The areas surrounding Canyonlands National park is home to stunning landscapes, a large number of culturally significant ruins, and is an ideal testing ground for many items we test here at Gear Institute. I recently had the opportunity to explore one area south of the national park on a trip with ECCO and guides from Western Spirit Cycling Adventures.
After a night in Moab, UT we set out to a location south of Canyonlands National Park near Hammond Canyon. With some hiking, mountain biking and possibly some scrambling ahead of us I opted to lace up the BIOM Ultra Quest. A trail runner and multipurpose shoe, the ECCO BIOM Ultra Quest was ideally suited for the array activities planned for the day.
We began the day on mountain bikes for a 7 or 8 mile ride, eventually descending on a switchback road to a trail head leading to Arch Canyon. Lewis Lodge ruin is perched on the side of the canyon which made accessing the ruins a little extra exciting. The ruins are in very good condition – likely due to the somewhat hairy hike/scramble along the canyon. Lewis Lodge features one of the better preserved kiva’s I’ve ever seen. The roof is completely intact, and the cedar logs used in the structure are in amazing condition considering they date from the 13th century.
After a fairly strenuous hike and steep bike ride out of the canyon we arrived back at our camp overlooking Hammond Canyon. Despite the long day on our feet, the BIOM Ultras were plenty comfortable and performed well in the varying terrain.
Western Spirit Cycling Adventures guides Simon and Chris went above and beyond preparing an excellent dutch oven lasagna, among other dishes for our group. I’ve recently dusted off my Lodge cast iron dutch oven and will be attempting to recreate some of their delicious recipes.
The next day we set out mid-morning to explore the bottom of Hammond Canyon. For the 8 or 9 mile roundtrip hike I tried out the ECCO Terrain Akka Mid Plus GTX hiking boot. We departed camp surrounded by a tall ponderosa pine forest and descended to the shrubby juniper and piñon trees of the desert and further down in the canyon floor was a tropical feeling array of tall grasses, flowers and leafy plants. The ECCO boot was supportive and provided great traction on the trail, slickrock and while scrambling. The boot was very high quality, although the full yak leather upper and gore-tex lining may have been overkill for our short hike and the hot temps at the canyon floor. It’s ideally suited for early spring / late fall backpacking adventures.
After a relaxing lunch we scrambled 500 feet up the canyon wall to Three Fingers ruin. This small ruin was spectacular and I can’t imagine many people make the hike up the canyon to visit it – if they even know it’s there.
In the evening we had the opportunity to speak with representatives from the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance, which will be celebrating their 30th anniversary in November. Among several initiatives that SUWA is pursuing is a push to protect the Greater Canyonlands area. Their white paper – Greater Canyonlands National Monument:An Opportunity, A Legacy – proposes that a much larger area of land surrounding Canyonlands National Park be protected by the Obama administration by being declared a national monument. This would help preserve the thousands of archeological sites in the area as well as the unique landscapes, wildlife and ecosystems from the threat of mining and energy exploration while simultaneously provide a comprehensive and consolidated management strategy for the Greater Canyonlands area. It’s an extensive, well concieved plan and there are a lot of passionate people behind this initiative – I urge anyone interested in the project to visit their website or Facebook page for more information.