That One Cool Hiking Blog

The Adventures of the Indiana Joneses

sentio hero
Ding Dang Dome

Ding Dang

LocationsUtah Trip

Ever heard of Ding Dang Canyons or Ding Dang Dome? Neither had we until Friday morning. I’d heard my Uncle Harold refer to someone as a ding dang dummy, but that was about the extent of it. We were talking to the camping neighbors on Friday morning and one of the guys asked if we’d ever hiked Ding Dang Canyons. “Oh, you got to hike them,” he said. “They are two of the best slot canyons in the area,” Steve told us. Steve was one of eight guys that came in and set up camp next to us at 12:30 in the morning on Friday.

Boulder in Ding Dang

We were camped out Thursday night by the San Rafael Reef on BLM land (Bureau of Land Management; not Black Lives Matter) off the Behind-The-Reef Road. We took a four-wheel drive spur toward the trailhead for Crack Canyon and drove as far as our rented Hyundai Santa Fe would take us. Camping is more informal on BLM land. Generally speaking, you go wherever you want, find a spot, and make camp. We found a nice spot over-looking a couple of washes. We set up camp, ate supper, played a game of tick, and headed off to bed. Sometime around 12:20 am headlights shone through the tent, car doors slammed, and men’s voices echoed through the canyon. We were only slightly disconcerted as they began to stomp around. But it soon became obvious that they were making camp just up the ravine from us and I drifted off to sleep to sound of one of the guys reenacting Monte Python in a falsetto voice. Things finally grew quiet around 2:00 am and everyone was down for the night.

We met the guys the next morning and they apologized profusely for camping “on top of us,” even though they were 100 yards or more from our campsite.  Distances can be very deceiving in the dark and they thought we were much farther down canyon from them. Once we met them, we talked them out of moving because we would rather have them camping there than whoever else might have ventured down in there on Friday night. They were a bunch of good-natured, fun-loving guys from Boulder, CO. They ended up being a lot of fun and a source of some good information for hiking in the area.

We followed their advice yesterday and did the Ding Dang Canyons. They were a couple of glorious, wide ravines which a required a lot of bouldering and scrambling to ascend and descend. Both canyons had numerous locations that required climbing around or wading through water-filled potholes.  It is recommended to ascend Ding and descend Dang; a one-way route up Ding, passed Ding Dang Dome, and down Dang. The reason for this became blatantly clear during our descent of Dang.

Ding Dang Trail

Canyon of Ding Dang

Potholes in Ding Dang

In Dang, there is a series of three slots in quick succession around three feet wide and about 60 yards long in total. You can traverse these spots by wading in the waist-deep water or spider-crawling the walls above the water. There are only small landings between the three slots to rest. At the end of each of these landings the slot descends 10 to 12 feet and continues down canyon. On the second of these three landings, we ran into other hikers ascending. Our view down canyon was blocked by a large boulder and we couldn’t see how many hikers were coming. A couple of hikers would have been manageable but their number continued to grow beyond 15 and they were still coming. The landing was full and a large group was descending from above creating an impossible situation for both groups. I finally had to tell the ascending group they were going the wrong way and the only solution was for them to return down canyon. Fortunately, they let us squeeze through ahead of them and exit what was turning into a very claustrophobic situation.

Not to brag, but Randi was the only one that got wet. Apart from that little bit of frustration and uncertainty, the hike was immensely fulfilling. After the hike we headed south to Hanksville, UT, where we had an amazingly satisfying burger at Stan’s Burger Shak. We caught the brilliant colors of sunset in Capitol Reef National Park and settled in for the night at a hotel just outside Torrey, UT.

Off to find some adventure. Go find an adventure of your own.


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Happy Birthday!

Well, We’re Off

UncategorizedUtah Trip

I know it’s hard to believe, but we’ve been at this blog thing for a whole year already. I know, you can’t believe you’ve been waiting eagerly every Saturday morning at 8am for the email to arrive to update you on what we’ve been up to for an entire year now. Time does fly when you’re having fun. Well, this anniversary brings with it something very exciting for us. Keep reading

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Chaos in our house

Bringing Order From Chaos

Gear: Trials and ErrorsUtah Trip

Wow! One week from today we leave on our great southwestern excursion. I don’t know how someone can be so ready and yet so not ready at the same time. The last couple of weeks have been a whirlwind for everyone. I’ve been planning and purchasing in between work. Randi just finished her semester of piano lessons. The boys are in finals as we speak. We have spring piano recitals on Monday and Tuesday, the boys drive home from Florida on Wednesday, we pack everything up on Friday, and leave on Saturday. One might ask, “Where is this chaos to which you allude?” Well, let’s go upstairs and take a look.

