Monday, January 18, 2016

Hike Utah County

Welcome to Hike Utah County!


Granite Flats Ski Area

Trailhead Elevation: 6,400
Trail Open To: Classic and Skate
Elevation Gain: 350
Trailhead Outhouse: Yes, in Tibble Fork parking area
Distance: 5 round trip
Time: 2-3 hours
Driving Directions: Take exit 284 in Utah County. Travel east on the Timpanogos Highway (SR 92) to American Fork Canyon USFS fee station. From the Fee Station, travel 4.6 miles to North Fork Rd (SR-144), turn left and continue another 2.4 miles to the Tibble Fork Reservoir restrooms, park here.
Entrance: Walk through the gate, strap on your ski’s and begin the .8 mile ascent to the campground.
Middle: The roads through the campground are a series of loops, so it’s hard to get lost.

Exit: Return the way you came

The Business: Granite Flat campground is closed to snowmobiles and groomed for XC ski. Classic tracks are set where possible. Start with Tree Army loop then take the Barracks and Spike loops. Distance is about 1.7 miles and mostly downhill. Trails are groomed once a week.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Saw Mill Ski Area

Trailhead Elevation: 6200 ft
Trail Open To: Classic, Skate and Snowshoes
Elevation Gain: 90
Restroom: 2 outhouses remain open in winter. 1 at the Sawmill parking area and the other is at the east end by the exit bridge.
Distance: 2.2 miles round trip
Time: 1 hour
Driving Directions: Take exit 284 in Utah County. Travel east on the Timpanogos Highway (SR 92) to American Fork Canyon USFS fee station. From the Fee Station, travel 3.5 miles to Sawmill Picnic Area.

Entrance: Cross the bridge at Sawmill Picnic Area and follow the trail (53) left towards the Little Mill Campground.

Middle: ¼ into the trail you will reach Little Mill Campground, continue through the campground until you reach the Forest Service fence.

Exit: Return the way you came

The Business: This is a great beginner trail as it is relatively flat, It is groomed and runs the entire length of the Little Mill Campground. There is a small rolling hill at the entrance. This is a know avalanche path, so check avalanche conditions before heading out to the trail. The pay station also has updates on avalanches potential for the day.The trail follows the American Fork River and SR-92..    

Monday, January 11, 2016

Basic Snowshoeing Part Deux

Basic snowshoeing equipment includes:
  1. Snowshoes
  2. Boots (that fit in your snowshoes)
  3. Poles (Adjustable)
  4. Accessories (hats, gloves, backpack)
Since we are talking basics here, I am going off the assumption that most of you reading this will be going to a local park or golf course. Once we get into more advanced snowshoeing I will discuss avalanche beacons, probes, shovels, saws. Until then let’s just keep it simple.
Manufacturers divide Snowshoes into 3 categories:
  • Flat terrain: Designed for easy walking on flat to rolling terrain; ideal for families. Includes entry-level models that offer good value.
  • Rolling terrain: Best for hiking on rolling to steep hills; suitable for all but very steep or icy conditions. Good for hiking off the beaten track. Hiking and backpacking
  • Mountain terrain: Built for icy, steep terrain. Aimed at those who blaze their own trails for hiking or backcountry snowboarding.
I suggest that before purchasing you rent different styles and see what you like. Most University campuses have an Outdoor Recreation Center that rents gear.  Stores like REI and Recreation Outlet usually have a rental fleet as well. You don’t want to spend a bunch of money until you know you’re going to use them often.
Snowshoes are gender, age and weight-specific so that everyone can get a custom fit. Much like bicycles one size does not fit all. Snowshoe technology has really increased in the last few years and there are a  wide assortment of  materials, bindings and crampon systems for traction. Improper gear can and will  can ruin your day. Women's snowshoes offer a narrower nose and some children’s models offer easy-to-use straps and an adjustable footbed that can grow the shoe as the child does. Snow conditions and the weight of your backpack can also have a big effect on how your shoe will handle as will the boots you are wearing. A good rental and sales shops will know how to fit you correctly.
When you do purchase, I suggest getting a set for rolling terrain and make sure they have heel lift bars. The bars make it easier to walk up hill. When I made my purchase I took all the above factors into consideration and it made sense for me to buy a shoe that was adjustable to the different conditions I would be in. Some folks have 2-3 different sets of shoes for various purposes. I try to keep things simple so I went with one pair that does everything I need them to.
I use MSR Denali’s, the set I own are now considered the “Denali Classic” which make them a bit cheaper than the Evo’s or Lightning Ascents. The great thing about these shoes is they have tail floats which can add length 4-6 inches. Having this kind of adjustability really let’s you get where you want to go. If you encounter deep powder or are carrying a heavier backpack just throw on the 6” tails. If you’re on a well used trail with no backpack you can generally leave the tails off. When traveling on well packed trails without a heavy pack I will bring my 4” tails just in case I want to get off trail a little.
The other great thing about these MSR’s is you can repair them in the field. You can purchase repair kits for around $14. The only complaint I have about them is they are very noisy on crusty or packed snow. If your intention is not animal watching then the noise should not be an issue and on powder days the noise is not an issue.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Basic Snowshoeing Part 1

