Backpacking The Little Grand Canyon – San Rafael Swell, Utah

The Little Grand Canyon is an amazing overnight backpacking trip that is perfect for people looking for a fairly easy trip that wanders through one of Utah’s best scenes. The San Rafael River starting from Fuller Bottom is a popular spot for boaters to put in and typically do a single day float of the river, but we’re going to talk about backpacking the canyon in this post.

Below you’ll find some quick info on the best season to hike this, distance, and other important sources. Then you’ll read further to see a Day 1 and Day 2 explanation of the hike and what you can expect during your hike.

Season: Best done in early to late spring, and early fall. Avoid going June through August as temps are extreme and the river may be flowing at a rate that would be unsafe to ford.
Mileage/Time: Total miles to hike from the Fuller Bottom trailhead to the trailhead near the Swinging Bridge is 15.25 miles. You will split this in two, with day one being 7 miles or so, and day two being about 8 miles.
Where To Camp: Your best option for camping is at the mouth of Virgin Spring Canyon, located 7 miles from the Fuller Bottom trailhead. You’ll have to ford the river to get into Virgin Canyon, but there are two or three great, flat, established camp spots, big enough for groups of 6-8 people.
Waste Disposal: The Little Grand Canyon is located on BLM Land and does not have restrictions on human waste disposal. But please practice Leave No Trace principles and dig cat holes, carry out your toilet paper, and do your business 200 feet from any water source.
Water Availability: You can always filter water from the San Rafael as needed. It is typically murky water and will quickly plug up any filter. Your best water source is located at the end of Virgin Spring Canyon, where you’ll find a large pool and fresh water. Be sure as always to use a filter or chemical drops to treat the water. Cattle typically graze in these canyons or Utah.
Shuttle: Most people do this hike from point A to point B. Point A being Fuller Bottom, and then finishing at the trailhead below Swinging Bridge at the mouth of Buckhorn Wash. You will need to plan to leave a car at the Swinging Bridge Trailhead, then shuttle up to Fuller Bottom.

 DSC06040

Route Description:

Day 1: Plan to hike 7 miles this day to make it to Virgin Spring Canyon, so an early start is good to make sure you get the shuttle taken care of before you begin your hike. The Nat Geo Trails Illustrated map is not totally correct as far as where it shows the Fuller Bottom Trailhead. See rest of description for info.

Begin your hike at the small parking lot on your left where the Fuller Bottom road approaches the San Rafael River. There is a trail register box there tat is used by hikers and boaters. Reset your GPS and start walking down the jeep road. You will cross the river after about a 1/4 mile, make sure you stay on the Jeep road as it will allow you to avoid bushwhacking through tamarisk and following cow trails.

Follow the Jeep road for about one mile, it will begin to climb uphill and seem as though you are walking away from the river and canyon. In the distance as you are walking south, you’ll see a red sign with some torn up maps on it. This is where you will turn east (left) where you will begin walking towards the canyon. The trail is easy to follow at this point as it begins to drop into the canyon.

Be sure to look for a small pictograph panel that is easy to miss on your left about 3 miles into your hike from the trailhead. About half a mile past that on your right is an old mine. To the left of a small side canyon you’ll see a trail going up to a hole in some light yellow colored rock with a bunch or yellow tailings. There is also remains of a log cabin with tin cans around this area, but we were unable to find it. As you continue walking down the canyon you will ford the river several times. Make sure to check the current flow rate via USGS. If the river is running higher than 60 CFS, then crossing the river will be difficult, and possibly dangerous.

As you approach Virgin Spring Canyon you will be on the wrong side of the river and will need to cross the river to get into Virgin Spring Canyon. About 5 minutes up Virgin Spring on your right is a very nice pictograph panel about 15 feet above you. If you walk in the wash it’s easy to miss, but follow the trail on the west side of the canyon as you walk up will lead you to a sign that says to not deface the rock. Another 5-10 minutes up Virgin Canyon you’ll come to a dry fall where a large pool of water is located. This is your best source for water and should be your refill for the remainder of the trip, unless you choose to filter water from the river.

