October 5, 2015

Temple Mountain, Stairway to Heaven, Ding, and Dang

Temple Mountain from our campsite

Last Fall we "discovered" the Temple Mountain Road near Goblin Valley. We fell in love with the camping, dirt roads, abundance of fun slot canyons... the list goes on and on.

We were itching for another weekend in the desert after that somewhat memorable trip to Dead Horse, so it was a no-brainer to head back down to the San Rafael Swell for a couple days of fun.

We had an excellent weekend - 3 runs on the Temple Mountain Road (a rave run if there ever was one), a canyoneering trip down Stairway to Heaven Canyon, a non-technical but skin abrading hike/scramble through Ding and Ding Canyons, a pair of relaxing nights by the campfire, and perfect weather. 

When can we head south again?


Car camping can be tough! :-)

Stairway to Heaven Canyon

Running in the Temple Mountain area

Ding / Dang Canyons

September 28, 2015

Superior Scramble

Over the weekend our friend Amiee, in her infinite wisdom, suggested that we climb the South Ridge of Mt Superior. Like the ski lines on Superior, this is an iconic scrambling route. Not extreme in terms of difficulty... but it is challenging, fun, and incredibly scenic. We felt bad having this much fun while Andrea was in the midst of 20 hours of travel on her way back from China, but justified it by saying this was a good way to learn the route and then take Andrea out for a climb before El Nino hits.

Superior's South Ridge is essentially a 3000 foot scramble from the road to summit, on somewhat exposed (at times) but stable rock. This is exactly the type of scrambling I love, so it was a blast. We hiked back down via the East Ridge and Cardiff Pass trail.

The fall colors are peaking in the Cottonwood Canyons right now. With the unusally warm temperatures, its a great time to be in the mountain and enjoy some bonus Indian Summer.

Here's the route: cut through the bushes, go up the white rock to the ridge, then stay on the ridge until you are on the summit!

And here's one shot I took at Empire Pass the day before...

September 23, 2015

An engaging weekend at Dead Horse Point

I'll just start with the picture above...

On Saturday morning, Andrea and I woke up while it was still dark out and headed over to the "point" section of Dead Horse Point State Park. We planned to snap some sunrise photos and maybe grab a good shot of the two of us. I also had a ring in my pocket, a fact that I kept to myself.

Exactly six years before (+1 day, so not exactly, but close enough) we decided to officially start "dating" while on a trip to the Grand Canyon with my family, celebrating my sister's birthday. That was the first of many adventures in the desert. We love the mountains, forests, snow, and skiing, but the red rocks of the Southwestern USA have also been the source of countless memories. Quick access to this region is a major reason that we love living in Utah.

As the sun started to creep over the La Sal Mountains and lit up the cliffs above the Colorado River, everything felt right. The symbolism of being in canyon country on the same weekend I described above and knowing the water in that river below us came from the mountains of Central Colorado (where we met) was not lost on me. We were in the midst of some self-timer photos, and I asked Andrea to go hit the button for "one more shot." While she was looking away I fumbled to get the ring out of my pocket (and fortunately didn't drop it off a 2000' cliff). I started the countdown in my head as Andrea hustled back, unaware of what was about to happen. The timing was impeccable, as the camera perfectly caught the moment when I asked Andrea to marry me. It looks staged, but I assure you the image is 100% genuine and real. Even though she knew it was coming at some point, I caught her completely off-guard in the moment. I won't forget the look on her face.

That photo was six years in the making. We waited a long time... I could have told you in September 2009 (heck, August 2009!) that I was going to marry Andrea... but I believe we did this the right way, for us. In six years we've had our shares of ups and downs (more ups than downs), and built the foundation for everything that is to come. We've already had a lifetime of memories and we're only getting started. We are both at great places in our lives... happy, excited, full of optimism.

We spent the entire weekend in classic "Andrea and Jake" fashion. Running + [insert other activity here: skiing, mountain biking, hiking] + watching sunrise / sunset + relaxing outdoors + admiring the scenery and landscapes. Doing all the things we love, together, because doing them together is what gives them meaning in the first place. We are lucky that we get to spend so much of our lives in this way. Weekends like this are the rule, not the exception. We have constant opportunities to enjoy and take advantage of what the world has to offer. After six years, we fully recognize how lucky we are to have stumbled into each other's lives. Our "normal" is actually extraordinary.

Dead Horse Point State Park exceeded our expectations. We go down to the Moab area all the time, but somehow we had never been to this park before. We stayed in the new luxurious yurts which have plenty of space, comfortable beds, wrap-around decks, propane grills, and AC/heat. They are also conveniently located at the junction of two trails within the Intrepid system. You can do a number of 3-14+ mile routes on flowy, fun singletrack right from the yurts. The Intrepid system is primarily billed as biking trails, but we quickly realized they were along the best running trails that we've covered in the Moab area. Dead Horse Park also has a small concession stand outside the visitor's center that serves soft serve ice cream. If that wasn't destiny, I don't know what is.

There are tons of great trails along Highway 313 (on the way to Dead Horse) as well. We rode our mountain bikes there (intermediate slickrock!) for a couple hours on Sunday afternoon before driving home.

We will definitely be making annual trips to Dead Horse Point. Like most of the places we travel to, we find out on the first visit that we are only scratching the surface. The "to-do" list gets five new items for every one that is checked off. Fortunately we have the rest of our lives together to keep working on it.