Mount Wire

Can you imagine a world where drivers approach intersections at full speed from every direction and just hope for the best? Luckily we don’t have to worry about that terrifying scenario, thanks to Salt Lake City detective Lester Wire and his 1912 invention of the red/green electric traffic signal.

We payed homage to Wire and his life-saving invention by climbing the mountain justifyably named after him. Our group of 13 hiked part of the Bonneville Shoreline Trail and then powered up a spur trail to the peak. At the summit there’s a rickety old tower that we ascended one by one until  reaching its carrying capacity. On the way down we hiked along a ridge line to Red Butte. There were spectacular views of Red Butte canyon, the creek, and reservoir that are closed to the public. Then we descended to the college student-frequented Living Room. Instead of taking a break on one of the always comfortable rock sofas, we descended to the parking lot.

Mount Wire is a good one to add to your peaks bagged. It’s easily visible from town and if you squint, you can even see the tower. It serves as a fitting monument to a great man that most people will otherwise never know of.


Robber’s Roost Canyoneering

The San Rafael desert is teeming with some of the most wild canyons on Earth. On Friday I printed off a few pages from Roadtrip Ryan’s website, a treasure trove of useful information. Then we drove south out into a network of bumpy dirt roads for a weekend of climbing and crawling all over some very rugged terrain. There’s literally more than a lifetime’s worth of canyons to explore just within Robbers Roost. We didn’t see a single person from when we got there Friday night and left Sunday night.

North fork of Robbers Roost

Legend has it that the notorious criminal Butch Cassidy would come to Robber’s Roost Canyon to hide out from the law after a big heist. It’s hard to imagine a better place to get lost. We followed the wash down, past a miserably skinny cow, into the canyon. There were five rappels. The climb out was a struggle involving a series of about seven chimneys that needed to be stemmed.

Little Bull Canyon

This one is not recommended for those that aren’t rail thin. It starts as a narrow winding corridor with walls covered in nubbly little rocks that shred your backpack and clothes. Then there’s a rappel of of a chockstone into darkness (we actually skipped the chockstone and set up a deadman’s anchor). Then another rappel in a section so thin you might have to exhale. And finally another long winding walk through a claustrophobia- inducing slot. This is not recommended if there is any chance of rain.

Y-Mountain Hike

Despite dire warnings of an approaching blizzard, we took a group of Utah Outdoors folks to Provo in an attempt to summit two peaks. We powered up the paved switchbacks of Y-Mountain to the iconic “Y” (standing for Brigham Young University). Past that, the trail became more rugged and icy. But we got to the peak before noon and were able to enjoy the views of Utah Lake and the University below.

From there the plan was to loop around Y-Mountain and summit Squaw peak. A sub-group decided to turn back once we were knee-deep in snow, while a few of us continued on. Shortly later we discovered we were on the wrong trail (the actual one being completely buried under deep snow). We attempted to summit Lion’s Head peak as a consolation, but realized it was far higher and steeper than we thought.  We just turned back the way we came, satisfied that we tried and failed instead of spending the day at home.

Goblin Valley and San Rafael Reef

A couple weeks ago, my mom, Kerry and I took a trip to Goblin Valley and the San Rafael Reef, not exactly sure what we would find. It turned out to be one of my favorite parts of Utah that I’ve found thus far.

On Saturday, dark scary clouds forced us to change our plans from exploring a flash flood-prone canyon to rapelling into a cave. The ranger at the visitor center gladly took our permit fees and gave us the worst imaginable directions to Goblin’s Lair along with this photo.

After hours of climbing through a maze of convoluted canyons in Goblin’s Valley that all led to dead ends, we climbed up to a high butte and spotted a guy with a harness popping out of a rocky alcove. Getting there involved a long down-climb through some very rugged terrain. But we did eventually find the hole and successfully rappelled into the cave.

We spent Sunday hiking through Crack Canyon, a slot with lots of fun obstacles. On the way out, my mom tripped on a rock and took a nasty fall. After a long hike and drive, the night unfortunately ended with a knee full of stitches and injured rib.

San Rafael Reef as well as the Swell seems to offer lots of possibilities for canyon exploration. More trips are in the works.

Elephant Head Trail

Antelope island… an ominous rocky mass rising up from the Great Salt Lake. Known largely for it’s awful smells and dense swarms of insects in the summer, it’s one of the few places to go on a snow-free hike during the winter.

Kerry and I headed out Friday afternoon, did some evening hiking and biking, then camped at Bridger Bay. We ate breakfast while watching a spectacular sunrise.

Later we met with a Utah Outdoors group of 18 to hike to Elephant Head lookout. The hike was 9 miles round trip with less than 1000 ft of elevation gain.

With it’s abundant bison and pronghorn, open vistas, and gradual grassy slopes, Antelope Island is a very different experience from hiking in the Wasatch. Just be sure to avoid brine fly season.

(group photo credit: Terrance)

Neff’s Canyon

Another day hike with Utah Outdoors. This time we went up Neff’s canyon with a faint and unrealistic hope that we could reach Thayne Peak. We reached the meadow basin half way to the peak and suddenly the cushy, packed down trail ended. The only way moving forward was to post-hole our way through hip-deep snow. This lasted about 15 feet before the group mutinied and just turned back. We got some great sled runs on the way down. Then we gorged ourselves on Ethiopian food.

Bonneville Salt Flats

Kerry and I drove to western Utah and into Nevada on Saturday. We drove and walked around on the Bonneville Salt Flats, famous for being the location of several land speed records. North of there, I hiked up Rishel Peak. This involved driving down a pretty bad dirt road (for 2-wheel drive) until we were reasonably close, then just forging my way up with no trail. A little farther west we found two caves (Jukebox Cave and Danger Cave) which were mostly off limits to the public. Danger cave had some informational signs explaining that archaeologists have found 13,000 year old artifacts, which is pretty incredible.