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Gear Review: Skhoop Mini Down Skirt, best down skirts, hiking skirts

Skhoop (pronounced like scoop), was founded in 1999 by Sissi Kewenter in Sweden - flash forward a few years later and Skhoop expanded into North America in 2007. Skhoop specializes in comfortable, feminine winter clothing for any outdoor activity. The insulated skirt is the most popular product, however over the years they've grown to include various lengths of skirts, jackets, vests, and socks. As the times have changed so has their fabric, adding in PrimaLoft, down, and GORE.

Lodging Review: Circle D Hotel, Escalante , Utah

Circle D Motel is located in the heart of Escalante, Utah - an outdoor lovers paradise for hiking to slot canyons, canyoneering, backpacking, and exploring natural arches off Hole in the Rock Road. The area is rich with history and beautiful scenery, which is apart of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (GSENM). My dog and I come here to explore the trails, but sometimes it's too cold for camping, especially in winter. That's when we call up Circle D to make sure we have a warm, welcoming room when we arrive tired and dirty from exploring outside.

Hiking to Deer Creek Lakes, Boulder Mountain, Hiking on Boulder Mountain, Utah

Deer Creek Lakes sits high on Boulder Mountain at 10,000 ft, and several other nearby lakes are accessible as well including Green, Chriss, and Mooseman Lakes. All of these lakes provide for an excellent day hike, quick overnight backpacking trip, and plenty of fishing and sightseeing. The trail to get to Deer Lake is only 2.8 miles one way, and is fairly easy and flat. Over the 3 miles you only gain about 700 ft, making it a gently incline the whole way. Keep in mind that you will be hiking at a high elevation, and that can often slow hikers and dogs down. Take your time - the views from Deer Lakes is amazing and well worth the effort.

Hiking to The Citadel Ruins, Cedar Mesa, Ruins in Utah, Bears Ears National MonumentThe Citadel Ruins sit high above Road Canyon in Cedar Mesa & Bears Ears National Monument. This easy 2 mile trail leads you to one of the most impressive and well-preserved ruins in the area, that both dogs and kids can hike to as well. A citadel is a fortress that commands a city and used in defense during an attack. It leaves you to wonder, what could the Puebloan's have possibly been trying to defend themselves from? Other Native Americans? These ruins are close to 800 years old, and we'll never really know the answer to this, nor the reason the inhabitants disappeared.

Hiking to the Seven Kivas Ruin via Shortcut Route

The Seven Kivas Ruin is located in Cedar Mesa, off Cigarette Springs Road. A kiva is a subterranean ceremonial chamber, and have been central to Native spiritual traditions since ancient times. The interesting thing about kivas, is that one of them could serve a single family. To have seven kivas in one area meant this site was used for something very sacred. There are very few ruins in this area, so when a ceremony would happen, families would have to travel far to reach this site. The other interesting part is that these kivas are located under a shallow, exposed alcove - exposed to the harsh weather conditions. In the bottom of each kiva was a sipapu, or small hole or depression which symbolized the portal through which the original humans first entered the world. 

Exploring the Comb Ridge Canyons & Ruins, Cedar Mesa

Comb Ridge is a 90-mile long Navajo sandstone ridge (or monocline) running North to South, and is home to many ancestral ruins and petroglyphs that date back around 800 years old. Comb Ridge itself has a gentle eastern facing slopes, while the west side has "teeth" that jut out and above the ridge line. Each of these "teeth" contain drainages that lead to the San Juan River. The Puebloans' lived, farmed in this area, and left behind a massive amount of ruins and artifacts. Drought, overpopulation, diminishing resources, erosion, and conflict eventually brought an end to this era.

Hiking to Castle Rock, Stansbury Island

Castle Rock (6,649 ft) is the highest summit on Stansbury Island, just West of Salt Lake City. It's the second largest island in the Great Salt Lake, and was named after Howard Stansbury who led the expedition in the area. Stansbury Island is a fun geological feature as well - it is dotted with shale, limestone, and dolomite rock. A large part of the island is private property, and used by cattle ranchers. It's very important to stay out of the private area -it is routinely watched by land owners and crossing into that area serves a large fine. Hiking this route to Castle Rock will keep you out of the private land, so you can still make the summit to this desert-like peak.

Soaking at Crystal Hot Springs, Hot Springs in Utah

Crystal Hot Springs is a natural hot springs in Northern Utah that ranges from 120-134 degrees F. The swimming pools are regulated so that you can soak in a range of temperatures from 98-105F. Crystal Hot Springs also contains the highest mineral content found in the world! It has roughly 46,000 mg/L - the average hot spring has closer to 1,000 mg/L. You'll notice this mineral content, as you lick your lips or wipe your hands over your face - it's very salty tasting. Get ready to soak in a 22,000 year old hot spring!

 

Backpacking Halls Creek Narrows, Capitol Reef National Park

Hiking Halls Creek Narrows is located within Capitol Reef National Park, only a few miles North from Lake Powell. This area of the park sits between the high cliffs of Hall Mesa on the East, and the Waterpocket Fold on the West. As you backpack towards Halls Creek Drainage (aka Grand Gulch), you'll be surrounded by red, white, and orange slick rock, all while hiking through a mostly sandy trail. The trail is easy to follow, and you can't really get lost as you aim South for 9.3 miles. However, there are plenty of side slot canyons to explore as well.