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Spring

A Dream Hike: Mt. Timpanogos

One mountain peak that stands above most in the Wasatch front is Mt. Timpanogos, also referred to as Timp. Technically speaking, it is the second highest peak behind Mt. Nebo, standing at 11,752 ft. However, between the two, Mt. Timpanogos is much more picturesque, and it is one of the most prominent mountains in Utah. It’s one I have yet to climb myself. Someday, I hope to. For now it sits on my list of “must do.”

On my very first mountain peak summit last year on Twin Peaks Salt Lake, I was able to see the tallest peaks in every direction from Ben Lomond down to Mt. Nebo. Being at the top of a mountain provides a unique prospective for anyone. You feel as though you are touching the heavens above. Climbing mountain peaks become more addictive the higher and higher you go.

Growing up in Salt Lake has put me around the base of Mt. Timpanogos many times. I’ve also seen so many different perspectives of Timp that I finally think it is time to conquer one of my missions to climb to the top. I have seen Timp driving through Provo, downhill skiing at Sundance, and riding on the Heber Creeper in Heber. Many of my friends have climbed Timp in the summer and told me what the hike was like. Most of them said it took an entire day to reach the summit — but they all said it was well worth it.

The hike to the top from American Fork canyon is a 15 mile round trip in the summertime. I would really like to climb to the top in the winter or early spring while there is still snow at the top, even though I would need to take more care to ensure that the snow is stable to walk on when the temperature increases. This is because I feel as though the mountaineering aspect of climbing to the top of mountain peaks is what draws me. I want to be able to look down on everything around me still blanketed with snow, reflecting the bright sunlight. I had a small taste of this feeling when I went on a backpacking trip to King’s Peak, the highest point in Utah at 13,528 feet. Being above the timberline is stunning knowing that other creatures do not venture above that height. The rock features are so unique that the only way to explore them is to go up.

In the mental planning I have already done, I know to go on a hike up to the top of Mt. Timpanogos, I would need a daypack at minimum with plenty of water. I know there are streams on the way up, but that I would need to rely on my own water bottle once I climbed beyond them. The view would be impeccable, especially looking North towards the South side of the Pfeifferhorn. If I was lucky on my adventure to the top, I might even come across a mountain goat just strolling along the cliffside. When I got to the top, I would be sure to have friends with me to enjoy the hike along with my camera to document every step of the way. After all, how would others know that I am having fun without seeing images in this technological world we live in? Last but not least, I would bring a University of Utah flag to wave at the top just so those at BYU could see that a Utah flag was towering above them.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Peak Bagging Dos & Don’ts

“I’ve made the mistakes so you don’t have to,” Jason Stevenson, writer of The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Backpacking and Hiking, said. We’ve all been in those situations where the temperature is pushing 90 degrees, our sunscreen melted off hours ago, and our water bottles are empty, but still we are determined to continue onward. The last few miles can’t end in vain.

Photo by Sierra Marty.

Here in Utah, serious hiking and peak bagging are huge outdoor sports once late spring and early summer start to roll around. Peaks such as Olympus, located on the east side of the Salt Lake Valley, draw tourists and visitors from all around. Last summer, on the straddle, I met a young couple on a road trip from Wisconsin, who were facetiming their parents, exclaiming that they could see the whole Utah valley because they were 9,000 feet up in the air.

The University of Utah especially has a huge outdoor presence, especially including the students who are from out of state or out of the country. Even so, for both those who are first time peak baggers, and serious climbers, it can be easy to underestimate the amount of supplies you’ll need to bring along, and potentially end up in a very dangerous situation. Like Stevenson, I have made my own mistakes as well. Here is a guide to things you should keep in mind once you start planning your summer hiking trips, so you don’t have to copy the mistakes I am familiar with making.

Water

Absolutely and most importantly, always bring enough water. Dehydration is one of the most common, and also most dangerous, risks of outdoor activities. I cannot exaggerate the number of times I have heard someone tell me they attempted to climb Mount Olympus and had to turn around because they didn’t have enough water. If you know you won’t be able to carry all the water you are going to need, purchase a water purifier from any outdoors store so you can replenish as you go.

Snacks

Even if you had a good breakfast, or plan to stop at In and Out on your way down from the canyon, you should always bring some kind of snack with you. Granola bars, gummy bears, an apple, or anything that will keep your blood sugar up should suffice.

