Uinta Backpacking Trip

This past weekend I went to the Uinta Mountains with my friends Lisa and Jon. We chose to backpack the Naturalist Basin trail that starts from the Mirror Lake Trailhead in the Uinta’s. It was a 13 mile out and back trail or a 16-18 mile loop (depending on how much you explore the lakes). We drove about 2 hours to the trailhead Saturday morning and started hiking around 10:30am. We hiked for about 5 hours and stopped to set up camp at Blue Lake along the loop. The first picture below was about 2 miles in where there was forest fire damage from last summer. It was crazy to see the aftermath in person. The first 6 miles of the trail had gradual elevation change, and last 2 miles were steep to get to the top where the lakes were. We camped 8 miles in and had the whole area to ourselves!

After setting up camp we explored the area and surrounding lakes. We got hit with a rain storm right after dinner, but it ended right when sunset started. We soaked that in and had a bonfire and stargazed to end the night. We were so exhausted from hiking and got a full nights sleep to rest up for the rest of the hike.

On Sunday we hiked the rest of the loop and saw about 5 more lakes and a few waterfalls! It was a beautiful area and I’m glad we did the whole loop hike. The hardest part was the last 2 miles that were a gradual uphill. We ended up hiking about 10 miles Sunday and we were so tired on the car ride home. But it was definitely worth the 18 mile hike for all of the beautiful views and lakes we saw! This was my favorite hike so far in the Uinta Mountains and I can’t wait to explore more!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grand Teton Camping Trip

This past weekend Matt and I road tripped to Grand Teton National Park with our friends Katie and Sam! We have been wanting to camp together for a while and a weekend finally worked out for both of us. We left Friday after work and drove back Sunday afternoon, so we made the 5 hour drive worth it! I’ve been to this park twice but have never camped in the park, so that was a new adventure!

Friday night we got there around 11pm and found a BLM public camp spot for free near the park. We set up camp quickly in the dark and got a good nights sleep for a full day of hiking Saturday. We tried out a new hike on the far south end of the park called Death Canyon. It’s a 10 mile, 2500 ft of elevation change hike that has everything to offer! The first mile takes you to the Phelps Lake overlook, and then you go down a few hundred feet of elevation to get to the lake.

After you pass the lake, you start hiking up Death Canyon to an amphitheater at the top. The canyon follows a rushing river with mini waterfalls and wildflowers all the way up. It was gradual the whole way up and the views up and down the canyon were amazing. We ate lunch along the river at the top with mountains completely surrounding us. It was my favorite hike I’ve done in this park and I would highly recommend! The hardest part was the elevation climb on the way back to get to the lake overlook, but it was worth the views! The hike took us about 6 hours and we grilled dinner right at the parking lot after. There were two bear sightings on the hike by others that passed us on the way out but we didn’t see any.

That evening we spent grabbing drinks at Snake River Brewery and Cowboy Bar downtown Jackson. We caught the most epic sunset behind the Teton Range while a storm was rolling in on our way back to camp. We got rained on that night and a little during the hike, but it wasn’t too bad and kept the hike pretty empty!

On Sunday we made breakfast at camp and decided to do a shorter and more leisurely hike on our last day. We took the shuttle boat across Jenny Lake and hiked to hidden falls and back to the trailhead. It was about a 3 mile hike with less than 1000 ft of elevation for the 1 way hike. The temperatures were warm and intense with the elevation so we were glad we took it easy! We stopped at Mormon Row and the Chapel of the Transfiguration on our way out of the park. We also got Raspberry Shakes in Bear Lake, they were totally worth it. It was such a fun trip and I’m so glad the guys got to experience the park for the first time. Can’t wait to go back next year and backpack the Tetons!

 

 

 

Montana Backpacking Trip

After a year of living in Utah, Matt and I finally went on our first ever backpacking trip alone last weekend! He suggested we visit Montana to escape the 100 degree temps in Salt Lake and we also got to visit a friend of his in Bozeman. It was a 6 hour drive, so we spent Friday night exploring the city and got up early Saturday to drive to our hike in Big Sky, the ski town about 30 min away.

LAVA LAKE

We hiked to Lava Lake and it was a beautiful hike all the way up. The trail had a rushing river alongside tons of greenery and pine trees. Each way was about 3 miles and 1600 ft of elevation change, which was perfect with our backpacks on. We spent most of the day exploring around the lake, fly fishing, and setting up camp. We found a quiet spot with a lake and sunset view, and made dinner right on the water. The water temp was a little too cold to jump in, but we saw plenty of swimmers cliff jump. The views and lake were unlike anything we’ve ever seen out west and we were so happy with our decision to visit this area of Montana. It was great to be on our own schedule and just get to talk about our future together. We brought our bear spray and hung up our food in a far away tree just in case a bear came through, but we didn’t end up seeing any, whew!

