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Monday, August 31, 2015

Loop Hike, Wall Lake and The Notch-- Uintas Hiking

When the city is projected to hit 98, we always try to find something fun to do somewhere cooler.  The Uintas are always guaranteed to be cool, and the entire forest is dog friendly.  Trying to find a hike that is cool, shaded, dog friendly and with water can be pretty tough with our watershed restrictions.  The Uintas are the perfect spot to hike when the city heats up and you want some water nearby.  

We decided to do a new hike, and after doing some research, found a few good options.  One option was a one mile out hike to Wall Lake to enjoy the sunshine and the lake with some chairs a cooler and a book.  This is also a popular beginner backpacking trek that we just have to go back and do.  The other option is to hike out to Wall Lake, continue up to "The Notch", and then do a little bushwhacking across to pick up a different trail at Clyde Lake, essentially making a loop around the lakes.  This hike is informally known as the 17 Lakes Hike.  We attempted to do this  informal 17 Lakes Hike "Loop" illustrated below.   The red is the cut through you will have to make. 

Trail Map 

But by accident, we did something more like this that followed Wall Lake.  So today, we are going to talk about several options and routes on this hike.  All equally beautiful! 

Loop Hike to Wall Lake, The Notch, 
and around Clyde Lake.  

Directions: ~90-minute drive to the trail head from Salt Lake City.  In Kamas, take U.S. Highway 150 (Mirror Lake Highway)  and drive 26 miles to Crystal Lake trail head parking lot.

Difficulty: Moderate

Total miles : ~6 miles if you make the loop across to Country Lakes Trail or if you just head out to The Notch and back. 6.5 miles if you do the Wall Lake perimeter hike.

Hiking time: 4 to 5 hours 

Accumulative gain: 903 ft. 

Trail head: Crystal Lake trail head parking lot.  There are several trail heads here.  Look for the Notch Mountain Trail, located by the bathrooms. 

Kids: Only if you hike out and back to Wall Lake. The Notch is 2.9 miles one way from the trail head, and to cut across to make a loop requires hiking off trail 

Restrooms: Yes 

Dogs allowed: Yes 

Entry Fee: Three-day pass for $6, you will not be required to go through a ranger station, but it is up to you to stop at the station on the entry or a self service station for your pass. OR your National Parks Pass will work here, just leave it on your dashboard!

Notch Mountain Trail Head

The trail was a little tricky to find.  There are several signs/trails starting at the Crystal Lake Parking area.  This trail is sort of in the "middle" of the others.  Look for the trail to the left of the bathroom. 

From Crystal Lake Trail head, take the Notch Mountain Trail to Wall Lake. The trail heads north and goes between the Lily Lakes, on the way to Wall Lake. At 1 mile you arrive at the largest lake, Wall Lake. 

Trail to Wall Lake 

Olive on the Trail to Wall Lake 

(The trail is dog friendly.  There is a mix of dogs on and off leash.  Dogs are technically required to be on leash.  We kept her on leash mostly, letting her off in certain areas to play). 

Bridge at Wall Lake 

This is the 1 mile mark where you will see the bridge, and Wall Lake behind it. 

Wall Lake

Olive in Wall Lake

  This is the largest lake you will see and a popular spot for swimming, cliff jumping, fishing, camping and picnicking.  This is a great spot to take the kids and it is only 1 mile each way.  This is a great spot for beginner backpackers, or day trippers who want to spend the day at the lake, swimming and enjoying the sunshine. 

Small Lake after Wall Lake

From Wall Lake the Notch Mountains are to the north. The depression in the mountains is called, The Notch. The trail passes by a few unnamed lakes and switchbacks a cliff face to Hope Lake at 2 miles. 

Mount Watson over Hope Lake 

When you come across some cairns heading left, ignore these and keep heading straight, you will go this way to make the loop after seeing The Notch.  At 2.9 miles you arrive at The Notch. After leaving the Notch, start heading the way you came, and keep an eye out for the cairns you passed.

