Showing posts with label #hiking. Show all posts
Showing posts with label #hiking. Show all posts

Saturday, March 4, 2017

10 Tips for Staying Safe While Solo Hiking

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If I had to wait to hike until I found somebody to go with, I would never end up on the trail. Besides for an introvert, hiking solo is truly a piece of heaven. 

Before I get started with safety tips, for ultimate safety, it's always best to hike with a buddy. 

Pack plenty of water: I have a friend who volunteers with our local search and rescue. He told me they do more rescues for people who have become dehydrated on the trail than for any other reason. One bottle is not enough and sometimes I don't know I'm getting dehydrated until it's too late. I recommend a 1.5 to 2 liter hydration pack for a three hour day hike under normal circumstances. In very hot weather, pack even more. You can never have too much. It's easier to dump water toward the end of the hike than finding it. I also recommend some type of electrolyte replacement. 

Know the area: I have a large amount of hiking trails close to home. I know the area well and know that I can often get cell phone service depending on how close I stay to the valley. Venturing deep into the backcountry far from familiar areas is not a good idea.

Choose a well marked trail and heavily traveled trail: Where I hike, any trail with a trailhead sign is usually easy to follow. Also, the marked trails are popular enough that even on a weekday, I always see other people. I know even if I get hurt on one of these trails, I won't have to wait long before somebody comes by.        

©Trudy Zufelt

Stay on the trail:

It's hard to get lost if you stay on an obvious trail. But I've known people taking longer than they anticipated on a hike and veering off the trail into what they think is a short cut. Even a smaller trail might not lead to where you think it does. My son did this once in winter and ended up running into a group of lost teens. If my husband and daughter hadn't gone after him, I don't even want to think of what could have happened.

Tell somebody where you plan to hike: I always text my husband or daughter my my planned hiking trail for the day. Even if they forget where I tell them, they can look back at their texts if I don't return home.

©Trudy Zufelt
Stay away from the wildlife

This is especially important for visiting tourists. I have a friend who works summers at a local ski resort. She told me stories of tourists who try to approach the moose. I have encountered moose many times hiking and know I need to stay far away. And yes, I was far away when I took my photo of the two moose. These animals aren't as harmless as they look. A moose will charge when it feels threatened and if you're alone, you probably won't make it off the trail.

Just last summer, I nearly stepped on what looked like a harmless garter snake. After I jumped out of the way and watched it scurry off, I was able to get a photo from a distance. To my surprise, when I cropped the photo, I discovered it wasn't a harmless snake but a poisonous baby rattle snake. These can be even more deadly than a fully grown rattlesnake and because their rattles haven't developed, they don't leave a "verbal" warning. That is why I would never bend down and try to pick up a snake.

Pack extra gear and clothing:
At a minimum, I carry an extra jacket, a small pair of gloves, an extra pair of socks in all seasons. The weather may abruptly change. I've been caught in unexpected thunderstorms more than once and have always been grateful for dry clothes. As far as gear, I always keep my microspikes in my bag during winter hikes or carry a hiking pole. It's always a good idea to carry a multi-tool knife and a set of waterproof matches in case I get stuck overnight.

Pack extra food: I like to carry enough bars or other food so if I get stuck on the trail overnight, I will have enough calories to sustain myself until I can get help.

Carry a cell phone AND a charger: Even if you hike a trail with no cell phone service, it still helps to carry a cell phone. Many of the trails I hike have cell phone service in spots. However, it doesn't do  any good if your battery dies. I carry a small solar charger that I fully charge before I leave, That way, I have a back up if my battery dies and a way to charge the charger again.

Know your limits: That fourteen mile round trip hike to Mt. Timpanogos sounds amazing but if the most I've ever hiked is five miles, I save the longer hike for a day when I can bring someone with. It also might be tempting to hike that peak on a snowy day but I make sure I'm capable of getting up and back before dark.

©Trudy Zufelt

This world is amazing. Don't miss it waiting for others. It's okay to explore on your own but please play it safe.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Hidden Peak in Little Cottonwood Canyon, Utah: 2016 Peak Goal 11 of 13

Hidden Peak is the most visited peak in Utah and it's not because it is the peak with the most hikers. The Snowbird Tram lets off a multitude of skiers every year between December and April which accounts for the number of people who visit this peak. I've been to the top many times as a skier but this August was the first time I've hiked to the peak. Lucky for me, it is across the ridge line from Mt. Baldy, making it easy to get to on the same hike.

Getting There:
While the peak can be accessed from Snowbird Resort, the easiest way to get there is from the Cecret Lake trail head. At the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon Road is a dirt road that begins at the end of the pavement. Take the dirt road to the top parking lot. On a weekend, I would suggest parking in the paved lot and taking the shuttle bus. Follow the Cecret Lake Trail to the lake. At the lake, turn right and look for a trail that goes toward a dirt road. Hike to the dirt road, then follow the trail underneath the Sugarloaf lift. The dirt road will also take you to the top of the lift but will add distance. At the top of Sugarloaf lift, go right toward Mt. Baldy. Take the trail to the summit of Mt. Baldy and hike the ridge line to Hidden Peak.