Virgin Spring Canyon has seen a bit of graffiti and people being careless about their trash. Please pick up any trash you see, and be a steward by practicing Leave No Trace principles. Virgin Spring Canyon has two or three nice spots to camp and this is your best option since it’s so close to a good water source.

Day 2: Make sure you are all stocked up on water and begin making your way down the canyon. There is supposed to be another pictograph panel just before you make the hard right turn on the river and start walking south toward Cane Wash. Cane Wash is also supposed to have decent camping and another pictograph panel located up the wash. We did not look for it on this most recent trip. You will cover about 8 miles this day to the car. The last 3.5 miles are dry and you no longer have to ford the river. Be prepared for a couple steep climbs, but nothing too aggressive.

Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.51.50 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.52.22 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.52.49 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.53.08 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.53.28 AM Screen Shot 2016-06-20 at 10.58.47 AM

Advertisements

Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost 2 Hammock Review

What do you think about when you hear the word Hammock? It’s probably coupled with words like solitude, relaxing, and comfort. Hammocks seem to be on the rise as a great backpacking addition or replacement to a traditional tent. All over YouTube you’ll find outdoor gear channels talking about camping with a hammock and how to sleep comfortably in a hammock. Are all hammock’s the same? Will you get the same level of comfort from any hammock you choose?

These and other questions are something to think hard about when it comes to whether or not your body is going to be able to recover after many miles of hiking. Here at Backcountry Exposure, we’ve been doing a lot of research on the various popular hammock systems available. We’ve been able to spend time with a few options, and have set our hearts on the Wildhorn Outfitters Outpost Hammocks and the included Litespeed Suspension System. For the price and what is included, you just cannot beat the setup that Wildhorn has put together.

Lets face the facts here people. A camping/backpacking hammock made from nylon is the standard across all companies whether it’s Hennessy, ENO, Grand Trunk or any other. They all feature high quality triple stitching at the seams, and have a gathered end with a loop of some kind of cordage or dynema material with a biner or loop system. Then there’s various tree strap suspension systems that are available, whether it’s simple 1 inch webbing you purchase on your own, or sophisticated straps like the Atlas straps from ENO. All of the options on the market though don’t hold a candle to the ease of use and simplicity that is the Litespeed System.

The Litespeed tree straps and suspension system is so easy to use it takes what feels like seconds to setup. The gathered end of the hammock is put together with Amsteel and wrapped around a metal cinch buckle. 200 pound rated nylon straps, 11 feet in length are fed through the buckle making it a simple grab and pull to tighten. So easy that you may question if you did it right, but don’t worry, it’s right and it’s awesome!

The Outpost hammocks come in two sizes, the Outpost 1 a single and the Outpost 2 a double. Both of them are 11 feet in length but are different in width, with the Outpost 2 being 6’4″ wide, it’s plenty big for two people to hang, or for sleeping.

If it we’re me buying a new hammock or my first time buying a hammock, my recommendation would be the Outpost before looking at any other options. It’s a great product at a great price!

Arcteryx Gamma LT Hoody – Gear Review

I feel like I say this all the time, but having good, high quality gear, makes all the difference when going, hiking, camping, or backpacking. There are endless options for outerwear for the outdoor enthusiast, but few companies are capable of creating outerwear the way that Arcteryx does. In this review, we introduce the Arcteryx Gamma LT Hoody, a light weight, breathable technical softshell, perfect for your everyday outdoor activities. 
I recently bought this jacket to add to my ever growing list of technical jackets. Arcteryx is a brand i’ve known for a long time, but have not owned until this year. But I am overly impressed by the jacket and know that it will be one of m favorite for a long time. 
Some specifics about the Gamma LT Hoody that make it a quality jacket. The Gamma LT has a really nice brushed soft shell fabric that creates a high level of durability, that also gives confidence that the jacket will last a long time. Arcteryx has made some improvements to the sleeves and created a nice stretch gusset that stays tight around a pair of gloves, but allows for proper stretch. No need to worry about a velcro sleeve to keep tight around the wrist. 
The hood of the Gamma LT is also very well designed. Large enough to wear with a helmet on for ice climbing, but incorporates the proper elements to make the hood fit snug on the head when not wearing a helmet. The Gamma is also the perfect soft shell for layering a light weight synthetic or down jacket underneath for added warmth. 
Really, the Gamma LT Hoody is the perfect soft shell, that will not only keep you dry, but will protect you from the wind, and it looks good. I mean, you gotta look good when out in the backcountry, right?!

