Vacation Part 2: Utah

Vacation Part 2: Utah

Day 4 (Friday continued): 

The scenery on the eastern side of Utah didn’t look much different than the scenery on the western side of Colorado.  The posted speed limit was 80mph so I was happily driving while Josh took in the surrounding landscape zipping by.

Once we exited Route 70, Moab would be the next town we would come across.  Despite being situated in the middle of a red rock desert, Moab was a bustling place.  Everybody either had bike racks on their cars or was driving a camper.  Despite being visitors, it was a welcoming atmosphere for us because we love spending time outside, exploring, and taking in nature.

We drove to our pre-determined camping area managed by the BLM – the Sandflats Recreation Area.  We paid our $15 at the gate, drove up the road and settled on camping in the Cottontail camping area which had 4-5 other sites available for tents.  After pitching our tent, admiring the place we would get to sleep at later, and changing into mountain bike attire, we headed back into town for our bike rentals.

We rented our mountain bikes from Chile Pepper Bikes – a bike shop well-known to Moab visitors.  They suggested trails for us, hooked a bike rack to our car, loaded up our bikes, and sent us on our way.  We left the confines of Main Street, Moab and headed back out to Moab Brands.

After scoping out the trails on the map we purchased for $2, we decided to start on EZ – an intermediate/easy trail.  We were both getting acquainted with our rental bikes and the varying terrain of Moab so this was a good way to start off.

We connected EZ to Bar-M – an easy trail.  From Bar-M we hopped on Rockin’ A which was considered an intermediate-expert trail.  Rockin’ A was complete rock – not a speck of dirt in sight.  On the east coast, I’m terrified of rocky sections (which are typically paired with a downhill); however, in Moab, I had no choice.  You can look for miles in Moab and find only rock.  To my own surprise, I wasn’t overly frightened.  There were no log overs to worry about or huge rocks to weave through.  We were simply riding ON the rocks – rocks that were relatively smooth and rather nonthreatening.

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Moab Brands

Granted, I was probably going slower than anyone else that rides in Moab but I was still riding.  We passed a group of riders that said they were from Michigan.  A guy told me I was doing awesome.  Quite surprised at his apparent observation, all I managed to say was “thank you” and I just continued riding.

At the end of Rockin’ A we hopped over to Circle-O (also an intermediate-expert trail).  I was truly enjoying myself at my own pokey pace.  Josh was up ahead riding at his own pace and waiting for me every so often.  We were enjoying our ride in a place we’ve only ever seen on Instagram.  We were finally living our Instagram dreams!

I feel that I need to share that our ride in Moab was not guided by trail markers every 100-200 feet.  Trail markers can only be found at the beginning and end of each trail, typically accompanied with a map.  So how do you know you’re still on a trail?  Just follow the faded paint line on the rock – AND DON’T DIVERGE FAR.  I remember concentrating hard on following the paint line and I would get mad at myself when I would lose concentration and move to the right/left of it by 2-3 feet.  I wanted to follow the line!

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Do you see the faded line that I’ve clearly diverged from?

Ok, back to Circle-O.  Circle-O is a 3.2 mile trail of rock.  Half-way through, Josh broke his derailleur.  It was a problem that couldn’t be fixed, so he was forced to walk about 2-3 miles back to our vehicle.  I continued to ride at my own slow pace while he disappointingly walked the line.  Role reversal!  Now I was the one waiting every so often for him to catch up to me.  I would loop back to him and then ride ahead again, trying to find the end of Circle-O so he knew he was getting closer to the car.

After, a good 30-40 minutes of walking, Josh finally got back to the car.  We still had time remaining on our day rental and I wanted to get the most out of it – especially since one bike was broken.  I went back to EZ trail and did a quick loop of Lazy-EZ.  It was flowy, it was fun, and I wish that Josh & I could’ve rode more in Moab together.  But the trail gods clearly had other plans.

With the exception of the broken derailleur, I genuinely enjoyed riding in Moab.  It was unlike anything we ever ride on the east coast.  My only Moab regret is not spending more time there.  We only saw a tiny crumb of what Moab trails offer (12.9 miles to be exact) and I just want to go back to see and experience more.

After we returned our rental bikes, we stopped at the grocery store for cold Gatorades.  Then we decided to eat dinner before heading back to our campsite for the remainder of the afternoon.