Sunscreen

Unfortunately I am very guilty of saying, “I don’t need to wear sunscreen…” I have learned the hard way that I absolutely do. When packing your bag, always include a bottle of sunscreen. Additionally, always wear some kind of hat or sunglasses to protect your eyes if you can. Many popular trails in Utah, such as Grandeur Peak, are almost completely exposed and many hikers underestimate just how easy it is to burn, even on a cloudy day.

Clothing

Nobody likes chafing, blisters, or too much or too little clothing. Make sure that you wear good socks, appropriate clothing based on the weather, and good shoes. I once wore a pair of Nike Frees when I attempted to scale Pfeifferhorn, a peak up Little Cottonwood, and I was lucky not to fall off the side of the mountain and become mountain goat food. Traction is important!

Toilet paper

If you are on a multiple mile hike, and you don’t need to go pee at least once, then you definitely aren’t drinking enough water. Stuff a little toilet paper in your backpack for potential emergencies and good hygiene.

First aid

No matter how experienced you are, a small first aid kit is always a good idea. In fact, it is when you think that you will be fine, and come unprepared, that you end up being not so fine.

Backpack

A good backpack is imperative. String backpacks are terrible, and carrying your water bottle for 5 miles is also terrible. Good backpacks can be purchased from REI, Cotopaxi, and even Walmart. Backpacks with water bladders are also great at eliminating the need to carry around a water bottle and the annoyance of having to get it out of your backpack every time you need a drink. You’re also more likely to drink enough water if you can just stick a tube in your mouth and suck.

Navigation tool

Some kind of navigation tool is highly suggested. There are many great apps out there, such as All Trails and Gaia, which can pinpoint your exact location and show you the maps of a trail. Even a GPS watch can be useful, because it can help you estimate how far you’ve gone and how far you’ve got left. It is important to know your destination and be aware of possible turn offs. Even taking a wrong turn in Big Cottonwood can have you accidentally end up in Mill Creek Canyon unknowingly.

Weather prep

Last but not least, always make sure that you prepare for weather conditions. Starting a hike an hour later than the predetermined time can be detrimental, and potentially put you in the heat of the day. You shouldn’t be starting a 10 a.m. hike at 2 p.m., for example. Utah weather especially can change on the dot, so always be prepared for temperature changes, rain, and snow.

Camera

Always have a way to capture the moment. Whether it’s snapping a picture, or bringing a pen to sign the book of finishers in the shack on the top of Timpanogos, you won’t want to forget how hard you physically exerted yourself for that view.

Photo by Sierra Marty.

Hiking is by far one of the most engaging and beautiful things you can do in Utah because of the many different landscapes in our state. Safety and preparedness are very important in making sure that your hiking experience results in those engaging and beautiful memories. One thing to never forget is that you should never be afraid to turn around if you run out of water hours before the destination, if it starts to get dark, or if someone in your group gets injured. Peak climbing in Utah is a challenge, but the 10,000 foot views are worth everything. Make sure to prioritize the prep.

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

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Getting Into Trail Running

I’m sure the thought of trail running seems like a superhero feat, but it’s actually not as bad as you might think. Trail running is similar to running on a track or road, with the added benefit of letting you reconnect with nature while getting in a little cardio. Trail running has other benefits that basic road running does not. Surprisingly, trail running puts less pressure on your joints, leading to fewer injuries in the long run. Now you’re thinking, “Well, running on uneven ground is dangerous,” which is true if you’re not careful, but along with road running, all sports have their pros and cons. For those who are just starting out, there are a few things you need to know before hitting the trails.

Start out slow

Obviously it’s called trail running for a reason, but that doesn’t mean you need to fully sprint up and down the trail. Start off slow to get into the groove of things. Rugged terrain can sometimes be tricky, so don’t be ashamed to slow down and take your time when running. If you’re prone to knee and ankle injuries, trail running is lower-impact compared to running on solid, hard surfaces like pavement or track, especially if you take it easy at first.

Be prepared

Like any kind of exercising, you’ll need water. Running up an incline while simultaneously dodging rocks, avoiding branches, and making sure your footing is correct can be quite the workout. Most small hiking backpacks will have chest and waist clips to strap that baby in nice and tight. I like to be extra prepared with snacks and a small first aid kit just in case as well.

