Twelve hikers stepped into the brisk autumn air on Oct. 1 and began a 14-mile trek into the canyon below from 10,000 feet elevation. Descending rapidly, they passed sweeping views of the majestic Cedar Breaks National Monument, meandered through glowing aspen groves and spilled into Rattlesnake Creek, carving through a breathtaking limestone canyon within the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area before emerging triumphant along Highway 14.
Overnight, strangers became friends and students became adventurers. SUU Outdoors hosted the event as a part of its Bigger, Badder, Radder trip program, which allows students and faculty of all experience levels to participate in activities such as backpacking, rafting and climbing.
This one-night backpacking trip took students on the Rattlesnake Creek trail, one of Cedar City’s most iconic and beautiful hikes.
“I loved this trip,” said Baylee Howe, an SUU Outdoors coordinator. “The canyon was beautiful, and the fall weather and temperatures were perfect for backpacking.”
The trail begins just north of Cedar Breaks National Monument and drops into the Ashdown Gorge Wilderness Area with an elevation change of nearly 3000 feet. Along the trail, hikers are treated to intimate views of Cedar Breaks, Flanigan Arch and two waterfalls from a brief detour.
Several participants believed that the trail was difficult to manage at times, noting that the gorge was particularly rocky with plenty of logs to climb and many river crossings.
“Even though the hike itself was fairly long and demanding at times, I think the scenery compensated for the effort and made it worthwhile,” said Alex Sanchioni, an engineering major. “I think this was an opportunity that everybody should experience—especially with the amazing backyard SUU has to offer.”
At night, the group enjoyed cooking pasta beneath the stars and experimenting with astrophotography, followed by some friendly matches of headlamp-illuminated bocce ball.
“It was fun to see everyone working together in their cook groups and helping each other out with different tasks to get it done,” said Howe.
The hikers continued to enjoy themselves the following day, getting to know each other better, trying their hands at various riddles and brain games and swimming in the frigid canyon river.
“Getting into freezing-cold water was really fun,” said biology major Sarah Reynolds. “I really just liked traveling with strangers and getting to know everyone better.”
SUU Outdoors trips are a great way to meet new people and experience thrilling activities.
“I thought the group was great. I made some new friends and met people from different countries,” says Britton “K” Wood, a psychology major.
Bigger, Badder, Radder trips such as the Rattlesnake Creek backpacking trip require an upfront cost, but Adventure trips, single day experiences, and activities through Local Events and Programming are free.
“It does not matter if you have never been backpacking, climbing, or canyoneering before. We will teach you everything you need to know,” says Howe. “SUU Outdoors also hosts [LEAP] which includes activities either on campus or around Cedar City that all students are welcome to enjoy.”
Registration for both Adventure and Bigger, Badder, Radder trips opens at noon at Basecamp located in the Sharwan Smith Student Center. Those that are unable to register those are encouraged to attend the weekly LEAP activities which do not require sign-ups.
Story by: Jared Clawson
Photos by: Jared Clawson and Baylee Howe