Weekend Adventures in Arches NP

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend. Here’s what Frank and I were up to.

Friday after work, we picked up a friend of ours (yes, we made a friend in Salt Lake City!) and drove down to Moab for a few canyons and a science march. We spent the night camping and woke up at 5:30 for an early start in Arches National Park.

By about 9:30 am, the crowds in Arches are pretty wild, so we made it to the trailhead at 7:00 and hiked into a beautiful canyon called U-Turn.

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U-turn is a pretty nice beginner canyon with a 95-foot repel at the end.

Since Frank works as an ecologist, after the canyon we made sure to go to a science march in Moab. Despite the very small population size, there were over 200 people in attendance. We grabbed a few signs showing our support for Bear Ears National Monument and for land conservation. It was great to see so many people in support of science and conservation.

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After the march (and lunch), we hit up an incredibly beautiful canyon called Medieval Chamber. This canyon had all of the best things Utah has to offer, slots, and arches. The end had us repelling next to a giant arch, with a rather big audience at the bottom.

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The awesome 100-ft repel between the canyon walls and Morning Star Arch

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My audience as I came down the repel… pretty weird.

After the long trek back to the car, we watched the sunset at Dead Horse Point and ate some tacos. Pretty much a perfect end to a perfect day.

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Areli working on some dinner.

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Frank and I at the Dead Horse Point Overlook

The next morning we got up at a more reasonable 7:00 am and quickly packed up to get back into Arches NP for one more canyon.

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Frank had some pretty great morning hair.

Elephant Butte is the highest point in the park, but in order to summit, you need to repel down 100 ft into a canyon that leads to the summit. It’s a fantastic route and definitely had some pretty epic photo ops.

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Coming down the 100-ft repel into the canyon leading to the summit.

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Frank on the last repel down Elephant Butte.

After Elephant Butte, we hopped on the road and made it back to SLC early enough for me to go for an easy 5-mile run.

Next weekend I’ll be back in Moab for some more canyons and some climbing. I feel like I basically live in Moab!

How was your weekend? Have you visited any National Parks lately? What is the closest one to you?

Weekend Adventures!

Hey Everyone!

I had a great weekend! Here’s what we were up to!

Friday

I didn’t get back from work until pretty late, but Frank and I immediately went out to Red Butte Canyon for some trail running (me) and mountain biking (him). I mostly ran along the Bonneville Shoreline Trail that runs from Provo to Ogden and is pretty much a 5 minute drive from my house. Frank stayed on his bike, but I managed to get in a few miles and a whole lot of vert!

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Not a bad view for right outside a major city!

After the run, we went home and made dinner and watched Louis CK skits. It was a pretty chill night.

Saturday

A while back, I saw an ad for the Ogden Climbing Festival at the climbing gym that we go to. They had a series of workshops, talks, free climbing, and a trail maintenance day. Of course I signed Frank and I up for the event. Saturday morning, we woke up early and went up to Ogden to help out some trail maintenance. Although we didn’t get a huge amount done due to weather, I did win a raffle for a pretty sweet rain jacket by a SLC based company.

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It was a beautiful view with some not so beautiful weather.

Frank and I hiked a little bit before the workshops along the Pine View Trail.

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At 1:00, I took a workshop called Traditional Gear Placement and Natural Anchors. I learned a great deal, but unfortunately it was cut short by some pretty bad lightening. I gotta say, being stuck on the side of a mountain during a thunderstorm is not at all ideal.

The storm passed, so Frank and I hiked along some trails behind the Red Butte Garden with our friend Areli. Afterwards we all went back to our place for spring rolls!

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Sunday

Frank and I woke up to a bit of a winter wonderland. I think Salt Lake was having it’s last (hopefully) go at winter. We took the opportunity to grab the snowshoes and go for a beautiful hike.

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SO MUCH SNOW!!!

In total, we did about 7 miles with over 3000 feet of elevation gain. Not too shabby!

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Beautiful views throughout the trail!

