Ever wonder what Gordon Hayward did in Utah during his free time while playing for the Jazz? No, neither did I. But if we did, here’s a few things we would picture him doing....
You know that feeling of overwhelming guilt and despair, that one we all get after a week vacation drinking all day on the beach and eating everything in sight. Struggling to get through your first superset of burpees and deadlifts the following Monday. Just want to give up and forsake all the physical progress you made to get your body ready for the beach. Not wanting to go out into that -2-degree weather. We've all been there. What if instead of lounging on the beach, getting skin cancer, and putting on those lbs, your vacation consisted of tackling mountains, knocking off bucket list items, or chasing waterfalls?
Getting out of the gym, cycle room, or yoga studio, putting the phone down, and still getting a great workout while feeling accomplished and recharged is a good way to spend your time off. I'll be giving you a brief review of some beautiful hikes, both well-known and under the radar, domestic and international, to provide some inspiration for your next trip.
One of the more stunning parks, but maybe not as popular with the fine people of Indy because of its location in Utah, which we only know as a real state thanks to our beloved Gordon Hayward playing a few years for the Jazz, Zion National Park boasts one of my favorite hikes. Angel's Landing is a strenuous 5-mile round trip climb that is sure to burn calories and earn you a few celebratory nightcaps guiltfree. After a level start, the trail comes to two consecutive switchback ramps which are sure to wind even the fittest and tone those legs and booty. Gaining serious elevation in a short amount of distance, you might start to feel like a Magikarp out of water, flopping around uselessly gasping for air. Once you get high enough, the steep drop offs are sure to give you an adrenaline rush and push you onward to the finish. But this is when the fun gets started.
After completing the switchbacks and replenishing all that water you just sweated out, get ready for the final half mile to the lookout. The path follows a ridge with drop-offs on both sides making you feel like a high wire trapeze artist. There is a cable railing to hold onto and guide you along, but make sure to take this part slow and steady and take care with each step. Finish scrambling over some boulders and you have arrived at the top with a stunning vista of the park and 270 million-year-old red cliff enclosed canyon.
I hope you remembered to pack a lunch, healthy of course and with a lot of carbs to replenish that energy for the way down. My favorites being a peanut butter and banana sandwich on wheat bread (drizzled with some honey if you are feeling crazy), trail mix (huge fan of dried fruit here, specially dried pineapple and mango), an apple or orange, and energy/protein bars to top it off.
Take it slow and steady on the way down, even with that beautiful view you don't want it to be the last thing you see. The hike should range from 4-5 hours depending on your pace and has an elevation gain of almost 1500 feet. Make sure you bring liters of water because you will sweat more than your Tuesday night hot yoga or Friday morning spin class.
Southern Utah is home to a plethora of National parks that each have their own unique identity. Spend an extra day in Zion, doing the out-and-back Narrows trail. A unique stroll in a river enclosed by canyon walls ranging from ankle depth to waist depth to even swimming some parts depending on the water level. Make sure to rent the waterproof boots to protect your feet. After you are done with Zion, make sure to check out Bryce Canyon and Arches National Park to finish out a nice week-long journey worthy of sharing with your friends and family.
Southern Utah Temperature: Spring, Warm and Sunny, sometimes Wet, High of 90 degrees with changes in temp over 30 degrees; Summer, Hot, chance of thunderstorms and flash floods, High exceeds 100 degrees and changes in temp over 30 degrees; Fall, Cooler and Drier High of 80, low of 30; Winters are Cold and Wet, High 50-60 degrees, Low below freezing
How to Get There: 5 hour drive from Salt Lake City, 2.5 hour drive from Las Vegas