Long time comin'

>> Sunday, August 30, 2009



Hooookay, it's been a couple weeks since I posted last. I was doing so well at one post a week for a while. I'm sorry for disappointing all of you. Let's move on though, shall we?

Mt. Timpanogos. A well-known landmark of Utah Valley, and the second highest peak of the Uintas. Perhaps the most hiked peak in Utah, one would think that due to it's popularity, it would by necessity be a fairly easy hike. You would be wrong, fyi. It's no Y hike. Do not bring your children on this hike unless they are super-human. Let me stop here and give you a little back story.

During FHE, a guy in my ward invited anyone who wanted to come on a midnight hike of Mt. Timp so we would be up there in time for the sunrise. Sounds pretty decent, I thought. Forgo a little sleep for a nice sunrise on a mountain top. So I pulled out the old Camelbak and prepared every needful thing (As a sidenote, it always seems like every time I go on a hike with dad, he manages to put every thing you might ever need into his pack. On this trip, I felt like dad, because I could have supplied my group with jerky, trail mix, toilet paper, hand sanitizer, duct tape, and fruit snacks all by myself). I took a nice two hour nap on friday evening to prepare for being up late. We had planned on being on the trail by midnight, but a friend of a guy in my group was going to join us with his friends, and they were running late, and then they led us up a road that we didn't really need to go up, so then we had to drive back down. After all was said and done, it was 12:45 when we started. But no biggie, really.

The friend-of-a-friends group started out at a breakneck pace, quite faster than I was really willing to go, so the friend-of-a-friend (hereafter referred to as FOF) group ditched us on their quest to conquer the mountain as quickly as possible. Since it was dark, we didn't exactly get great pictures to start off with:If you look closely, there is a waterfall behind all the mist that my camera so expertly captured.

At any rate, we moved along nicely by the light of our flashlights, being rather oblivious of the sheer cliff faces we hiked next to. We were all in rather good spirits until about 3 AM, when my body finally started telling me that it would rather be sleeping than hiking up a mountain just to see some measly sunrise. Undeterred, I shoved some trail mix in my mouth, sucked on my water, and kept chugging. We finished a long section of switchbacks and found ourselves in a field of sorts, though since we couldn't see it very well it was hard to appreciate.

The trail at that point had decided that any hiker passing through would have had a good enough rest, so threw some random hills in, causing me to have the need to literally use my hands to push my legs up one particular section, and if it weren't for the fact that we were so far along, I may have just given up right then.I'm starting to wonder what I've gotten myself into.

My hiking mates convinced me to continue, and we slowly made our way through some perma-snow and up to a ridge called The Saddle, which gives a gorgeous view of Utah Valley.
You could actually see a portion of the Salt Lake Valley as well, but I didn't have anything to stabilize my camera with, so it turned out to be a blurry mess. In fact, I stole this pic from my friend because it turned out better than mine. At this point in the hike, it's about 5 AM, and you have just hiked about 6 miles. You have a nice little vista, and a perfect place to watch the sunrise. But nooooo, there are still about 400 feet of elevation you need to go before you can rest, so you suck down some water and chomp on a granola bar and off you go. Nearly one hour later, you reach the top with some little metal shack and a form you can sign, proving you made it to the top. My first though was roughly as follows: "What person in their right mind would take the time to construct a fairly sturdy metal shack at the height of nearly 12,000 feet? I mean, seriously?"

So your body is just screaming for sleep, but you manage to sign the register, then throw on the jacket and gloves you brought up with you because it is cold up there. I think I managed to doze off for about two minutes, but that was enough for me to make it through. We eventually situated in a different spot so we could get a good view of the sunrise coming up over Heber, and settled down for some snacks and conversation.
Nothing like cold water and trail mix for breakfast at 11,000 feet with 100 other people. Seriously, there was an insane amount of people there at the summit, with about 30 or so more staying at the Saddle for the sunrise.
We were in the middle, so this is about half the people that were there. And yes, some people were actually hanging out at the top with just a t-shirt and shorts on. How they managed, I don't know. But we hung out for a while, I took the time to pop the blister on each of my heels, duct taped them up, and popped the shoes back on. We all decided that we were ok with not physically seeing the sun come over the horizon, so at about 6:45 we left the summit to beat the crowd.
The sun got a little closer than this image, but I was busy with my heels and didn't snap a last pic before we left.