11k With May – A Family Expedition – Jan 2016

Looking south at Provo Peak from the Cascade Sadle

The Wasatch Mountain Range that towers over the Salt Lake Valley and Utah Valley may seem like something that just sits to the east and holds the best skiing on earth, but there’s more to them than meets the eye.

Although not as tall as the famous fourteeners of the Colorado Rockies, the Wasatch Range holds many technical and prominent peaks that are incredibly rewarding. One of these peaks/mountains contains some of the busiest trailheads in the area. Mount Timpanogos has a prominence of over 5000 feet and towers over Utah Valley, and may be one of the busiest mountains in the states. With a total elevation of 11,753 feet, it’s a test piece for the average hiker to see what they are made of. On any given weekend in the summer, dozens to even hundreds of people are seen on the summit and trails of this peak. But Timpanogos is just one of over 30 peaks along the Wasatch Front that exceed 11,000 feet. Some may only see a couple people on the summit each year, but the level of solitude found just a few minutes from the front door makes the Wasatch Range a coveted peak baggers dream.

On October 8th, 2015 my wife and I welcomed our beautiful daughter, Maylin, into the world. Katie and I in our life together have always made getting into the backcountry a priority. Now that we have a family, we have made sure that the added effort and time to get into the mountains doesn’t stop us from that passion we share. Quickly we talked about a goal that we could do as a family to prove that we can conquer the complacency of not getting out, and in the same breath, create a memory for our little family.

Although still in the planning phase, as soon as the snow begins to die off, we will begin our ascent of the many peaks in the Wasatch. The best way to follow the adventure will be here on this blog and also through video on the Backcountry Exposure Youtube Channel.

Last Child In The Woods – 11k With May

What’s trending… How do we remove ourselves from the hustle and bustle, screen time, and our constant need to be connected. Steve Jobs may have been the mastermind behind the iPhone, but indirectly, was also the mastermind behind the mobile screen addict, or as Louis C.K. put it, the “forever empty”. We have a constant need to be connected and when alone, we find ourselves instantly looking for gratification from our cell phone. Im guilty of it, we’re all guilty of it. Like Wall-E, technology will inevitably make us more and more lazy. It’s already happening, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find ways to disconnect and be present with our families and ourselves.

Recently i’ve been inspired to make a change in myself. This year, James Lawrence aka, The Iron Cowboy, completed 50 Iron Man’s in 50 days in 50 states. Obviously a true feat of human endurance, and he’s inspired a lot of people to set goals that seem crazy, but push the mind to its limits. But what does that mean for me? Let me give you some background.

I grew up in a family that loved being in the outdoors. We camped many times a year as a family, and I attribute my love and passion for the outdoors to my parents for those experiences. I also had an amazing friend and mentor at a young age that also took me camping that helped me discover why I loved being outside. I was just like any other 90’s kid. I played Nintendo to my hearts desire, I had a TV in my bedroom, I sat on my floor and played with Lego’s. But I didn’t have 2015 technology at my fingertips either. I am sure my childhood would have been a little different had there been iPhones and 2015 technology. With all of those distractions though, I loved being outside. I spent many summer days with my brothers fishing along the Provo River, riding my bike all over, and building forts in an empty lot down the street from my house. I loved being outside!