Ridge line Mt. Baldy to Hidden Peak

Honestly, Hidden Peak has been my least favorite peak this year. All of the structures on top of the peak make for a bit of an eyesore. Nevertheless, the views of the surrounding peaks are breathtaking. For those who want to make a day out of it, the restaurant is open during the summer months and can make a nice lunch instead of the usual hiking fare.
Top of Hidden Peak

I wanted to run on the way back so I dropped onto the dirt road back side of Hidden peak and ran toward Sugarloaf lift instead of taking the ridge line back. It's about a 5 mile round trip and can be done in about 2-3 hours. 

Hiking two peaks in one day has been a sure way to get my 13 peaks in fast. It's the end of August and I've actually completed my goal but can't write about the peaks fast enough. Coming up next: Mt. Raymond and Gobbler's Knob.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Mt. Baldy in Little Cottonwood Canyon: 2016 Peak Goal 10 of 13

The nice thing about hiking the peaks in Little Cottonwood Canyon is that many of them are close enough together to easily bag two or even three peaks in one hike. Such is the case with Mt. Baldy. It sits in close proximity to both Sugarloaf Peak and Hidden Peak. I was going to do all three in one day but got sick and only did Sugarloaf Peak the first day. However, I was able to accomplish Mt. Baldy and Hidden Peak in one day, thus moving toward my 2016 goal much faster than expected.

Getting There

The easiest route to Mt. Baldy is to follow the dirt road at the top of Little Cottonwood Canyon Road to the very top and park at the Cecret Lake Trailhead. I never find parking there so I usually park 1/2 mile before at the lot across from the Catherine's Park Trailhead. Follow the Cecret Lake Trailhead to the lake. At the lake, follow the trail to the right on the north shore of the lake and veer right to head up toward the dirt road. Follow the dirt road for just a bit to the trail right under the Sugarloaf chair lift. Hike to the top of the lift. At this point, turn right and head west toward Mt. Baldy. There is a rocky, steep climb at the first but ends up a fairly easy steady climb to the peak.

As with many peaks, there is a cell phone tower at the top and since it is a ski area, I wasn't surprised to find a ski patrol sled. I didn't take it for a ride but I did enjoy the incredible views. 

Once on top, I eyed my Hidden Peak, my next adventure. Just southwest of Mt. Baldy, Hidden Peak is less than a mile away and is an easy hike along the ridge line. It's also easy to find as the Snowbird Tram ends on the peak. It's hiking days like this that make my thirteen peak goal attainable and fun. For those who want to turn around after hiking Mt. Baldy, it is a four mile round trip of intermediate hiking. I try to add trail running whenever I can and had no trouble running most of the trail on the way back. Since the peak sits at 11,068 feet, I got amazing views on top. I'm already wishing I had made my goal a little more challenging. In fact, I'm going to add three peaks to my goal to make 16 for 2016.

View of Hidden Peak from Mt. Baldy

Friday, July 22, 2016

Mt. Timanogos Hike From American Fork Canyon, Utah: 8 of 13 #Goal

I'm not going to lie. Mt. Timpanogos has by far been the most difficult peak I've climbed this year. It's difficult because of the distance of 7.5 miles each way which makes for a long day. The trail is not particularly difficult but the climb from the saddle to the peak is hard. At 11,749 feet, it is the second highest peak in the Wasatch Mountains and a very popular destination. No matter what day of the week you choose to go, there will always be somebody on the trail. I climbed the peak from the Timpanooke Trailhead.

Getting There: Timpanooke Trailhead

From I-15 heading north or south, take exit 284 (Highland-Alpine) and head east on SR-92. About 7.5 miles, there will be a fee station with a required fee to enter the canyon. Stay on the right fork of American Fork Canyon which is part of the Alpine Loop. On the right side of the road, look for a sign to the Timpanooke Campground. It is about 1/4 mile on a paved road through the campground and the trailhead will be at the large parking area on the left. We stayed the night in the campground so we could get an early start.

The Trail

The trail begins at the parking lot. Facing the trail, head right toward the forest service shelter where there are also signs and map boards. The first part of the trail is a gentle uphill climb in the shade of the pines and aspens. Be sure to watch the cliff areas in the distance for gorgeous waterfalls.

Above Scout Falls, there are several switchbacks that lead to Middle Basin. Several big loops and switchbacks through this area make for a big gain in altitude. Take a moment to stop and enjoy the vast array of wildflowers.

After climbing a headwall, you enter the Timpanogos Basin. This area is unmistakable as it is the first time you see the views of the summit.

As I made my way to the summit, I encountered some Rocky Mountain Goats. I made sure to keep my distance as I took photos. Though the goats are not aggressive, they are still wild animals and should never be approached or harassed. I even got to see a mommy goat with her baby. 

