4 Things we Learned in Canyon Orientation

Canyon Orientation student Aspen Gau on course in Utah

4 Things we Learned in Canyon Orientation

Student reflections and photos from Aspen Gau (Outdoor Recreation Leadership) on his experience with the Canyon Orientation course a.k.a “Canyon O”. Visit coloradomtn.edu to learn more about the Outdoor Recreation Leadership program at Colorado Mountain College. 

We are incredibly lucky to be able to attend a college that offers us so many opportunities to explore the world around us, and with each new adventure we learn something new. Here are 4 things that I learned on a recent trip with Colorado Mountain College to Central Utah for a Canyon Orientation course.

Canyon Orientation students climbing in Utah1. Pringles are the best road trip food hands down.

It was about 6.5 hours to Sid’s Mountain where we would be beginning our week-long trek into the wilderness and canyons of Utah. That means there was plenty of time to nap and stare out the window as the mountain and desert scenery rolled by. Pringles are the perfect snack for an adventure like this, because they don’t get crushed and you can close them up, meaning that you can save them for later if you don’t demolish the entire can (like I do without fail every time).

2. Ferron, Utah has cool hats

When we finally reached the turn off to the wilderness area, we stopped for some last-minute provisions and the last indoor plumbing experience that we would have for a week. On the wall of the gas station, amongst hundreds of pictures of hunting trips and big game photos, were a series of baseball caps advertising the gas station and Ferron, Utah. It’s almost like a collector’s addition thing, you could have a hat from pretty much the middle of nowhere. Think of all the conversations that would start, ‘YOU have a HAT from FERRON in UTAH?!‘ Sadly, I did not purchase the hat, though that’s all the more reason to go back.

Canyon orientation student Aspen Gau, climbing in Utah3. Gaiters save lives

“A true canyoneer is never afraid to get his or her feet wet.” –Kent Clement

This is true, but on day 3 of our trip, it was apparent that dry feet were going to be a commodity. Thankfully, I was able to stave off the floodwaters by using gaiters while hiking. Everything was going great, not a drop of moisture, until it happened. We came up on a river crossing and our hearts sunk. The water, cold and murky, was at least knee high on the tallest of us and there was no good way to cross. Alas, the gaiters put up a valiant fight against the tide, yet they stood no chance. As they say, ‘Wet boots, soggy socks and squishy feet builds character’ or something like that.

4. Backcountry cooking lessons

This recipe calls for 2 dripping hiking boots and some mildly moist wool socks. Place boots on the rim of the fire, opening towards the fire and set at 150 degrees, keep on rim till you notice that they are steaming more than usual, panic and realize that you melted them pretty good. As for wool socks, cook until a golden brown on one side, flip and roast for the amount of time it takes you to realize that the fire has gotten hotter and now your wool socks have some nice sized holes in them. Dinner is served.

Canyon Orientation class, tents in the desert of Utah

Joking aside, this was easily the best Orientation trip that I’ve experienced here at Colorado Mountain College. Our group meshed well. We were able to joke around and generally have a really good time together. I had some hesitations about the course at first because it was over spring break and the last thing that I wanted to do over break was more classwork, but it was more than worth it in the end. I learned a ton of useful, industry specific things, had a ton of fun with my classmates and instructors, and explored a beautiful wilderness area.