Monday, September 5, 2016

Clayton Peak

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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Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mt. Aire

Trailhead:  Elbow Fork in Millcreek Canyon (elevation 6,686 ft.)
Mileage: 3.8 (out and back)
Elevation @ Summit: 8,673 ft.

My handy dandy guidebook says "If you're in great shape you can make it to the trailhead after work, bag the summit, and be back to your car in 2.5 hours." Well, I made it back to my car in 2.5 hours, but this hike, in no way, made me feel like I was in "great shape". I felt like I was an asthmatic turtle slowly huffing my way up to the summit. In fact, this may have been the most difficult assent I've done in years. It's how I'd imagine purgatory to be. Relentless. Unforgiving. Exhausting. With that being said,  the hard work I put in was definitely rewarded with spectacular views from the summit, where I sat an ate an early lunch and enjoyed the view.

The hike down was similar to a slip and slide, that was set on a downward slope of at least 20 degrees, and topped with  loose dirt and lots of little rocks that found joy in slipping out from under my feet. Thank you gear heads for inventing for trekking poles. I wouldn't hike this trail without them.


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Saturday, August 20, 2016

Sunset Peak

Trailhead: Catherine's Pass trailhead (elevation 9,379 ft.) from Albion Basin (Little Cottonwood Canyon)
Distance: 4.4 miles out and back.
Elevation at Sunset Peak: 10,648 ft

You know that feeling when you reach the top of a summit that you've work so hard to reach? That feeling of elation, joy, and accomplishment? And then that feeling of looking further down the trail only to realize you haven't actually reached the the actual summit yet? That in fact, you are standing on a false summit, and the  actual summit is still about 0.4 miles and 600ft ahead of you. What a bummer. In my defense the sign at the Catherine Pass junction said "Sunset Pass: 0.3 miles",  and the 'peak' on which I was standing was 0.3 miles from that sign. What I had obviously overlooked, was the word 'Pass'. Its the little things that can do you in. So, feeling a little deflated,   I sat down where the Sunset Pass trail met The Great Western Trail and ate lunch, staring at the seeming long climb ahead.

The Great Western Trail stretches approximately 4,455 miles through Arizona, Utah, Idaho, and Montana; nearly 1,600 miles of which traverses through Utah. As I sat and ate my lunch, I looked around and imagined what it would be like to have hike to here from Arizona, or even just from the Arizona/Utah border. I imagined what it would feel like to have trail legs again. How easy this climb would be. But I'm not through hiking, and I don't have trail legs anymore, so it was time to suck it up and move forward. The rest of the climb was tough but shorter then I had anticipated, taking about 15 minutes to reach the summit from the pass.

From the top I had excellent views of Lake Catherine, Lake Martha, and Lake Mary (collectively refereed to as the 'Brighton Lakes'). At 10,648 ft. the wind was chilly and I didn't have a jacket. So after a few quick photos I made my way back down the trail, making a mental note to start bringing a jacket so I can enjoy the fruits of my labor in the future.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

The Unexpected

If I had to sum up 2015 in one word it would be 'Unexpected'.

The year started off with ambitions of thru-hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and quickly twisted and turned into an unexpected journey of seeing and celebrating the amazing country that we live in, and staying open to whatever fate had in store. I crossed the country 5 times (once by train and four times by car). I visited 9 National Parks. I lived in a tent within a National Forest at a premiere, blue ribbon fly fishing destination for 5 months. I learned to fly fish from some of of the best guides in the country.I said good-bye to friends and places that I loved, and I've made new friendships that will hopefully last a life time. I started running again in May, and have managed to run 450 miles in the past 7 months. I landed an amazing job at a top research University. AND I've done this all with my best friend and partner by my side.


So what does this mean for 2016? If this past year has taught me anything, its to expect the unexpected. Like 2015, I have a vision for what I want to do with my life. For example, 

  • I want to run/hike/walk the year  (2,016 kilometers/1253 miles),
  • I want to run my first half marathon,
  • I want to go on at least 20 new hikes,
  • I want to get back into photography,
  • I want to blog more about all of my on foot adventures,
Just to name a few.  In moving forward I know that life will happen in ways that I can not yet anticipate , but I believe that 2015 has prepared me to accept whatever comes my way.

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