The hike down was very relaxing and we had a nice 6 hour drive home. We stopped at Panera in Idaho on the way home and realized I missed it so much from the Midwest! It was so yummy after a weekend of ramen, oatmeal, and instant mashed potatoes haha.  Overall it was an amazing trip and I can’t to be back in the winter to ski Big Sky with our Ikon passes!

Skydiving & Backpacking Lake Blanche

A few weekends ago I had a girls weekend with my friends Kelly and Kristin! Kelly flew in from Phoenix, and we started the weekend celebrating Kristin’s birthday Friday night at Purgatory bar in Salt Lake.

On Saturday morning we woke up early to go skydiving! We drove about 45 min west of Salt Lake to Toole, UT where Skydive Utah is located. We got checked in and watched the other sky divers take off and land before it was our turn. We got into our suits and harnesses and met our tandem partners to go over rules and safety before getting on the plane. The plane fit about 20 people and we ascended to 13000 ft before jumping out. The experienced solo jumpers jumped out the door first and that’s when it started feeling real! I was the most scared hanging out of the plane but after we jumped the adrenaline kicked in! We did a couple of flips when we jumped out and then my partner Aaron pulled the first small parachute. From there we were free falling for about 1 minute and I was loving it! The air definitely pushed my cheeks back like you see in pictures and my mouth was dry but the experience was amazing. He took pictures with his Go Pro the whole time to document my facial expressions haha. He pulled the 2nd large parachute after the free fall and it went smoothly! We then coasted above the valley and the Great Salt Lake for about 5 minutes before getting ready to land. That part was my favorite because we could relax, take off our goggles, and soak in the views. It was so beautiful and I’m so glad I did it in Utah! We landed softly on our butts and then I really got to soak it all in with the girls!

After Skydiving we drove back to Salt Lake and had a little down time before backpacking Lake Blanche. We drove about 30 min to the trailhead and got there right after the morning rush had left around 3pm. We hiked 3.5 miles up to the top and set up camp before cooking dinner and watching the sunset. It was so fun to soak in the day and catch up with the girls, we were all still on cloud 9 from the skydiving it was hard to sleep! We woke up early the next morning and had breakfast before packing up camp and hiking back down. We got caught in the rain on the way down but it was really refreshing compared to the heat in the city. We went to Wasatch Brewery after to celebrate a successful hike and then we dropped Kelly off at the airport later that evening. It was an amazing weekend and I’m so thankful there’s so many adventurous things to do near Salt Lake City!

Birthday Weekend – The Narrows at Zion

ZION NATIONAL PARK

This past weekend I celebrated my 26th Birthday with my friends Kristin, Lauren, and Inna in Zion National Park! It was the 2nd time I’ve been to the park, but this time we were able to hike The Narrows. I’ve also hiked Angel’s Landing and Observation Point, and those are so worth it! You can see my previous Zion blog post for that trip. We went Thursday night to Friday night to beat the weekend crowds and it was so worth it! The temps were in the 90’s but we started early in the morning to beat the crowds and heat.

We left our hotel at 6:30am to rent gear before heading into the park. The Zion Adventure Company rents water hiking boots, socks, and hiking poles for $25 just outside the park. It was so worth it to get the gear and get there right when they opened at 7am. We got into the park around 8am and got in line for the shuttle. Since the Narrows is the last stop in the park, we started hiking around 9am. The first half mile to mile is walking on a paved path that is accessible for everyone before getting in the water.

We started with a few other people on our shuttle, but overall the crowds spread out once we were hiking through the river. The temps were in the 70’s and we were shaded from the canyon walls for most of the morning. We hiked about 3.5 hours before taking a break for lunch. There were so many beautiful views and variety of depths to hike through. Some parts were dry, but most of the hike was between ankle deep and  waist deep water. We didn’t bring any valuables besides 1 waterproof phone, car keys, water, food, and an extra layer of clothing just in case we fell in. The water temp was around 60 degrees and it felt great to escape from the heat in the afternoon. We got to the part of the narrows where it split into 2 canyons, and after that the canyon walls got narrower and the current picked up.

After lunch we turned around and that is when the sun was on us and the crowds got more intense the closer we got to the start. We took our time on the way back and swam in the deeper sections when the sun started getting too hot. I loved doing this hike on a week day in the summer, it was so beautiful and comfortable with the hot temps. Overall it was an amazing experience and we couldn’t have asked for a better day at Zion! We finished our trip with dinner at Zion Brewery and drove home!