If you have ever hiked anything somewhat significant before, you know that going down can be just as painful as going up. Well, that held true for this hike, perhaps moreso. Imagine using up all your energy in the middle of the night, then being asked to hike down a thousand feet or so of elevation on absolutely no sleep. Good times. We managed to snap a shot just before the sun came up, and it turned out quite nicely, if I do say so myself.
And finally, here is the sun in all it's glory at 11,000 feet:
The picture really doesn't do this view justice, but such is the nature of photographs. Once the sun came out, we of course were able to see our surroundings finally and it really is a great view throughout the hike. It was kinda like doing two hikes in one since we couldn't see anything on our way up. I'll cut out some scenery shots due to space, but I'll have the full set uploaded to Facebook, or you can just ask me to show it to you when I'm around.

Suffice it to say, we were all exhausted, so we decided to hike down to a shack that was built near Emerald Lake, a small lake that is basically fed off the perma-snow up there. As we drew closer, we came upon something unexpected:
Mountain Goats! There was a herd of 50 or so there, which was pretty neat. We went to the shack to take a nap while waiting for a couple others in our group. Between the light, the sounds of the hikers, and the utter fear of a goat coming up and nibbling on me, I didn't sleep, but rather chose to take a few photos of the surroundings.

Once our group finally met up together, we again started down the mountain, with a loooooong way to go. The hike down is excruciating not only because of your joints and muscles screaming in exhaustion at every impact of your feet, but because it feels like an eternity. The parking lot didn't seem like it got closer for hours. We knew we were making progress when we got close to the waterfall again, though.
Here we met back up with the FOF group, who had passed us as we napped higher up the mountain. I took the time to get a little artsy and capture falling water. I also downed an entire bag of peach rings in preparation of the last 20 minutes down.

10 1/2 hours after we first started, we made it to the car. And let me tell you, at that point, lying down in the back seat was as near to heaven as I think I've ever been. Conveniently, I finished my water right at the bottom of the hill. Pretty good timing, don't you think? Once I got home, I took a very thorough shower, climbed in bed at about noon, and didn't get out of bed until 8. I then got up and ate a peanut butter sammich, drank some water, and attempted to sleep again. I couldn't, so I watched a bit of The Office, then went to sleep, and didn't wake up until 7:30 Sunday. It was a glorious way to spend 20 hours.

So all in all, the injuries I got were a blister on each of my heels, a cut hand from falling on the snow (one of a few times I fell going down, actually. Darn shoes are losing their touch), two slightly tweaked ankles, a slightly tweaked left knee, and very tired muscles. Not too bad for a 14 mile round trip hike.

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Now playing: The Postal Service - Such Great Heights
via FoxyTunes

4 comments:

NatalieT August 31, 2009 at 9:07 AM  

Sounds like you enjoyed yourself through all the injuries. A YW group hiked up to Timp cave when I was down there, but I guess that isn't very near the summit. I was prego at the time so I didn't go, but sounds like a good hike. I am glad you are enjoying yourself as a Utahin.

Jenn J. September 1, 2009 at 1:43 PM  

Steve, you're nuts. Please tell me there was at least a cute girl that went. Please.

Wildfire September 1, 2009 at 5:18 PM  

Haha, there was, but her boyfriend was there too. I did fall in front of a group of cute girls, though.

Jennifer (Heckaman) Jenkins September 5, 2009 at 4:28 PM  

Psssst. It's not in the Uintas...It's in the Wasatch Range. (Uintas run east to west-Wasatch run north to south...)But, it's cool that you went and endured the hike to return with really cool pics!

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