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The snow covered Lake Blanche was looking very beautiful.

That was pretty much our weekend! It’s never boring out here in Utah!

How was your weekend? Did you get outside at all?

The #Lifepoints Adventure Grant

This is copied from a post on Frank and I’s adventure blog. Check it out and follow us to keep up with our adventures. The #lifepoints adventure started this weekend, so we’ll have a post up soon to tell you all about it. Another thanks to Picky Bars for helping us out and making our adventures real!

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No one thinks of wilderness when they think of Kansas. It is the wheat state, strewn with cattle and large industrial farms. If you do a Google search for preserved land in Kansas, you will find virtually none. Kansas seems like a desolate place for outdoors enthusiasts and certainly not a place to find wilderness. But if you dig a little deeper and are willing to search a little harder, you will find the rivers. The Kaw River, the Arkansas River, and the Missouri River are the only open access waterways in the state, and they are also some of the best wilderness in the state. These rivers are some of the few remaining places where you can get a sense of what the original settlers and the Native Americans saw when coming to the prairie. Still, when I tell people I live in Kansas, they assume I can only get a dose of wild after a 7-hour drive to the Rocky Mountains. Our goal: To convince people that this is simply not true, that there is wild hidden in their backyards, snaking its way between cattle ranches and fields of wheat.

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A few months ago, I came across a grant to fund an adventure, the Picky Bars #Lifepoints Adventure Grant. Frank and I thought hard about how to apply. Do we write up something to fund a backpacking trip through the Rockies or the Ozarks? Surely, that would be picturesque and maybe even win us that grant. But we decided otherwise. Our goal has always been to get people EVERYWHERE outside. That includes Kansas. So, we applied with an idea to get as many people as we could on the Kaw River. Needless to say, we figured we’d never hear from Picky Bars again.

Well… we did hear from them. Apparently Picky Bars agreed, getting people outside and into the wilderness, in even the least likely of places, is important.

 Here we are, planning another adventure! Each weekend in August, we will be paddling sections of the Kaw River from its origin in Junction City to where it meets the Missouri River in Kansas City. We are having both experienced paddlers and novices join us throughout the trip and we’ve designated sections that are especially good for getting kids out and on the river. And did I mention that we get a free kayak?

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Thanks, Picky Bars, for helping us make this vision a reality! We’ll be posting updates about our adventure here on our blog.

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Follow our adventure!

Twitter: @thisyogiruns

Blog: wildplaygrounds.wordpress.com

Or join our adventure!

Prairie Fire Meetup

Weekend Adventures: Exploring the Kansas Underground

This weekend Frank and I did a little bit of everything! I paced a half marathon, we met up with the Kansas Speleological Society and went scouting for some caves on the Kansas Oklahoma boarder and went on a hike out at the Tallgrass Prairie. Basically, we had a great time.

Friday afternoon, Frank and I went straight down to the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve for a 6-mile hike. The preserve is managed by the National Park Service and is probably some of the best hiking in Kansas. It has approximately 40 miles of marked trail where you can get rather far out into the Prairie. After Friday’s hike, we have officially covered all of the trails in the park!

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Nabbing the last trail at Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve

We got home in time to go on a bike ride with some friends and tried to hit the hay early. I had an early wake up the next morning for the Bill Snyder Highway Half Marathon!

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Bringing my group in to the finish line!

Saturday morning, I was up and ready to pace some people to their half marathon goals! I’ll write up a recap of the experience, but it was tons of fun!

After the race, Frank and I loaded up into the car for the Kansas Speleological Society (KSS) meeting in southern Kansas. We have done a lot of caving in the past, and really the only way to get access to new caves is to join one of these groups. Kansas isn’t known for good caving, but it has some stuff here or there. Luckily for me, I enjoy going into very small and tight caves, which is probably all that Kansas has. We spent Saturday afternoon out on a pasture, digging up sinkholes in hopes of finding new and unexplored caves. We found one with potential, but we still don’t know if it goes anywhere.