SALT LAKE

On Saturday I had a birthday get together with our friends in Salt Lake. We hiked to Lake Mary at Brighton (3 miles round trip) and it was the perfect hike for a large group! Most of the snow was melted and it has beautiful views for a shorter hike. The wildflowers were also in bloom, which made the ski resort area so beautiful! We stopped at Hog Wallow pub for a post hike beer, and the patio was perfect for our group! It was an amazing birthday weekend with friends and I am so thankful for our community in Salt Lake!

Grand Teton Girls Weekend

My friends Kaylyn and Lisa from the Midwest flew into Salt Lake in the beginning of June and we made a road trip to the Grand Tetons for their Half Marathon race! We also decided to run the 5K together the night before. We got there Friday afternoon and checked out the race expo before going to our Airbnb before the race. We stayed in Teton Village near the ski resort and it was beautiful! I loved our studio and the location was perfect for the race and the National Park. We ran the 5K that night and the weather was cool and the views were great!

Saturday morning the girls got up around 4am to head to the start line and I met them at the finish. Since the course was along a busy road and on a bike trail there were no spectator spots, but it was fun to see them finish and take pictures at the golf course with beautiful mountain views!

After the race we went to Cafe Genevieve in Downtown Jackson and it was so good! We headed into the National Park and drove to the north end to hike Lakeshore Trail at Jackson Lake. It was a 3 mile hike with a couple hundred feet of elevation change, so perfect for after the race. The beach and views were gorgeous! We also stopped at the Snake River Overlook on our way out of the park. That night we went to dinner at Mangy Moose Saloon in Teton Village and called it a night!

On Sunday we spent most of our day in the National Park and hiked around Jenny Lake Trail and saw Hidden Falls along the way. It was a 7 mile loop trail with about 1000 ft of elevation change. There were a lot of tourists and half marathoners at the waterfall but other than that very few people that hiked the entire route. It was beautiful and right up against the mountain range. There is also a boat shuttle that takes people across the lake if they didn’t want to hike far to the falls. That night we tried Snake River Brewery for dinner and a beer and it was great! We did some shopping downtown and grabbed ice cream to finish off our last night there.

On Monday we had time to do a shorter hike before making the drive back to Salt Lake and the girls had to fly back that evening. We decided to do Bradley & Taggart Lake Trail and it was really pretty! There was still snow at Bradley Lake so it was slippery and we couldn’t get a great view. But we loved the views at Taggart Lake. It ended up being about 6 miles and 900 ft of elevation change with the two lakes combined. Overall we had perfect weather in the 70’s, saw about every wild animal in the area including a bear, elk, deer, and moose, and I can’t wait to go back!

Arches National Park

My friend Brianne from my hometown came to visit Utah this past weekend. We filled the weekend with some hikes around the city and made a spontaneous trip to Arches National Park in Moab! It’s about a 3.5 hour drive each way, and we had time for an 8 mile hike and a couple of lookouts to see the arches along the main road. It’s a beautiful park full of red rock and arches, but very touristy! We are glad we went and checked it off our Utah bucket list.

We decided to do Devil’s Garden Primitive loop trail to make the most of our day in Moab. It’s an 8 mile hike with 1000 ft of elevation change and is very gradual. We were able to see 7 arches along the way, each unique and a different size. It was an 80 degree and sunny day, perfect weather for down south! Later in the season it gets over 100 degrees, so we’re glad we fit in a trip before summer.

We fit in a couple of other hikes while Brianne was visiting, including Bell’s Canyon Reservoir, Avenues Twin Peaks, and Grandeur Peak, each a different view and landscape from southern Utah!

Bell’s Canyon is a 2.5 mile hike with 500 ft of elevation. It’s an easy after work hike and the views are great this time of year! We went Friday right after Brianne got into town.

Avenues Twin Peaks is a 4-5 mile hike with 1000 ft of elevation. There are a few different ways to get to the top, but we took the longer route and the temps and views were perfect this time of year! There were lots of wildflowers blooming as well.

Grandeur Peak is a 7 mile hike with 2800 ft of elevation in Mill Creek Canyon. This time of year was perfect, because almost all of the snow is melted and the temps aren’t too hot. The views of the snow capped mountains at the top were my favorite part. It was worth the tough elevation climb! I would like to try this one again in the early fall to see the trees changing. It was the perfect hike to end our weekend!

