Tag Archives: ice

climbing otto's staircase in gold star canyon

Gold Star Canyon up to Otto’s Staircase

“Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.”
Ed Viesturs, No Shortcuts to the Top: Climbing the World’s 14 Highest Peaks

“Climbing is as close as we can come to flying.”
Margaret Young

Kids were complaining pretty loudly this morning.

I blame it on the birthday party we had yesterday.

You see, following my ‘I’m a mean mom’ mantra, I only throw ‘friend parties’ for my kids every four years. Connor was only turning 9 so he just had his friend party last year. This year: family.

Mean, right?

Anyhoo- so we did lots of fun stuff yesterday: ate waffles, went to the park, had Wendy’s for lunch, got him a flute, opened presents, make/frosted/ate cake, went bowling, played Wii, went to Olive Garden for dinner…You get the idea.

So I’m going to blame bad attitudes today on the comparable bliss of yesterday.

Climbing to the rescue!

You see, if I say, ‘Let’s go for a hike!’ then there will be noisy protests. But “You kids wanna go climbing?” then it’s packs-on-get-in-the-car-let’s-go-asap!

I figured Gold Star Canyon would be just the ticket. It’s an area I’m very familiar with that I knew I could coach them up, and it would give us a chance to check out [read that as: find and explore for future exploiting] Otto’s Staircase.

I also figured it would be ice/snow-free.

I was wrong.

There were still several ice flows…from a few inches to a few feet…ice sheets coating the cliffs. I was amazed! This is notoriously one of the drier canyons. I’ve even intentionally tried to catch a flash-flood there when it’s been raining. To no avail.

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The kids had a marvelous time climbing up and up and up. Each one had their own ‘skill line’.

Eventually we reached the bench trail and soon after found the fork that leads up up up up up up to the cliff face, where we found, hidden behind an old leafless juniper tree, a rudimentary staircase carved into the rock.

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Trinity and Tim climbed quickly up it. I made an attempt but was concerned that I would be a little too uncomfortable on the return descent. Matt came to the same conclusion.

We decided it would be better to wait for an opportunity when we could climb all the way up to the top, then hike out on the upper Liberty Cap trail [with a pit-stop at Otto’s Bathtub, of course].

BTW- the views were immense!

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We went back the way we came…slowly and carefully… and hiked out the Bench Trail and the more traditional Gold Star Canyon route.

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It felt, at times, as though we were flying.

Now check out the ever impressive images Matt captured:

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And this is my favorite:

otto's staircase

bear river utah

Warm Hands, Cold Heart

“For this relief much thanks. ‘Tis bitter cold,
And I am sick at heart. ” -Shakespeare

Had to squeeze in another quick one today. Not so much for time management reasons, though that is primary, but also for lack of desire and proximity of trails.

I’m here in Elwood, Utah. Not that I didn’t make some valiant attempts at trail location, but sometimes you just end up SOL. Maybe I will have better luck tomorrow. We shall see.

For today I took Trinity (since the boys wanted to stay at Grandma’s). We drove down to the Bear River, and turned into the boat drop-in. What is that called? Surely there is a technical name for it. The Put-in? The Drop Slot? The Boat Slide? Hmm….

Anyhoo, we followed this little road which follows the river shore for perhaps a 1/4 mile before it dead-ends. The road to the boat ramp (ramp? Is that the right term? Ponderous.) was complete ice. Even in 4×4 we drifted with each alteration of the wheel. Turning down the track we bounced along the rough-packed trail. At the dead-end we hoped out to take some pix and slide around on the ice.

Much as I try and dominate my children in proper Mormon-mommy fashion, I couldn’t restrain my daughter from sliding around on the ice face-first like a penguin. I even got a couple cute pix of her doing so. She asked me to try, too, but….yeah.

The unfortunate thing is this: I am stressed beyond recent reckoning. Usually my little trail experiences, short as they may  be, alleviate some of this angst. But today I am still as frustrated and pressured as I have ever been. I think- and this is sick to imagine so if you are of weak stomach don’t read further- but I might actually find a little relief riding on the bike trainer.


Yup. It's hap'nin
Yup. It’s hap’nin
Maybe my favorite picture.
Maybe my favorite picture.
 I ♥ my Jeep!
I ♥ my Jeep!
Ugh. I hate my hair.
Ugh. I hate my hair.
Playing Penguin.
Playing Penguin.


Isn't she adorable?!
Isn’t she adorable?!


Pet-e-kes lunch loop

Pet-e-kes, Up and Back

Isn’t it interesting how things can change in such a short period of time? When I was in my youth, a teacher once suggested that the most important work in the English language was “remember”- because if we can remember it means we have lived….or something like that.

I don’t believe I agree with that point. I think there are two equally powerful words- equal to each other, and way more “important” than the aforementioned word. Yes and No. Because, you see, either one of these words, simple as they are, can change your life. And we’re not talking about a little slide of direction, if you say “yes” you are going to go in the opposite direction from “no”. For example, when my husband proposed marriage to me, I actually took a minute to think about  it. I said in my mind, “If you say ‘yes’ then you will be true to your word and go through with it, all the way. If you say no, it will probably end this relationship right here.” And a yes or no at that juncture would have completely altered my reality, one way or the other.

I’m not even sure if I’m being clear here.

Well, today I said “YES!” to a quick trail run at the Lunch Loop. It was before noon when I headed out, and the trail was still pretty frozen. I headed up Pet with the intention to do this one trail as an out-and-back. By the time I got to the top the trail was starting to get soggy. Now this was a very short time, right? We’re talking something like 15 minutes. By the time I was headed back down there was a slippery sheen on the ice and mud was forming. This is a real problem if you’re on a bike, but by foot I could be very precise in my placement. If I was careful. And you know me- I’m always careful.

But I was also fast. I love running downhill. Especially when it’s not just a technical trail, but conditions have made it even more challenging. Oh, it was so much fun! Fast, precarious, dangerous fun!

And if you think I was in too big of a hurry to stop and take pictures, you’re absolutely correct. I’ll see if I can find a picture I already have…

Looking back down Pet-e-kes from about 1/3 of the way up. This was taken Fall of 2012
Looking back down Pet-e-kes from about 1/3 of the way up. This was taken Fall of 2012