Introduction to Basic Snowshoeing

Let us love winter, for it is the spring of genius.  ~Pietro Aretino

Staying Warm

It seems to me that everytime I invite anyone to come snowshoeing with me their automatic response is “ I don’t like being cold”.  Nobody does not even me, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. Snowshoeing is no different than hiking. After walking for a little bit you will realize that you are too hot and you can take off a layer. If you’re still cold after walking for 10 minutes then you are doing it wrong.
Snowshoeing, like any other outdoor activity requires the proper attire or layering system.  You don’t need to run out and buy a ton of expensive, specialized clothing. (You can if you want to, new clothes are fun) If you are on a budget, any large department store has cheap Polyester and Nylon clothing.  
Just make sure that:  You don’t wear cotton! Those of us that spend a ton of time outdoor have heard the saying “cotton kills” at least 1 million times. If you have not heard it a million times…..cotton kills, cotton kills, cotton kills, cotton kills…. Why does cotton kill? Because it can absorb up to 27 times its weight in water.  As you walk you sweat, your t-shirt absorbs that sweat and prevents it from wicking or evaporating away from the body. This lack of evaporation can lead to hypothermia really quick.  I could break into a chemistry lesson right now and explain why some fabrics are better than others for wicking moisture away from the skin. No, I couldn’t, I’m not a chemist. I’m just a lowly recreation dude that knows one thing about cotton and guess what that 1 thing is. That’s right: “cotton kills”
Have I rambled enough yet? I could go on, but let’s get down to the reason you’re here reading this ridiculous post.
I’m not the first to say this and I won’t be the last. “Layering your clothing is a tried-and-true way to maximize your comfort in the outdoors”. The great thing about this concept is: it is so simple. If you are cold, add another layer. If you are hot,take a layer off.
Each layer you wear has a specific function. The first layer you will need is the Base Layer. The base layer is typically  made from Polyester, Smartwool or Capilene. These products are designed to wick moisture away from the body, while at the same time trapping a warm layer of air against your skin. If it is really cold out you need to make sure these are long-sleeved/legged.
Next, you will need a middle layer or Insulating Layer. The purpose of this layer is to retain heat and keep you warm. Prime examples are fleece, wool, polyester or down.
The last layer is your outer layer or Shell. The function of the shell is to keep wind and water off you, but it must have ventilation (waterproof/breathable)
Now, to confuse you even more I will introduce weight. Both thermal underwear (base layer)  and fleece tops (insulating layer) are available in 3 weights:
  • Lightweight for aerobic activity such as snowshoeing
  • Mid-weight for moderate activity such as downhill skiing or if you get cold easy.
  • Expedition-weight for low activity such as sleeping in an igloo, ice fishing or if you “really hate the cold”.

