Monday, November 30, 2015

The Black Mesa Indian Ruins, Arizona

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Black Mesa Indian Ruins
My Thanksgiving weekend was spent with my parents in Phoenix, AZ, and instead of shopping on Black Friday, we wanted #OptOutside and explore an area they had heard about called the Black Mesa Indian Ruins. Hundreds, and maybe thousands, of people drive by the "trail head" every day, but not many know that there are 800 year old ruins sitting on top of the mesa. I put "trail head" in quotes because there's not really a trail - just route finding through thick cactus.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

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DAR Photography, Girlonahike, Jessie Medina Co.
 Happy Thanksgiving!
Charlie and I had a wonderful Fall. 
Life has it's ups and downs but in the end I'm always thankful for what I have and that Charlie is in my life. He is my best buddy, my adventure partner, my snuggle bug, my confidant, and my furry four-legged child. 

Thanksgiving should not be the only day of the year where we appreciate what we have. Be thankful for what you have everyday and you'll end up having more. 

My dear friend, Stephen Hatch, of Resources For Spiritual Growth, captures this thought perfectly.

"Thankfulness is not a kind of overcoat, to be worn and then shed one day a year. Rather, it is the very essence of a spirtual approach to life. A grateful attitude seeks continually to uncover the goodness lurking inside the difficult, and the deeper reality hiding within the realm of physically-perceived beauty. For our appreciation of light, color, curve and form acts as a kind of slingshot propelling us endlessly toward the innermost meaning of things.

DAR Photography, Girlonahike, Jessie Medina Co.
Thank you DAR Photography & Jessie Medina Company for taking amazing Fall photos with me and my baby, Charlie. you can also follow Jessie Medina Co on Instagram here, and DAR Photography here.

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Cosmic Ashtray

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My weekend adventure took me to the heart of the San Rafael Swell to a unique rock formation called the Cosmic Ashtray. This is one of the most mystifying geological formations in Utah. 

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Desolation Overlook

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Desolation Overlook is a popular trail located in Millcreek Canyon that can be hiked year round. I love taking the dogs up here for a great view of the canyon and valley in the distance. The trail is on the north slope, so it is very shaded, and in winter, can be very icy. Be sure to wear microspikes in Winter to keep from falling. The trail makes its way up the side of the mountain using long switchbacks.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Sunset Peak via Catherine Pass

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sunset peak via catherine pass
Sunset Peak (10,648 ft) has been on my hiking to-do list for almost 2 years! Why haven't I done it sooner?! It's a very accessible peak to summit year round, as long as avalanche danger isn't high. Sunset peak offers a 360 degree view of the Wasatch Mountains, plus a view of Heber City, Park City, and the Salt Lake Valley. Hiking up via Catherine Pass/Alta contains a great mix of meadow, wooded areas, a fantastic vistas. Hiking this trail provides for a good workout, but getting to the peak doesn't require months of training.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Little Wild Horse Canyon

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Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Little Wild Horse Canyon is the perfect introduction to slot canyons in Utah - it was actually my first slot canyon in April 2014. This slot canyon is easy to navigate, the trail is well marked, it's usually free of standing water, the canyon walls are just wide enough for you to fit through, you can drive to the trail head in a small, compact car (most slot canyon entrances require a 4X4 car to get to the TH), you can hike this within 2 hours, and it's like a fun maze for kids and dogs. You can make this hike longer by completing it as a loop with Bell Canyon, however most people just hike in as far as they want up Little Wild Horse, then return they way they came.

Most people that visit here combine their visit with Goblin Valley State Park, since it is only about 5 miles away. There is plenty of areas to camp for free, since this is on BLM land, or you can make a reservation at the Goblin Valley SP Campground. The best times to visit this area are in Spring or late Fall, when the temperatures are too hot. If you can hike here on a weekday, you will see maybe 2-3 other cars. Come on a weekend though, and everything will be packed.

