Winter Sports in Utah: The Promised Land

Im a fairly avid snowboarder. It’s a fantastic way to help manage the demons of drug addiction and still get a pretty killer rush while experiencing the awesomeness of nature. Ive boarded in the North East and done a lot of time at places like Waterville Valley. Ive boarded the south and spent weekends at Paoli Peaks and Cataloochee Ski Area. As far as out west is concerned Ive only done a few days at Monarch. In fact the last time I was at Monarch the temperature hovered around a toasty -10 degrees Fahrenheit. So I would ride to the peak, shred down, head to the lodge and warm up. With this type of weather and schedule in play I was only able to actually do about 3 solid runs until I called it a day.

Now in Utah, Im looking for some amazing snow and it looks like I’m in the right place. I’ve heard stories. That Utah snowboarding is about as close to heaven as you can get. I like to treat snowboarding how my island counterparts treat surfing…as a spiritual experience. Considering coming from a life of drug addiction, the immense spiritual (and physical) rush of plowing down a mountain is hard to beat, and works wonders for managing craving s and triggers. Regardless of the recovery, here are a few places Im looking forward to getting to this season and next:

For those who are in active addiction recovery and about the more extreme winter sports, skiing, snowboarding, or bobsledding but you still want to have fun in Salt Lake City. Here’s a great article on sober fun in Salt Lake City. Don’t let the fact that you’re drug free ruin an a great time out in one of the most beautify places in the world!

If anyone has any suggestions or additions to my above list please let me know!


Mountain Biking in Utah? Sure! Why Not?

So, Ive thought about trying a new hobby, mountain biking. Im a huge lover of the outdoors and Utah has a lot to offer in the way of mountain climbing, hiking, backpacking, etc.. I have done quite a bit of road biking in the past, but Ive got to be honest in that I never really felt comfortable with 2 tons of metal speeding past me on multiple occasions. Recovery from addiction is already stressful enough! So, with that in mind, Ive thought of taking the more outdoorsy adventure of mountain biking! Here a few places I researched in the Salt Lake City area where I may be able to get a nice start into the world of mountain biking.

  • The Whole Enchilada: Ok, definitely not going to be my first, second, third, fourth, fifth, or sixth ride but it’s a goal, and a lofty one Ive been assured! 25+ miles, 8000 feet of elevation gain, and some of the most beautiful views in the world. Thanks Utah!
  • Alexander Creek: Now this is a little more my speed for a beginner! Its located east of  Salt Lake City, 1600ft of descent, and only 5 miles long. That’s definitely a little more my speed!
  • Bonneville Shoreline Trail: This one feels like a great second ride with a little more technical climb. It looks like it runs from Ogden to Payden and has some amazing views of the city!
  • Ghost Falls: Closer to Draper and probably easier to get on the trail during a busy day, there are lost of trails that connect. Might be a fun one to spend a day on exploring!.

Im looking forward to adding mountain biking to a list of addiction recovery tools. It’s seems like another great way to connect with nature, stay outdoors, stay fit, and even get my adrenaline pumping!

Mediation, Sobriety & The Outdoors in Utah

Being outside, on the trail, climbing a mountain, wading a river, are all forms of personal mediation. That mediation is great for the everyday person, but it can be life changing for the person in recovery, trying to stay sober and free from addiction. If triggers of addiction start to cloud the mind, one of the best ways to clear the mind is to physically go to a place where the mind cannot be clouded. Where there is only you and nature. No cell phone, no bills, no addiction, no worries, just a calm mind and a beautiful landscape. Utah is one of the most serene places I have ever seen and offers plenty of places, for those suffering from addiction and those who are not, to meditate and relax their mind.

One way I meditate is through the fluid action of fly fishing. The repetitive motions of the rod and the consistent sounds and movement of the river make it very easy for me to be present in the moment, mindful, and rest my mind.

Another wonderful way I meditate is through hiking. Half way through a day hike I’ll stop. I become completely aware of my feet on the trail and focus on the direct pressure my heel is pushing into the earth. This focus, along with the soothing sounds of the wind rushing through trees and the natural colors pouring over myself and the environment, makes it extremely easy to sink into a very deep and reflective meditative space.

Some of my favorite places in Utah (and the southwest) to practice these meditations is at the Coral Pink Sand Dunes, the North rim of the grand Canyon, and Kayaking on Lake Powell. Sobriety is a huge part of my life and these places are especially helpful when meditating and soothing my body mind.

Fly Fishing near Salt Lake City

Most of the fishing, especially fly fishing, has been done in the south east for small mouth. Or if I was feeling up to it I would make the 3-4 hour trek to the Appalachians and fish for rainbow trout in the mountain streams of East Tennessee. Out west it’s a different game! I’ve fished plenty of Colorado: the Arkansas river and the Platte River in South Park. Here are a few of the places I plan to fish near Salt Lake City in the coming future:

Little Cottonwood Canyon Stream: when it’s stocked Ive heard its good for rainbow and Bonneville cutthroat trout. However, the stock doesn’t typically last for more than one season.