Have proper footwear

Just like in hiking, ankle rolls are common. I suggest light weight, ankle high hiking boots for the extra support. Again, if you’re prone to ankle injuries, ankle braces can be helpful as well. If you just have tennis shoes, make sure they have a good amount of tread for footing purposes.

Know the rules of the trail

It’s good to know what kind of trail you will be running and the traffic it has because not all trails are the same. Yield to other hikers and runners and remember that it is better safe than sorry. Not doing so is potentially dangerous, and even without injury, no one wants to be shoved off the trail by someone else.

Elbows out

Use those arms! Balance is everything. Trail running is great in the way that it works out muscles you didn’t even know you had. Utilizing your arms will help you get better footing and help you balance as you run on rugged terrain.

Keep your eyes on the prize

While simultaneously watching your footing, dodging obstacles, and focusing on your breathing, always keep your eye on the trail. No one wants to trip over a tree root or rock and injure themselves. Running, tripping, and falling down a mountainside sounds like a nightmare. Avoid that by being attentive to your surroundings.

Take it all in

Last but not least, don’t forget to stop and smell the flowers or the sheer sweat that you’ve worked up while running through our beautiful Utah scenery. The biggest benefit of trail running is the change of scenery anyway, right? Happy trail running!

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Epic Picnicking

Growing up in Utah really helps you to appreciate the outdoors and the incredible opportunities just past your doorstep. The possibilities for travel within this state alone can take more than a lifetime. The question for any individual adventurer then becomes, how do you make these commonly enjoyed places more unique? My spin off answer to this question is to have a picnic, and epic picnic, at every location you visit, either figuratively or literally. Take your stereotypical red and white table cloth, woven straw lunch basket, and deli sandwiches and create your own picnic table in the most epic places possible within the wilderness. Make each and every experience your own.

One such epic picnic experience is peak bagging. Yes, you might have to carry a little extra weight to bring up all those picnic items, but hear me out, the experience alone will stay with you the rest of your life. I can speak from experience. I hiked King’s Peak, and what I remember most is carrying a tripod in my right hand and a subway sandwich in my left for miles. Was it difficult? Yes. Was it worth it? Absolutely. Am I insane? Most likely. Now, I have a great story to tell each time about how I hiked the highest peak in Utah, and I have the photos to remember the experience.

Another option is to take hiking to a new level. I recommend getting into mountaineering. This sport is truly breathtaking, and I’m not just talking about the lack of oxygen once you get above 10,000 feet. Mostly, I just feel like an astronaut walking on the surface of a foreign planet with the coolest glacial glasses known to existence on my head, ice crampons on my feet, and an ice axe in my hand. When you mountaineer this way, it is just you and the mountain. Let me tell you, once at the top of a peak after hiking through a glacial field, a delicious sandwich is one of the best tasting meals you’ll ever have. This was another epic picnic I have notched into my experience belt.

These are only two examples of  the “epic picnics” I have created for myself. I challenge you to create some of your own as well. You might be struggling at the present when trekking through the desert, but it is the memories you create along the way that matter most, and adding a picnic, to any already epic adventure, is a great way to make it even more so.

p.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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Weed Outbreaks and Why You Should Care

Last fall, while taking a homework break to hike around the Bonneville Shoreline trail, I ran into two guys bent over ahead of me. At first, I couldn’t tell if there was something serious going on, but as I got closer, I realized they were leaning over their bikes, trying to pump up their tires.

Isatis tinctoria. Photo by Sierra Marty.

“This is the fifth time in two weeks that I’ve gotten a flat tire riding on Salt Lake bike trails,” one of the men told me. His tire had a few goat heads, a spiky weed famous for popping tires, sticking into the tube, which he had picked up biking around the city. As spring time starts to approach the valley, it becomes a notorious time for noxious weeds to start spreading around the valley and repopulating.

Onopordum acanthium. Scotch thistle. Photo by Sierra Marty.

I sat down with Neal Dombrowski, a botanist at Red Butte Gardens, who told me about some of the weeds they have problems with here in Salt Lake City, which include yellow dtarthistle, myrtle spurge, goat heads, dyers woad, and medusahead.

Most outbreaks of noxious weeds start in wildland-urban interfaces, where human population ends and wildlife begins. The avenues, mouths of the canyons, and Capitol Hill are good examples of this. “Within the city we can contain it, but once it starts creeping into the wild areas, it’s a lot less controllable,” said Dombrowski.

