Sunday, August 28, 2011

Brighton Utah Hike

Location: Brighton Utah
The area above Brighton Utah is an area I spent a great deal of time in when I was young.  I lived up there for several summers, and spent at least a week or two a year up there till I was 16 or 17.  It's been 15 or so years since I had been.

It's much more developed than it used to be, but not nearly as much as the opposite canyon (where Alta and Snowbird are).  The development seems primarily right on the road.  It's also far more crowded.  As a kid going up to lake Cathrine, we might encounter 2 or 3 other hikers.  This is the trail we came back down and we encountered at least 40 other people.  Probably more.

This area is riddled with trails surrounding Brighton, extending into Alta, Heber, and Park City depending on the direction.  There are a great number of lakes and reservoirs.

The path we chose was toward Twin Lakes, which due to the very wet year was just one large lake with a light patch where the normal land bridge extends when it's not so full.  Both dams we saw were near their spillways.  We hiked up and around Twin Lakes to climb the overlooking peak, which offered a spectacular view of the area.  It's steep, but not long, and was a great workout.  Then down the other side to Cathrine pass, and Lake Cathrine, then back down past Lake Martha, Dog Lake (usually a puddle, but more deserving of the lake title this year), and Lake Mary.

We saw a moose, and heard a coyote.  The coyote sounded sad, and lonely.  Later, when we stopped for lunch and had a pleasant conversation with a guy who knew a lot about the area, we heard coyote again, but this time a group, they sounded much happier.  We also met a guy with a dog who claimed to have a permit for him.  We took him at his word and continued our lunch :)

This is by far our favorite area within easy driving distance of the city.  It's high enough that it's not a sauna outside.  The mountains are beautiful, and the trails are quality.  There is a lot of ground to cover, you could hike up there for a few weeks, and there's a good chance we will be back a few times before the snow starts to fall.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Return to East Canyon

Location: East Canyon Trailhead (Great Western Trail)
Went back to East Canyon with more time, and made it a bit further in.  It's a very nice hike, beautiful scenery.  Meadows are hard to beat as far as the Wasatch Front.  It's part of the Great Western Trail, so goes on basically forever, so plan on either parking a car further along, or turning around.  The elevation from this point ensures things don't get too hot.

The hike was pleasant and uneventful.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Another Mt. Olympus Summit

Location: Mt. Olympus Trailhead
A good friend who regularly has been hiking with me hadn't been up to the Olympus summit before, so I headed up there again, this time with some company.  Having company distracts me from taking as many pics and video as I normally would, so not a huge update, but we did have an interesting experience at the top.

We were relaxing up at the top checking stuff out.

Suddenly there is a sound like we've dropped some food wrapper or something, but as I start to look down the sound starts to speed up and build to an obvious rattle.  About half way through this I realize what it is, and start to run, and my friend runs the opposite direction.  Turns out that we'd been standing just a few inches above a rattler for at least 20-30 seconds and he took his sweet time letting us know he was there.  Scared the shit out of us!

So after regrouping away from where he was we crept back up for some pics:

No mountain goats this time though :(

Being a weekend it was crowded.  We didn't have a moment of solitude at the top, so I suggest hiking this one on a weekday, or head further out of the city if you don't want crowds.

I also got a chance to make up for the lack of picture of the plaque in the mailbox last time:
"Now that you have scaled the mountain enjoy the view.  In memory of Brian Ted Hovey. 10/17/79 to 01/13/05."

He was born the same year I was.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mt. Olympus - Hike to Summit

Location: Mt Olympus Trailhead
This is the first blog entry that isn't predated!

Went up Mt. Olympus today.  This hike is certainly not the longest, but it's easily the most strenuous I've been on.  The info I found online was a little off, or at least misleading in some ways.  The trail itself basically circles around the mountain (and has NO SHADE) to the far south side and then climbs, and that climb is steep (but offers a little shade).  It's the first trail where I've needed to stop and sit down a few times.
At the top there is a large saddle that extends out to the ridge you've been hiking across from the whole way up.  There was an obvious campfire spot, and you could easily pitch a few tents, but unless you started up later in the evening, plan on seeing a number of people coming up to that point.

After this saddle area, the trail continues briefly in the direction of the north peak, but it quickly dies out (that's right, THE HIKING TRAIL STOPS HERE!), and you basically meet up with a rocky cliff to climb.  It's one of the easier climbs I've done, but it's still out of the realm of hiking.  I counted 3 little plateaus as you go up between the sheer cliffs, each one offers spectacular views.  You can make it up this part rather easily and with minimal real danger, but you need to look around and focus on picking a good route.  Also don't neglect the hands, many areas of it wouldn't be safe for the average hiker without extensively holding on to the rock.  Go straight up, don't be tempted to wander off on the game trails that circle off from the plateaus.

The summit is breathtaking.  The city, unfortunately, has developed a constant haze, but if you keep your eyes to the other things around you it's really one of the best views of the mountains on our front.  As with other popular peaks there's a mailbox at the top with a few books to sign, it's dedicated to someone who has passed away.  I meant to get a picture of the dedication, but a group of kids showed up as I was looking at it, and I forgot to snap one (d'oh).  I guess it's a testament to how popular the summit is that it has multiple books, finding a place to sign can be tricky, and there isn't a date earlier than 2011.