More chaos in our house

Even more chaos in our house

For those who have previously undertaken a journey such as ours, there would be previous experiences and knowledge from which to draw. Exactly what equipment and how many supplies do I bring. Stuff like that. This is a fairly new endeavor for us and we may be making things a little more complicated than they have to be. But that’s just how we roll.

Right now the upstairs sitting room and our master bedroom are a disaster. Tents are being tested. Because nobody wants to put the tent up for the first time in the wilderness. Packs and their contents are being organized. We are deciding what to bring and whose pack it goes in. Of course, we are trying to figure out everything we are bringing before we actually put anything in a pack. So, needless to say things are a little strung out all hither and yon.

One main idea we have been running with is the assumption that we can pack lighter if we don’t duplicate items that can be used for all five of us. For instance, a single backpacker would need a mess kit to prepare food. But it would be redundant and much more expensive for all five of us to have our own mess kit. By simply adding the necessary items like silverware and a bowls, a slightly larger mess kit can take care of all five of us. That has been the thought process. Two larger tents rather than five individual ones, and so on. Anyway, that has resulted in a camping equipment tsunami that has swept through our house leaving a good bit of disorder in its wake.

One thing for sure, come hell or high water, we’re leaving for Utah in seven days. And after the rain we had this week, we’ve already got the high water.

Wish us luck,


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Gavin sitting in hammock with his Jeep

Smiles Per Gallon

Bucket List

Ronald Reagan once said, ”If people don’t start buying Jeeps, they’ll never know about the great places in life they can drive to!” With this thought in my mind, I made the decision to buy a Jeep Wrangler; mostly because they are amazing and arguably the best vehicle ever to own. I have owned my jeep for slightly over 3 months, and it is has given me some of the most amazing, fun, and eye opening experiences I have ever had. In this short amount of time, I have learned a few things: Jeeps are not cheap, they are a ton of fun, and they are not just a car. Keep reading

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The World’s Most Famous Arch

Hiking Tips

AKA The Lady In The Pink Jumpsuit

Arches have been around since the dawn of time. The Gateway Arch in Saint Louis upon completion became the tallest man-made arch in the world. This modern masterpiece is built using engineering principles that are centuries old. As beautiful and magnificent as this engineering marvel is, it doesn’t compare to the arches found in nature. Built according to the design of the Creator and hewn with the tools of His trade, they stand as a testament to His handiwork. There are thousands of them the world over, but most fade in comparison to the one that is arguably the world’s most famous arch.

A little history to set up my story. (Stick with me, I’ll make it worth your while.) Arches National Park, outside Moab, Utah, is home to over 2000 sandstone arches. Most famous of these arches is Delicate Arch. Some years ago, Moab was a dying remnant of what used to be a vibrant uranium mining town. With what was left of their economy in tatters, the local Chamber of Commerce took the initiative to advertise Delicate Arch, the crown jewel of Arches National Park, across Europe in an effort to spark interest in tourism. It worked. Today Moab, Utah is the mountain biking capital of the world and Delicate Arch is the most iconic natural arch in the world. Its beauty is the subject of photographs by amateurs and professionals alike…which brings me to my story.

Any time we are in the vicinity of Arches we make it a point to hike to Delicate Arch. It’s a nice, moderate hike with an incredibly rewarding view at the end. It’s beautiful at any time of day, but it is exceptional when the brilliant light of sunset reflects off of the sandstone. The shadow of the arch lengthens as the arch itself perfectly frames the snow-capped mountains in the distance. Then comes the sweet spot of light when the colors are at their peak. Photographers wait for hours on the rim opposite the arch for just this moment.

The last time we were there we had arrived at the arch about an hour before sunset. We wandered around the arch and took some snapshots from various angles. The lighting was mediocre because there was a good bit of cloud cover. So, we settled in with the hundred or so other people on the west rim to wait for the sunset and pray for better light. With the sun behind us and the arch framing those distant mountains, we waited. Then it happened…the clouds parted and the sandstone burst into a spectacular array of color as the rays of sunset bathed the arch in glorious light. Cameras were raised simultaneously by all and then she stepped out…the lady in the pink jumpsuit!