A few years ago I read a book called, Last Child In The Woods. In quick words, the author talks about how we’re slowly losing our ability to appreciate the outdoors and how we as a society have made excuses for not allowing ourselves and children to play outdoors. Slowly we have become the inside people. We fear being outside, and we fear each other. Sending my child outside to play is viewed as dangerous now. Really, it’s pathetic and ridiculous how sensitive we as people have become to each other and what we do with our lives. The lack of authentic social interaction is quickly deteriorating into self absorbed personalities that don’t know how to communicate and disconnect from devices that keep us from being natural humans, a natural need to play. But this begs the question, will it ever change? Will society ever go back to what we knew in the 90’s and before? I have to argue, that no it will never be the same again. So instead of sitting around complaining about it, make a decision to change and be different from society. Let your kids go outside and play,

Which that then leads me to my commitment. I spoke about The Iron Cowboy briefly. I’ve had the opportunity to spend a little bit of time with him and his family at Momentum Climbing in Lehi, where I work. James and his family have been spending some time at Momentum each week as a new activity for their family to do. In many people’s minds, he’s like this super human that no other person can touch. He’s become a celebrity. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t a person. He had to make a choice to be who he is, and work hard to accomplish the goals that he set.

For the last year, my wife and I have been looking forward to bringing a child into our home. We’re excited to be a family and excited for the new adventure. With an adventure like this, comes a dedication to new goals and lifestyle. I’ve been pretty unhappy with my level of activity over the last year, and from the outside it appears as though i’ve been fairly active. Katie and I had one of the best summers of our time together, and I was able to get some backpacking in that I have been wanting to do for a long time. We loved all of the time spent adventuring this summer. But part of that was because we knew this baby is coming and we wanted to get some trips in, just the two of us.

This has caused me to reevaluate my level of activity, and make some goals that involve keeping my family active. I know that a baby is going to be a difficult change for our family. This little girl is going to be our world though. We’ve been looking forward to this moment for a long time, and now that she is here, we’re just smitten.

So here’s my commitment, to myself and to my family. Just because it’s hard, or inconvenient, doesn’t mean it won’t be worth it. I want to be the person and father that my children look up to as a mentor and as someone that inspired them to try hard things, and take chances on life.
I want Maylin to see being in the mountains her way of decompressing, enjoying life, and escaping the hustle and bustle. I want to see her love being in the sun, seeing wildlife in their natural habitat, cherishing simple moments of solitude only found when deep in the backcountry.

Before Maylin turns 1, Katie and I have a goal to summit all of the 11,000 foot peaks in the Wasatch Range. That’s 36 peaks in total. We are calling this adventure, 11k With May and will be captured through video and blog posts as we accomplish the goal.

The moral here is, get out and enjoy the outdoors! Make goals and achieve them! Teach yourself and your kids the good that comes from being active and spending time in the backcountry.

Backpacking Essentials – Backcountry Exposure Youtube Series

One of my favorite things about backpacking is the preparation that comes with the anticipation for a trip. I remember getting prepared for my trip down The Paria River with a school class. That trip involved a lot of planning, preparation and mental preparation. Knowing how to get ready for backpacking experiences is vital to whether or not you enjoy yourself out on the trail. 
This has lead me to create a series of videos to share with you all about the Essentials of Backpacking. Everything from gear to use, what to buy, and even the ethics behind being a good person in the backcountry. I love to share my knowledge with people and look forward to seeing the evolution of this series. It will primarily be contained on my Youtube Channel, but I will update with each video here as well. 

Uinta Mountains In The Fall – Mirror Lake Highway Adventures

Fall is easily my favorite time of the year. Seeing the changing colors of the trees and watching the earth change as it gets colder is something that has always fascinated me. I find my excitement for being in the mountains goes out of control when that first touch of cold hits. 
Three weeks ago, my wife and I welcomed our beautiful little girl into the world. Maylin has become our world and we are beyond excited to share our love for the outdoors with her. 
A few days ago we made an impromptu decision to jump in the Jeep and go for a drive up the Mirror Lake Highway. We thought we would also go for a hike if the weather was good enough, but that quickly changed as we watched the temperature drop slowly as we drove higher and higher. So instead of hiking, we stayed in the car and made some stops along the way.
Mirror Lake Highway is a great place to go for easy access to great day hikes, beautiful overlooks, and an opportunity to see wildlife. One of the more popular locations to stop at is Provo River Falls.
There is a nice view point that overlooks the falls, but you can walk down to the water with ease and dip your feet in the water to cool off on a hot summer day. 
After stopping at Provo River Falls, keep driving east and you’ll start gaining elevation quickly, and you come to my favorite place on the highway. Bald Mountain Pass sits at just over 10,500 feet and is one of the highest places in Utah you can drive your car. Make sure to stop at the pass and take in the view looking west. If it’s a nice clear day you can see the East face of Mount Timpanogos. 
There’s no doubt that the Uinta Mountains are a great getaway. Whether it’s for a multi day backpack trip or a day driving in the car. It’s just nice to get out and enjoy. 

