The Canyons of Utah, Pt. 1

“Should we drive any further?”

Since it´s “only” five hours from Jackson, Wyoming, to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then another three to Capitol Reef, the decision was obvious: Hit the road! After a stop in Salt Lake City we drove to Capitol Reef National Park to see the stunning waterfold, narrow canyons and mars-like landscape.

As mentioned, it was a very spontaneous decision to head to Capitol Reef, which is probably the most underestimated of Utah´s “Mighty Five” National Parks and thus we had no idea what to do, where or how long to stay. The first night we spent just outside of the National Park on a small campground with a little fee (6$), because we´d heard that the campground in Fruita was full for the day.

We didn´t want to miss out on a stay at the campground amidst beautiful orchards, so the next day we started early to secure a spot within the boundaries of the National Park. The first attraction of the NP was Chimney Rock and the Goosenecks Overlook. Those two sights were very promising, and after a quick stop in the Visitor Center we were stoked to see the rest of the park. So we checked in to the campground and got a spot just a stonethrow away from a herd of deers with the biggest ears ever!

Again, our book came in very handy. We had read about the Grand Wash, and after the incredibly friendly volunteer at the campground approved that hike, we decided to head there in the evening. It was just a quick drive from the campground and a 30 minute walk (one-way), but that was enough to get away from the crowds completely. The massive, narrow canyon walls were impressive, and it was incredible to see fast the scenery changing as the sun slowly set.

But our new friend from the campground recommended not only that, but also a very narrow slot canyon “near” the National Park, which we explored the next day. Of course, the 30 minute drive he had promised us turned into a 90 minute journey, but it was worth it! We stayed overnight on BLM-land (free camping!) near the Goblin Valley State Park, just a couple of meters from the trailhead to the slot canyon.

Although the hike at the Grand Wash was great, it couldn´t beat the amazing Little Wild Horse Canyon! The whole area (San Rafael Swell) is known for its opportunities for canyoneering, but the Wild Horse Canyon is a fairly easy hike that everybody could do. A look at the weather forecast is necessary to check for flash floods, but on a fine day you can enjoy the canyon worry-free.

After the hike, we treated ourselves to a nice milkshake in the “town” of Hanksville. We expected Walter White to walk in any minute, because we had seen his RV at the gas station, but we couldn´t find him.

Since we were already close to Bullfrog Marina, we decided to head there next. Stay tuned for the next story!



Sometimes, the best things happen to you if you just take a map and point at places that sound awesome. VALHALLA. How good does that sound? Of course, I had seen the Ski Movie. I had also heard about the famous Valhalla Powder Cats and the Heliskiing Operations.
So when I recognized the place on the map, it seemed like a good idea to check it out while it was still warm-ish… Because, where there´s good skiing, there´s usually good hiking.
Let me skip ahead: It did not disappoint! Our campsite-bible, mentioned in the previous blogpost, gave away another AMAZING campsite.
It was drizzling a bit when we arrived, but soon the clouds cleared and made room for the last sunshine of the day, which we didn´t have to share with anyone else since there wasn´t a single soul at the campsite.
We had a campfire and prayed for sun for the next day, because we had made plans to hike to the Gimli Ridge.
But the Gods up in Valhalla didn´t hear our prayers, and we woke up the next morning to the sound of rain on our car.
We decided to head out even though the weather was not too good, and soon we found ourselves on the sketchiest “gravel” road to the trailhead /Note to myself: Go for a Four-Wheel-Drive the next time you head to BC.
Somehow we made it to the trailhead and, surprise, we were the only ones in the parking lot. I still hadn´t lost hope that the sun might come out in the afternoon, because the forecast had predicted that, but that hope was gone when it started snowing heavily as soon as we reached the treeline.
So we decided to turn around. STOP! There was some sun. Let´s wait. We hiked back up, because the clouds were moving fast and the sun peeked out every now and then. After another hour, we reached Gimli Ridge, and, even though it didn´t look as on the pictures, we were happy that we made it to the top and actually saw this stunning ridge!
On the way down the road, we met some climbers who told us that the weather was supposed to get better the next day. So we decided to head back to our little paradise, where we were still completely alone.

The next morning looked promising, as the sky cleared around 9am, and we were excited to get closer to those amazing peaks!

As usual in BC, the road to the trailhead was not driveable with our family van, but we were really lucky that a nice canadian couple happened to pass us in their pickup just when we had decided not to go any further on the terrible road and reversed.

We also made some international friends on the hike (the only other hikers up there), but more about that in the second part about Nelson…

The hike to the Gwillim Lakes was just incredible and hard to describe. So enjoy the pictures!


BC Backroads

Ever since I´ve been to British Columbia in the winter, it was on my list to see this beautiful place in the summer.

Well, that didn´t work out. By the time we started our trip, the leaves on BC´s trees had already started changing their color.

Traveling BC in the fall means having to deal with cold temperatures, rain and snow. But it also means less crowds, incredible landscapes and colors.

The obvious place to start a trip through BC is, of course, Vancouver. The first stop was the beautiful Lindeman Lake. Do you know those crystal clear, greenish blue shimmering lakes on postcards from BC? This is one of the places, although just a small one. Conveniently located along the highway to Kamloops (which was our next stop), this easy hike near Chiliwack can be extended if you go further to Greendrop Lake, which we couldn´t because we were on a tight schedule.

Hiking to the lake in mid-september was a good decision (no crowds!), also we were lucky with the weather. A dive in the lake was mandatory, but ice cold. It´s an easy walk with one steep section, and it is incredibly rewarding!

A quick stop in Sun Peaks and a successful job interview later, the plans for the winter were sorted and we were looking for some nice, hot weather. And we did find it! The Okanagan Valley is the place where a majority of the Canadian apples, peaches, plums and wine comes from! And where there´s wine, there´s lots of sun and warmth! A very different landscape from the high mountains and dense woods of the rest of BC, this place is a MUST in fall.

Because we had to cancel a multi-day canoe trip on the Bowron Lakes due to the bad weather up north, we were still looking for a truly Canadian canoe experience.

So we stopped at True Outdoors in Kelowna, rented a canoe and just went for it. Our brand new book “Camp Free in BC” gave away the exact directions to amazing places along very sketchy, washed out backroads and we had everything we needed to get out there and explore.

We spent a few nights at Island Lake and Postill Lake just east of Kelowna. Eat, Have a Campfire, Sleep, Paddle, Repeat for four days. Life at its best!

We were sad when we had to return the canoe in Penticton, but more adventures were waiting for us. After having read this amazing blog, we decided to head for the Cathedral Provinicial Park. We didn´t know yet if we could make it to the core area of the park (it´s an 8 hour hike in and back), but thanks to our campsite-bible we knew that even the road to the park had to offer a lot of lonely, wild campsites, and we just couldn´t get enough of those incredible campfires.

For different reasons (time,weather and the lack of equipment for a night in the tent at -5°C), we didn´t make it to the core area of the park. We were devastated, but after driving back to Osoyoos and a night at Haynes Point/Sẁiẁs Provincial Park, we were just excited for the next adventures that awaited us!

Off to Nelson! Stay updated for the next story following shortly!


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