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Since I was the smallest of the group, I was sent in to see if the sinkhole lead to a cave.

In the evening, we camped out at a recreation and fishing area. Although Kansas is not overwhelmed in public land, it does have plenty of state recreation areas where there is free camping. We definitely take advantage of this Kansas perk.

The next morning, a few of the members of the KSS offered to take us to a cave on the Kansas-Oklahoma boarder. They were not too sure how far back it went and warned us that it was a wet and miserable crawl. We usually are not too picky about caves, so we took them up on the offer. This cave was a little deceiving. It had a big beautiful entrance, which lead to a tiny hole with flowing water. Frank and I loaded up with flashlights and kneepads and dove right in. I gotta say, this was probably the most miserable cave I’ve ever been in. I was face down and crawling in mud and water up to my elbows. Every time I thought “well, this can’t get any worse”, it actually would. There was even a section where we had to swim through cold and murky cave water. I always prefer dry caves, but I absolutely HATE swimming in a cave. The hole went about 1000 feet back and after an hour of army crawling through the miserable cave mud, we turned back. It’s always a joyful experience to see the literal light at the end of the tunnel when you’re in a wet cave.

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The entrance to the most miserable cave in the world.

When we got back to the car, we dried off and headed home. Overall, a successful weekend! Plus, after living in Kansas for a year, I finally made it back into a cave!!

How was your weekend? Any fun adventures?

By the way, I am going to be adding some more posts to my Weekend Adventures series including some “How tos” on backpacking, climbing, and caving.

Weekend Adventures: Paddling the Kansas River

Manhattan rests in the floodplain between the Kansas River and the Big Blue River, both of which are seasonal and often too dry to paddle. However, over the past few weeks, Kansas has gotten a significant amount of rainfall, causing flooding damage throughout the city and the water levels in the rivers to rise significantly. Frank and I took this as an opportunity to take out our kayaks and finish a significant portion of the river.

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This is the portion of the river that we conquered.

On Saturday morning we gathered out gear, shuttled our car in Wamego (with the help of our friend, Zeb) and walked from our apartment to the Kansas River, which is a one-mile trek. Now, I don’t typically call one mile a trek, but when you are carrying all of the gear you need for an overnight paddle, plus two kayaks, one mile quickly becomes a trek.

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Our loaded up Kayaks outside of the fanciest restaurant in town.

Seriously, we probably looked like nutjobs walking through downtown Manhattan with kayaks.

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Dragging two boats behind Texas Road House.

We got to the river, set ourselves up and paddled away. It is kind of amazing how quickly it goes from a decent sized town to farmlands and wilderness. Within two miles on the river, you never would have known Manhattan was so close.

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Since the water levels were so high, we were keeping a speed of about 5 mph without really trying. There was a lot of debris along the banks and on little sandbar islands, making it clear that the flooding had been pretty destructive out here on the river.

We paddled by a large group of frat guys from Kansas State, who threw full beers at us (thanks?) and cheered as we passed. They looked like a pretty fun (and drunk) group, but they were so loud we could hear them for another half mile. It kind of took some peacefulness away from the river. Fortunately for us, they were the only people we saw all day!

 

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Frank paddling out ahead of me.

We stopped briefly in a small town called St. George, grabbed some food and paddled another mile before finding a small island to camp on. The sun was setting, and in full Kansas form, it was fantastic. Right across the river was an eagle’s nest and I could hear the occasional cry of the bird as I drifted asleep.

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The view from my boat!

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The desolate landscape of our island.

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Seriously, it doesn’t get much better than this!

The next morning we woke up to some rather threatening looking clouds. We wanted to get to the car before it started to rain, so we packed up camp and got back on the river.

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Can’t leave your island without a selfie!

It wasn’t long before we saw the Wamego water tower and knew we were close to the car. The take out was a little funky and I managed to get my boat caked in mud.

