Time to Hit the Trails in Utah!

Its getting close to that time of year again. That time where I put the snow-gear in the back of the closet. That tie of year where the sun is starting to shine a little warmer. That time of year where I start to get excited, shake off a bit of that cold weather seasonal affective disorder, and start planning my spring-time hikes in my lovely state of Utah! My plan is to find some places where I can backpack in, make camp, and do some day hikes. Of course all of this solo. Im looking for places that I can be alone and reflect on my health and stay mindful in my addiction recovery.

Here are few places Im looking forward to getting to this spring. If you have any recommendations on where to get some solo backpacking or day hikes please let me know!

White Pine Lake

Neon Canyon & Golden Cathedral

Amethyst Basin

Reflection Canyon

Kings Peak


A Life Without Addiction: Where We all Begin

A very good friend of mine just had a baby. A beautiful, healthy, and extremely large adorable baby girl. She was almost 10 pounds and the mother is 5’1″ and 115 on a fat day. My dear friends are not in recovery. However, as with most people their lives has been marred by addiction and or mental health issues in some capacity. We’ve lost friends and loved ones to drug addiction and seen the same suffer horribly through depression and anxiety. But, with the birth of their child, we see hope. We see a life that is starting free from addiction, at least in the social perspective, the genetic side is a difference discussion. Point is, this new life is a life free from pressures and stressors that can lead to substance abuse or other mental health disorders.

Generally, we all begin addiction free, but from the few minutes after birth our perception of the world begins to take shape. How we are treated by others and interact with our surrounding starts to mold our minds. This got me thinking about the issues surrounding stigma. I hope this little girl grows up in a world where people love one another for who they are and do not judge on issues like mental health or addiction. If she, and the other millions of children growing up now have the ability to speak out and not feel ashamed about their problems, I feel the world be a better place. If you need help go get it, and drug detox is a great place to start. UNI at the University of Utah really helped me if you;re interested.

Personally, coming from a place of cocaine addiction and alcohol addiction, I lived a life where I was afraid to speak out and ask for help. Mainly because of the stigma surrounding my issues. People look at you differently when you’re open about your addiction and mental health state. I hope that we as a species can learn to help each other rather than judge. Lets live our lives the way we start them: addiction free and full of hope.

Running From Problems? At Least Im Running!

One outdoor activity that has always stayed with has been running. Even in the darkest places and grips of drug addiction, I was able to occasionally muster up the strength and will to lace-up and hit the pavement. It’s truly amazing how a run can clear my head. People say Im just running from my problems and replacing old addictions with new ones. That may be, but Im happy, healthy and doing things I never thought possible!

Running has become an old friend. I can always count on a good run to clear the mind and ease those old feelings of addiction and triggers. Honestly, it’s probably the first place I experienced any type of mindfulness practice. I would focus on my breathing. Focus on my feet and the impact with the road. It’s almost hypnotic. It’s one of the easiest way I have to deal with any mental health concerns I have and basically just help me think clearly.

As my distance and endurance increase Im thinking it’s time take this running to the test! Here are my bucket-list marathons that Im ready to qualify for and put forth a good effort. The best part about running is the only competition that matters is the competition I have with myself and consistently making me a better person.

Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon

Boston Marathon

Great Ocean Road Marathon

The Great Wall Marathon

Get The Help You Need & Deserve

After some serious talk from the governor of Utah on addiction and mental health issues earlier this week, it really got me thinking. Death and suffering from drug or alcohol addiction is needless and completely unnecessary. I got the help I needed and so have thousands of others, but that doesn’t mean the process was easy by any means! There were a lot of barriers trying to get into drug rehab: a positive intervention experience, hoping insurance can help, the support of family friends and the stigma around being an addict.

The stigma that hovers around being an addict is huge, and it creates a an even larger barrier to getting the help you need. As if the expense of treatment and the toll addiction takes on the people around you wasn’t enough, you’ve got to worry about what everyone thinks of you. I know, I know, you shouldn’t care what people think of you but it’s tough as an addict. You’re painted as a criminal, a junkie, a surge on society, someone who pulls resources from the healthy, etc… With all those thoughts running through your head it’s hard to admit you’ve got a problem, because you don’t want to be labeled those things.

Point is, if you’ve dealt with addiction you need to get out there and talk about it. The only way we break stigmas on addiction and mental health is to first bring up the discussion. Cancer doesn’t go away by pretending it doesn’t exist does it? No! So i you or a loved one is suffering from drug addiction or alcohol addiction, please get the help you need. Nay…get the help you deserve!

Here are a few places that helped me on my journey to recovery in Utah:

Favorite Rock Climbing Outfitters

As i mentioned in my last post, Im really looking forward to getting in some serious bouldering and rock climbing this spring and summer. It’s looking like it may become my next outdoor obsession. Being a bit of a gear nut, I always tend to go a little overboard when it comes to buying gear. Im sure with rock climbing, it will be no different. Here are a few of my favorite rocklclimbing outfitters near Salt Lake. Im always on the lookout for smaller, local retailers so if you know of any please let me know in the comments.

Being in the outdoors has become quite the solace for me. Living in active recovery and free from drugs and alcohol addiction for the first time in my life, experiencing outdoor activities like rock-climbing is where I find me zen. So without further a due, here a few of favorite SLC outfitters for rock climbing.

