hiking zion canyon

Foodie Versus Fitness Adventures in Utah

Where was I last week?

James and I were hiking the national and state parks of southern Utah, namely Zion and Bryce Canyons. My favorite hike by far was through Kolob Canyon, part of Zion. I felt like I was on the set of Indiana Jones.

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The landscape at Bryce Canyon was incredibly different. There were valleys and valleys full of rock formations called Hoodoos.

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Each day we hiked about 8 to 15 miles, and each day we packed a lunch to enjoy on a rock. Then we’d head to an easy dinner joint for a little indulgence. Being a foodie, I usually like to try as many new local restaurants as I can while on vacation. But, this time, I was dieing to go back to the same place twice: River Rock Roasting Company.

Primarily a coffee shop with a great view, the River Rock Roasting Company makes a killer veggie sandwich complete with avocado, tomato, red onion, cucumber, sprouts, lettuce and vegetable cream cheese. Add a little salty crunch from a pickle or a kettle cooked potato chip and you’ve got a wham bam dinner.

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Not only was their food great, but we found ourselves there in the morning ordering coffee…

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No worries – I didn’t let the foodie side win on this trip. We definitely worked hard for all the food and booze. Many of the hiking paths had fairly easy terrain through narrow canyons.

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But, there were also many rocks to climb over, under and around.

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Hiking boots were an absolute must on this trip. I’m so glad we did our research and made the investment, or I think we would have had extremely sore legs and feet.

So, lets get back to food, because it’s pretty much all I can ever think about. James and I hiked many miles in silence enjoying the peaceful sounds of nature. Every once in a while, James would turn back and ask what I was thinking about. Most of the time my response was NOTHING. And, I really meant it. I can do and try to do that when I go on vacations like these. I try to just be present in the moment and leave all life’s SH** at the start of the trail.

There were other times; however, when my response would be SANDWICHES or LUNCH. I always looked forward to our daily lunch and snack breaks – a moment to re-fuel and re-energize. We made a lot of forest friends during these breaks. The squirrels and chipmunks in Utah have no shame – they want your food and they want it now. So, we shared.

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For James, lunch was always a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. For myself, it was mostly crackers and cheese, beef jerky, an apple or an orange and some snap peas. Snack time usually consisted of a handful of nuts or a Kind bar (the bars involving dark chocolate are the best).

We had a few more dinners that were a little more epic than those lunches or the veggie sandwich and worth sharing. These included a sushi night.

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And, a Mexican night. I don’t even remember what this dish was called, but it was fantastic. With salsa verde, this was easily one of the best dinners James and I have ever had. I know that because we didn’t speak a word to each other until our bellies were full and the food was almost gone.

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Of course all of these fabulous dinners were followed by dessert.  Yes, I had ice cream every night ok. I’m not proud of it, but just take another look at the landscape we hiked. We earned it.

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Ok, we didn’t climb up that, but we climbed for miles and miles around these hills to get to the top of them.

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Our longest and most strenuous hike was to see the beautiful Kolob Arch. Along the way, other hikers kept telling us it really wasn’t worth the trek, but I was pretty awed by it.

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I was also pretty wowed by the color on the rocks. This one cave in particular looked like a Jackson Pollock painting.

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While it was hard not to spend every day out on the beautiful trails, we knew we needed to let our bodies relax. So we spent one morning lounging along the side of the lake in Sand Hollow State Park, and then another day at the spa.

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After a week of hiking bliss and foodie indulgences, if there’s any advice I can give, it’s never ever forget your rain pants.

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Ok, but seriously the weather is a little wonky in southern Utah. It will be sunny and 75 one minute and the next thing you know it’s raining. The rain doesn’t last long at all – certainly not long enough to ruin a hike – but it does sneak up on you.

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