Monday, June 29, 2015

Hiking the Mysterious Hoodoos in Bryce Canyon National Park #FindYourPark

Bryce Canyon Wilderness Area

A "Hoodoo" is defined as a pillar of rock, usually in a totem-pole like shape, formed by the erosion made by frost and rain.

It also is defined as "to cast a spell"...

A 360 degree amphitheater of color.
And that’s exactly what happens to us as we step out of the van on a cloudy day at 7,800ft in Bryce Canyon National Park. Packs on, warm layers ready, we are eager to get on the renown 5.5 mile Fairyland Trail that extends from Fairyland Point to Sunset Point.

But we are NOT prepared to have our breath completely taken away. As we stand at our starting place, Fairyland Point, we're mesmerized, as if hit by a mysterious force, by the shocking beauty of the wilderness before us.

Hoodoos are created by Coyote the Trickster Spirit. And frost and rain.



In front of us, and surrounding us completely as we begin the hike in, are hundreds of towers in glowing shades of orange. These crumbling pillars rise over our heads, some as tall as 10 stories high, in a full 360 degree amphitheater of jaw-dropping color.


Hoodoos as tall as 10-story buildings.

I literally take a moment to sit, breathe, and take it all in while my friends hike on ahead. I’ll catch up in a little bit but i crave the silence and space of this breathtaking place. It’s hikes like these that can’t help but make us reflect on bigness and smallness of our existence in this world.

Bryce is mostly limestone rock, but note the multiple colors of other types of rock from the stream bed.

The Paiute Indians, who inhabited this area 800 years ago, felt the same way. They described the hoodoos as “Legend People” who were turned into stone by Coyote, their trickster spirit. Magic happened to create Bryce Canyon. And I can’t help but wonder if important people that I’ve lost are mingling in happily with these trickster spirits and legend people.

I hope so.


Towering hoodoos in peculiar shapes make this hike a fantasyland. 


Sleet greets us at Sunset Point and gives my eye a giant splot.

The hike is a series of downs and ups over a 5.5mile trek and a joy to experience. Come, see Bryce. Words can hardly define it and photos give just a taste of the fantasy of the trail.

Bryce is known as a backpackers park, so come back to hike-in overnight. I know I will. Or get just a taste with this Fairlyand Trail. Bring warm weather gear. Rain turns to sleet by the end of the day and our heads and hearts are full.

-Outdoorsy Mama

Trip Report:
Location: Fairyland Trail from Fairyland Point to Sunset Point, Bryce Canyon National Park
Length & Elevation: 5.5 miles. Rolling terrain: down 600', up 300', down 200', up 700' (approximations)
Level of difficulty: Lots of ups and downs. Moderate. No real precarious exposures.
Exposure: Full sun. Bring layers for high elevation. Possible rain and snow.
What to wear: Bring everything for sun and cold. Weather changes quickly and high elevation makes this a generally cooler hike. I wore a sun hat for the first half, shifted to wool hat and rain gear by the end.
Kid friendly: Yes, for kids who are hikers and follow normal trail etiquette and safety. No real serious trail exposures.
Best time to visit: After a snowfall, after a rain-storm. Colors of rocks pop.
Tip: This is a one way trail. We had a pick up at Sunset Point. There is a Fairyland Loop that adds another 4.5 miles.
Disclaimer: Check the weather and trail conditions from a trusted source before attempting this or any hike. All hiking stats are approximations. Be sure to confirm on a good map.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Top 6 Gifts for an Outdoorsy Dad

This could be you, Dads. Epic Mountain Biking in Moab, Utah. Photo credit: Walker Fenton

Hey Dads. Your big day is coming up.

The day when you can sit back in your giant camping chair with an ice-cold beer in your hand. And your feet are up while the lovely outdoorsy gal in your life turns the sausages on the grill. And your outdoorsy kids are running around bringing you more nacho-chips for your extra-spicy guacamole dip.

