Belay Specs Blog

This blog has less to do with Belay Specs and more to do with our employee's climbing and outdoor outings.  We'll talk about exciting news about Belay Specs but we'll talk much more about the trips we've taken and the places we've checked out.  We'd like to share some of our experiences in the hope that they inspire you to check the areas out for yourselves. If you read about an area or activity in one of our posts and have questions on beta, route recommendations or anything else, leave a comment and we'll try to fill you in.

 

 

 

I’ve spent the last week with my wife Alana, her parents and maternal grandparents touring southern Utah. All of my previous trips to the area have been with outdoorsy folks who want to go climbing, hiking, canyoneering, biking, etc. which has been lots of fun but evidently I missed lots of neat stuff along the way. Taking things at a slower pace and enjoying the scenery made for a different kind of trip but I got to do some new hikes and visit some new places that I had neglected on previous trips. The slower pace made Alana and I a bit fidgety so we had a couple of quick adventures by ourselves to burn off energy. If you want to mix a parent or grandparent trip with some outdoor adventures, checking out some of the areas below might be a good bet.

Zion National Park: We were coming in from the north and drove into the Kolob Canyon entrance of Zion National Park. This entrance is just off of I-15 between St. George and Cedar City and is worth a quick 30 minute drive through if that is all the time you have.  We drove to the end of the road and did a quick 1 mile hike to a scenic overlook where you can see all the way to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. On the hike out Alana and I goggled at the sandstone formations across the way and contemplated where the routes in the canyon were. Some great climbing can be found in the side canyons including the massive overhanging jug haul Huecos Rancheros (5.12a/b/c depending on who you ask) and long traditional routes like the 11 pitch Wind, Sand and Stars (IV 5.12). Kolob is on my list of places to revisit to spend some more time exploring.
Kolob Canyon
We headed down the road to the south entrance of  Zion NP and spent a couple days hiking and checking out the park’s visitor center and museum. We went up the Riverside Walk, a paved rolling trail that starts at the end of the road and brings you to the mouth of the Zion Narrows where you have to start walking up the river if you want to go any further. The Virgin River was running high and was closed to hikers but exploring the Narrows is one of the most unique and accessible adventures to be had in Zion. Afterwards we headed down to the lodge, got some ice cream and found a comfy place for the grandparents to relax while the rest of us headed up the Emerald Pools trail. On all my trips to Zion, I had never done this trail. Being young and arrogant, I always thought this was a short, easy hike and that meant there was nothing worth seeing. While it didn’t offer the amazing views or grueling hike of Angel’s Landing, it was a pretty hike with some waterfalls and quiet, peaceful pools.
emeraldpools
After a nights rest,  Alana and I headed up to Hidden Canyon. This is one of my favorite hikes in Zion. It doesn’t see as much traffic as other hikes, has a bit of exposure and ends up at the mouth of a hanging canyon. From there, you are able to explore as far up as you are able climbing up obstacles along the way. We spent about 45 minutes going up until we got to an area of bouldery scree filling the bottom of the canyon. The canyon is very quiet and personal, a nice place to sit and think. After coming down, we met up for lunch and on our way out did the Canyon Overlook Trail which starts on the east side of the tunnel and ends at a spot where you can look down over the main canyon.

hiddencanyonarch

Bryce National Park: Bryce National Park is no hidden gem, although it is certainly a gem. Rather than being at the bottom looking up as you do in Zion, you are at the top looking down. I was a bit underwhelmed by the views as we drove around to the lookouts, I remembered being much more impressed by the view. Alana and I went for a hike down to a place called the Hatshop, an area with many small hoodoos with large capstones that looked like hats. As we turned around to head back to the rim, I realized that this was the view I remembered. The colors and formations of Bryce are best viewed from below.
bryce
Escalante Petrified Forest State Park: I had passed by this place numerous times over the years and never knew it was there. We had lunch by a big reservoir and then headed up the trail which starts going up some switchbacks that lead you to a plateau. The trail levels out and you start to see petrified wood. At one point a large petrified tree trunk lies just off the trail. The colors are amazing: purple, red, orange. The trail is suitable for most folks including Alana’s grandparents but the Trail of Sleeping Rainbows, which is a loop off the main trail, is more strenuous. This trail offers amazing amounts of beautiful petrified wood. I had low expectations of this park and was blown away by how neat it was.
petrifiedwood
Just west of the park, we passed a bunch of airstreams and a drive in theater complete with boats of cars from the early 60’s. Instead of cozy cabins, The Shooting Star Drive-In rents out classic Airstream trailers and lets you enjoy a movie in the backseat of a classic car. The idea of this place is rad!

Highway 12 through Escalante and Boulder: It may seem odd to list a road as an attraction but this is the most breathtaking stretch of road I have ever been on. You get amazing views of the desert land below right before you drop down a road that winds down the cliffline into the canyon. At the bottom you start up the other side and end up on a ridge between two canyons. Within feet of either side of the road, the ground starts to drop away into canyons that are hundreds of feet deep. After passing through the town of Boulder, you head up Boulder Mountain into an alpine environment over 9000 feet. The aspens are shimmering and the wind was blowing. It’s a pretty stunning change in environment from the bottom of the canyon less than an hour ago. I can’t say enough about this drive!

Anasazi State Park Museum: We stopped into Anasazi State Park Museum in the town of Boulder. This is a great place to check out for some cool historical information. It’s right in the middle of town and consists of the museum and an excavated native american settlement out the back door.

Capitol Reef National Park:  Capitol Reef is the least well known of Utah’s national parks but is a great place to explore. The heart of the park is Fruita, a Mormon settlement from the turn of the century. They planted hundreds of fruit trees in the flat lands on the banks of the Freemont River and irrigated them with its water. Driving away from the river and its orchards, you quickly re-enter the arid desert surrounded by cliffs. The cliffs looked to offer up some great cracks so Alana and I headed up and checked out Classic Handcrack (5.9+). After some bushwacking to find a decent approach, we headed up this little gem. The crux is an off finger section that I ended up laying back and protected with .75 C4 Camalots.  Luckily the rock face is offset by the crack so decent feet are available. While belaying Alana on TR, I played with the Belay Specs a bit and go some neat pictures and videos of her and the route looking through a prism. The picture quality isn’t great because I shot them with my phone but the concept of the shots have me pretty excited for what I can do with a decent set up for the prism and a better camera.
clmibingCapitalReef
Goblin Valley State Park: This is another off the beaten path place to check out. To get there head north on State Highway 24 after passing through Hanksville and look for signs to the park. The park is a healthy way off the highway, probably 20 miles or so but its worth the drive. The formations in the park are a bunch of mini-hoodoos made out of mud stone all packed into one little area. It really looks like something from out of this world.
GoblinValley
Driving through the San Rafael Swell: From Goblin Valley we drove up to I-70 to head home. If we were in a rush, we could head east a few miles and hop on State Highway 6. We had some time however and I thought everyone would enjoy the drive through the San Rafael Swell. The Swell is an anticline, basically a huge bulge in the earth that is slowly eroding away. Driving through is kind of intimidating, no gas for 100 miles with steep grades and passes cut through cliffs. There are lots of dirt roads in the Swell that lead to opportunities for climbing, canyoneering and lots of solitude.

 

 

 

What our users have to say

I honestly think they are a requirement for anyone who climbs more than once a week. No more neck pain and more attentive belays. 

Bram Bell, Owner of Bluegrass Bouldering Gym in Lexington, Kentucky

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