From Wall Lake the Notch Mountains are to the north. The destination is the depression in the mountains called, The Notch. The trail passes by a few unnamed lakes and switchbacks a cliff face to Hope Lake at 2 miles. If you see some cairns heading to the left, ignore those. You will take that trail to make the loop around Wall Lake, but stay straight to reach The Notch.

Ridge by The Notch

The Notch

At around 2.8 miles you will make it to The Notch.  You will see a flat rock slab overlooking three beautiful lakes.  This is a great spot to enjoy lunch before completing the loop.  From here, you can continue on down the Notch Mountain Trail and turn around when you want,  you can take an immediate left at the Notch to make the loop to lakes Country Trail, or turn around now , head back to the cairns, and take a right to make the loop around Wall Lake perimeter.  

The Notch


Take a right at the cairns taking you down to Clyde Lake. Looking west from the shelf is Clyde Lake and Mount Watson. Looking below the shelf to the south is Twin Lakes. 

One of the lakes after The Notch

If you take the left at the Notch to make the Lakes Country Trail, at 3.9 miles you arrive on the north side of Clyde Lake and the trail continues west along its bank. Clyde Lake is a great place to take a break before you continue the hike. After Clyde Lake the trail turns south for Watson, Linear, Petite and Cliff lakes. At Cliff Lake look for rock climbers on the cliffs.  The trail arrives at the Lakes Country Trail junction. At the junction, go left to complete the loop.

Lakes Labeled by

Well, we ended up heading back to the cairns that I thought were the right trail, and in essence, cutting in too early before Clyde Lake and missed the Lakes Country Trail.  Instead, we just bushwhacked our way around Wall Lake.   If you also get a little off route trying to make it across, just follow the lake around back to the bridge.  This is exactly what we did. 

Views of Wall Lake 

Views of Wall Lake 

Our little detour was worth it because instead of hopping back on the trail, we were able to catch gorgeous views of Wall Lake from the other end.  

Views of Wall Lake 

We also came across some amazing campsite on the perimeter of Wall Lake. 

Camp by Wall Lake 

And then we ran into a group of people cliff jumping and fishing.  

Cliff Jumping at Wall Lake 

Views of Wall Lake 

Finally we came across some sort of a trail that bordered Wall Lake and followed it back to the Bridge, where the trail takes you back 1 mile to the trail head. 

Trail surrounding Wall Lake 

Bridge at Wall Lake 

From the bridge where you started your loop, just head back to the trail head where you started.  If you made it to Lakes Country Trail, that will lead you do a different trail head in the same parking lot.  

This was a gorgeous quiet trail with several gorgeous lakes.  The views of The Notch were incredible and the hike was an overall great experience.  You have a few options:  backpacking to Wall Lake for the night (1 mile each way),  hiking out to Wall Lake with kids for the day (1 mile each way),  hiking out to The Notch and back (~6 miles), making the left at The Notch, looping around to Lakes Country Trail (~ 6 miles), or going to the Notch, turning around, taking  right at the cairns to make your own trail around Wall Lake (~6.5 miles).  Whichever you chose, you are going to have an amazing hike in the Uintas.

Stay tuned for my Tips to the Uintas post later in the week! 

Friday, August 28, 2015

Zion National Park's "The Subway", Info and Permitting

If you are looking to meet some great people who share similar interests as you, I highly recommend joining a Meetup Group in your area.  I have joined a few different hike/outdoor and dog meetup groups out here and have met some pretty great people (and their pooches). Alicia over at Girl On A Trail is one of the highly knowledgeable and awesome people I have met out here.  She has been super helpful in helping me navigate the whole permitting process for some of the popular National Parks out here.  

The idea of getting a permit to hike somewhere is quite foreign to this East Coaster (the land of few National Parks).  The hardest part was figuring out WHEN to apply.  

After we both failed at getting Rim to Rim Permits (large lottery system, I only got end of season mid week which I couldn't make work) she recommended applying for a permit to hike The Subway (Zion National Park) instead.   Well thanks to Alicia's tip, I applied, got a permit, and am SUPER excited for this hike in October.  

