Playing the Slots

Counseling psychology and special education professor Katie Sampson Steed (BS ’00, MS ’04) remembers the moment she “converted to Utah.” It was the Oregon native’s first time in Zion National Park’s world-famous Subway, a 10-mile, permits-required hike.

“It’s like nothing else,” says Steed, recounting the journey on which adventurers descend from a forest into a slot canyon, boulder over—and swim under—obstacles, submerge in icy canyon pools, rappel down waterfalls, and more. At last, “you reach the chunnel part,” the round tube carved out of the red rock.

“I just felt so rugged and so cool,” Steed says of her first experience. “Some people will go their entire lives and never see this!” she exclaims. She has returned again and again, making new Utah converts at the same spot.

With three young children, the slot-canyon junkie has pulled back on her expeditions. But she is training them with hikes every Saturday in hopes that they’ll love the canyons too.

Still, she fits in “at least one epic hike a year.” Her top three Utah hike recommendations: The Subway, of course; Buckskin Gulch (beware of the quicksand, she advises); and Orderville Canyon. Her guest room, painted “Moab orange,” features photography of each.

Steed insists she’s no expert, but canyoneering rejuvenates her. “There’s something cool about following a river to get to your destination,” she says of slot canyons. “You’re just following nature. . . . When I get in nature, I’m reminded of God.”

Full Name: 
Katie Sampson Steed
Grad Year: 
BS 2000, MS 2004
Author: 
Brittany Karford Rogers (BA ’07)
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