Chuckawalla Wall

I went outside, Utah

img_5353My freshman year of college at Dixie State College, now Dixie State University, a couple boys dragged me and my roommates to Chuckawalla Wall for the first time. It was my first experience with rock climbing. As I strapped on borrowed shoes, while wearing a borrowed harness, I remember spying the bolts at the top and considering the feat I was about to undertake. So when you say, “kiss the bolts,” what does that mean, exactly? I saw the white chalk marks left by previous climbers, marking the handholds that would allow me to scale the wall. I gave it a shot.

I don’t remember if I reached the top on the first try. I probably didn’t, but I do remember successfully completing the climb a number of times, feeling progressively stronger and confident in my ability to scale the wall. Once the girls and I got the hang of climbing the red Navajo sandstone, we couldn’t get enough, even with borrowed shoes, harnesses, and belay devices, and we begged to be taken out to the wall any chance we could get.

After I moved to Sacramento, the accoutrements were purchased; harness, rope, shoes, belay devices, and off I went to the granite slabs of the Sierras with a new climbing partner. It was hard and frustrating, and we quickly gave up. Storing my shoes and harness felt like giving up a dream. Or coming to terms with something that I wanted, but wasn’t meant to be. Even though I was only 19 years old, I mourned my youth, spontaneity, and sense of adventure. I was married and it was time to turn away from childish things.

Kanarraville Falls

I went outside, Utah

I spent the other weekend in Southern Utah, and it reminded me how much I love the Utah desert.

Otherwise known as Kanaraville Creek, this fun little hike features an exposed tromp up and over a little hill into the canyon and through the creek, revealing a surprisingly beautiful and accessible slot canyon.

We saw quite a few people during our trip, especially for a Sunday. We went past the first ladder, but not all the way to the second ladder, as we were concerned about time. But it’s definitely a spot I’ll return to again and again.

the narrows and dreams 15 years old

backpacking, camping, Happy Travels, hiking, I went outside, photography, Temple of Sinawava, The Narrows, Utah, Wall Street, Zion National Park

Preface: This is way more sentimental than usual but I dedicate this hike to my dear friend Eileen. For dreaming with me when we were teenagers about the adventures we would have, and for introducing me to Zion National Park in the first place.


I write this as we travel the five hours back to Salt Lake City.  My shoulders, back and hips are tired and sore. So sore. As my body chills out and begins to relax into the seat, other spots on my legs and arms become the focus, finally speaking up to complain about their bumps and scrapes.

I have a distinct memory of standing in the Temple of Sinawava at 13 years old looking down the paved trail to the entrance of The Narrows.

“It's really hard,” I remember Eileen saying. “My dad said you stay overnight and camp. Carry everything with you. That's where you come out,” she said, pointing up the river to the people walking around in the water.


We were in awe of the challenge of it all.  The thought of trooping through the canyons, seeing the mystery that was held from two teenage girls who just wanted to grow up and have some adventure.

My thoughts continued to flash back 15 years during the 1.5 hour van ride to the trail head.  I was finally doing this.  Five months of planning, 15 years in the making, only hours to go.


There were so many beautiful sights and I could not take enough pictures. I was constantly coming around a bend or seeing a new beam of light that I wanted a picture of. But I am grateful to have the pictures I did take, knowing that some of the most beautiful sights were not captured on a memory card in a camera, but are reserved for only me to remember.

The first day we hiked 11 miles to our designated camp site. About mile 8 or 9 I had experienced enough and was quite done. But with a few miles to go I switched into putting one foot in front of the other and just going. Trudging along, I realized that I would have followed Lauren and Josh right to the end if they decided to keep going. But I'm glad they didn't, it would have been an additional five miles past the campsite.

There was a specific moment when I was far enough behind them that I would catch a glimpse of them just before they rounded a corner or went behind a rock out of sight. I had a funny thought. Y'know that part in Lord of the Rings when Gollum is following Frodo and Sam-Wise into Mordor and he just close enough to make them feel like they're being followed but far enough away to stay out of sight? Yeah, I was Gollum.  And I was so tired at that moment that I had to stop walking mid-stream so I wouldn't fall down with laughter.