Strawberry Reservoir: An hour and half southeast of Salt Lake City Strawberry Reservoir seems to be a great place for Bonneville cutthroat trout,
Rainbow trout and Kokanee Salmon. Looks like getting here early is key!

Provo River: This seems to be the place to start, as its one of the Salt Lake City area’s most popular fishing destinations for Brown Trout.

Green River: The famous Green River is a little over 3 hours drive from Salt Lake City, but from what Ive been told, it’s well worth it. Ive even heard you can see trout by the hundreds just strolling along the bank!

Fishing is a great way to stay to practice mindfulness during addiction recovery. It calms the mind and soothes the soul. Not to mention a fantastic way to connect with nature and build an appreciation for the outdoors in a very, low-impact way.

Treating Addiction in Utah

Recovery from addiction is serious. Especially considering the ever growing issues of the opiate and opioid epidemics sweeping the nation. A lot of people who never intended to become addicts were simply doing as their doctor recommended and became hooked on a painkiller. Or there might be some associated mental health issue, another hot topic in the US. It seems like there are not a lot of options for addiction treatment and/or mental health treatment in Utah, but there are.

Growing up in a home where addiction was always right under the surface, and then later experiencing how recovery can change lives, I know the importance of getting help for drug or alcohol addiction. Here a few locations for drug and alcohol addiction treatment in Salt Lake City that I know provide excellent care.

Mental Health, Detox and Addiction Treatment Facilities in Utah

  • UNI: University Neuropsychiatric Institute: University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) is a highly ranked hospital and behavioral health facility. We offer patient-centered care to treat all aspects of the individual—biological, psychological, social, and spiritual—elements essential to achieving balance in mental health. We aim to challenge and change the stigmas surrounding mental illness through compassionate care, collaborative research, and community involvement.Our specialists treat conditions like anxiety, eating disorders, major depression, mood disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and substance abuse/chemical dependency. We also offer day treatment programs and support groups to help our individuals cope with everyday challenges and find a better quality of life.
  • Recovery Ways: Recovery Ways is a group of effective and affordable dual-diagnosis addiction treatment facilities in Salt Lake City, Utah. When you arrive at Recovery Ways, you immediately sense that you are in a place of serenity and healing. You participate fully in the development of your customized treatment plan after a thorough assessment process. Because each person is unique, you are assigned a primary care coordinator (PCC) that is your advocate and works with you to develop your own individual treatment plan. This counselor becomes your “go to” person helping you to get your needs met while you are in treatment at Recovery Ways. Recovery Ways utilizes a bio-psycho-social-spiritual model of treatment that provides each patient with the emotional, physical and spiritual tools needed to achieve a productive, joyful, and sober lifestyle.
  • Aqua Recovery: acqua recovery is a 20-bed evidence-based residential rehab center and intensive outpatient program offering an intimate sanctuary for adults struggling with substance abuse (with or without mental illness). We transform lives by creating a sanctuary for hope, healing, and recovery!
  • Salt Lake Behavioral Health: Salt Lake Behavioral Health (SLBH) is a private freestanding psychiatric hospital specializing in mental health and substance abuse treatment. Serving Salt Lake City and surrounding area, SLBH provides evidence-based treatment proven to have positive outcomes for patients. Behavioral health treatment is provided in a comfortable atmosphere and adheres to patient privacy and confidentiality standards. At SLBH, the patient, his or her family, and/or significant other are the focus of a caring and compassionate staff well trained in the mental health and drug & alcohol addiction treatment.

Favorite Hiking Destinations in Utah

My last trip to southern Utah was extraordinary! I got to experience and see quite a few things Im not accustomed to. I got to live in a post-card, walk in a painting, and have some life changing moments I will never forget. To put it lightly, southern utah changed my life! Here are a few of the places I got to visit.

My Favorite Hikes in Utah

Zion National Park:

The Toadstools:

The Narrows:

Bryce Canyon:

Coral Pink Sand Dunes:

Hiking is an excellent way to clear the mind and focus on what is relevant. Being outdoors and hiking through unknown nature is an excellent way to relieve any pressures of daily life, especially if you’re in addiction recovery or healing from mental illness. Both are very important issues to me, that are close to my heart, and near enough thought of in this country.

My Favorite Salt Lake City Outfitters

I love Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s centrally located for a lot of different outdoor activities; skiing, hiking, backpacking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing and more! The hardest thing for me, the it comes to the outdoors is being properly outfitted. I want to be able to see and feel the equipment and make sure it’s a good fit. Hence my issues with buying any type of outdoor gear on line. If you’re in Salt Lake City here a few of my favorite  outfitters and gear sales:

Salt Lake City really caters to the outdoors and nature enthusiasts. Living in recovery is super easy, with some great ways to stay active and engaged and not let addiction rule your life. These outfitters do a fantastic job of making all adventures more convenient, so I can focus on whats important: health, happiness, and mindfulness.