This year’s Bucket List is brought to you by Lava Hot Springs.
BY HAILEY MINTON
For this summer’s bucket list, we wanted to highlight rock climbing, backpacking, mountain biking, and archery. These activities capitalize on the unique geographic features of living in Utah. The highest level of these activities are catered to adults, but any age can have fun at a more appropriate level. Keep in mind that any kid is going to need a willing adult to spearhead these activities. We also have a fun list of activities just for kids to get your own summer bucket list started!
It wasn’t until now, in my late twenties, that I got into Mountain Biking. The experience delivers a similar thrill to downhill skiing and snowboarding. Everything is constantly changing when riding in the mountains during the spring, summer, and fall months. One week, you can pedal alongside fields of wildflowers, another week, you can breathe that decomposing leaf air as you pedal through tunnels of fall leaves. You get to see more country in less time compared to hiking, and I think it is a lot of fun to navigate the technical aspects of the trails.
Since we live in an area with a lot of different trail users, it’s important to know trail etiquette before you jump on your bike. The International Mountain Bike Association has a general rule that has been around since the 70s: Bikers yield to horses and foot traffic, and descending riders yield to climbing riders. However, some areas have trails that are marked as downhill mountain biking only.
The Ogden Parkway paved trail has some fun dirt trails that connect with it. North Fork Park has a network of trails I’m looking forward to checking out. You can also check out Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, and the Bonneville Shoreline trails.
TIP: Looking for trails nearby? Use the Mountain Biking Project app to find one near you that is suited to your skill level.
Whether you’re trying it for the first time, have gone to a climbing gym a few times, or you’re a seasoned climber, rock climbing is fun for all skill levels. The sport requires some education, but once you have the skills and gear, the top of the route is the limit! My husband and I love rock climbing because once you invest money in the gear you need, it’s free to climb outside (most of the time). It’s an amazing way to explore an area, whether you live there or visit a new place. Especially in Utah, there are places to rock climb almost anywhere you travel. It is an exhilarating, challenging, and physically demanding activity. My husband and I love taking our nieces and nephews out with us to let them experience the highs and lows of it. If you think this sport is scary or dangerous, we both think the risk in driving a car is substantially higher than it is for rock climbing (with the right equipment and skill, that is).
The climbing community is usually really great, inclusive, and supportive. It’s always fun to be climbing at the same wall with strangers. When you see someone else overcome a challenge, it feels like you won a little bit too!
There’s always more you can learn with rock climbing. Right now, my husband and I want to learn how to multi-pitch climb. That means you climb up a bigger wall part way, then your belay partner climbs up behind you. Once you get to the top of that first pitch, you start over again and climb up the next pitch. There are a lot of things you need to know to go rock climbing: building an anchor, belaying, rope management, not to mention the technique it takes to actually climb the wall. There are a lot of ways to become educated. You can reach out to your friend who climbs and ask to go climb with them or take a class through one of the climbing gyms or Weber State. Weber State has some affordable clinics they host over the summer. Check out their website if you want the confidence that comes by being trained by a skilled instructor.
TIP: Looking for outdoor climbing routes near you? Use the app Mountain Project.
In 2019, I hiked a relatively small section of the Pacific Crest Trail: a trail running from the border of Mexico, through California, Oregon, and Washington, and ending at the border of Canada. The entire trail is 2,650 miles, and I hiked 314 of them. I found that after about the first 50 miles or so, I started to get into a groove that helped me see the draw of long-distance backpacking. The wilderness, solitude, friends I made along the way, scenery, sore muscles, and wildlife made it unforgettable. Facing physical, mental, and logistical challenges that aren’t a part of everyday life was invigorating, and I highly recommend the experience of doing a long backpacking trip. There are other trails in the US: the Appalachian Trail on the East Coast, the Continental Divide trail through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana, along with a few others. Utah is home to the Highline trail in the Uintas, which spans 104 miles. You may have heard of backpacking to King’s Peak, which is a side trail option along the Highline Trail route. There are other trails like the La Verkin Creek Trail in Zion National Park that runs 14 miles or Bryce Canyon’s Under the Rim Trail that spans 23 miles or Paria Canyon Backpacking Trail in the Vermillion Cliffs Wilderness at 38 miles. There is something liberating about carrying everything you need to survive on your back and reestablishing “home” every night.
Planning meals for backpacking is different from any other type of meal planning you’ve done. You count calories but in the opposite way of what society is used to. More densely packed calories equals more energy for the weight you’re carrying. Cliff bars, tortilla roll up with a tuna packet, snickers bars, oatmeal packets, dehydrated bananas, pineapple and mango, nuts, and beef jerky were some of my staples. Meals where you just add water are ideal because it means less weight to pack around. I really loved the Good To-Go meals, and my favorite was their Herbed Mushroom Risotto.
Backpackers know that gear can make or break a trip, especially when carrying extra weight wears on your feet and joints over the long haul. These are my top three picks that I think make the biggest difference: A Sawer water filter. When going for long distances, you need to filter water as you go. These filters are very light weight and screw onto water bottles. Most people used the disposable Smart Water containers for them. They are lighter weight, and you can easily squeeze them to filter your water. Bring two bottles so one will be the dirty water that is pre-filtered, and the other one can hold filtered water. On cold nights, just make sure you keep your filter in your sleeping bag with you. If it freezes, it’s ineffective.
Injinji wool toe socks. I always do long hikes in two layers of wool socks, with these toe socks as my base layer. These do a phenomenal job of preventing blisters, and many other hikers on the PCT loved them just as much as I did.
A warm sleeping bag and a comfortable backpacking sleeping pad. I have the Big Agnes Roxy Ann bag and the Big Agnes 20 x 72 x 4 Insulate Q-core Sleeping pad. There are lots of good options out there at a variety of price points. Being comfortable at night is important to me, so I went with this gear even though it was a little more on the pricey side. Trust me, it only takes one uncomfortable night to make good sleeping gear worth it.
BY: JENNY GOLDSBERRY
Archery is a fun, competitive sport that requires strength and focus. Anyone can give it a try, and you’ll find it’s much simpler than shooting, because there isn’t a license or registration needed to use a bow and arrow. The two sports are very similar in set up and practice.
When it comes to target practice, get either field or bullet point arrows. Even though these are mostly meant for targets and very small game, they’re still dangerous, so be careful with them. You’ll want a target, which you can rent ready-made or can create your own with a bale of hay. You’ll also want a back stop to keep wayward arrow from flying too far. This is accomplished with an old rug or quilt hung behind the target. Make sure it’s significantly wider and taller than the target for best effect.
If you’re in a group playing archery, communication is key. Always notify other archers when you’re about to shoot. Never shoot an arrow straight up, from an extremely long distance, or when you can’t see where you’re shooting. When it comes time to gather the arrows, which have hopefully hit your target, notify other archers to put down their bows so the path is clear for the clean up.
If you want to learn archery to bowhunt someday, you’ll first need a hunting education and license from the state of Utah. For small game, use a judo or blunt point. When it comes to big game, you’ll need a broadhead point, which is banned from most archery ranges. There’s even a point especially for fishing.
Utah provides a free bowhunting education, but it’s not necessary to hunt. There’s no minimum age requirement, and you pay only when you pass the bowhunting exam.