So thanks to Alicia's suggestion, I am going to give you all the info you need to apply for a permit and get ready for this hike.    Plan early because you need to get your permit 3 months in advance! 

Planning and getting a permit to hike 

"The Subway" of Zion National Park


"Though named for mass transit, the Subway sees just 50 people a day. The oddly tubular canyon, tucked in the wilder western part of Utah's Zion National Park, is limited to hikers with permits. A segment of a seven-mile gorge, the Subway opens narrowly to the towering sandstone walls above".  Source

"There are two ways to explore The Subway (the Left Fork of North Creek). Permits are required regardless of the direction of travel. Both trips involve extensive route finding. Visitors are encouraged to do the trip with an experienced hiker of The Subway or obtain a detailed route description. The Subway is a day-use area only.

1.  From the Bottom Up:  This is a strenuous 9-mile round-trip hike through the Left Fork of North Creek that requires route finding, creek crossing, and scrambling over boulders. This hike begins and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead on the Kolob Terrace Road.
(this is the route we are taking- no rappelling for me!)

2.  From the Top Down:  This is a strenuous 9.5-mile hike that requires rappelling skills, 60 feet of rope, and extensive route finding experience. The route also requires swimming through several deep pools of very cold debris-filled water. The trail begins at the Wildcat Canyon Trailhead and ends at the Left Fork Trailhead. Both trailheads are located on the Kolob Terrace Road."
Permit Application:
Due to the popularity of the Subway and Mystery Canyon, the park created an online lottery for reservations. The Advance Lottery does not run from November through March due to a low demand for permits.
1.  The Advance Lottery: 3 months prior  
Advance Lottery applications are completed online. Entries must be submitted three months prior to your planned trip. Entries are limited to one request per individual per month. Entrants can request three prioritized dates. The non-refundable lottery application is $5.00.   Applicants will be sent a notification email on the fifth day of the following month with information about the status of their request. If a reservation is awarded, the permit must be obtained before the trip at a park visitor center. The cost of the permit will be based on your group size.  Apply for the Advance Lottery
Advance Reservations: up to 3 months in advance Occasionally, a few spaces remain after the Advance Lottery has been held. These spaces can be reserved through the Canyoneering Reservation System.   Apply for Reservations After the Lottery has Run 

2.  The Last Minute Drawing: 7-2 days in advance

If no more Calendar Reservations are available, the Last Minute Drawing will become an option 7-2 days before your trip date. In the unlikely event that spaces remain after the Last Minute Drawing, walk-in permits become available the day before your trip date.

Permit Cost:
$10.00 - 1-2 people
$15.00 - 3-7 people
$20.00 - 8-12 people


ABOUT THE HIKE:  From CanyoneeringUSA


  • Rating:  Non-technical, moderately strenuous hike
  • Preferred Season:  Summer, Fall
  • Distance:  3.5 rugged miles (5.3 km) each way
  • Time Commitment:  6 to 10 hours
  • Altitude Gain:  1000 feet (300 m)
  • Shade?:  Most of the hike is in the full sun.
  • Access?:  Starts and finishes at Left Fork Trailhead, on the Kolob Terrace Road
  • Permit Required?:  YES - The same permit applies to The Subway from the Top or Bottom. Permits are required to enter the drainage. See permit section above!
  • Flash Flood Risk:  Moderate - there are only a few sections of sustained narrows.
  • Spring - Expect high, cold water due to spring runoff. If the stream is in flood, access to "the goodies" will be difficult.
  • Summer - HOT! Start early to avoid the heat and be aware the hike out is in full sun.
  • Fall - Generally a great time for this hike - great fall photography along the creek.
  • Winter - Possible snow and ice along the stream and at the red ledges.

  • Sturdy hiking shoes
  • Ample water and food for a full day hike
  • Drinking Water Water is available to purify, but bring ample water


Road Closures:
Note: The Kolob Terrace Road that leads to both entry points of the Left Fork (Subway) will be undergoing major reconstruction from March through the end of October. Three-hour blocks of closures will begin March 2, 2015. Plan accordingly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Stay Healthy While Traveling by Doing This One Thing (and a giveaway!)

