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VISIT UTAH

Five fun-filled days exploring the desert.

Story by Whitney James November 13th, 2014

TO THE DESERT

I’ve wanted to be a writer since, well, forever. So earlier this year when I was invited to join a group of much more established writers to partake in a desert adventure with Visit Utah, I almost fell off my desk chair. All hailing from my newfound home of Colorado, we packed our bags for five sunshine-filled days of scrambling around orange hoodoos, laps in Lake Powell, and quite a few 3.2 beers. After all, it was only May, and the winter had been long and hard. 

Our itinerary kicked off with a trek up Angels Landing in Zion National Park. I’d been this way before, but this time was less crowded and much more fun with friends—especially friends wearing aqua socks, which is apparently how Mormons prefer to hike.

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BRING ON THE SNOW

After a restless night that involved the power going out in all of Springdale due to a tremendous lightening storm, we awoke to snowfall. Yes, snowfall. In May. Only slightly aware of the wetness that awaited us, we clamored into Zion Adventure Company’s SUV and were off to Lambs Knoll in Kolob Canyon on the western side of the park for a morning of canyoneering. You can find the details of this extreme excursion at Utah Adventure Journal—including why it smelled like bananas.

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AFTERNOON HIKING

After drying off from our morning misadventure, we went for a hike to Hidden Canyon back in Zion. Someone in another group had broken an ankle and needed to be ziplined out, a thousand-plus feet above the valley floor. It was an incredible operation that took several hours, some twenty plus volunteers, and was described by one of the rangers as the “ride of a lifetime”. We agreed.

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PADDLE LAKE POWELL

The next morning, we were on the road to Lake Powell. We boarded stand-up paddleboards and wobbled around (some more than others) for a few hours to familiarize ourselves. It felt good to be back in the sun. En route to our next activity, we swung by Glen Canyon Dam, picked me up a copy of Edward Abbey’s Desert Solitaire, and then dipped into Arizona (shhh) for a brief mindfulness and yoga session with the wonderfully talented Melanie Webb. It was so picturesque that you can’t even tell we were getting pooped on by sparrows the entire time.  
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ICE-CREAM HARBOR

That afternoon, we loaded our bags onto a brand-new house boat and took off for a little inlet called Ice Cream. Unfortunately there was no ice cream, but we had managed to pick up some full-strength beer while in Arizona. There was also a hot tub on the top deck, along with a water-slide for the braver (or slightly more intoxicated) souls. We celebrated late into the night until the power went out, and we realized they had forgotten to stock the boat with pillows.   

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BEERS AT BRYCE

The final day found us at Bryce Canyon National Park, where we hiked an “advanced” trail that surprised us Coloradoans in quality of quad-burn. But the highlight? Sharing a s’mores flavored chocolate bar and cheers-ing overlooking the hoodoo-filled canyon and a rising moon, at a vista point completely free of tourists. My conclusion of the trip is clear. There are a million and one reasons to explore desert country. 

If you ever have the chance to visit Utah, do. 

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Footnote: Photos taken with my trusty Canon 60D and by our equally trusty guides.
Utah, USA