Moab Brewery was conveniently next to the bike shop so we opted for that.  We walked in, sat in the pub area, and ordered nachos.  You can never go wrong with nachos!  Josh ordered a beer and I ordered their “Ginerade” – gin and lemonade.  It was alright.  We ordered our entrees (a veggie wrap for me and a burger for Josh) but we were both rather unimpressed by the taste.  I picked through my entire wrap and only ended up eating a small portion of it.  Our review of Moab Brewery?  Nice atmosphere, good brews, ok mixed drinks, and unimpressive entrees.  Would we go back?  I’m just going to say one thing: let’s try someplace different.

After leaving the brewery, we drove back to our campsite and simply relaxed.  Around 9 PM we climbed up a few rocks to watch the sunset.  We observed mountain bikers dropping off of steep rocks and UTV’ers off in the distance.  The sunset was absolutely beautiful.  I am so envious of anyone that lives in that area or has such scenic views everyday.  It is an absolutely beautiful and unique place in our country and words nor pictures could ever do it justice.

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view behind us at our sunset rock

The stars took forever to come out.  I was fighting off falling asleep in our tent and every 10 minutes I would wake up and ask if the stars were out yet.  When they finally did all start to appear, they were EVERYWHERE!  The most stars I’ve ever seen and there was not a speck of light pollution.  I’m sure that Josh observed the stars longer than I did because I just couldn’t stay awake.  At some point in time, we were both asleep.

Day 4 stats:  12.9 miles mtb, 838 ft of elevation gain, max elevation was 4,778 ft

Day 5 (Saturday): 

Let it be known that sleeping in Moab can be a struggle without the proper camping supplies.  We were sleeping on sand and all we had were our pillows, a sheet, and a blanket.  I brought in layers of clothes the night before knowing I might need them as night progressed.  Thank goodness I did because I woke up at an unknown time freezing cold.  However, the moon was super bright and the stars were still out!

I’m pretty sure I only got 3 hours of sleep in Moab between being uncomfortable and being cold.  The sun was already up by 6 AM but I tried to fall back asleep.  That lasted 30 minutes and then I decided to just go for a run.  I ran 2 miles with stiff legs and a stiff back.  It was slow but I got to see more of the Sand Flats area.

Once Josh woke up, I made myself a peanut butter and banana sandwich and we packed up our tent.  Josh stopped at the local coffee shop to get his morning dose of coffee and then we started driving again.  Next stop: Ogden!

The drive to Ogden was pretty uneventful.  We drove through a lot of desert and some canyons.  There were huge windmills too!  We swapped drivers half way through and I drove us the rest of the way to Ogden.

We arrived at 2nd Tracks for our bike rental where we were finally reunited with my brother, Michael!  We received our bikes and put my bike in our car and Josh’s bike in Michael’s car.  He was taking us to Snowbasin for mountain biking!

We drove right through the canyon to get to Snowbasin!  What a road that was!  It twisted and winded all the way through the mountain.  It was quite the scenic road!

Michael toured us around Snowbasin which turned out to be extremely scenic and quite challenging.  The trails were tough in sections, especially the uphills and rocky sections.  Josh and Michael would zip ahead of me so I mostly rode solo; however, they waited at trail intersections to make sure I was still in one piece.  The flowy sections were enjoyable and the switchbacks were nice but I was completely out of my element riding on literal mountains.

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MTB with the men

After riding nearly 9 miles, we packed up our bikes again and headed back into Ogden.  Michael brought us to Slackwater Pizza & Pub.  Pizza sounded so welcoming!  I ordered a mac & cheese pizza, Josh ordered the buffalo chicken pizza, and Michael ordered the Hawaiian pizza.

Let me just say, I am still to this day talking about my mac & cheese pizza.  It was so unique and so delicious that I wish I could order another one right now!  It didn’t have pizza sauce on it, just macaroni noodles, cheese, and a drizzle of balsamic.  The balsamic made it so good!  I am so glad I ordered something outside of my “pizza comfort zone” because I would go back there in a heartbeat – pizza stop #2 of the trip got another A++.

After satisfying our hunger, we were tired from a sleepless night and a day of activity.  Michael returned to Hill AFB and Josh and I drove to our campground for the remainder of our stay – KOA Brigham City/Perry.  We enjoyed some downtime at our cozy little cabin, took showers, and fell asleep comfortably on a mattress – a little luxury!

Day 5 stats:  9 miles mtb, 1,156 ft of elevation gain, max elevation was 7,230 ft

Day 6 (Sunday): 

We slept wonderfully in our cozy cabin and woke up feeling a little less sleepy and a lot less stiff.  We enjoyed a simple breakfast and then met Michael at a trailhead for the Bonneville Shoreline trail system.

[Fun fact!  Bonneville Shoreline does not follow any shore whatsoever.  It’s not near water nowadays….but it used to be!  Way back in the day, the Great Salt Lake was so large and high up that the Shoreline trail was indeed on the shoreline of the lake.  However, now, the Salt Lake has shrunk, a city has been developed, and the shoreline trail is simply amidst the mountains.]