These different kinds of harmful weeds can be a huge problem for mountain bikers, because they could get their bike tires popped; hikers, because certain weeds could cause skin irritation and blistering; animals, because certain noxious weeds could be poisonous; and the environment, because they can kill native plants. Botanists like Dombrowski are able to control weed outbreaks by chemical, mechanical, and biological methods. Chemical methods can include any kind of herbicide, but chemicals don’t always work particularly well at killing weeds, and can have other unknown effects on the environment. Mechanical methods include weed pulling by hand, or using tools such as rakes and vacuums. Biological methods are used when native predators, such as weevils, are introduced to an environment to kill and control a specific weed. There are a few ways we as students can help prevent outbreaks. We can control what grows in our yard, and make sure we get rid of any kind of noxious weed that begins to grow. We can rinse off our shoes and bikes after hitting up different trails to make sure that we aren’t transporting potential seeds. Also, we can report outbreaks that we see before they spread to places like the Shoreline trail, leaving bikers at the risk of getting popped tires.

Myrtle Spurge. Photo by Sierra Marty.

The most effective way to get rid of weeds is with the help of volunteers. However, one must be very careful not to just go pulling anything that looks like a potential weed. For example, many plants in Utah look like different thistles, and while most thistle plants are no good, there are actually a few native plants to Utah. “Proper identification is key,” said Dombrowski. One good way to figure out whether a certain plant could potentially be a nuisance weed is by emailing Salt Lake County a picture of the weed just to be sure. Last year, weed pulling events hosted by Red Butte Gardens had an average of 37 volunteers, and were sponsored by big names such as REI, KRCL, and the Nature Conservancy. While spending a Saturday pulling weeds may not sound like tons of fun, knowing that I get to help protect the outdoor environment in Salt Lake City (and my bike tires) is enough motivation for me to get out and do it regardless. Anyone interested in learning more can contact Neal at nealdombrowski@redbutte.utah.edu

s.marty@wasatchmag.com

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Hiking with a Furry Loved One

As much as my dog loves lounging around the house, Phillip also needs an open field or dirt to frolic about in with his furry friends. With the warm weather, Phillip and I have caught the spring fever bug early. Thankfully, if an urban stroll down the sidewalk isn’t fulfilling, there are plenty of (more exciting) alternatives for you and your canine companion.

Photo by Annie Duong.

Even though many of our beautiful mountain trails do not allow canine visitors, there are still some great wooded areas for dogs and their humans to play in the wilderness. Don’t let the ease of jumping in the car and driving less than 20 minutes to go play in the mountains with your dog fool you, though. You should always be prepared for not only yourself, but the furry love of your life as well. Watch out for:

-Mud: Since our so-called “winter” likes to come and go as it pleases here in Utah, trails can be wet and/or muddy. You may want to bring an extra towel and some wipes for the ride home. No one likes a muddy pup AND a muddy car.

-Other humans and dogs: There’s a very big chance you’ll run into other humans and dogs so be prepared to get your dog to your side quickly if they aren’t great in social settings. Don’t forget extra poop baggies! (I didn’t bring enough and had to bum some off a fellow human.)

-Sparse parking: Snow banks or wet terrain can prevent certain cars from parking. While some canyons close down parts of the road during the winter/spring season (like Millcreek Canyon), some hikes and their parking areas may not be available.

-Temperature change: Even though it’s warm in the valley doesn’t mean it’ll be warm in the mountains or shaded areas. Make sure to bring extra layers just in case.

-Food, water, etc.: Don’t forget hiking with your dog is different from an urban stroll through the neighborhood. Make sure to know your dog’s limit. Just like humans, they get tired, thirsty, and hungry when playing outdoors. Make sure to bring enough treats and water for the both of you.

Remember to follow all the rules for your pets and clean up after them. Now that that’s clear, here are a few places to try.

Tanner Park

2760 Heritage Way, Salt Lake City, UT 84109

This park is not necessarily a “dog park” but does allow leashed dogs on the majority of its trails. With trails and open areas accessible all year round, Tanner Park dips down into a gully with an exciting off-leash area where humans can let their dogs play in the creek. This off-leash area does not have any fencing, so if your furry friend likes to wander, make sure to keep an eye on them. This is a full hike, so be sure you and your dog are in shape enough to hike back out of Tanner Park. Tip: To avoid receiving a ticket, make sure to keep your dog leashed until you pass the “off-leash” sign.