Example: When I am snowshoeing on a normal day. I will choose a lightweight base layer, a lightweight vest and a windbreaker with vented armpits. I always carry a down jacket with me for 2 reasons.

1) It gets cold fast when you are not moving, If I stop for lunch or take a break I will put on my down jacket. 

2) If I have been hiking for 5 minutes and I’m still cold, I will put on my down jacket, underneath my shell.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Stewart Falls

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Trailhead Elevation: 6,890ft
Trail Open To: Hike, Snowshoe
Elevation Gain: 310
Trailhead Outhouse: Yes
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Time: 2 hours
Driving Directions:: Take exit 284 in Utah County. Travel east on the Timpanogos Highway (SR 92) to American Fork Canyon USFS fee station. From the Fee Station, travel 4.6 miles to North Fork/ Alpine Loop Junction. Stay right at the junction and drive 11 miles, just before the fee station and forest exit you will see the Timpanogos Summit parking area on your right. Park here.
Alternate Driving Direction: Take Interstate 15 to the Orem 800 North (Exit 272) turn east and follow it for 3.7 miles to the mouth of Provo Canyon. The road splits  just past the Chevron gas station, take the left curve to go up the canyon. Drive up the canyon (US 189) after 6.5 miles you will pass through a small tunnel, shortly after the tunnel (6.9 miles) take a left (UT 92) towards Sundance Ski Resort and Aspen Grove. Reset your odometer at this turn. You will come to a ranger fee station at 4.5 miles. The Timpanogos summit parking area is on the left .1 miles just past the ranger fee station, park here.
Entrance: From the parking area walk towards the outhouse. Your trail starts just before the restroom.
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Alternate Entrance: If you are a guest at Sundance Resort there is an trail off their property that follows the stream directly to the falls.
Exit: Return the way you came

The Business: Stewart Falls is a beautiful tiered waterfall in the heart of Sundance Resort. The trail is mostly flat and easy walking, until you near the falls. There is an outlook before you begin your 300’ descent to the riverbed. This is one of the best hikes in Utah County, so be warned that you will not find solitude on this trail. Your best bet for solitude is snowshoeing in after the snow falls. Weekdays during the spring and fall slow down a little. If hiking early spring or winter, check local avalanche conditions.

Monday, October 12, 2015

Pine Hollow

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Trailhead Elevation: 6,700 ft
Trail Open To: Hike,Bikes and Motorcycles
Elevation Gain: 1,162
Trailhead Outhouse: Yes
Distance: 4 miles round trip
Time: 2 hours
Driving Directions: Take exit 284 in Utah County. Travel east on the Timpanogos Highway (SR 92) to American Fork Canyon USFS fee station. From the Fee Station, travel 4.6 miles to North Fork/ Alpine Loop Junction. Stay right at the junction and drive 1.8 miles. you the right side of the road after the s-curves you will see the parking area.
Entrance: Next to the outhouse you will see a trail heading east towards the road. Cross the road and you will see the sign for the trail (47)
Alternate Entrance: Drive another .5 miles past the Timpakee  there is a yellow trail crossing sign 200” park there and join the trail on the east side of the road.
Exit: Return the way you came
Alternate Exit:  The trail connects to and Salamander Flats (150) Willow Hollow (159) You can spot a car at a variety of trail heads

The Business: This hike has a steady incline almost the whole way. The trail starts on some switchbacks

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then straight through Pine Hollow Canyon. There are a few creek crossings, keep your eyes peeled for moose in the Autumn. After 1.5 Miles you will come to a meadow and a trail Junction If you spotted a car at Salamander flats (150) take a right. Hike to the left another .5 miles to another trail junction. and another bigger meadow, stay right another .25 miles to the Ridge Trail connector. This is a very popular snowshoe hike in the winter.This is a known avalanche area where people have been injured. Always check local avalanche conditions before heading out in the winter