Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lets talk Inversion

Smoggy Cities and Inversion:
Air Quality Issues in Salt Lake City, Utah


I am lucky to say air quality is something I never worried about while living in a small town in coastal Connecticut.  Here in Salt Lake City, it is a problem and I have had to do some research to understand and prepare better for air quality and running.  This is also a little update for my friends back east who have no idea what inversion and bad air quality is either.  This inversion comes right at the beginning of my "running season" and really affects those who are active and love the outdoors (me!)

Taken from the New York Times, February 2013 looking over Salt Lake City, Utah 

"According to the division, Salt Lake County has experienced 22 days this winter (written 2013)  in which pollution levels exceeded federal air quality standards, compared with just one last year." New York Times

The following facts were taken from 

Wintertime Inversion Period:  

December through February. 

What is Inversion?

 " normal atmospheric conditions (cool air above, warm air below) become inverted. Inversions trap a dense layer of cold air under a layer of warm air. The warm layer acts much like a lid, trapping pollutants in the cold air near the valley floor. The Wasatch Front valleys and their surrounding mountains act like a bowl, keeping this cold air in the valleys. The warm inversion air layer is usually displaced by a strong storm system which restores air quality to healthy levels."

You can see the valley and how the air gets trapped Source

What is the major cause of the air pollution?

"Utah residents may be surprised to discover that vehicles and urban "area sources" contribute the largest proportion of the emissions responsible for the formation of fine particulates".

What is PM 2.5?
PM 2.5 stands for Particulate Matter 2.5 and are partiuclate matters less than or equal to 2.5 micrometers in diamterer.  Primary PM2.5 is emitted directly as a particle and enters the atmosphere as soot from roadways or tailpipe emissions. Secondary particulates form when precursor emissions react in the atmosphere and combine to create PM2.5.

Why is PM 2.5 a problem? 
"Fine particulate matter poses serious health concerns because it can pass through the nose and throat, lodge deeply in the lungs, and pass across the lungs into the cardiovascular system. Particles can aggravate lung diseases such as asthma and bronchitis, and increase respiratory symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. PM2.5 can aggravate heart conditions, including congestive heart failure and coronary artery disease".

What are the major sources of PM 2.5?
Believe it or not it is not industry, but it is mobile and area sources-- too many cars on the road.  

What this means for me?

This inversion and poor air quality hits right in time for the cold, aka my favorite running season.  Just as the temperatures cool and I start to enjoy running more, now I can't run in the city.  I have friends at the University who said people walking around with masks, will have a black mask by the end of the day from the smog.  Now this is not air I want to breath while running and this is not air I want my dog to breathe.  The best way to avoid the poor air quality is to head up in the mountain to run where you can get above the pollution.  This also means intense elevation and altitude running which is a struggle for me!

I downloaded the UtahAir app which gives me a report for the day's air quality. 
I biked home from class and can still taste the exhaust!

The snow storm this weekend should clear the smog out and bring the air quality back up. 

There is hope!  
According to my Law Professor during out discussion of the Clean Air Act, Portland Oregon was able to reduce its air pollution by getting a ton of cars off the road.  How?  Making parking so expensive and public transportation so convenient. (Will have to check with Wandering Portlander to see if this is true!) 

Here in Salt Lake City public transportation is not convenient and expensive, meanwhile, parking is cheap and the city is very drive-able.  This air quality is a big reason people end up leaving Salt Lake City and after reading some of the facts... I get it!

Looks like its treadmill running (no dog) 
or up in the mountains (dog but a tough run) for me for a bit! 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Nego Bills Canyon- Moab, UT

Negro Bill Canyon:  Moab, Utah
The Morning Glory Arch/Natural Bridge

Welcome to the last post in my "Weekend in Moab" series!  

Our last adventure was a 5 miles hike in Negro Bills Canyon, a dog friendly hiking area right next to Arches National Park.
Trail head:  Trailhead is located about 3 miles east of the junction of Route 128 and US Route 191 in Moab, Utah. 