The best part, though, the thing that made the trip...  I saw a mountain goat.  Not only one, but two!  Oddly, I've told 3 people, within the last month, that I had all but given up on seeing one, and wham!  I had just barely made it to the top.  I saw the mailbox, and rock-hopped over to it.  As I got to it, this very strange sound rings out.  Almost a goofy sound, like you might hear parrots in Brazil making.  I'd never heard anything remotely like it, and it made me a little nervous, but then I hear it again, and this time I follow it north east and at the very tip top of the nearest peak stood a fat mountain goat.  In fact, as I look over he's just climbing onto the big rock at the top of that peak.  He's staring at me, and making a very strange noise.  A while later he starts to meander down, looking like he's nibbling things on his way, and from around the back side of this peak comes the other, who is much smaller than the first.  They hang out for a while just below the peak the first one was on.  When I left the original one was the only one I could see and he was still just laying there watching us.  I found a shaded area on the summit, well protected with a large boulder causing an overhang, and the open side blocked off by scrub oak and junipers.  The ground was covered in droppings.  I can't help but think that they might be bedding down on this north summit regularly, and that might have provoked the strange noises it was making at me.  Perhaps it was warning the other one to vacate the peak I was on, as it didn't show up till a while later.

The hike down was SLOW.  Climbing down is never as easy as back up (keep this in mind if you decide to summit the beast), and once back on the trail it's so steep that you have to go carefully and slowly so that your knees don't give out!

Here's some killer photos of goats!

(yes, there are two goats at the top of that spire)

Friday, August 12, 2011

Neff's Canyon Hike

Location: Neffs Canyon Trailhead
For this, I tried something new.  I left the recorder going for the entire hike.  I had thought this would give me more material to put to video, but it didn't.  In fact, because everything got recorded, the neat stuff didn't get the attention it deserved.  It also made me feel like I should commentary track everything, and that is just a bad idea all around!

So I was planning on going back up to East Canyon, earlier in the day, to see if I could find where the trail we took for our dusk hike went.  I was getting ready to leave, when a very old friend, who I hardly ever see, asked if I'd like to join him in Neff's.  Despite wanting to see where the East Canyon trail goes, and not liking hikes that start in the valley that late in the day (it's too damn hot), I decided to join him.  He had said that they were shooting for earlier, around 4, but that if I thought I could make it there by 5:30 they'd wait for me.  He said that if I showed up later they would head up but he gave me directions to which trail they'd be on to catch up.

I arrived at the trailhead just after 5, I noticed that a truck in the lot looked exactly like his old truck, so when no one showed up by 5:30 I figured they left early and started on my way to catch up.  Turns out I was wrong, he must not have that truck, he was driving a little white bmw, and he got there around 6.  By that time I was way up the trail, and suspecting that I hike faster than he, I doubt he would have been able to catch up. Luckily, around 6:30 I figured they weren't further up, and the bugs were eating me alive, so I turned around.

After meeting someone else on the trail who said a couple was looking for me, and getting down to find them not in the parking lot, I scoured the area, finally found them, and we had a great chat by the rope swing till nearly 10, when we had to leave so our cars wouldn't get locked in.

Not as much hiking as I had hoped, and the view is non-existent, but the trail was wonderful once you get past the foothills.  It really was quite a treat to hike, even if it didn't lead to any jaw dropping scenery!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

The handshake courtyard!

Location: Handshake Courtyard, Salt Lake City, Ut.
Saw this near my abode and had to get a shot of it.  The test reads:

"The Handshake Courtyard

In honor of the friendship between Izzi Wagner and Roy Simmons, who invested millions of dollars together in transactions over many years with only a handshake between them."

East Canyon, dusk jaunt

Location: East Canyon Trailhead (unknown trail)
For this, I tried something new.  I left the recorder going for the entire hike.  I had thought this would give me more material to put to video, but it didn't.  In fact, because everything got recorded, the neat stuff didn't get the attention it deserved.  It also made me feel like I should commentary track everything, and that is just a bad idea all around!

Anyway, this was a dusk hike with my brother at the summit of the East Canyon road north east of Salt Lake City.  You can either reach East Canyon by going up Immigration or Parleys.  The road to east canyon is gated during the winter since there is no snow removal, so if it's early or late in the season check to see if it's opened yet (the gate is just past Dell reservoir).

This is a beautiful hike that's up high enough to avoid the heat of the valley.  It has minimal elevation gain and meanders through many fields of wildflowers.  It also has great views of the upper Rockies.  On a clear night with a large moon there's plenty of light to navigate the trail, making it perfect for dusk or night hikes.  Watch out though, there's quite a lot of wildlife, we happened upon a porcupine who waylaid us briefly both times we passed.

Check ahead of time if you plan on bringing pets.  Some of these trails (on the south east side) are watershed and do not allow pets, others (on the north west side) aren't, and pets are allowed.  Ensure they are allowed on your planned trail before you arrive!