THIS is what you want for your Father’s Day gift. 

A day of THIS.

And what else?


Big outdoor knife. With big old blade. And teeth.

1 - The Outdoor Knife
Yes there is the multi-tool Swiss Army. And yes there is the multi-tool Leatherman. And then there is the next step up, even just for visual impact. The camping knife with a big-old blade and serrated teeth. The chest-pounding kind of knife that makes you feel like a bad-arse dad at the campground. You’re not just the FlufferNutter s’more maker, you’re the macho guy with The Blade whittling spears at the campfire and scaring the raccoons away before they steal vital groceries from your family. Like this Leatherman Crater @ $22-$60.


GearLine System 
2 - GearLine Organization System
This "organization system" definitely isn’t an attempt for us to get you to clean-up your act, rather it’s a totally cool, smart idea that’s both totally practical and also fun ‘cause you get to hang all your vital outdoor gear in one organized spot. It’s a 4 foot line with 10 s-biners (to hook gear onto) and twisty ties at the each end that attach to anything. Hang it across the inside of your tent. Or tree to tree at the campsite. Or nail to nail in the garage. I actually have it in my office for quick access to my outdoor essentials. @ $20 GearLine 


Lightweight Backpacking Camp Chair
3 - Lightweight Backpacking Camp Chair
This baby sets up in less than 40 seconds. I’ve counted. So no IKEA-like unintelligible diagrams or massive swearing necessary to put it together or break it back down. It’s easy and it’s comfortable. A 25-year veteran outdoor guide friend of mine who is extra-tall carries it with him on ALL backpacking trips. Kudos, Jerry, for introducing me to this chair. Weighs 1lb. 10oz. and can hold up to 250 lbs. @ $73 REI

Cool Outdoor T-Shirt for Dad.

4 - The Outdoor T-Shirt with Humorous or Dope Saying
Guys, you don’t care if it’s cotton. As long as it makes you laugh or feel epic. From the cool graphic with John Muir quote to the ridiculous “Naked Bacon Hiking”, “Tick Magnet” or hungry cartoon bear, you must have a t-shirt specifically for the trails or campsite. A poly-blend for good wicking and/or one that makes your wife’s eyes roll when you put it on is definitely preferable, but take what you can get (away with…) @ $20 and up Outdoorsy T-Shirt Ideas

Goal Zero Solar Charger

5 - Goal Zero Solar Charger
If you want to have the power to check the scores from the playoffs with your satellite communicator in the backcountry OR call Grandma on her birthday from the campsite, you need to keep things charged. This one works. It charges. I have it and I use it on the trails. Backpacking, hiking, camping, biking. It juices up my electronics in a RELIABLE way.  From @ $79-$120 and up depending on bells and whistles.  Guide 10 PlusSolar Kit.

Slickrock Trail. Moab, Utah. Photo credit: Walker Fenton
6 - Mountain Biking Trip to MOAB, Utah
Gather your crew of mountain biking buddies and make this happen. Your trip to the mountain biking mecca of Moab, Utah to spend the long weekend on two wheels on the trails. Wave bye to the wife and kids and thank them for this EPIC trip. And say hello to the Slickrock, which is a wildly sticky or “tacky” rock in Moab that allows you to hold your tread like you’ve never before on crazy pitches. Hello nearby Arches and Canyonlands National Parks. Hello miles and miles of mountain bike nirvana. Book your flights. Hop in the car. Make this one happen. Priceless. Moab info

Happy Father's Day, friends.

-Outdoorsy Mama

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Monday, June 8, 2015

5 Kinds of Hiking Footwear for Every Kind of Adventure From Water to Mountains

Which hiking shoe is right for you? Lightweight boot, Bryce Canyon National Park. Hanging with the HooDoos.
From Yosemite to Zion to Vermont's Green Mountains to Bryce Canyon's blazing-orange Hoodoos, my feet take me on the trails everywhere. And unless you’re a barefooter, the correct type of hiking footwear is the most basic, important, vital part of your hiking gear. Some might say it’s the sole/soul of the operation, so to speak.