Millcreek Canyon

3800 Millcreek Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84124Millcreek Canyon has trails for all humans and dogs. With difficulty levels that range from nature stroll to cross-country treks, this canyon will give you and your dog a variety of hikes to choose from. While on even dated days of every month (the 2nd, 4th and so on), dogs must stay on their leashes, on odd dated days they are allowed to have off-leash fun. This gives your dog the freedom to run up and down the trail while hiking.

Red Butte Canyon Research Natural Area

383 Colorow Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84108

Most locals know this area mainly for a hike called The Living Room. The Red Butte Canyon Area has plenty of easy, flat trails suitable for all ages and skill levels. While the surrounding trails are great for everyone, The Living Room Trail can be a bit strenuous with its inclines. If you and your dog don’t like it ruff, I’d make sure to give yourself and your dog extra time, snacks, and water to ensure a safe and fun hike. Though there are not any specific rules about leashing, it’s common for dogs to be off leash. 

Memory Grove/City Creek Canyon Trail

300 Canyon Rd, Salt Lake City, UT 84103This beautiful little park is nestled away near the Greater Avenues. While your dogs must be leashed in the majority of the park, Memory Grove offers an off-leash trail and area in the most northern part of the park. In my experience, the dogs and their humans are the nicest here. It’s a great place to socialize your pup while being able to enjoy nature and the presence of others.

Other Great Dog Parks

As busy human beings, it can sometimes be a hassle to prepare and head to the mountains with your dog. So here are some other great dog-friendly parks within the valley that will keep your pup happy and will allow you to relax and decompress from the business around.

Lindsay Garden Dog Park: 426 M St, Salt Lake City, UT 84103Herman Franks Dog Park: 1371 700 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84105Wasatch Hollow Dog Park: 1631 E 1700 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Liberty Park: 600 E 900 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84105

Sugarhouse Park: 1330 2100 S, Salt Lake City, UT 84106

Photo by Annie Duong.

a.duong@wasatchmag.com

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Using Home Crafts to Make A Wilderness Adventure Amazing

Contributor article by Sally Writes. Photo by Chris Schog on Unsplash. 

Spring has truly sprung, and Americans everywhere are revving up to hit the great outdoors. In the spring of 2008, 41.75 million Americans went camping, and this jumped by over 5 million at the start of spring of 2017. This growth continues and an extra million households are expected to start camping each year. The camping industry generates $2.5 billion annually, and while it is possible to camp on a budget entry, any luxuries can quickly drain your disposable income. Is it possible to glam in the wilderness on a shoestring budget? It is if you are canny.

Keep Your Brain-Box Warm

As the sun vanishes below the horizon and temperatures drop, the risk of hypothermia increases. You can’t help radiating heat, so anywhere you don’t have clothing can become a source of cooling from radiation heat loss. On the other hand, effective use of clothing and layers of air can help trap heat while camping. A simple knitted hat can help keep you warm by trapping the heat lost from your head.

Upgrade Your Sleeping Arrangements Cheaply

For first time campers, it is the night that worries them most. There is nothing like a rock hard, freezing cold floor to take all the enthusiasm out of even the most excited camper. Air beds can be extremely expensive, bulky, and a pain to inflate. Roll mats are great but the affordable options don’t always work, and the ones that do, cost too much for a budget camper. Instead, it is far cheaper to go directly to foam suppliers, where you can purchase a roll of 1/4 inch Closed Cell Foam, and cut it to size. If the idea of lying on the ground doesn’t appeal even with a mat, a DIY hammock offers an incredibly cheap and comfortable alternative. Visit your local military surplus shop and get some parachute fabric; you will need a piece around 7 foot by 4 foot and some paracord. Fit brass eyes at each corner, thread your rope and firmly attach your bed to a couple of trees. If you feel too exposed, use any surplus fabric to fashion a makeshift flysheet.

Prepare Homemade Emergency Rations

Sometimes you just need a lift. When things go wrong in the wilderness, nothing can give you a boost like a hit of glucose. Traditionally hikers have kept Kendal Mint Cake on them for those occasions when nothing else will do. Save yourself money on this emergency ration and have fun making it for yourself. All you need is sugar, milk, and peppermint oil. Eating well when on an outdoor adventure is absolutely key, so those emergency rations shouldn’t be overlooked.