When we reached camp all 12 of us peeled off wet boots and socks. Everyone moved a bit slower, more deliberately, conserving energy. There wasn't much conversation since everyone was so focused on their reconstituted meals. Exhausted and with food in our bellies we all called it a day before it was dark.

Curled in my tent listening to the river below and the crickets above I slept as sound as I did when I was a teenager and could fall asleep anywhere.

With a slow start in the morning we broke camp and headed out to finish the last five miles.  The trek was long and exhausting. With a tired body and sore feet I finished the 16 miles, walking barefoot for the last stretch on the paved trail. One of the best choices of the whole trip. 

This was my first backpacking trip and I would call it a success.  Not only did I survive, I have minimal bumps and scrapes.  I'm a bit sore but it's the type of sore that I love, a gentle reminder that I used my body, flexed and stretched my muscles and experienced something wonderful. Because of that I feel no pain.

While the trip was amazing, beautiful and totally worth all the planning, anxiety and stress, those won't be the things I will remember the most. I will remember that moment, walking through Wall Street, exhausted, and finally stopping to look around me realizing where I was. Knowing that my 13 year old self was cheering me on because I was actually doing it. Something that I've wanted to do for half my life, I was doing it. And that moment of reconnecting is priceless. That reconnection is what I went to find and I feel lucky that I found it.


And now I have the urge, as I do at the end of all my adventures, to plan the next one. There are so many wonderful places within a half day's drive that I haven't been to. I look forward to exploring them all while I still have the chance.

the predicament of where to study

study, The U, u of u, university of utah, Utah

Two 'bros' are hugging it out right next to me. It's lasting a long time and I find it to be kinda weird. Not that they're hugging, I'm a hugger too. But they are kinda rocking back and forth and laughing. Weird.

I used to park my pants in the library on the food level. There are nooks there with tables and padded benches. Lots of students go there to study and pass time between classes. I like it because it's cozy and you can eat there but it's still quiet.

Unlike the Union building where people are, what I would call, excessively loud. It's pretty obvious I don't like freshmen. Or overly loud people.

I've recently moved from the library to the computer lab in the Union. Mostly because I've needed to make phone calls during my down time and I don't feel comfortable doing that in the library. So the computer lab has been great. There are group project meet ups happening and people studying together. And it's also food-approved.

And even though it's more quiet down here and there is more studying going on that upstairs, I'd really rather be in a vacuum where it's quiet and food and cell phone friendly. Except that if it's too quiet I can't concentrate.

With only a couple weeks of school left, it's not something I'm spending a lot of time worrying about. In a couple weeks I'll be free of having to think about where I'm gonna spend my in-between class time. And since I only have one class every day during the summer, I won't have to worry about it then either. It's gonna be good.

week one down

life, new semester, school, school started, spring semester, The U, the university of utah, university, university of utah, Utah, utah red, utes

It's the end of the first week of school. 

The U logo

I told my friend school was fun.  He said I must be doing it wrong because school isn't supposed to be fun. I beg to differ.

Either way, the start of my first semester has been filled with anticipation and butterflies. Now that I've been to all my classes twice, here is a partial list of the (non-scholarly) things I've learned:

  • Twitter is mightly helpful for getting up to the minute updates from UTA for the train.
  • The thing I miss most from work during the day is being able to listen to ESPN radio pretty much non stop.
  • All college girls have the same fashion basics. Me included.
  • I'm testing meal replacement bars and they're not so bad.
  • But I'm still starving when 2pm rolls around.
  • I feel inspired and motivated.
  • I'm continuing to feel tired while my body adjusts to my new “higher” activity level. No freshman 15 for this girl. Which is doubly good since I'm technically a junior.
  • I have enough reading to do that I'm no longer bored during my break in classes.
  • Am I the oldest student in my classes? Almost 🙂

This going back to school still has me feeling a bit out of sorts. But a couple more weeks in and I'll be adjusted and moving right along. I've been able to feel settled and familiar with my route to classes and the train schedule. I'm hoping within the next couple weeks to find the activities and events I need to get involved in so I can get the experience and exposure I need. 

So much has happened already, but still so much more to come!