Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Attempting Pilot Peak

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Pilot Peak, Pilot Peak hiking guide, Nevada Peaks
I debated on creating a post for our attempt to Pilot Peak (10,720 ft), mainly because we didn't actually summit. I realized that not every summit will be successful or the most enjoyable, but at least I can share my experience with everyone, and I hope that this can help somewhat guide you and not make the same mistakes we did. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Tetzlaff Peak

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Tetzlaff Peak, Tetzlaff Peak hiking guide, Silver Island Mountains, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
Tetzlaff Peak (6,267 ft) is located in the West Desert in the Silver Mountain Range, northeast of Wendover, UT. It is an obscure peak, meaning that hardly anyone has hiked it because of its location, it can be somewhat hard to get to the TH, and simply because no one has heard of it. It's not the tallest peak in the Silver Mountains (Graham Peak is the tallest) but it's definitely a worthy peak to bag. It's perfect for summiting in the winter months when avalanche danger is high in the Wasatch Mountains, and you are looking to escape hiking in snow. The peaks in the Silver Mountains offer no trail, no shade, and no water, so hiking here in Winter is not as harsh. I highly recommend you don't hike this area in Summer when the temperatures are extremely hot.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

XC Skiing at Round Valley, Park City

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Round Valley ski area, Round Valley Park City, cross country skiing in Utah
Round Valley is one of my favorite places in Utah to cross country (xc) ski, mainly for two reasons: 1) it's free 2) dogs can be off leash! What's better than that?! Round Valley also has groomed tracks and a wide enough space for skate skiers. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Tibble Fork Loop Trail

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Tibble Fork Loop Trail, Tibble Fork Loop Trail #041 & #040, Tibble Fork Reservoir, Hiking in Utah with Dogs
 The Tibble Fork Loop Trail (trail #041 & #040) is located in American Fork Canyon, and starts at the Tibble Fork Reservoir, hence the appropriate name. This hike can be done year round, but I find it to be the prettiest during Winter when the trees are laden with snow, the reservoir is frozen over, and the trail offers a certain quietness. The trail steadily gains elevation for the first 2 miles, cuts through an amazing aspen grove and open meadow, then connects back to the Tibble Fork stream and main parking lot.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Yaktrax vs. Microspikes

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Yaktrax vs. Microspikes, Microspikes gear review, Yaktrax gear review
One of the most common questions I hear is, 
"What's the difference between Yaktrax and Microspikes?"

They are built upon the same concept - to provide traction while hiking or walking on ice and snow. Both companies advertise this product as lightweight, easy to put on, and be used for everyday activities. However, as we look deeper into the differences we see that they are some big differences. Let's compare the pros and cons for each.

Microspikes
Yaktrax vs. Microspikes, Microspikes gear review, Yaktrax gear review
(Photo courtesy Kahtoola.com)

Pros

  • low elastic harness, which makes putting them on easy
  • eyelet reinforcements and integrated toe bale
  • welded, steel chains
  • 3/8 inch spike length
  • weight ranges from 11-13.5 oz (depending on shoe size)
  • built to last for years
  • can literally walk on a sheet of ice without slipping
Cons
  • Price - $70
  • Feet can get cold from the elastic squeezing your shoe

Yaktrax
Yaktrax vs. Microspikes, Microspikes gear review, Yaktrax gear review
(Photo courtesy Yaktrax.com)

Pros
  • easy to put on
  • abrasion resistant 1.2 mm steel coils
  • cheaper - $20
  • good for running on roads, not trails
  • ultralight, 2-4 oz (depending on shoe size)
Cons
  • coils break easily after only a few uses
  • the smooth, round coils don't penetrate ice
  • falls easily off boots
  • newer models require an extra "safety" strap
This is what often happens with Yaktrax - broken coils and rubber straps.
Yaktrax vs. Microspikes, Microspikes gear review, Yaktrax gear review
In my opinion...