But shoe puns aside, we’ve all had the wrong type of footwear on a trip. Where our feet scream up at us and we have blistery, black & blue reminders of our mistake for months.

I fall hard for my hiking gear. And my choice of footwear is probably the most important gear item on my list.

Here are 5 kinds of hiking footwear for every kind of adventure:

Reflections in Yosemite National Park wearing my Sport Sandals for a hike up the South Fork of the Merced River.
1 - The Sport Sandal
Surprisingly, these sandals are made for more thank just splashing around in a stream. From the first Velcro Tevas I ever owned to these magenta Merrells with super-dry, super support, I use these on warm to hot days for not only general outdoor activities, but also for 4+ mile hikes. 

Gear companies are using new technology to make these non-stinky, adjustable, and comfortable with a great “footframe” to make them more like a hiking shoe than just a flat flip-flop. Some brands to check out are Merrell, Chaco and Teva.

My favorite of the pack, Trail Runners at the summit of Angel's Landing, Zion National Park.
2 - The Trail Runner
Hands down my favorite piece of hiking footwear. They’re the first thing I grab. I switched over to trail runners after an interesting conversation with a podiatrist I met hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park when I lived in Boulder, Colorado years ago. The chatty foot-doctor highly recommended moving into trail runners for their lightness, agility, stability and grip. And I haven’t looked back since. 

I’ve now owned multiple generations of Saucony Xodus and it’s like having 4x4 tires on my feet. With a wider foot bed and incredible Vibram tread and stability, they are my BFF of hiking footwear.

Relaxing at Shelf Lake in my Lightweight Hiking Boots after a hike into the 7 Devil's Wilderness, Idaho.
3 - The Lightweight Waterproof Hiking Boot
Heading out for a week of backpacking last September, I’d just gotten the news that the weather in the Seven Devils Wilderness in Idaho was unusually funky and surprise hailstorms were hitting the region. I made a decision to head to REI to look at waterproof footwear options to bring instead of my Saucony trail runners.

Now the usual mantra for hikers is to have PLENTY OF TIME to break in your boots. I had just two weeks – you usually want AT LEAST a month – so I was playing with fire and needed just the right boot: lightweight, easy to break in & waterproof. After chatting with the REI dude and trying on options, this low rise boot from Ahnu stood out. And it performed with a minimal break-in period. With a heavy backpack and some stream crossings, I didn't have a single foot issue and I had super comfortable, trail worthy support.

Overlooking Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California in my Big Kahuna Hiking Boots.
4 - The Big Kahuna Hiking Boot
When I wear these, I feel like I could hike through a volcano and kick the arse of Godzilla if he came my way. I grab this type of boot if I know it’s going to be a wet or gnarly trail for excellent toe protection. I put my kids in a similar low cut version of these Keen boots for their summer camps and intense kowabunga kid-adventures. 

Again, because of modern technology, they're still relatively light compared to some of the old leather standards I grew up with. Solid Keen Durands for solid hiking and backpacking.


Water Shoes for foot protection for rafting, swimming and hiking the trails on the Snake River, Hell's Canyon.
5 - Optional: The Water Shoe
If you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the water, getting a pair of quick-dry water footwear that DOESN’T LET ROCKS into the shoe is another option. Trail runners will work if you need to be in water just once in a while because they’re lightweight and dry relatively quickly. 

But you can check into water shoes like these from Columbia I wore on the Snake River as a part of the crew of Hell Hike and Raft last year. We rafted for days and I needed footwear I could wear in the boat, swim in, and then hop on the land and explore the terrain with good support.

So there you go. Five great options to take care of your feet. Pick the right shoe for the right adventure and let’s see how far we can go!

See you out on the trails and let me know what you think.

-Outdoorsy Mama

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