Get Organised and Relieve Stress

If you are staying at your chosen campsite for any length of time it’s important to get organized. Scrabbling through wet clothes and smelly bags can get old really fast. Camping cupboards and shelves are a great solution, but they don’t come cheap. Thankfully, in the woods you can find all the raw materials you need to make as much furniture as you want, provided you got your pioneering badge in Boy Scouts, or have read this guide. For a first time camper, the simpler solution is pallets. If you have a group of families camping together, each can bring a pallet on their roof racks, to which other equipment can be tied. Pack a good claw hammer and some nails and even the most inept carpenter can knock up a simple shelf/table unit in minutes. Combine your unit with dollar store car organizers, and you’ve got something really useful. When you are finished you can take your creation home or use it on your last big fire of the camp.

Every Problem Has a Cheap Solution

Don’t want to squat over a hole in the ground but can’t afford an expensive camping toilet? Buy a cheap but sturdy bucket from a builder’s supply shop and a swimming noodle from the dollar store. Wrap the noodle around the top, cut it to size and then slice it lengthwise so it will fit around the rim.

Can’t afford an expensive battery powered fridge? Get a metal ammo box from a military surplus shop, bury it to the rim, half fill with water and keep things in it sealed in bags. If it starts to feel warm inside, place damp tea towels on the lid.

Miss your warm shower? Buy industrial strength black trash bags. Cut a hole in the bottom corner, use duct tape to attach a small length of hose, tape the rose from a dollar store watering can at the end, add a bulldog clip just above the hole, hang the bag up in direct sunlight and fill with water. By the end of the day, you will have a bag of warm water ready to be released through the rose when you release the clip.

Don’t like the dark but can’t afford a power light for your camp? Fill an empty wide-mouthed bottle with a mixture of bleach and water duct tape a headlamp to the mouth of the bottle pointing down into the liquid, fashion a handle out of some string, hang it on a branch above your camp, and then turn the lamp on. The bottle will glow as brightly as an incandescent bulb and illuminate your whole campsite.

Your budget does not have to stop you from enjoying the wilderness this spring. The only thing in your way is planning, research, and original thinking. Don’t slum it and have a break you wish you could forget—prepare a budget glam and create memories to treasure forever.

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Opening Minds to the Oquirrh Mountains

Veiled in mystery by the legalities and the eminence of the adjacent Wasatch mountains, the Oquirrh Range serves as the 10,000 feet dividing line between the Salt Lake and Tooele valleys. Equipped solely with the knowledge of a BLM public lands route provided by an outdated hiking guide, and a strong desire to summit a couple of the Oquirrh’s more prominent mountain tops, I took to the westernmost ridge of Kessler Peak.

It seems that the majority of Salt Lake residents simply lack the desire to trek into the Oquirrhs, given the close proximity of the sublime, and comparably larger Wasatch Range. Those who have opened their minds and weekends to the western green peaks have often suffered for it. They are met with the intimidating barrier of red tape and prohibitions deterring even the most intrepid outdoorsmen from entering for fear of hefty fines — or worse. Painfully evident by the violently dissolved mountain that is now the main Kennecott mining facility, the Oquirrh Range remains in a perpetual state of contractual inaccessibility since Rio Tinto’s colossal 1872 land grab that still holds control to this day.

With this corporate acquisition and grand expanses of private purchases, virtually the entire eastern face of the Oquirrhs is restricted to public use (with some exceptions to the far south). While some exploit the negligence of private landowners and trail-blaze in this region outside of the law, those who prefer risk-free, legal natural emersion are ultimately out of luck. Thankfully, the back westernmost face of the range offers a patchy network of BLM land allowing access to those extra-determined to explore Oquirrh terrain without paying heavily for it.

Following the guidance and antiquated advice of a 7-year-old online hiking guide, I made my way to that western back side with hopes of surmounting the ridgeline connecting Kessler and Farnsworth Peaks without deliberately breaking any laws. The guide I relied on did accurately get me to the approximate location of an access point, though it failed to compensate for the nascent housing developments along the base of these mountains.

The overlying drawback of hiking in a largely neglected public land is the total absence of trails, and the consequential abundance of wildlife and wilderness left to flourish independently of human obstruction. When I arrived, I was without the helpful understanding that the access point was at the perpendicular bend, and I began much farther back than I ought to have. I was thus left to bushwhack through dense, arid fields of overgrown dead grass, and the ubiquitous webs of hobo spider webs strung among them (yes, hobo spiders). Long pants and socks are highly recommended in this area in anticipation of the venomous arachnids that call it home — exercise caution.