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Almost to Wamego

It only took us about 6 total hours of paddling to make it from Manhattan to Wamego. We were a little disappointed that it was such a quick stretch of river and were hoping for a longer paddle. Unfortunately, because of the seasonality of the Kansas River, we had to play it safe, just in case the water was slower than we thought. Next time we are hoping to do a longer stretch, maybe all the way out to Topeka or Lawrence.

Paddling is always a super fun and nondestructive way to get into the wilderness. Kansas has very little preserved land and no areas for backpacking, so we were pretty proud of ourselves for finding a way to backcountry camp in Kansas.

Depending on the weather, we might be out for another paddle this weekend!

Did you go on any adventures during the weekend? Do you have any adventures planned?

Weekend Adventures!

Happy Monday Everyone!

I had a crazy fun weekend and a great week of training. I’ll update you on how the training went in my recap, but for now, I am going to tell you all about my weekend adventures. I figured that since Frank and I spend every weekend on some sort of adventure, I should start a blog series on what we do and where we go. This series will be very photo heavy interspersed with what we were up to!

Most weekends are spent backpacking, hiking, climbing, trail running, or some sort of outdoor activity. This weekend, we did a little bit of everything! Frank, our friend, Ben, and I took Friday off from work and drove out to Arkansas Thursday night for some sweet sport climbing and hiking in the Ozark Mountains.

We made it to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch in the AM and went straight out to some of the more popular climbing spots in the canyon. Now, before I was a distance runner, I was a climber. In fact, distance running was a way to get me in better shape for mountaineering. Soon, running became my main passion, but being able to climb all day is still pretty awesome.

Ben made it up his first climb EVER!! I was super happy to see him enjoy the climbs the way I do!

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After a full day of climbing, we went for a short hike through the Buffalo River Gorge. If you are ever in the southern Midwest, this is a place you HAVE to go!

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It doesn’t get much better than this!

We got back to the ranch just before dark, hung out with some goats (they had like 100 baby goats), and went to bed.

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The hills were covered in tents and dirtbag climbers.

Saturday morning and afternoon was filled with some of the tallest climbs I’ve ever done. These walls were about 85 feet tall and had some of the most fantastic views from the top. We climbed until our arms tired out and went back to the Buffalo River Gorge for the National Park Service Centennial Concert.

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This route went WAY higher than I am right there!

The concert was packed, and in such a beautiful place.

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Frank and I were making some faces at each other during the concert… also that guy behind us…

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Tons of people made it out for the concert!

Post concert, we packed up our backpacks and hiked into the woods a few miles to find a campsite. The Buffalo River Gorge is right up against a National Forest, where there is free camping all along the trail. All National Forests have free camping in the wilderness, so if you are ever in a pinch, it’s a good place to make an overnight stop.

We woke up Sunday morning with the sunlight coming in. I tried to stay asleep in my bivy, but Frank was not having it.

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To cut on weight and mass, I use a bivy instead of a tent. They are waterproof and super easy to set up and take down.

Before heading back to Manhattan, we went for a hike to a cave at the Lost Valley Trail. The Ozark Mountains are filled with great little spots, but this one was just fantastic. There were natural bridges, three caves (one had a waterfall inside), and a ton of scenic overlooks to view the valley.

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Crawling out of a cave.

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Frank and Ben beneath the Natural Bridge.

After the hike, we ate some lunch and made the 6 hour trip back to Manhattan, KS. Although we expected this to be a rather uneventful ride, as we got close to town, we heard on the radio that a tornado had touched down just west of town. The roads were quiet except for the occasional storm chaser vehicle driving by (good sign, right?). We stopped to overlook some of the crazy weather, but were advised that if we wanted to get back to Manhattan, that we should do so immediately. We made it back and into the basement, but the warning was lifted about 15 minutes later. Aside from some flooding, Manhattan made it through the storm untouched.

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Rather ominous looking clouds over Manhattan, KS.

So, we did a little bit of everything this weekend! I even managed to squeeze in some miles between our adventures. How was your weekend? Did you go on any adventures?