Climbing for Recovery

As am looking forward to the spring, Ive started scheming ways to utilize all that the Utah outdoors has to offer. Once the snow clears and my snowboard goes back to the garage, Im thinking my next adventure will be rock climbing. Living post-addiction, rock climbing is the perfect analogy for recovery. You start at the bottom, on the ground floor. You look up and can see the perilous journey that lies ahead. You have to get your hands dirty, scrape your knees and push yourself harder than you ever  have before. But when you get to the top you’re stronger, you’re wiser, and all around better for it.

Drug addiction took a lot from me and Im living day by day to make my life better than it was yesterday. Sobriety is tough, but nowhere near as tough as living in active addiction. With that said, I’m really excited to try rock climbing as a new sober activity. Here a few places Im eager to try:

Logan Canyon

Patriot Crack

Little Cottonwood Canyon

Rock Canyon

Feeling Nature in Recovery: Backpacking in Utah

There’s no better way to truly connect with nature than backpacking. Pack your bag and walk into the unknown with nothing but yourself to keep you company, and alive for that matter. Ive done backing in the South-East and done somer serious back-county in the Appalachians, also known as the Smoky Mountains where Im from. Backpacking has been one of the best releases for me in recovery, and been an excellent way for me to remain drug-free after addiction treatment. So, as the weather is chilled and winter to the core I can only dream about the spring and summer in Utah, and where my next backpacking adventures can take me. Here a few places I would like to see this year on backpacking trips in Utah.

Mount Timpanogos

Zion National Park

The Big Needles Loop

Dark Canyon

Backpacking and going on outdoor adventures has been the best way, for me, to keep myself in check. Utah is pretty much a playground for me and I can connect with a great group of people in recovery. I can work the meeting on Monday and hit the trail on Tuesday. It gives me the opportunity to practice mindfulness, many areas to meditate, and be thankful that I found recovery and freedom from drug and alcohol addiction.

Kayaking Near Salt Lake City

Kayaking has been a wonderful way for me to reconnect with nature, especially living a life in addiction recovery where so many things can be triggers. I can load the kayak on the roof of the car, head out, and be on the water just about whenever I want. The great thing about kayaking is there are so many options, especially near Salt Lake City on in Utah, for different types of experiences. I can do an easy day of lake cruising, flow a lay river, or get the endorphins and adrenaline pumping with some whitewater! Point is, kayaking offers me an escape from the worries of addiction, and I can counteract those feelings with any type of kayaking experience I want…because Utah offers such amazing things. Here are a few of my favorite places to kayak in Utah.

If Im keyed up, need a break from the world, and a place to recharge my state of mental health I go straight to Lake Powell. I typically end up at the same place overtime. You guessed it..Antelope Canyon.

For the more intense days, you know…where I could punch the next person who looks at me wrong…there’s Weber River!

Then, If I’m just feeling some beautiful scenery, the place I head for is Causey Reservoir.

As with everything I do now a days, kayaking is way for me to stay grounded in recovery and keep my mental state in check. It’s another great way to keep me mindful and connected to the world around me. It teaches me to soak it all in and live in the moment.

Staying Sober in Salt Lake City

Staying sober and free from addiction is no easy feat. Luckily, Salt Lake City is chock-full of the beautiful outdoors and tons of activities to do in nature. That’s typically where I live in recovery…the outdoors. However, sometimes Im not feeling the trail. Sometimes, I don’t want to spend the day battling the slopes and negative temperatures. Sometimes, I may want to enjoy the beauty of opera. Or, get my education on and get lost in a museum or art gallery. Point is, there are a ton of different ways to stay clean and drug free, especially in a place light Salt Lake City. There are still plenty of activities where I can have fun without slamming drinks, and remain indoors out of the elements. Here’s a list of a few of my favorites:

Mystery Escape Room: It’s a themed escape room, but with a bit more theatrical nuances. I   went there in December and participated in the Charles Dickens ‘Christmas Carol’ themed escape room. Tons of fun and great to do with a big group!

Natural History Museum of Utah: Aside from being one of the most architecturally stunning buildings Ive ever seen, they’ve always got some amazing exhibits to keep my brain occupied and trigger free!

Utah Xtreme Paintball: I don’t think I need much description for this….just pure adrenaline!!!! Can’t wait to try this! I really can’t imagine a better way to fend off the demons of addiction then popping off a few rounds and ducking for cover.

Sometime the winter blues can hit hard. If you’re not particularly outdoorsy and in addiction recovery, being snowed in can be particularly tricky. Here’s a good list I found on  winter sober activities in the Salt Lake City area. It’s pretty comprehensive and gave me a lot of ideas for some fun, clean, nights out.

Family & The Addict

I read a really great blog post this morning from an addiction treatment facility in Salt Lake City about what it feels like to be the family living with an addict. If you want to read it check it out here: Hand Grenades: Xanax Addiction & The Family. Either way, it got me thinking about the craziness and destruction that happens, not just to the addict, but to the family and friends around them. Addiction is a bull in a china shop, and it really doesn’t care who or what gets in it’s way.

Im a huge advocate for family integration in addiction treatment. It not only helps the family fix their issues that may have assisted enabling or hiding the addiction, but helps the family learn how to properly communicate their issues to the family member suffering  from the addiction. To be perfectly honest, we ALL could use a little bit of therapy…am i right?

Either way, I hope you take this morning (well, really every morning) and keep your family close and love them, regardless of what that love looks like. Family is family…