So what's in a name?
According to Wikipedia...."The canyon was named after William Granstaff, a mixed-race cowboy, who prospected and ran cattle in the desert canyon in the late 1870s with a Canadian trapper named "Frenchie". They took joint possession of the abandoned Elk Mountain Mission fort near Moab after 1877, and each controlled part of the Spanish Valley. Granstaff fled the area in 1881 after being charged with bootlegging whiskey to thebIndians.
Until the 1960s, the canyon was named 'Nigger Bill Canyon".  Source

The entire hike crosses this little stream while making your way through this gorgeous canyon.  This little stream drains directly into the main channel of the Colorado River. 

The scenery, the rocks, the plants, and the little stream were absolutely beautiful.  Olive also had her first meeting with a cactus. 

This little stream between the canyons made for some great pictures...
 and a really happy Olive! 

Really cool geology in this canyon!

Yep that trail sign says up! 
 It was a generally easy hike (2.5 miles each way) with little incline except for spots like this. 

This is your reward at the end of the hike...
 this really awesome arch called Morning Glory Arch. 

There was a group of climbers repelling down the arch as we got there.  
This was really cool and terrifying to watch. 

We had such a great hike here. 

There were tons of dogs off leash and playing in the water, and a lot of beautiful scenery to take in.  This arch/natural bridge at the end of the hike was the icing on top of the cake.  A lot of people did this hike barefoot as you have to cross the stream a bunch of times and will get your feet wet :)  A lot of the hike is trudging through sandstone so it was definitely a good workout and would feel good barefoot. 

 Also. it is important to note there is a TON of poison ivy here... as advised on the trail head signage.  Of course, I only have to look at it to get it so I came home with some pretty nasty poison ivy I am still battling.  Totally worth it for this hike! 

Monday, November 17, 2014

ROAD ID Sale next 3 days ! $15

For the next 60 hours, Road ID bracelets are all on sale for $15!!! 

I have wanted one for a while but never got around for it.  
Well, this sale was the motivation I needed! 

What is a Road ID? Basically it is a little bracelet with important medical/contact information in case you were ever in an accident while running/biking/cycling and could not speak for yourself.  Now that winter is approaching and the roads are getting snowy and icy, it is the perfect time to slap that bracelet on and be safe!

Road ID is having a 3-day sale right now. You can get any of their IDs for only $15. And they also have Hot Deals on tech tees (40% off) and Supernova lights (20% off). I got my bracelet for $15, originally $30! 

I bought this one 

Oh, one more thing, they offered me a $10 credit for each one of my friends that gets
one. But I promise that's not the reason I shared this with you. I
really do think it's a great thing to have and make great Christmas gifts too.
Use this link to check out the sale: !
Be safe out there! 

P.S. They also donate money to your favorite charity! 

Arches National Park pt. II

Arches National Park:  Part II
Garden of Eden, the Windows, and Delicate Arch

Arches National park has the "densest concentrations of natural stone arches in the world".  With other 2,000 natural rock arches, there is a lot to see in this park. 

How the arches are formed:
stages of arch formation
Quick and Dirty :  Stages of arch formation
Rainwater dissolves sandstone, widening cracks to form fins. 
An alcove eroded in the base of a fin might grow to form an arch before finally collapsing.

Types of Arches:
Cliff Wall Arch
Free Standing Arch
Pothole Arch
Natural Bridge

Fun Fact:  
Spans must have a light opening of at least three feet in one direction 
to count as an official arch

To wrap up our trip at Arches, we left the Fiery Furnace and headed towards Delicate Arch, stopping for a few photo ops on the way. 

The Garden of Eden.  
This really cool area housed these rock structures.  
There were also some people climbing in this section of the park. 

Leaving the Windows section of Arches   Parade of Elephants Arches 

Finally we got to the Wolfe Ranch/ Delicate Arch section. You can hike out to the Arch and stand right under if for a picture.  However, we had the dog so opted for the viewing area.  The lower viewing area is a short walk, and the upper viewing area is about a half mile hike uphill. 

At first I was like okay, it's just going to be another arch,
 but it was a pretty epic view of a free standing natural arch.  

