak

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Hiking to Lookout Peak, Killyons Canyon, Emigration Canyon, Utah
I am often asked, "How do you find all these trails you do?" The honest answer, is when I am out hiking, and I see a peak I think to myself, "I gotta do that peak" or "I gotta check that area out!" So then I do a little research on those peaks/trails and just get out and go for it!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hiking to The Living Room, Salt Lake City

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The Living Room hike, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
When I can't sleep, I hike. This was the case on Sunday morning at 7am, so instead of doing another boring dog walk at the dog park, I thought I'd get some exercise in and hike the up to The Living Room. However, because I've done this hike countless times, I like to switch it up and hike up the "fun" way - along the ridge. Plus, I figured on a Sunday morning that it would be empty up there. I was right. If you hike up here on a Friday night or during the day on the weekends, The Living Room can get really crowded. I've been up there when 40-50 people are all trying to see the sun set, or just relax and drink a beer.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Hiking to Little Black Mountain

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Hiking to Little Black Mountain, Utah, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Little Black Mountain sits above the Avenues neighborhood in SLC, and although it seems close, it's looks are deceiving. This trail offers great views of the SLC valley and the BST (Bonneville Shoreline Trails), but get ready to give your hips and calves a work out. Most of the trail is along the BST ridgeline, but gains 900 ft in 1/2 mile!