Happy Wednesday!  

I am getting back in the grove after being away for 2.5 weeks.  I am in Utah for 2 weeks before I jet back to the East Coast for a wedding in Vermont.  Even a few local trips planned throughout October and hopefully something fun for November.  A lot of traveling this summer, back and forth across the country and different time zones.  When traveling a lot, or when you have a really busy schedule, it is so important to stay healthy and energized.  Vacations are short, no one has time to spend them sick in bed or recovering from jet lag. 

Today's post is all about one simple way to stay healthy while traveling.  It is one thing I am SO bad at that I am constantly trying to get better at (especially while flying!)  
Today's guest post is featuring an awesome Blogger and Author: Lindsey over at Fit Life Pursuits

Stay Healthy While Traveling by Doing This One Thing

If you love to travel and want to make sure you have many many healthy travels (don't we all?), then it is important that you do this one thing....drink more water!

Your Body's Best Medicine

Water is your body's best all-natural medicine. Water is important for the function of cells and tissues in our body, as well as our joints, bones and organs. As we lose water through sweating, breathing, urinating, and digestion, it is important that we replenish our body. Otherwise, we will literally be running dry and our body will not function at its best. 

Being sick on vacation is no fun! Drinking water can help!

How much water your body needs will depend on a few things: what type of climate you are in, how much physical activity you're getting daily, and your overall health and diet. If you are traveling in a hot climate or at a high elevation and are being active, you will need more water. 
Image result for drink more water

Waiting to drink water when you are thirsty may not be enough. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, thirst can actually be a signal that your body is already dehydrated. 

The Institute of Medicine determined that an adequate intake (AI) of water a day for men is roughly about 13 cups (3 liters and approximately 100 oz.) of total beverages a day. The AI for women is about 9 cups (2.2 liters and approximately 75 oz.) of total beverages a day.

Additional Tip: While your body adjusts to more water, keep a bathroom nearby! Don’t worry, your body will eventually adjust to the change.

Image result for marked water bottle with times to drink

Katie's Tip: I highly recommend bringing a water bottle every where you go.  Just the bottle is a constant reminder to drink more water.  If you want to get real fancy, take a sharpie and mark times on your bottles, encouraging you to hit that mark before that point in the day.  Drinking a ton of water is also one of the best ways to beat Jet Lag! 

Staying healthy on-the-go doesn't have to be complicated. Sometimes it just takes practice. If you are not used to drinking water on a regular basis, you can easily begin to form the habit. Research shows that after only 21 days you can develop a new lasting habit. Adding water as a new daily habit can transform your body and help you create a healthier lifestyle, even while traveling across the world!

If you need help creating healthy habits, be sure to check out my new book, The Food Dare.  The Food Dare is a 30-day guide where you will add healthy new habits (like drinking more water) into your diet, in three phases. In each phase you will practice each new healthy habit so that it can become a lifestyle, not a diet. This dare is not about deprivation or restriction. It is about adding to your life to make your daily choices healthier and more nutritious. You can  get The Food Dare here.

Lindsey is giving away a free digital or paperback copy to one of my readers!  Make sure you scroll down to the end of the post to enter the giveaway to win a copy of this awesome guide! The winner will be announced next Wednesday.

Author Bio: Lindsey is a Florida-raised, Oregon-living wife, dog mom, outdoor enthusiast and fitness lover. She has a passion for challenging others to pursue a fit lifestyle so they can always say “yes” to any exciting adventure that comes their way, without having to worry if their body is up for it. She enjoys hiking, climbing, skiing, and spending time being active outdoors with her husband and their two dogs. Occasionally you will find her dancing around her house while eating a bowl of chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. You can connect with Lindsey, get fitness training, get her book, and read more about her outdoor adventures at

Fore more creative ways to drink more water, click here!
And don't forget to enter Lindsey's giveaway below! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

For more amazing pictures, follow along on Instagram! Instagram

Monday, August 24, 2015

A Love Letter to Coastal Connecticut: Avery Point, Groton

Connecticut can be really hard to describe.  