Great Utah Car Camping – Buckhorn Wash

Have you ever spent hours trying to find the best place to go camping for the weekend? We do that on occasion at our house. We will try to plan a trip and sometimes we just get overwhelmed because there are so many places to go. You’re about to read into a series of posts that will cover some of Utah’s best car camping places.

Great car camping in Utah is really just minutes to hours away from your home. Especially if you live in Salt Lake or Utah counties. Within three hours of Salt Lake you can be in the desert, high in the mountains of the Uintas, or even up one of the Cottonwood canyons, enjoying a nice night under the stars.

Our first great car camping in Utah, is Buckhorn Wash. Located in the north end of the San Rafael Swell, Buckhorn Wash or Draw, whichever you want to call it, is a car camping paradise. From Price, you drive south on highway 10 towards Castle Dale. Before you get to Castle Dale, take a left and you will enter BLM land for the San Rafael Swell.

Buckhorn Wash is most popular for the large Pictograph panel that can easily be accessed by a car. The road is really nice going in, and it’s only 30 minutes from Castle Dale. The panel is easily one of the largest pictograph panels in Utah. People will take day trips to go see the panel, or you can camp over night in one of the really nice camping spots.

Part of the reason I love Buckhorn so much is because I spent several days there as a child, with my family camping. Buckhorn Wash does have a camp ground you can set up camp at, but it’s honestly not the best camping. The wash is about 10 miles long, and the campground is located at the Swinging Bridge where the wash meets the San Rafael River. The camp ground can be buggy and extremely hot during the summer months. So I recommend camping in one of the several spots along the road in the wash. Be careful when you decide to go down though, because some weekends can be packed full of trailers, and large groups of people. I suggest going down during the early days of the week.

What is there to do in Buckhorn Wash?
There are some good hikes that you can go on in the wash. There is a canyon called Calf Canyon that has a good half day of hiking. You can spend some time at the Swinging Bridge and play in the San Rafael River. We love to take our dog down to the river to cool off. You can take a drive out of the wash up to the Wedge overlook. The Wedge often gets the nickname, Little Grand Canyon, as you’ll see in a photo, it really has that appearance. You can then go take a drive to the Pictograph Panel and see the amazing pictographs left by the Indians.

We love Buckhorn because it’s a great place to get away, avoid large crowds of people, and be in a beautiful place. I highly recommend it.

 Great camping about 8 miles from the wash turn off
 Great place to take your dog!

 We love to take our guns and shoot to our hearts desire

 Swinging Bridge

 Bottle Neck Peak

View from The Wedge Overlook

Hiking The Paria River – Buckskin Gulch – March 2015

“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and and above the clouds.” 
Edward Abbey
The Paria River Canyon is an area of Utah/Arizona that i’ve always wanted to visit, but never took the leap to make it down there. You hear about Buckskin Gulch all the time and how beautiful it is. Well I finally got the chance to go after putting in a suggestion to one of my school professors. I am a student at Utah Valley University studying Outdoor Recreation Management. This class that I took is an Outdoor Leadership class, focused on teaching leadership skills and group management in the field. A challenge I was looking forward to. 
This class involves a six day backpacking trip during the month of March. I was beyond excited about going on this long of a trip. 
The Route: Whitehouse Trailhead south to Lee’s Ferry
Day 1 – We arrived at the trailhead and would spend the first night at the trailhead. We had a few hours to kill before we needed to setup beds for the night and get ready for the first few miles of hiking in the morning. We played Bocci Ball next to the river and threw rocks at sticks. You know, what all people do to kill time.