The views from the saddle are spectacular and many hikers stop here, rest and turn around. Not me! It was the peak or bust which meant I had to head into some cloud cover. Not a good idea if it would have been stormy but it wasn't so up I went. From the summit, the trail stays heads to the left and is  easy to see. The trail zig zags up a steep canyon often referred as The Stairs.

The last part of the trail is rocky and exposed but the trail is well defined. The Glass House (not really glass) sits at the top and there is a guest book to sign to prove you made it. It was really crowded when I got there but I was able to leave my name. Sorry to all those who don't know me but ended up in my photos anyway.

Making it to the top of any peak is an accomplishment but the top of Mt. Timp made me feel especially proud. I definitely need to change my goal. I have no doubt I'll make my 13 peaks this year. I should have set it at 16 for the year 2016. It's never too late to change, right?

Be sure to take enough water and food. I used all of my water. I was grateful for my running pack but wished I would have had an electrolyte replacement snack along with my bars.

Clouds blocked my view of the valley but still breathtaking on the peak.

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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hiking or Trail Running in Bryce Canyon, Utah: Fairyland Loop Trail

Photo Copyright: Trudy Zufelt
When the sun rises over Bryce Canyon, the views of the hoodoos are breathtaking. I can't think of any better way of catching the views than hiking along the rim and into the canyon. The Fairyland Loop Trail makes for a perfect morning run while visiting our awesome National Parks.

The trail begins at the northern portion of the Bryce Canyon National Park at Fairyland Point. The trail head is just before you enter the pay gates at Bryce Canyon. It is a great way to see the national park if you don't want to pay the entrance fee. However, I still encourage a National Park visit.

I did the entire 8 mile loop. The trail is rated strenuous but I didn't think it was nearly as hard as many of the other trails I've done. In fact, I was able to combine hiking with trail running and ran a large portion of it. The rating comes because of the length. Most guide books or websites suggest 3-4 hours. I would even suggest longer for inexperienced or slower hikers. I did it in 2 hours and 20 minutes but I also ran a lot. For those who just want to enjoy the sights of Bryce without the hike, a short hike a long the rim offers breathtaking views. Also, a hike to Sunset Peak and back would only be half the miles and would still give anyone more than enough beautiful views.
Trail along the rim

I did the trail counter clockwise and ran along the rim before dropping into Fairyland Canyon. The trail is well marked and there are signs at the forks.

Flowers at the bottom of the canyon

Views from above. ©Trudy Zufelt

I encountered as much beauty below as I did from above. as I descended into the canyon, the hoodoos really looked like fairies planning their mischief.
©Trudy Zufelt

Along the trail, there is a spur for Tower Bridge which is natural cut out in the rock with the bridge above. I didn't take the out and back spur and now regret it. Though I took a photo from a distance, the bigger portion of the bridge is hidden behind the trees.

I loved the Fairyland Loop trail and would recommend it as a five star hike. However, because of the distance, I would not recommend bringing small children. Teenagers would do fine if they are well conditioned. I would also recommend bringing lots of water. This is one of those hikes I plan to do again.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Hiking in Utah: Lake Blanche in Big Cottonwood Canyon

Lake Blanche
Big Cottonwood Canyon boasts many popular hiking trails. Among them, Lake Blanche, offers a vigorous day hike with stunning scenery. The proximity to the city means there will always be somebody else on the trail, even in the middle of the week.

The hike begins at the Mill B parking lot in at the bottom of what the locals call the S-curve. The lot gets full early on the weekends and there is some parking on the road. 
Begin the hike at the paved trail by the restroom.

About 1/4 mile up the paved trail and to the right is a big boulder and sign that marks the Lake Blanch trailhead. The initial approach is rock and steep. The trail continues with a steady climb with intermittent rocky areas.

No navigational tools required as the trail is well marked and worn. From the trailhead, it's 2.7 miles to the lake for a total of 3 miles each way. Allow 2.5 hours to get to the top. I did it in just under 2 hours but it is a steady climb with little to no flat areas. Also, pack water, at least 2 liters. It's a workout to get to the top. While a beginner hiker might do okay with plenty of stops, it's better suited for an intermediate hiker.

Enjoy the stunning scenery along the way. Enjoy the shade from the pine trees on the lower part of the trail. A nice grove of Aspens await at the upper part of the trail. I've often seen moose in this area so keep a lookout and don't get too close.
A good pair of hiking boots will give your ankle support on the rocky areas. I have worn regular running shoes and hiking shoes depending on how fast I want to go. What I would really love is a good pair of trail running shoes. I enjoy running down parts of the trail and hiking boots are too heavy for running.

Once arriving at the top, there are two smaller lakes about 1/4 mile to the west. Be sure to follow the trails to get there.

There are plenty of rocks around the lake to sit and enjoy a snack or lunch. Allow 1.5-2 hours to get down.

Getting there:
 Take 1-15 to the I-215 East. Exit at 6200 So. Turn left and follow the road which turns into Wasatch Blvd. Turn left at Big Cottonwood Canyon road. Mill B parking lot will be on the right before navigating the S-turn.

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