**Warning: You do not want to enter this canyon if rain is in the forecast. Slot Canyons are prone to flash floods, and can be highly dangerous**

Head south on I-15 towards Spanish Fork, UT. Take exit 257 towards Price, UT and drive through Spanish Fork Canyon, Price, and Wellington until you reach I-70. Head West on I-70 towards Salina. Drive for 8 miles then take exit 149 for Goblin Valley. Follow the signs for another 36 miles. Just after the Goblin Valley SP sign, turn right onto the next road, with the sign pointing to Little Wild Horse and Muddy Creek. Drive 5.3 miles, and just after the 3rd "dip", the TH will be on your right with a large parking lot and restroom.

Distance: varies, but most people hike about a total of 3 miles.
Elevation gain: none
Time: varies, 1 hour - 8 hours
Dog friendly? Yes, off leash
Kid friendly? Yes

Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Here is the TH for LWH. There is one restroom. Be sure to sign the visitor log in case anything happens to you.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
You will immediately drop down to the dry wash. 
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
The sun was going down quickly on us, so we had to walk faster than normal. When you get to this spot, look for the small sign and cairn on your left, and head up the rock the dogs are on.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Work your way around the ledge, then drop down. You'll see this sign for LWH and Bell Canyon. Go right at the split for LWH.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
The canyon entrance.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Charlie poses for me in the canyon. 
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
Charlie and his buddy Bonnie LOVED playing and running in this canyon! The walls are just wide enough for them to walk through. I would suggest only bringing dogs that are under 70 lbs., otherwise they won't fit or be able to turn around.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
This is my favorite photo from this trip. It's so funny to me how Charlie is poking his head up over this rock. He actually had a little trouble getting over this rock, and needed help. So he sat there and waited for me to come back to him.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
The canyon walls get taller, and even narrower. I suggest not wearing very good clothes in this canyon because they will get scraped up from the walls. Also, don't use a huge pack - a pack of less than 30 liters will fit just fine. Anything over that you'll need to take off, and hand up to someone so you can fit through. I don't recommend dogs to wear their pack either. The first time I came here in 2014, Charlie had his dog pack on and had trouble getting through the canyon.
Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah
We were a little short on time, and decided to stop at this large opening with this boulder. The canyon keep going from here, and looks about the same as what you have already seen. If you have time, I recommend to go a little further. This is a great spot for a snack break.
Little Wild Horse canyon map
Here are two maps angles to show the show the route you will follow. You really can't get lost here with how popular it is.
Little Wild Horse canyon map



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Hiking Little Wild Horse Canyon, Utah


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Goblin Valley State Park

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Goblin Valley State Park
Goblin Valley State Park feels like another world - most say it resembles what would be Mars, however the park sits at the northern end of the San Rafael Swell. The hoodoos ("goblins") are mushroom-shaped pinnacles that are only a few feet high. The formations have large orange/red boulders of hard rock on top, with weaker sand layers below that have eroded more quickly over millions of years from the combined effects of rain and wind.

Spotted Wolf Canyon Overlook

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Spotted Wolf Canyon overlook
Spotted Wolf Canyon is located off I-70 at the Northern end of the San Rafael Swell, which makes up about 1/4 of Utah. "The Swell" as us Utahns call it, is what most people think of when they think of Utah. The arid area, with little vegetation is often very scenic, with mesas, cliffs, buttes, springs, and many canyons; these are sometimes wide or can be very narrow such as Little Wild Horse Canyon. Most of the swell is owned by the BLM and encompasses 2,000 square miles! This is great for 3 main reasons in my opinion: 1) the land is protected and will not be built on 2) dogs are allowed off leash 3) you can camp almost anywhere, for free!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Big Springs Hollow Loop Trail

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Big Springs trail
This whole past week I wasn't feeling very motivated to get out and hike. Now that winter is upon us, all of the high elevation roads (Millcreek Canyon Road, Alpine Loop Road, Mirror Lake Highway, etc) are closed so a lot of the good hikes are not accessible until next Summer. Many of the higher elevation trails are now covered with snow (or mud) as well. I couldn't think of an area I really wanted to explore this weekend, just because nothing seemed to excite me. I remember my friend, Amanda, saying she hiked Big Springs Trail with her dogs a lot, in Provo Canyon. I thought, "I rarely hike in this area - this could be fun to check out." Plus, I had never been there so it would be new for me. So, I invited my dog group, Hiking in Utah - With our Dogs! along and had a fantastic group of 10 people and 11 dogs come along to enjoy the outdoors with me. Needless to say, we had a great time socializing our pups and ourselves.