After a brief discussion with a snobby local (true fact) at the trailhead, we started riding.  It was a hot, the trails were narrow and rather hilly and I was just not having a good day on the bike.  After less than 3 miles, I decided I just wanted to run so that the men didn’t have to keep waiting up for me.  We put my bike back in the car and I set out for a run while Michael and Josh rode more miles.

I enjoyed a 6.8 mile run on the Shoreline trail which provided a continuous vista of Ogden and zig-zagged in and out of small mountain valleys.  The trail was lightly trafficked and I enjoyed the serenity of running in a new place.  Michael and Josh mountain biked 11.7 miles together and also enjoyed views of Ogden from above.

 

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Bonneville Shoreline trail

After we were done our excursions, we decided to eat lunch at another place Michael recommended to us called The Angry Goat.  I had a black bean quesadilla, Josh enjoyed a sandwich and fries, and Michael had a breakfast burrito.  It was a quaint and quiet pub and we got to plan our next hike.

We returned our bike rentals and drove to the trailhead for the Hidden Valley Trail.  Turns out I picked a pretty strenuous trail because the trail was sun-exposed and extremely steep.  Josh & I powered ahead after Michael decided to turn back around.  We had views of Ogden from above again.  When we reached the top of the trail we were rewarded with a field of flowers and a vista of a valley…. a hidden valley.

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Vista on Hidden Valley Trail
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view at the top of Hidden Valley

Upon descending, we decided to run sections of the trail back down to the parking lot.  The steep sections got me nervous so I slowed to a crawl, I leaped over a snake that Josh didn’t see, and we decided that, although quite challenging, Hidden Valley Trail was rather anticlimatic.  At least we got to spend more time outside!

Once we were done hiking, Michael gave us a tour of the AFB.  We then went our separate ways as it was getting late.  Josh & I picked up fresh salads at Smith’s grocery store (their equivalent to Shoprite/Acme) and we ate dinner back at our cabin as the sun was setting.

In both Utah & Colorado it seemed that sunsets were so lengthy.  Daylight seemed to last so much longer compared to the east coast.  Still to this day, it boggles my mind and I can’t seem to figure it out.  I digress.  The sun set, we showered, and then went right to sleep.

Day 6 stats:  2.7 miles mtb (me), 11.7 miles mtb (Josh), 6.7 mile run (me), 4.8 mile hike (both), 3,766 ft of elevation gain (me), 3,851 ft of elevation gain (Josh), max elevation was 6,762′

Day 7 (Monday): 

Monday morning we woke up and had nowhere to be!  We decided Monday would be our relaxation day.  Our legs were exhausted and we just needed some time to chill out.  Michael was working all day and we would spend the afternoon with him once he was done.

I enjoyed time reading my book and we discussed our adventures so far.  Then Josh got antsy and started researching nearby trails to our campground.  He discovered the Perry Canyon trailhead that was within a mile of us.  It was the hottest part of the day but I agreed to go with him.

The trailhead wasn’t clearly marked so we questioned our parking choice.  The trail was slightly overgrown and Josh became paranoid about the safety of our car.  My legs were still quite exhausted so I opted to take the car back to the campground, continue relaxing, and Josh would continue hiking/running on the Perry Canyon trail.  We discussed a time limit and potential plans for coming to pick him up.

I don’t have much knowledge on what the Perry Canyon trail was like but Josh said it was kind of overgrown and very much uphill.  He finished a 6 mile run with 985′ of elevation gain.  He showed up to the campground tired yet satisfied that he got to run up another mountain!

Still in need of lunch at 3:30PM, we decided to drive into Brigham City to get food at Kent’s Market.  We picked up two more fresh salads, cold fruit, donuts for the next morning, and a yogurt parfait.  Kent’s Market was a nice surprise and we enjoyed the freshness of their food choices!

We met Michael and his friend, Andy, at the trailhead for Adams Canyon trail around 5:30 PM.  In retrospect, this was probably my favorite trail that we hiked in the Ogden area.  Honestly, I considered it to be epic.  For starters, it was shaded.  Secondly, it followed a stream up to an awesome waterfall.  The trail was rocky and steep and at times I was climbing up rocks using my hands.  A hiker warned us of a rattlesnake he heard and I got nervous.  I don’t like snakes at all so I went into super-awareness mode.  We stopped 3/4 of the way up and the men climbed up a very high rock overlook.  Here is the picture below.

 

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Can you spot Michael, Andy, and Josh?