Aside from the apparent danger of overgrown desert wilderness, the back face of the Oquirrh Range is beautiful. It serves as a tangible reminder of the desolate nature the remaining untamed American West provides.

While my lack of preparation and foresight forced my dejected party to turn back before completing the trek, an impetuous push up the ridge will eventually place you atop Kessler Peak. It is connected by an extended ridgeline to Farnsworth Peak, the more dominant of the two. Note: A section of this ridgeline is private land. Trespassing is not encouraged and would be done at your own risk.

Even if not for the explicit purpose of surmounting some of the more obscure peaks surrounding the Salt Lake Valley, exploration west of the Oquirrhs is sure to provide you with a palpable sense of connectivity with our forgotten 19th-century wild-western past. At the very least, you will come across the disheveled rusted railway spikes, and the scattered animal bones that are evocative of it. The radiant and largely untouched natural beauty is something worth seeing.

Immersion into this incredible yet inhospitable expanse requires only preparation and consciousness; all else is scenery.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

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Peakbagger’s Double Traverse: Mount Raymond and Gobbler’s Knob

Resting along the jagged divide bordering the Millcreek and Big Cottonwood canyons, Mount Raymond and Gobbler’s Knob are two idiosyncratic peaks connected by a single mile-long ridge, both surmountable in a single day. While these peaks are closer to sea-level than some of the Wasatch’s more formidable, with Gobbler’s Knob at 10,246 ft. elevation, and Raymond a mere 5 ft. lower,  this hike is strenuous and not for the faint of heart… or lungs. Courageous mountaineers willing to brace the summer heat and an 8.3-mile trek, however, will be rewarded with access to sublime wildflower meadows and a unique perspective of the Cottonwood Divide, Salt Lake Valley, and beyond.

Gobblers Knob (Left) and Mount Raymond (Right) at a distance

Getting there

The ridgeline connecting these peaks is accessible from two routes: Alexander Basin from Big Cottonwood Canyon, and Bowman Fork from Millcreek Canyon. Which route is preferable/easier is a subjective question wrought with controversy; since I have only had the opportunity to undergo the latter, though, I’ll stick with that one.

To reach the Bowman Fork trailhead, follow Millcreek Canyon Road approximately 4.5 miles to the Terrace Picnic Area. It’s very easy to miss, so keep your eyes peeled for signs. A narrow, paved road will lead you up several curves to a small parking lot near the trailhead.

Not far from the trailhead, you will be presented with signs directing you towards either Elbow Fork or Bowman Pass — keep towards Bowman pass the entire duration of the hike. Like other trails in Millcreek, dogs are permissible (off-leash on odd-numbered days). If you intend to summit Gobbler’s Knob, bring your pup; Raymond is a bit too technical for paws.

The trail progresses along a winding stream and later converts to steep switchbacks, flourishing alpine forests, and meadows. Midway, a fork presents itself between Alexander Basin and Baker Pass. Continue towards Baker Pass. Note: particularly during this time of year, the trail is near overgrown with varied foliage. It is quite beautiful, though be prepared for mild bushwhacking — long pants are recommended.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The trail eventually lets off atop the smooth ridgeline between Gobbler’s Knob and Mount Raymond. At this point, you can progress either way. Continue left (North) for Gobbler’s Knob, and right (South) for Mount Raymond.

Mount Raymond 

Summiting Mt. Raymond requires an additional 1 to 2 hours and a good bit of scrambling. The trail carves along the ridgeline south, which grows progressively steeper until stabilizing before the final ridge. This section is not recommended for dogs.

 

Summit ridge at a distance. The beaten trail is barely discernable in the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

Wildflowers along Mount Raymond.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The traverse becomes a bit dicey as the slope transitions into a jagged knife-ridge. While daunting in appearance, this ridge is not entirely too difficult or exposed and requires only class-three scrambling. Be conscious of your step, and you shouldn’t have too much difficulty.

Initial push up the knife-ridge. Climb along its jagged spine.

Approaching the peak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Photographs fail to adequately capture the beautiful perspective atop the apex. The chain of jagged peaks ahead is the Cottonwood Divide (Broads Fork Twin Peaks far right).