I am talking head-to-toe, pink-as-pink-can-be jumpsuit. She pranced right out in front of the arch like this moment was made for her and posed for her wannabe photographer husband to take a glamour shot. Then she proceeded to the other leg of the arch and struck another pose. She was undeterred by the jeers and slurs being lofted at her from the gallery. This was her moment…this was her time. She moved to the center of the arch, planted her feet in a wide stance, and thrust her arms proudly in the air for one final victorious photo burst.

Then she waved as if to thank us for our patience which was non-existent at this point. She pranced out of the frame, took the camera hand-off from her husband and they repeated the process in reverse. I kid you not, her husband proceeded to pose for his shots with the arch. I found out at this moment the crowd had been kind to the woman. Her husband not so much. It is only by the grace of God that they didn’t get a beat down on the way back to the parking lot. Come to think of it, I didn’t see them on the way back to the parking lot.

Delicate Arch in shade

Well, the good news is they were only there for a couple minutes. The bad news is the break in the clouds was only a couple of minutes. In that moment, they had managed to destroy the opportunity to capture that moment that might possibly have been a once-in-a-lifetime event for some people in an effort to create their once-in-a-lifetime moment. Here are a couple of things I’ve thought about since that encounter with the lady in pink jumpsuit.

Be Considerate

What you do has an effect on those around you. Observe what is going on outside of you and your group. Think before you act. And whatever you do, don’t steal the light!

Be Patient

I hate to admit this, but we’ve all been the lady in the pink jumpsuit. At some point, we’ve been the moron. I’m not saying we shouldn’t tell someone they’re an idiot when they’re standing under an iconic formation in the perfect light of sunset. I’m just saying give them a few seconds to figure it out on their own and then, by all means, tell them they’re being a jackwagon!

My only regret in this whole situation is not the words I may or may not have said. My only regret is that I didn’t take the picture. Yes, the picture of the moron in the pink jumpsuit standing so proudly under the most famous arch in the world.

Have a good week.


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Arch in Utah

Why Utah?

LocationsUtah Trip

What makes Utah better than any other place in the world, like say, the Rocky Mountains or Florida Beaches? Why do you want to go hike in a hot barren, seemingly lifeless desert for three weeks? And enjoy it?!?! Keep reading

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Getting ready to hike up to Angel's Landing

Healing Through Hiking

From The Heart

Hiking provides a number of health benefits. Not just physically, but also mentally and spiritually. Our family became keenly aware of a specific benefit through personal experience a few years ago. We were planning a trip back in 2012 not unlike the trip we are planning right now. The boys had never been to visit the desert southwest that Randi and I had fallen in love with. They had heard us speak in glowing terms and excited tones of the grandeur that we had seen and very much wanted to see it for themselves. We planned a three-week RV trip to Utah for early May. Keep reading

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Quick Trip

LocationsTrail Mix

Last week Michael and I got the opportunity to make a quick trip to Pensacola to see the boys. And when I say quick, I mean we drove down Monday, spent Tuesday with the boys and my family, and drove back Wednesday. It was exhausting and wonderful at the same time. We basically crammed a full visit into one day and tried to see a little bit of everyone and do a little bit of everything. Keep reading

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The sound side of Fort Pickens Beach

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

Gear: Trials and ErrorsUtah Trip

As many of you already know, we are going on a trip to Utah early this summer. We’ve been planning which hikes we want to do, what gear we need, and how to make coffee out in the middle of nowhere. One other thing we’ve been planning is how to share it all with you guys. As the saying goes “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Unfortunately, a picture doesn’t even present the absolute magnificence and splendor of the desert southwest in all of its glory. But, we are going to do the best we can. In order to do this, we decided to upgrade our equipment. Keep reading

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Aspen Forest

What the Trees Taught Me

From The Heart

I love to hear other outdoor lovers tell about their experiences and what cultivates their love for nature. Today we have a quest post from a long-time friend of our family. Joel Ruse spent his younger years right here in the Hoosier state. After college he followed a job opportunity and settled in the mountains of Colorado. He’s experienced a lot of life since leaving us behind and has developed a special attachment to the land he now calls home. Keep reading

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