Salt Lake City, Utah

Phil and I were so excited to be able to stop by our nephew, Caleb’s, apartment in SLC, Utah, on our drive west. Neither one of us had ever been there, and Caleb was going to lead us on a hike that would take us to the top of a mountain with a grand view of the city.

The weather was warm, about 85 degrees, and the sun was shining with intensity. Caleb had been living in Utah for nearly a year and is an avid snowboarder, taking advantage of all the area had to offer. He has an awesome Malamute-German Shepherd, Koda, that goes with him wherever and whenever he can. So, we were in for a treat! A guided hike with a beloved nephew and his beautiful, four-legged “brother”. Psyched!!

I forgot to mention the beautiful mountains surrounding Salt Lake City. The city itself lies in a vast, flat, valley that stretches as far as the eye can see. When we were driving into the city from the east, the road took us through the Wasatch Mountains and we could now understand what brought millions of people out here for skiing, snowboarding and outdoor adventures. Gorgeous country!

The trail Caleb directed us to was in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, the Desolation Trail. Sounds a bit intimidating, doesn’t it? He assured us it was fairly easy and we would have no problems with the hike. Starting out, the weather was warm and we huffed and puffed up the rocky, narrow trail, negotiating dozens of switchbacks and gaining an elevation of 1,325 feet.

We passed a few people with dogs on the trail and Koda would do his “meet and greet” routine, then jog ahead of us, marking “his” territory. When we were nearly to the top, there was a blanket of snow covering the side of the mountain that begged to be played in. Koda and Caleb had a good ole snowball fight and enjoyed cooling off in the hot sun. Phil and I used this time to hydrate and catch our breath. Our lungs were still used to Michigan elevation and hadn’t had a chance to adapt to higher elevations. We were feeling the pressure of lower oxygen levels!

Koda playing in the snow
Handsome Koda

A little further and we reached the top with a rocky outcropping to sit on, feasting our eyes on the spectacular view surrounding us! We could see the city below, and the gorgeous, snow-capped mountains that stood as sentinels to the city’s entrance. After getting our photo opportunities, we snacked on oranges and chatted for awhile, basking in the sun and taking in the views.

The view of SLC from the top of Desolation Trail

We decided it was time to descend the mountain when a large, dark, rain cloud appeared to the west of us. Being on the top of a mountain is not the best place to be in a thunder storm! The wind began to pick up and we began the hike down, the dropping temperature and clouds were a welcomed relief. I was glad the rain skirted around us… slippery rocks and mudslides would not have been fun to negotiate.

Caleb at the top of Desolation Trail, storm clouds brewing on the horizon.

We thanked Caleb and Koda for an awesome adventure, then made our way to Elko, NV, which touts itself as the original cowboy town, formed in 1869. We didn’t spend much time there, staying overnight at an older hotel called the Esquire Inn. A very pleasant little Inn, smack dab in the center of town with a very small parking area, but we managed, with the owner’s help, to squeeze our van and trailer into a pull-through parking space.

Shopping the next morning at the very clean and well-organized, Albertson’s Grocery, we chatted with the clerk who told us about a terrible fire that destroyed much of the surrounding forest a couple of years back. She really liked living here, explaining that they get very little snow, and it’s relatively dry most of the year.

Since I was a little girl, I’ve romanticized the life of a cowboy/cowgirl, and idolized the character, Audra, from “The Big Valley” television show. Elko is a town I’d like to come back to and experience more of that cowboy culture.

Coming up, Klamath Falls, Oregon; A beautiful, pristine country, dominated by pine-forested mountains and majestic waterfalls.

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