Trailhead: Guardsman Pass, Big Cottonwood Canyon (elevation: 9,706 ft.)
Mileage (loop trail): ~ 3.5 (my watch got stopped at some point)
Elevation @ Summit: 10,721 ft.
In the words of Brittany Spears, 'Opps I did it again'.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me..' But I really feel like this one's not on me. I followed all the rules, but somehow, once again, I thought I had reach the summit, when in fact I had not (if I were thru-hiking this would be where I earned the name 'False Summit' - good thing I'm not thru-hiking). At least I hadn't done my happy dance yet. This time I went by my guidebook and my Garmin, both which said that the summit of Clayton Peak would be approximately a mile from the trailhead, which is where I stood taking celebratory pictures and was happy with a relatively easy day. I say relatively because the hike up to that point was rather strenuous (~ 700 ft, in elevation gain within a mile), but I was planning on taking another path down which would hopefully be a more gentle descent.
I head down the other side of the summit, feeling all good about myself, and come to the trail junction that I intend on taking down to Bloods Lake and back up to Guardsman's Pass, but I have this nagging feeling that the peak that still rises in front of me is the real Clayton Peak, and the summit I had just climbed down was just its evil little brother (or sister - Your choice. I'm not sexiest. I'm very aware that women can be bitches).
But at that point I'd already hiked over a mile and the book said the out and back distance was 2.2 miles. The peak ahead of me was a least another 0.5 miles away and up. But I can't shake that feeling that my gut is right. So I turn on my phone and open up Google Maps and sure enough, my gut was right (when your right your right (Big Bang fans should say this to themselves in the voice of Howard)). That good feeling is gone. What rose before me was a rock scramble reminiscent of the mountain of rocks that was Mt. Madison in the Presidentials, but this peak is what I came out here for so onward and upward.
It was slow moving over the rocks. The 'trail' kind of came and went and I just kind of made my own way along the ridgeline, sometimes on a trail, sometimes not, until I reached the actual summit. Just to be sure, I turned my phone back on and looked at my location on the map. It was official, I was now on the actual summit of Clayton Peak. No celebratory pictures, but I did take a video.
I slowly made my way back down to pass between Clayton peak and the false summit and make my way down toward the lakes. This way down, while still steep in parts was much more enjoyable then doing a straight out and back. The mostly gradual descent leads down to Bloods Lake, one of the four lakes you can see from Clayton Peak. From here the trail goes through a series of ascents and level stretches until reaching Guardsman's Pass.
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