Spring in Utah

Spring in Utah has been amazing so far! It’s warm enough to hike near the city and sit on a patio, but cold enough in the mountains to still ski. We finished up our ski season last weekend and while we had so much fun exploring the ski resorts, I am ready for warmth and hiking on the weekends! There is truly no off season in Utah, but we are excited to take a few weekends to rest before the craziness of summer starts. We have found some beautiful places in the city and mountains to enjoy the fresh air and blooms. It is beautiful here year round and we are soaking it in!

SPRING IN THE CITY

The Cherry Blossoms at Capitol Hill are one of my favorite places to visit this spring! My friend Katie and I went to see the blossoms the other weekend and they were gorgeous! We walked all along the outside of the capitol to see the blooms and beautiful views of the city from above. I would highly recommend checking this out soon if you are in Utah!

 

Matt had some college friends Tyler and Mel visit and we took them to the capitol and on a sunset “hike” in the Avenues neighborhood. It was so fun to show them our new city and go on a few hikes as well!

SPRING HIKES

My friends McKenzie, Katie, and I hiked Gobblers Knob the other weekend. It was a gorgeous but snowy hike halfway up Big Cottonwood Canyon. The views were incredible with all of the spring snow we got, but we weren’t prepared with snow shoes. We went up about 1.5 miles before sinking to our hips in the snow every step and turned around. It was a great workout, but we are definitely going to wait until more snow melts before hiking in that high of elevation again! Afterwords we treated ourselves to brunch at Silver Fork Lodge about a mile up the canyon from the trail head. I highly recommend this restaurant; they also have the cutest patio for summertime!

 

As a part of a hiking group we joined, Wasatch Wednesday, our first hike of the season was Mount Van Cott. We joined our friends Katie and Sam on this 3 mile round trip hike in the foothills with 1300 feet of elevation. It was challenging but had lots of switchbacks to help ease the elevation gain. We would recommend this hike in the spring since all of the snow has melted! It was beautiful at sunset as well.

 

Some other Wasatch Wednesday Hikes we’ve done are Heughs Canyon, Mt. Wire, and Rattlesnake Gulch. Heughs Canyon is a 3.5 mile hike with 1900 ft of elevation. Some parts of the trail were steep but overall it was shaded and a great week night hike. The trail head starts in a neighborhood but turns into a wooded trail alongside a creek and leads to a waterfall at the top. To get to the waterfall, you have to cross a wall of boulders but the views at the end were worth it.

Mt. Wire is a 5 mile trail with 2000 ft of elevation change. It is located in the foothills and has a great view of the Wasatch and city at the top. It is a steep climb and took us about 2.5 hours to do. It was muddy and slippery when we went after a rain storm, but worth the climb.

 

Rattlesnake Gulch is a 3.5 mile trail in Mill Creek Canyon with 800 ft of elevation change. The first half of the hike has all of the elevation, then it meets up with the pipeline trail to the city lookout point. This is a great sunset and week night hike!

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Adams Canyon is a 3.5 mile hike with 1400 ft of elevation located north of Salt Lake in Layton. It’s exposed and sunny at the bottom, but becomes shaded and follows the creek to a waterfall at the top. The water was too high for us to access the waterfall without scaling up part of the mountain, so we decided to not hike to it. Our friends did and said it was beautiful, so we will definitely be back in the fall!

Diamond Fork Hot Springs is located in Spanish Folk Canyon about 1 hour south of Salt Lake. It’s 4.5 miles and 600 ft of elevation, a gradual hike with a waterfall and 3 hot springs located at the top. We spent about an hour at the hot springs and they were incredible. The temps were perfect and we got there after a large crowd of people left. Due to limited parking and crowds, I would go early in the morning or at sunset on a weekend.

EASTER

We spent our first Easter as a married couple in Salt Lake, and while it was hard to be away from family in the Midwest, we had a great time celebrating! We had brunch in the morning with our friends Lauren and Derek, and went to our church in the afternoon. They rented a special venue downtown for Easter service, and it was beautiful and uplifting!

 

Escalante Spring Camping Trip

Our friends Katie & Sam planned a camping trip to Southern Utah the last weekend in March. We made the 5 hour road trip from Friday evening and drove back on Sunday afternoon. It was fun to experience Escalante with friends and camp this time instead of staying in the Yurts. We even got to celebrate two of our friends getting engaged! While the camping weather wasn’t ideal (25 degrees overnight), we embraced it and soaked in the sun on our hikes during the day!

