Walk completed August 28, 2011

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Building Stamina in Utah

One mustn’t set off on a 1200 mile walk without being in good condition, and over the past four weeks my friends in the Outback Hiking Club of Southern Utah have provided good encouragement for me to get back into shape.

Photo by Barry B.

The southwestern United States offers some of the most incredible land formations on Earth. What may appear as desert wasteland when viewed from a speeding automobile transforms into amazing, and sometimes eerie, scenery when approached in a pair of boots. Slot canyons, natural arches, petrified sand dunes, and candy-striped hills are virtually everywhere, all waiting to be explored.

Photo by Barry B.
 Exploration isn’t easy, because there are few trails and fewer landmarks. There is so much incredible scenery that it all starts to look alike. Turn around three times, and you may not find your way back. Did I come up through that drainage on the left, or the one over there? Was that the hill I skirted, or was it the other one? Wasn’t the sun on the other side of that canyon earlier? A good map and GPS are a necessity, or better yet, a friend who knows the area.

Photo by Ann S.

Due to the arid climate, vegetation is scarce – so don’t look for that distinctively bent tree to use as a guidepost. Animal life is also scarce, but occasionally a deer or rabbit might show itself. An owl is a special find. Snakes and desert tortoises are rarely seen, but we know they are out there from the tracks they leave in the coral pink sand. Tracks in the sand also betray the presence of coyotes and mountain lions, but you won’t see any of them unless you get lost and run out of water. Dinosaur tracks are sometimes seen in ancient muds now turned to stone, but I’m told that that the dinosaurs have all disappeared. I think they’ve gone to Hollywood to star in movies. Most plentiful are small lizards, always doing pushups on rocks.

Photo by Bonnie Allred
After hiking three days a week for four weeks, my legs are almost back to their former condition. I’m now at the point where I believe I could actually start out on a 1200 mile walk, and let the first few dozen miles complete the strengthening. But I suspect that my friends in Utah will have a few more stamina-building hikes in store for me when I return in another month.

Photo by Bonnie Allred

For more information on hiking in southern Utah, see http://www.ohcosu.com/

© 2010 Ken Klug