The following is the continuation of our feature story, Playing with Fire. Click here for Part 1 of this story.
MEET THE PRO
With 16 years of experience in the outdoors industry, Rachel Tueller has explored Utah’s desert wilds as a river guide, a public servant and a writer. But whatever her role, she’s always an admirer: “There’s something about Southern Utah’s magnificent, bold beauty that completely enthralls me. I fell deeply, hopelessly and endlessly in love with this place back when I was a student at SUU. I loved knowing that every weekend held limitless possibilities to discover something new about the outdoors. I still do.”
When she first arrived at Southern Utah University, Tueller had plans to eventually flee Utah’s dusty cliffs for the California coast, but “the beauty here cast a permanent shroud over any notions I once had of moving.” The sandstone’s siren song lured Tueller into her current position as a federal Bureau of Land Management officer and outdoors columnist for the local newspaper The Spectrum. It’s also filled her with more outdoors insights than Edward Abbey—if fewer monkey wrenching impulses.
It’s all information she’s happy to share, even when she’s asked to reveal her favorite hike: “The Red Cliffs National Conservation Area near St. George, Utah just off I-15. It’s highly accessible and has a host of gorgeous trails.” Right off I-15? Highly accessible? Not exactly GPS coordinates, but you can’t blame a girl for keeping a few hiker’s secrets.
A DEADLY WAVE
The Wave, by Frank Kovalcheck
The Wave is the Pink Panther of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, a flawless sandstone diamond in one of the harshest, hottest locations in America with summer temperatures regularly above 100 degrees. Those temperatures combined with the extreme isolation of The Wave make this popular but remote hike as deadly as it is beautiful.
In summer 2013, The Wave claimed the lives of 3 hikers. It's only a three-mile trek into the geologic wonder, but the absence of natural landmarks, cell phone coverage and trail marks conspire with the brain-frying heat to earn this seductively gorgeous, seemingly simple day hike a fatal reputation. Still, with knowledge, fitness and planning, these dangers can be mitigated. It's not a bad idea to have an updated GPS unit or, better, an experienced guide.
If you're interested in visiting the sedimentary treasure the Coyote Buttes guard so jealously, visit the BLM website for safety tips and instructions on how to obtain one of the highly sought after hiking permits.
GET THE GEAR
Polarchromic lenses adjust their polarized tint based on lighting conditions. Until Google Glass comes out, it's the most technology you'll ever wear on your face.
$179, Sports Den, 1350 Foothill Dr., SLC, 801-582-5611
More gadgets than Batman's belt packed neatly on your wrist. The built-in GPS will get you to your destination and back—no SOS calls necessary.
$399.99, backcountry.com, 800-409-4502
Ultra Distance Trekking Pole
These lightweight knee-savers snap to attention like marines at boot camp (and march like them, too).
$159.95, Black Diamond, 2092 E. 3900 South, SLC, 801-278-0233