Friday, November 6, 2015

The Wave

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The Wave
 The Wave is a hiker & photographers dream destination! The smooth, unique rock formations make for an unforgettable experience. The Wave has become so popular in the last few years due to social media, photographers, and many articles naming it one of the "coolest", "most unique", "most isolated", most blah blah places on earth! And it really is. However, people don't do their research before hiking here and many have needed to be rescued or have even died while gone missing. Why? The reason is because they go unprepared. There is no trail, the temperatures can be up to 115 degrees in summer, and people don't bring enough water and food. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Island Lake, Uintas

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Island Lake is one of many gorgeous lakes in the Uintas - it can be hard to choose which lake to visit. This lake offers a quick backpacking trip, cliff jumping, swimming, fishing, & solitude in the summer months. If you are feeling adventurous, you could even hike up to one of the three surrounding peaks. Hiking to Island Lake is an easy, family friendly hike, that even the dogs can join in on.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Malan's Peak

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Malan's Peak
Malan's Peak is a popular high point for Ogden locals to hike to on a regular basis. It's not the highest peak by any means at 6,916 ft, but it does provide great views of Ben Lomond Peak to the north, as well as the Ogden/Layton valley. It's a tough 5 mile hike that can be completed within 3 hours, making it an excellent choice for a "quick" early morning jaunt to get the dogs out, and get some exercise in. Be ready for a great leg workout!

Ibapah Peak

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Hiking Ibapah Peak, Deep Creek Mountains, Utah
Ibapah Peak is the tallest point in the Deep Creek Mountains and Juab County, at 12,087 ft. Getting to to the trail head is a long drive, since it's about a 4 hour drive from SLC. The Deep Creeks are truly a unique place in the West Desert. The long distance from major population allows hikers to find solitude. The desert at the foot of the mountain is at an elevation of about 4,800 ft, giving the mountains an enormous vertical rise of 7,300 ft - greater than that of the famous Teton's in Wyoming. Plan on camping near the TH the day before you hike here - camping is free, and there are a few spots that already have a fire ring. You'll want to have an early start to your hike, and be prepared to give your legs a workout. 

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Mt. Nebo

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Hiking to Mt. Nebo, Tallest Peak in the Wasatch, Utah
 Mt. Nebo has been on my hiking "to do" list for almost two years. I attempted it on Halloween Day in 2013, but didn't realize that even though the valley was snow free, that the Nebo Loop Road would have a foot of snow. I ended up doing a different hike that day, one that was so unmemorable that I still can't think of the name. Ever since then, Mt. Nebo has stared down on me from I-15 passing through Nephi, UT that I just HAD to check it off my list this year. I finally was able to round up a great 8 person crew to hike it with me, and had perfect fall weather.

Rishel Peak

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Rishel Peak
Rishel Peak (6,196 ft) is a fin-like peak created by volcanic activity, and is located in Utah's West Desert in the Silver Island Mountains. There is no trail, no shade, no water, and no true parking area or signs. Be aware that you MUST have a high clearance or 4X4 car to drive out here, and be prepared for flat tires from old mining nails still scattered about.The best time of year to hike this peak is in Spring or Fall when the temperatures are not as hot. Because this area is BLM Land, you can camp for free anywhere. However, there are no established camping areas, and Leave No Trace principles apply. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Cobb Peak

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 Cobb Peak (7,021 ft) was not my favorite hike or peak I've done. Let's just get that out of the way off the bat. This peak does not have a trail, very little shade, no water, has lots of bush whacking, and is very steep. Now, I've done my fair share of peaks with those qualities, but this one in the Silver Island Mountains seemed to kick my butt worse than the others. Although it is only 1.7 miles to the summit, it seemed to take forever, with lots of route finding. You don't want to do this hike alone - there were some really sketchy parts that I was nervous on, such as climbing up a rock slab for about 30 ft, and needing a hand to help pull me up in other areas. Getting to the summit took us about 3 hours, and another 3 hours to get back down. I have never been so nervous on a peak for how I would get back down.