Day 2 – The adventure begins. Adventure is the right word for this day because a lot happened on the first day of hiking. We had a lot of ground to cover, as the first night on the trail would be at the confluence of Buckskin Gulch and the Paria River. The water level at this time of year was at an abnormally high level. The week prior to our departure, the water discharge level at Lee’s Ferry was over 200 cubic feet per second. In other words, too high for anyone to hike down. Water level when we got there was mostly never above our knees at the highest, and we were prepared however for lots of time in the water. 
Our first ten seconds on the trail involved a river crossing, and over the next mile we either crossed the river at least eight times, or walked in the water cause the walls of the canyon were surrounded by sloppy mud. The mud would become our enemy for the next four days. After several miles we entered the narrows of the canyon. In some areas of the canyon, the walls are maybe ten feet apart from each other. A truly beautiful sight!
By this time it was getting later into the afternoon, the time we call the witching hour (5pm) was soon approaching. We entered a spot of the trail where we had to truly get wet. 
Excuse the language – it was cold and miserable!

We had hiked almost 11 miles at this point in the day and we were tired and cold from being in the narrows of the canyon for so long. Through much of the narrows we were hiking in water up to mid thigh and then we came to a section where we had no choice but to get wet. A depth we referred to as nipple deep. I went through and was soaked, and the remaining seven of us all had to go through too. If you’ve never been in a situation like that, then it’s hard to understand. This is a level of discomfort and moral destroyer like no other. The water temperature in the canyon at this point was maybe 40 degrees. This is where everything changed.

We started hiking as fast as we could to get to the confluence of Buckskin and see if we could camp in the one spot that is a few hundred yards up Buckskin Gulch. About 1/4 mile from the confluence, Betsy, our professor lost her balance after one of her trekking poles sunk into the mud. She took a full on swim and was wet from head to toe. Once we got to the confluence, the water and wind coming down the canyon was so incredibly cold. One of the people in our group had a thermometer and dipped it in the water. It was 34 degrees! Luckily the one camp spot was available and we dropped our packs and stripped down to get into some dry clothes, get warm and cook dinner. What was one of the most amazing days of hiking, was also one of the most miserable and cold experiences of my life.

Day 3 – This class two years prior to this trip, went on this exact same trip, and the plan for day 3 is to not cover as many miles because the plan is to hike up Buckskin Gulch to the rock fall a few miles up the canyon. We got up, and to be honest, the thought of taking off nice warm thermals and putting my wet shorts and wet cold shoes back on was far from anything any of us wanted to do. Once we had packed up camp we as a group decided that we would try to hike up Buckskin. Now you should know that most of the time, there is no water running through Buckskin. It’s for the most part a dry canyon unless there’s been a lot of rain and later in the year is better to hike Buckskin. There however was shin height water running down the canyon and it was soooo cold! I know I sound like im complaining a lot, but it was something i’ll never forget.

We started hiking up Buckskin and within minutes we couldn’t even feel our feet. It was apparent we weren’t going to make it very far up the canyon. We came to a spot where it got super narrow and we used a trekking pole to see how deep the hole was. We were unable to find the bottom of the hole with the pole. So instead of going swimming again, we opted to turn around and start heading back down the Paria and see if we could find some sun to soak up.

This section of the Paria is probably the most beautiful given the features that are in this layer of rock. The walls are incredibly narrow, and the hiking is amazing. Because there was so much water in this section, we had to hike in the water for several miles, with an occasional rocky/muddy shore to get out of the cold water. We planned to hike five miles this day and camp at the next reliable spring.

One of the students, Smitty, in this section was hiking close to the side of the wall and ended up getting stuck in some quick sand, which also meant he went swimming up to his chest. A great way to start the day.

After covering the miles needed, it was time for us to find a place to camp. We had been hiking kind of in a slingshot method with a group of guys that were down there. They found a place to camp before us, and it would have been ideal for a large group. But we pushed on a little further to an area that was in the sun. Dropped our packs and started cooking dinner.

