Showing posts with label Utah. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Utah. Show all posts

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Telluride Mountain School Descends into Dark Canyon

Telluride Mountain School got the chance to travel into Dark Canyon once again, this time with their 7th grade class. The week-long adventure was one of the many fantastic experiential education trips the Telluride Mountain School takes its students on every year.

Traveling into Dark Canyon is like stepping back in time. The canyons are silent minus the sounds of ravens overhead and the river below. Few people ever go there.

That the Telluride Mountain School is able to take middle school kids to such remote places is truly amazing. Students learn desert ecology and backcountry skills such as working together as a team and taking care of their basic needs of food, water, shelter, and companionship.

But perhaps what is more amazing is the self-awareness that students gain. After a challenging descent into the canyon, one 12-year old, Aidan Green, put it this way:

"The hike down into the canyon was a struggle for all of us. People fell, slipped, and tumbled. It was one of the steepest hikes I have ever done. The beating hot sun that felt like I was being thrown into a furnace. It took every thing out of me. The 35-pound backpack on my back weighing me down made everything more difficult. I felt dead, but I kept on going. 

When I made it to the bottom, I removed my pack. My body felt so light that I could float. Then I took off my big heavy boots that were now damp with sweat on the inside, and I felt delighted because my feet could breathe."

Telluride Mountain School's trips aren't just about seeing great places. After a backcountry trip such as this, students learn that nature is another kind of home for them. Esme Fahnestock, another student, said this of the trip: "Now I know a place where I can go to escape the stress of modern life. I slip on my backpack and walk. In nature, I find a place that's my home."

If you want to go too, check out this brief write-up at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Canyon Cookies: Exploring Comb Wash, Utah with Some Sweets in Tow

Last weekend, we decided to slip out of Telluride and go to Comb Wash and the Cedar Mesa Plateau in Southwest Utah. We weren’t ready for summer to be over and all the glorious things that go along with it—camping outside, time together, and good weather.

Utah is this little added gem for those of us who call the West home. The weather stays good longer than it does in the mountains, and it has fabulous places to explore. Comb Wash, just southwest of Blanding, is one of our favorites.

There are fantastic ruins to check out, and the camping is easy and beautiful. Hikes in Comb Wash are also very accessible with kids. We did a 3-mile loop to one the best ruins, Fire House, and everyone, even our 2-year old, had an awesome time hiking.

That said, we did find that these granola and chocolate chip packed cookies helped to motivate everyone along. I adapted this recipe for Canyon Cookies from one I found in Gourmet. I’ve included my own granola recipe but if you’re short on time, a commercial granola like Cascadian Farms will work just fine! Enjoy.

Canyon Cookies

makes about 2 dozen cookies

1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 stick butter
¾ cup brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups granola
¼ cup dried cranberries, chopped
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mix, in another bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. Beat in flour mixture and stir in remaining ingredients.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoons 2 inches apart onto buttered baking sheets and bake in batches for 7 and ½ minutes. Cool cookies on racks.
Serve to tired children (and their parents). Goes well with red wine after children are hopefully sleeping.

Em’s Granola

Makes about 12 cups

4 cups old-fashioned oats
1 1/2 cup whole almonds, halved
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1-cup raw cashews
2/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
3 teaspoons ground allspice
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
4 tablespoons honey

Add after you bake granola:  2 cups chopped pitted dates, raisons, dried cherries, or cranberries

Preheat oven to 300∞F. Mix first 7 ingredients in large bowl. Melt butter with honey in heavy small saucepan over low heat. Pour over granola mixture and toss well. Spread out mixture on baking sheet. Bake 30 minutes, making sure to stir often. Add dates; mix to separate any clumps. Continue to bake until granola is golden brown. Cool and add dried fruit.

Thanks Jon Cornforth for sharing the fire house ruin shot.