Next time we head to Arches National Park, we will be sure to hike the northern section of the park, get a permit to hike the fiery furnace, and make the 3+ mile round trip hike to Delicate Arch.  

Check back in for my last post in the Moab series, at Negro Bill's Canyon.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Arches National Park. Part I

MOAB, Utah
  Arches National Park
Devils Garden, Pine Tree Arch, Tunnel Arch and overlooks

  The entrance to the park is found 5 miles north of town via US 191.   Being so close to town, and also very close to Negro Bills Canyon (our last hike/park) it made sense to knock off these two parks in one day.  If you are planning to do a lot of hiking in Arches, I would definitely dedicate the entire day to this park.  We had the dog and another park to see so we had an 8am to 12pm time slot to see Arches.  

We drove up to Arches National Park at about 7 pm Saturday night after dinner.  It was a dark starry night and it was a beautiful drive seeing the silhouettes of the rock structures and the full moon.  Hotels were booked for the weekend, the campsites were full, and it was dropping to the low 40's that night, so we settled for some good ol' fashioned car camping.   No need to pitch a tent in the middle of the night and a much warmer option for November in the high dessert at night. 

We stayed at the Devils Garden Campground (very cute very primitive- no showers but bathrooms and drinking water were available) and woke up to sights like this.  There is a 20$ fee and it is first come first serve basis starting November 1st.

  The campground is at the very end of the park so the plan was to slowly drive out, stopping at all the sights.  Everything was new and so surprising because we had driven into the park at night. 

Some of my favorite pictures-  Devil's Garden! 

We started off the day with a quick hike to Pine Tree Arch and Tunnel Arch 

Tunnel Arch 

Pine Tree Arch 

Trail back from the arches. 

The scenery at arches was beautiful and very different from the last two parks we were at.  

The landscape.. the shadows... the valley.  
Yep my favorite park! 

Below is the Fiery Furnance viewing area.  You need a permit/guided tour to hike the fiery furnance.  "The Fiery Furnace offers a labyrinth of narrow passageways and abrupt dead-ends among a series of sandstone fins. Though it does not encompass a very large area, it is easy to become disoriented or lost. For this reason, and to protect native plants and soils, visitors must join a guided hike, or obtain a special permit, in order to enter the Fiery Furnace."  More info here!

A lot of the sights were aaccessibleby car and over looks (what we did with the dog) but there were a few chances for hiking in the park 

Balanced Rock.3 mi/ .5 km15-30 minEasyRock formation, loop
Broken Arch1.3 mi/ 2.1 km30-60 minEasyArch
Broken Arch with Loop2 mi/ 3.2 km30-60 minEasyArch, sand dunes, slickrock
Delicate Arch Viewpoint100 yards10-15 minEasyViewpoint of Delicate Arch
Desert Nature Trail.2 mi/ .3 km10-15 minEasyNature Walk, Trail Guide
Double Arch.5 mi/.8 km15-30 minEasyTwo giant arches
Landscape Arch2 mi/3.2 km30-60 minEasySpectacular ribbon of rock
Sand Dune Arch.4 mi/ .6 km15-30 minEasySecluded arch/sandstone fins
Skyline Arch.4 mi/ .6km10-20 minEasyArch

The Windows
1 mi/ 1.6 km30-60 minEasyNorth, South Windows, Turret Arch
Park Avenue1 mi/ 1.6 km30-60 minModerateCanyon, Courthouse Towers

Tower Arch
3.4 mi/ 5.6 km2-3 hoursModerateRock wall, dunes, sandstone fins
Delicate Arch3 mi/ 4.8 km2-3 hoursStrenuousSlickrock, arch
Devils Garden7.2 mi/ 11.5 km3-5 hoursStrenuousEight arches
Double O Arch4 mi/ 6.4 km2-3 hoursStrenuousScenic, Navajo Arches
Fiery FurnaceNo marked trails, permit required, guided tour available

Check back in for part II of our day in Arches National Park! 
Featuring the famous Delicate Arch :) 

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