Lots of water in Buckskin Gulch
Found a low spot of water in Buckskin

Sections like this were fun because you never knew how deep the water was, or where the holes were.

Days 4-6
The canyon starts to open up at this point. There are still really tall walls, but we had left the narrow sections and the layers of sandstone start to change by this point. On this day we dropped our packs when we got to what’s called, The Abandoned Meander, which is a small canyon that the river at one point ran through, but doesn’t any more. This little canyon was absolutely beautiful and is worth the trek up into it. There’s really beautiful, lush vegetation and at the right time of day, it glows from the sun.

The hiking at this point in the trip was just tiring. My shins and the muscles right below my shins were beyond sore. We had crossed the river probably 100 times by now and each day started off with a river crossing. What a way to start the day, get your feet wet and cold. On either side of the river was several inches of thick, sticky mud, which I attribute the sore shins to.

The below photo is one of my favorite from the trip. Here is the group all together, I knew very little about each person in this group before we left, and after 6 days on the trail with them, there was a respect for each person that wouldn’t have been there if we hadn’t been on this trip. I remember walking through the river at this bend in the canyon, and I looked behind me and the light in the canyon was glowing, the rock was glowing, the river was glowing, and it was kind of a magical moment. I had to take a few seconds to just stop and appreciate the absolute beauty. It was then that I requested we all get together and get what would end up being the only group shot of the trip.
The photo doesn’t do the light justice, but you can appreciate the beauty.

Trail to Wrather Arch
Wrather Arch
Selfie Time!

What’s amazing about the lower sections of the canyon is how fast the landscape changes. I think you hike through three different layers of sandstone through the lower 15 miles of the canyon. It’s truly an amazing place though. We camped at obvious camp sites each night, which were convenient to good springs. Because of a knee injury, our pace the last couple days was much slower than anticipated, and the last night of camping was at Wilson Ranch, which if you end up having to camp there, we did find water from a spring at the ranch.

An incredible trip that was highly anticipated for many weeks leading up to it. Even though it was my first experience using WAG bags and having to carry all that extra weight, I wouldn’t trade the experience gained in that canyon for anything else. Friendships were made and an appreciation for the wildness of the area will stay with me forever.

Hillsound Equipment – FreeSteps6 Crampons – Gear Review

Last week, as mentioned in the post below, I had the opportunity to spend a few days checking out some new gear at the Outdoor Retailer Show in Salt Lake City, Utah. I was amazed at the amount of gear that was being introduced, and the amount of brands that I had not heard of before. It just goes to show how massive the outdoor industry really is. 

I was unbelievably impressed with a company based out of Vancouver, Canada, called Hillsound Equipment. Hillsound specializes in hiking crampons, microspikes, and their Armadillo Gaiters. I was fortunate enough to get my hands on a pair of the FreeSteps6 microspiked crampons. These baby’s are amazing, and for the price are a wonderful option to gain more traction while on the trail. The FreeSteps6 are marketed for around town and trail running in the winter to ensure you do not find yourself face down in the snow and ice. I took them out on the trail to hike and was impressed with how nice they fit around my boots and made my trail experience that much better. 
The FreeSteps6 are a microspike style crampon similar to Kahtoola’s Microspikes. Hillsound makes more than one type of hiking crampon, so if you are looking for something a little more aggressive check these out. The FreeSteps6 fit snug around your shoe or boot and are not going to slip off or move around while walking through snow and ice. They move with the flex of your shoe or boot, which makes them incredibly comfortable. They are incredibly easy to get on and off, especially with gloves on. They are comfortable and just make hiking on ice so nice!
I have absolutely loved these crampons and they are built so solid, that I know they are going to last me a long time. Made from stainless steel and a really great design, these crampons are a must for any trail runner/ hiker that sees any snow and ice in their future. The FreeSteps6 retail for $39.99, which is an amazing price for what you are getting. 
Buy a pair of these awesome crampons here: Hillsound FreeSteps6