My first pair of an ice traction system was the Yaktrax back in 2007, which I bought from REI. I was starting to hike more in winter, and didn't want to be held back from getting outdoors when ice covered the trails. I bought these because of the price - $20 is what I could afford at the time (think poor college student!). I didn't know there were other options anyway. So, I took them out for their maiden voyage, and on the first uphill, they wouldn't dig in enough and had me slipping backwards. Fortunately I was able to grab onto branches to keep from getting bruised or worse, breaking a bone from falling. I decided to keep going, I thought they maybe needed to break in. On the flat part of the trail they did fine, and thought, ok maybe these will do. But on another hill, I slipped all around, and decided to cut my hike short. I was bummed that I just spent this money on a product that didn't even work! 

I took them back to REI (thank goodness for their return policy), and told them what happened. They asked what I was looking for, and suggested I look at the Kahtoola Microspikes. Only problem for was the price. I waited until my next paycheck and used the money I got back from REI to purchase these. Almost 8 years later I still have the same pair. They are perfect for hiking any trail, and I often use them in place of snowshoes with the snow isn't too deep. I've never had a problem with them breaking or preventing me from falling on ice. If you can afford to pay the higher price the first time you shop for something like this, I highly recommend you go for Microspikes - it's well worth the money to keep you safe on the trails.

There are several other "off" brands that make a similar product, such as the Alps Ice Grips, IceTrekkers, or the Hillsound Trail Crampon, but I haven't tried those out. If you are looking to hike in deep snow (more than 6-8 inches), then snowshoes are the way to go.
Yaktrax vs. Microspikes, snowshoes
(Photo courtesy of Google)

The winner of the best ice traction system? Microspikes. 
Yaktrax vs. Microspikes, Microspikes gear review, Yaktrax gear review
What has been your experience with ice traction systems?
Are Microspikes better than Yaktrax?


Related: Check out the 4 Must Have Items for Winter Hiking!



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Gear Reviews

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Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hiking to Rattlesnake Gulch

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Hiking to Rattlesnake Gulch, Millcreek Canyon, Utah, Hiking with Dogs in Utah
 Rattlesnake Gulch in Millcreek Canyon is one of my go-to after work hikes. You don't have to drive very far up the canyon to have great access to this moderate trail, which leads to a beautiful overlook of the Salt Lake valley. I highly recommend this as sunset hike - bring a thermos of hot chocolate or tea and sit at the overlook to enjoy the view. This trail works steadily up the mountain for the first mile, then is level for the second mile, making this a great trail run. There is plenty of shade, but no water.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Norway Flats Yurt/TUNA Yurt

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The Norway Flats Yurt, TUNA Yurt, Yurts of Utah
One of my favorite ways to camp, is in a yurt.
What makes a structure a yurt is that it is portable, round, has an accordion lattice wall, a tension band, radial rafters leading up to a central compression ring, and is covered in felt or fabric. The shape and insulation of the yurt, plus a wood burning stove inside, make camping inside very warm. Once described as an "architectural wonder", the traditional nomadic home of Mongolia, typically referred to as a Ger, has been widely used for thousands of years. Here is a diagram of the architecture.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

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Lava Hot Springs, Idaho
(photo courtesy of 91 Days in Idaho) 
Lava Hot Springs is located in Idaho, about a 2 hour drive north of Salt Lake City. The natural, geothermal hot springs range in temperatures from 102F-112F degrees. The hot water is full of minerals, but has no sulfur, and therefor no bad smells of rotten eggs lurking in the air. Lava Hot Springs is open year round, but the best time to go, of course, is the Winter months. With five outdoor hot pools, the steam from the hot springs wraps around people and creates a very relaxing atmosphere. The red tents above provide shade on sunny days. Be sure to bring plenty of water and a snack to the hot springs - sitting for too long in hot water will dehydrate you and will make some people feel faint.