Mount Raymond is the tail-end of the Wildcat Ridge separating Big Cottonwood Canyon and Millcreek. Expert mountaineers braver than me can traverse the entire ridgeline as far as Mount Olympus — this precarious traverse demands technical climbing skills over 11.5 miles of exposed ridgeline known for its significant rattlesnake population.

Climb down the way you came.

Gobbler’s Knob

Gobbler’s Knob is the most recognizable of the two due to its clear visibility from the Salt Lake Valley and distinctive saddleback shape. Powder-hounds are known to summit the mountain in winter months to carve through its untouched snowpack and steep incline; this activity is typically discouraged in consideration of the periodic avalanches occurring along its slope each year — and the skiers who have lost their lives to them. The Folklore circulated by the Wasatch’s earliest settlers warn of a supernatural presence in the knob’s forests after dark— more on that here. While steep and exhausting in and of itself, Gobbler’s Knob is the easiest of both peaks by far. Nothing technical, bring your pup.

 

The mountain’s saddleback apex — a great place for lunch before making your way down. To return to the car, you need only follow the trail back down in the same direction. Another trail from the connecting ridgeline carves into the Alexander Basin route — shuttle cars if you would like to do both (note: dogs are prohibited in Big Cottonwood Canyon, however, so any pup you bring to the other would need a stop-off point if you want to do both).

Transient sun rays captured from Gobbler’s Knob at dusk.

Aspen forest near the ridgeline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be conscious of your body and exercise caution; food, water, and sun-protection are essential — best of luck.

d.rees@wasatchmag.com

 

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Getting Out the Hiking Boots

Have you retrieved your hiking boots out from underneath your ski boots yet?  It’s that time of year when you should, as the snow begins to thaw from the trails in the Wasatch Front. Each day the hiking trails begin to emerge as the sun warms their meandering paths, and the leaves on the trees transition from brown to green.

Hiking opportunities in this weather are endless.  There are so many local hiking trails that you could go on a new hike every day, continuously exploring new territory.  The canyons that are adjacent to the Salt Lake Valley are the perfect place to begin.  Each canyon has streams and rivers, resulting in a luscious fern bed full of life and moisture.

One trail that you can visit just 30 minutes from the University of Utah is up Millcreek Canyon.  The gate four miles up the canyon will open in July, and won’t close until November.  Seven and a half miles past that gate you will come across 1000 Springs, one of the natural springs in Millcreek Canyon.  Beneath the Springs, there is a pond that is home to a family of beavers.  If you are lucky when you are hiking along the road you’ll see one working on a dam.

Another beautiful hike  in Millcreek Canyon is the Pipeline Trail. Beginning approximately half-way up the canyon, you are actually walking along an old pipeline trail. The overlook at the end puts you in the perfect location to view Salt Lake in the distance.

To the South is Neff’s Canyon.  Neff’s Canyon is very steep but has a multitude of hikes for every level. You are hiking just north of the magnificent Mt. Olympus and it has impeccable views of Salt Lake City. There is even an old cave that you can hike past called Neff’s Cave — one of the deepest caves in North America. Don’t worry about falling in, though, as the entrance has been blocked off. Instead, you can use a flashlight to stare into the abyss to satisfy your curiosity. Continuing up the canyon you’ll have a view over the top of Grandeur Peak as well as passing the Mount Olympus Spring. Dogs are allowed up the canyon, so don’t forget to bring a water filter if you want to enjoy some of the fresh spring water.

Continuing south, the next two large recreation canyons you’ll reach are Big and Little Cottonwood Canyon. Each canyon has their own unique hikes and adventures. Since the two were formed by different forces — river and glacier erosion respectively, the canyon walls vary drastically in steepness. Big Cottonwood Canyon offers many hikes that are about the same steepness in ascent from the beginning to end, whereas Little Cottonwood typically has very steep beginnings that taper off once you reach the high mountainous valleys.  The views at the tops of both will keep bringing you back for more.

These options are good anytime, but particularly for spring weather. If you find yourself available for a hike on a more summer-like day, some hikes that you should definitely put on your list are Lake Blanche, Lake Mary, Twin Lakes, Cecret Lake, and Red and White Pine Canyons.

These hikes give you the opportunity to reach far-off peaks if you so desire, but will also allow the inexperienced hiker to practice their skills.

No matter where you go now that snow is a little less common in the weather forecast, remember to use the buddy system and never hike alone. At the very least be sure that someone always knows where you are.

k.creveling@wasatchmag.com

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