We continued our way up the trail until we finally reached the waterfall!  We crossed the shallow part of the waterfall’s pool of water and my Altra Superiors drained very well.  I got close enough to the waterfall to feel the mist, but not close enough to touch it.  It was cold water!

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the picturesque waterfall with Michael

While at the top, Michael & Andy climbed more rocks, and we watched a few people climb towards the top of the waterfall (crazy!).  Josh also unexpectedly snapped a picture of me modeling my Altra race top, Altra Superiors, and Ultimate Direction pack.

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We also took a selfie with Michael and Andy behind us climbing the rocks.  They have no fear!

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Group selfie

We started the hike back down to the trailhead.  I’m SUPER slow on descents so the men kept waiting up for me.  We simply got to enjoy more time out on a nice afternoon.  Even though it was closing in on 8 PM, people were still hiking up in the direction of the waterfall.  I envy the outdoorsy-ness of the people in the western states.  People out there don’t miss any opportunity to hike, bike, or run and I truly admire that.

Once again, we were eating dinner at 9 PM.  After our hike we all drove to Rooster’s Brewing Company for dinner.  We enjoyed burgers (mine was black bean), fries, and Josh & Andy had brews.  We closed the place down and then we had to say our goodbyes in the parking lot.  Michael and Andy returned to the AFB and Josh & I returned to the cabin for our final vacation night.

We stayed up until midnight trying to organize and pack all of our things again.  We were both tired but I didn’t want vacation to end.  Eventually we fell asleep, grateful for all of our vacation adventures.

Day 7 stats:  6 mile run & 3.6 mile hike (Josh), 5.1 mile hike (me), 2,498 ft of elevation gain (Josh), 1,691 ft of elevation gain (me), max elevation was 6,202 ft

Day 8 (Tuesday): 

We woke up Tuesday morning feeling tired from lack of sleep.  I became stressed about fitting everything in our bags.  I shoved the blanket we had bought at Target into my carry-on because I was determined to bring it home (and it now sits happily folded on the end of my bed).  I must have packed and repacked my bags at least 6 times in shear determination to fit everything.

Shortly after leaving our lovely mountain cabin, I received a text saying our flight was delayed.  I went into a brief panic because we had to make a connecting flight in Dallas; however, I calculated that we should have just enough time to make it.  Travel stress is the worst stress, especially when you have to end a vacation with it!

We flew over the mountains departing SLC and I was sad to be leaving.  There was so much more for us to explore and see in both Utah and Colorado.  I wanted to see more!

We landed in Dallas and the pilot drove to our terminal for what seemed like 30 minutes – precious time when you have to make a connecting flight!  We took the Skylink from our arrival terminal to the departing terminal which we successfully navigated.  Upon arriving at our departing terminal, they were just starting to board our plane.  I was starving and miserable so I ran over to the closest convenience store and bought a bag of peanuts.  Onwards to home!

Utah Stats:

  • Josh’s mountain bike miles:  28.9 miles
  • Lyndsey’s mountain bike miles:  24.6 miles
  • Josh’s running miles:  6 miles
  • Lyndsey’s running miles:  8.7 miles
  • Josh & Lyndsey’s hiking miles:  8.4 miles
  • Josh’s elevation gain (combo of running, hiking , & biking):  8,118 feet
  • Lyndsey’s elevation gain (combo of running, hiking , & biking):  7,487 feet
  • Max Elevation:  7,230′ above sea level (Snowbasin)

Combined Stats (Utah & Colorado):

  • Running  miles (both): 14 miles (Josh) and 16.7 miles (Lyndsey)
  • Hiking miles (both):  21.1 miles (both of us)
  • Mountain bike miles (just Utah):  28.9 miles (Josh) and 24.6 miles (Lyndsey)
  • Elevation gain:  13,636′ (Josh) and 12,935′ (Lyndsey)
  • Max Elevation:  10,465′ (Frisco)
  • Combined total miles explored: 126.4 miles
  • Combined elevation achieved:  26,571′

In retrospect:

Colorado and Utah are beautiful places.  I am grateful for all that we got to see and do on our one-week vacation in mountain time.  I am grateful that I got to spend time with good friends in Colorado.  I am grateful that I got to spend time with my brother in Utah.  I am grateful that we had safety in all of our travels, hikes, runs, and bike rides.  I am forever grateful that Josh & I got to spend a week together in our happy place – the mountains!

I will always look back on this vacation with fond memories.  I will yearn for the day that I get to go back with Josh by my side to climb more mountains together.  It was an unforgettable week and I will forever cherish the moments we got to spend together & with people we love.

 

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