A wintery weekend behind the rocks

We’ve seen a fair amount of snow in and around our high desert town.

This means that areas, where we’d typically enjoy backpacking this time of year, have a lot of snow. And Joan is not as keen to ski tour as I am. Nor did we wish to drive down snowy roads.

Instead, we went to a nearby wilderness study area and walked some ATV, jeep, and MTB track that gets little traffic this time of the year.

A busy place in another month or so, but a place where we found solitude with the stunning red rock scenery.

And place to view the winter sunset, the alpenglow on the La Sal Mountains, and see that stunning mix of red rock and snow found on the Colorado Plateau during the winter months.

An experience typical of how we spend free time –  At the end of a deserted and rutted jeep road, 42″ of shared width in a tent, snow melt water, and a fantastic view of that no Air BnB in town can rival.

We hiked along the rim and followed jeep roads that had not seen traffic in a while.

We rejoined the main road (more or less) that had seen some traffic recently, quickly hiked out to our truck, and pulled into our driveway a mere twenty minutes later.

Come spring; I don’t think we’ll want to hike through this area. But on a winter weekend, the place seemed sublime.

Notes on gear –

We found this trip a bit of a hybrid one in many ways. Snowy, but not enough for skis. Cold, if not brutally so. We swapped in a few gear items more akin to snow-based backpacking than our typical Utah jaunts. Here are some things different from our standard kit.

  • We both used warmer fleeces. Joan went with a LighHearGear fleece hoodie that’s warmer, if not as breathable, than our Squaks. I, however, ended up wearing my Squak hoodie. I rarely hike in hoodies, but the Squak was perfect for the blustery conditions, not far from a ski tour in many ways. I did not take it off once.

The Squak next to military-issue grid fleece pants

  • ECWCS Gen III Layer 2 pants (grid fleece) – Another item I use for overnight ski tours. The surplus item is made with Polartec grid fleece similar to the (more expensive) Patagonia R1. I wrote the pants on the day the colder day two over my base layer and underneath my hiking pants. I stayed warm without overheating.


  • And finally, I used boots this weekend. Similar conditions to skiing, if with less now, lent itself to some light hiking boots I’m trying. I doubt I’ll use boots for any three-season thru-hikes, but I doubt I’ll use trail runner for ski tours. 🙂 The boots kept my feet warm and dry for the ~30 miles we backpacked over the weekend. First impressions come soon in a future post.

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