At the latest REI Garage Sale I scored these Ahnu Sugarpine Boots for women. They retail for $140, but I got them for $50! I couldn't pass them up. I'm always in awe at the garage sales and what people will return as a "damaged" item. They hardly are ever ruined, only slightly worn (most of the time)! I've scored some great deals, but each garage sale is definitely hit or miss. I've also been able to pick up random items for my Backpacking Gear List throughout the years.
The famous "House on Fire" ruins lie Mule Canyon, in between Natural Bridges National Monument and Blanding, Utah. Southeast Utah is home to the most numerous and varied collection of ruins, spread over a remote area of about 30 X 25 miles. Besides hundreds of ruins, mostly cliff dwellings, the Cedar Mesa area contains many petroglyphs and pictographs, all between 800 - 2000 years old from the Anasazi and Pueblo Indians. Most are found in canyons, where water was easily accessible and conditions were cooler in summer months. All land is public, managed by the BLM, and as of December 28, 2016 is now protected under the Bears Ears National Monument.
On day two of our trip to Southeastern Utah, we drove from our camp at Goosenecks State Park 45 minutes North to Natural Bridges National Monument. After visiting Monument Valley, it was time for a change of scenery and we wanted to get some miles in hiking through water, canyons, and under bridges, and to visit Utah's first national monument. Natural Bridges covers a small area of SE Utah, and is therefore very remote and not close to any of "Utah's Mighty Five" National parks. Despite being near many other amazing places in this part of the state such as White Canyon, Mule Canyon, Cedar Mesa, Grand Gulch, and the LaSal Mountains. Unlike Arches National Park which has over 2,000 arches, there are only three bridges at Natural Bridges. This park also contains cliff dwellings, pictographs, petroglyphs, and white canyon sandstone.
Our first full day in Southeastern Utah, we drove to Arizona to visit Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park. From our base camp at Goosenecks State Park, it was only a 45 minute drive. When we were planning our trip here, we initially thought we would take a guided tour. Monument Valley & Tribal rules state that you are not allowed to get out of your car on the scenic drive to hike around the famous Mittens or other rock structures, unless you are with a Navajo Guide and/or have a permit. The tours were a little expensive for our budget ($75/person for 2 hours), so we researched other options in the park and found that there is ONE trail open to the public - The Wildcat Trail.
High above the meandering San Juan River, lies Goosenecks State Park. This largely undeveloped park is home to a rare geological featured known as the Entrenched Meander. This refers to a river that is confined to a canyon or gorge, and in most cases is narrow with very little or no flood plain. The headwaters of the San Juan River are in the San Juan Mountains of Southwestern Colorado, which is the origin for 90% of the rivers' flow. The river flows 360 miles from its source, starting at an elevation of 14,000 ft and dropping to just 3,600 ft at Lake Powell.
After our visit to Mystic Hot Springs, we drove west down I-70 for another 20 minutes until we reached Fremont Indian State Park. Thousands of years ago this area was home to the largest population of Fremont Indians. Many petroglyphs (engraved rock with symbols) still exists, and the park offers a small trail system to view them. Inside the museum are artifacts, a film, petroglyph tours, hands-on activities for kids, and exhibits that reveal the lives of the Fremont. The park also offers RV and tent camping, you can rent out a Tipi, and there's also access the famous Paiute ATV Trail.
Mystic Hot Springs is located in Monroe, Utah, about a 2.5 hour drive south of SLC. It's been on my Utah Bucket List for awhile, so a few friends and I made it happen this weekend as a day trip. Among all of the hot springs in Utah, this is by far the most unique and least crowded, but also the most expensive. The natural hot springs flow into 6 large bathtubs, and two smaller, shallow pools. The closer you soak to where the water flows from, the hotter the water is. Mystic Hot Springs has been around for nearly 100 years, and has changed owners a few times. Originally, the hot springs were where the Indian tribes of Ute, Shoshone, & Piute would set up camp, and soak for warmth and comfort. Legend says that they would paint themselves with the red dirt to keep themselves safe.
I've been on the search for the best backpacking socks lately. With backpacking season about to start in Utah, I needed some quality socks that wouldn't rub, make me sweat, or make my feet feel on fire. I asked several Facebook groups if they prefer Darn Tough or Smartwool socks. 90% of the votes were for Darn Tough, so I decided to buy a pair from Amazon (which has 5 stars). After doing some research, I bought the Men's 1/4 Merino Wool Cushion Hiking socks. I have big feet (women's 10, and men's fit my wide feet). I normally hike in ankle socks, but for backpacking I like a little higher to keep my socks from slipping down past my ankles. Two of the biggest reasons I decided to buy Darn Tough over Smartwool were because they are made in Vermont, and offer a Lifetime Guarantee on each pair of socks.
The Wind Caves Trail is located in Logan Canyon about 1.5 hours northeast of SLC. We were looking for something new & different to hike, and I had heard of these caves before from friends. Our plan was to make a day trip of it, and hike this trail and one across the road called The Crimson Trail, which gets you above the China Wall. I also wanted to stop at one of my favorite outdoor sports store, Camp Saver. CampSaver.com is an online gear store, however their physical store is located just before you reach Logan in Nibley, UT. Anything you buy in store gives you an extra 20% discount on everything. Plus, they are super knowledge able and can help you find the perfect gear for any adventure.