It's between Boston and New York, but is very different than both.  It is New England, but very different than Maine, Vermont, and some of the other New England States.   It doesn't have a huge city like Massachusetts has Boston, but its also not as small as teeny Rhode Island.  

Connecticut has that amazing coastal small New England feel, without the heavy accents of Bostoners, or the lumberjack types of Maine.  Home to prestigious Yale, the victorious Huskies, a ton of lighthouses, beautiful historic small towns, and a few cities.  The summers can be humid, and the winters can be brutal, but those amazing summer days on the shoreline make you forget about the snow you will be shoveling in a few short months. 

I get sick of trying to describe it in words to me friends out here, so I keep choosing to share CT the best way I know how, with pictures.  

Today's Connecticut photos are at one of my favorite spots.  The University of Connecticut, Avery Point campus.  The campus is open to the public and for a few good reasons.  There is a walking path around the campus that is always busy, and the large mansion always hosts a wedding on summer weekends.  You can take a sailing class, or scuba class (yep, for credit).  It is iconic New England, lighthouses, sailboats, old mansions, and golf courses in one beautiful little spot.  

Lets wander over to Avery Point. 

Tree at Avery Point Campus 
New London Ledge Light, at the mouth of the Thames River, Groton CT

New London Ledge is locally famous for the ghost of an early keeper, nicknamed "Ernie," who allegedly haunts the lighthouse. The Coast Guard crew on duty at the lighthouse, not automated until 1987, reported unexplained knockings taking place at night, as well as doors opening and closing repeatedly, the television turning on and off by itself sporadically, and the unexplained removal of sheets from beds.  Source 

New London Ledge Light,
Walking Path at Avery Point 
Walking Path Avery Point 

Fishing Platform

Branford House Mansion, Avery Point 

How many campus' can say they have a mansion on campus?  Avery Point can.  The mansions on campus combine that old New England charm with the waterfront.  The Branford House Mansion was built in the 19th century and modeled after the famous Newport mansions.  Branford House was originally a 31-room mansion that rivaled those found in Newport. It was built at a cost of three million dollars in 1903 when Groton Savings Bank at the time had $312,738.39. Features included panoramic views of Fishers Island and Long Island Sound, its two-story fireplace, a winding staircase of imported Italian marble, and paneled walls carved by Italian and German craftsmen.  Read more about the mansions history and owner here

Branford House Mansion, Avery Point 

Avery Point Light House 

Avery Point Lighthouse was the last to be built in Connecticut. It was finished in 1943, during World War II, but was not activated until May 2, 1944 due to concerns about possible enemy invasions by sea. The tower’s unusual lighting apparatus consisted of eight 200-watt bulbs showing a fixed white light at fifty-five feet above sea level. Later on, the light was changed to flashing green.
In 1969, the land was returned to the State of Connecticut at no cost, and it became part of the University of Connecticut at Avery Point campus. Given the designation of Building #41 by the university, the former lighthouse building has been used as a physics laboratory and an air sampling station. Source

Avery Point Light House 

Avery Point Light House 

Avery Point is one of the smaller campus' of the University of Connecticut.  While it is quite small, it is the perfect place to study Marine Science.  Where else can you find a campus right on the water, with direct access to the water, research vessels, with sailing and scuba classes, and an incredible view. 

Marine Science Building, Avery Point 

FUN FACT:  I spent three years on this gorgeous campus, walked across this lawn to receive my B.S in Marine Science, and gave the commencement speech in front of students, faculty, friends and family.  

Avery Point is an amazing campus for Marine Science.  Amazing building, labs, and right on the water, we have our own docks and research vessels.  Even the "dining hall" is on a deck overlooking the marina. 

Rankin Lab, Avery Point 

Rankin Lab, Avery Point 

The Rankin Laboratory has been designed to be a unique teaching and research seawater laboratory. The 2,400 square foot wet laboratory can supply up to 250 GPM of seawater through a high-flow pressurized distribution system.  Source

Marine Science Building, Avery Point 

Marina, Avery Point, CT

Coastal Connecticut, New England, you have my heart.