Saturday

After getting to camp around 11:30pm and sleeping in below freezing temperatures, we were all trying to warm up and drink all the coffee on Saturday morning. After breakfast we made the short drive to Spooky and Peek-a-boo slot canyons. We hiked the 3 mile loop with our group of 12 and it was a blast! The sun made the hike so warm and I had a great experience hiking these slot canyons for the second time. It came with challenges like climbing down boulders and sneaking through the narrow parts of the canyon.

After eating a quick lunch we kept making our way down the dirt road to Coyote Gulch trailhead. We hiking on the opposite side of the road and made our own path to sunset arch. There was no one around, so it was the perfect time and place for our friends Emma and Davis to get engaged. He proposed on top of the arch (amazing!) and we got to celebrate them with champagne right after. We made our way back to camp after some pictures and had a campfire, dinner, and drinks to celebrate the engagement!

SUNDAY

After a long day of hiking and a 10 degree temperature difference overnight (YAY 35 degrees!) we all slept amazing and were refreshed for our last day. The next morning we packed up camp and headed to our next hike, Lower Calf Creek Falls. It’s a 5 mile hike with little elevation change that leads to a beautiful waterfall! The canyons and views along the trail are incredible as well. We took some pictures and made our way back to the car for a lunch and the long drive home. Overall it was an amazing trip with friends and I can’t wait for more this summer and fall! Next time I’ll be more prepared with layers and warm blankets for overnight. The foot and hand warmers were definitely needed! Thanks to our friends Sam and Katie for planning the whole thing!

Finding Joy from the Outdoors

As a part of the Gratitude and Happiness Committee at work, I was asked to write a blog post on how I’ve connected to nature and how it’s benefited me mentally and physically. I thought I’d share this article on my personal blog too!

This time of year has me feeling grateful for all of the outdoor activities in Utah. How lucky am I to live in a place where it’s possible to explore the mountains any day of the week? The spring is especially my favorite, because I can choose to ski, hike, or road trip to the national parks down south when it comes time for the weekend.

I feel lucky that job opportunities brought my husband and I from the Midwest to Utah. Living close to the mountains and national parks was always a dream of mine, and now it is finally happening. My mental and physical health always improves from being outside, and I love that there is no “off season” in Utah where you’re stuck inside hibernating and waiting for Spring to come. The Wasatch Mountains, Zion, Arches, Canyonlands, Capitol Reef, and Bryce Canyon are among some of the most beautiful places in the world and they are right in our backyard.

In my ten months of living in Utah so far, I’ve been able to see Bryce Canyon, Zion, Escalante, and hike or ski almost every weekend in the Wasatch. I went to Bryce Canyon this past weekend, and it was amazing to see it snow covered and experience what the park has to offer in different seasons. Escalante is a national monument full of slot canyons to explore and waterfalls to see; we went there last fall and stayed in the Yurts and they were so beautiful. I went to Zion in the fall and we did Angel’s Landing and Observation Point hikes. I can’t wait to head back to this park and explore more and see the rest of the national parks in Utah.

My favorite time to hike in the Wasatch has been the fall. The leaves start to change, the crisp feeling in the air, warm layers and the sun shining makes it the perfect escape from the city. Fall is one of my favorite times of year, you can see and feel so much of nature changing around you. Some of my favorite hikes are tucked away in Big and Little Cottonwood canyons and the hiking scenery and weather is perfect during September and October. Utah has such an amazing variety of places where you can check out all the changing colors and different trees as well. Some of my favorite hikes so far are Lake Blanche, Red and White Pine Lake, Lake Mary at Brighton, and Cecret Lake at Alta. I love hiking after work, and for those hikes I tend to stick to the foothills or behind the Avenues neighborhood so that I can fit in a quick hike before dinner and sunset. I also joined a hiking group this year that will take group hikes once a week after work in the Spring through Fall; it’s a great way to meet new people and explore new parts of the Wasatch!

No matter how short or long I hike, just getting outside makes life so much happier! I feel so much joy from exercising and being outside, and Utah makes it so easy to do those things. I felt especially joyful during the winter this year, which has not always been the case living in the Midwest. I was able to ski every weekend with my Brighton ski pass and some weekdays with the Clearlink ski passes. My favorite resorts have been Alta, Deer Valley, Park City/Canyons, and Snowbasin. Something else I do to get fresh air during the work day all year long is take a walk outside at lunch. Just a 15 min break and fresh air can make a big difference with my energy levels in the afternoon!

There are so many beautiful places to explore near Salt Lake and in Utah, and I am so thankful to live here and be able to share it with friends and family. The mountains truly make me feel grateful and happy. With Earth Day coming up on April 22nd, I hope you’re able to get outside and appreciate this beautiful place we live in.