Sunday, May 27, 2018
Looking at Red Baldy as I drive each day to work, when the mountain gets almost clear of snow, it's time to hike across snow fields into White Pine Lake, Little Cottonwood Canyon.
I put my sights into Saturday. I headed to the trailhead before 8. The weather, clear until afternoon, awesome. I started one layer chilly as I know my hiking style will warm me up quickly. The trail ran wet in places, muddy in others, no snow until the last odd mile, which is all snow. From experience, modern shoes need not be pampered, they often are all synthetic, dry quickly. I don't mind stepping in water unless it'll create erosion issues. Reguardless what time of year, this trail is always wet in areas as it crosses several wetland type areas, just give up on keeping your feet dry all day on this trail folks. If you desire dry feet, wear Wellies.
I made quick time up. Pausing a moment here and there to view the budding spring and to gaze into the basin a head. Several camper groups passed me heading down. I regret not asking where they camped as I know the area well enough tp know camping is limited at the lake.
Tracks headed into the basin before the trail jumps out of the trees. I followed suit. The snow, softening, yet, no post holing. I spotted tracks going towards the dam. That's a wicked steep route. I chose to stay towards the east and down below the summer trail. Two wet slides from the day before didn't even come close to the road. I aimed to be on the road about 100 yard before the rocky pass into the lake well out of slide danger zones.
Tracks crist crossed each other. High above me two skiers descended a chute. My poles, with small baskets, punched through the softenng crust. My microspikes bit effectively on the slope. Before I head to the Sierra's, I'll come here to train for the passes and practice self arrest, I thought. That won't be for a few years.
I stopped at the pass for a few photos. Made my way lake side, wrapped around to the dam, not much of a trail here. I kept looking for a large campsite. The only thing I found was a hot campfire ring with glowing coals. I shoveled snow bare handed and stired. I know fires are allowed up here however, when they are not out out, cold to touch, they become a major fire hazard. Coals can be carried on the wind into tinder else where. This fire ring, on the dam, a view of tinder a short mile below.
I scouted the area. I'm always looking for another spot to camp. I returned to the dam, set my BRS stove up for a hot lunch. Shielding it from the wind took a trick. Then when I wasn't looking it flash boiled, well that's a Ramen mess.
The dam seemed to be the place to come up, several groups made that way as their choosen route. Personally, nope, too step.
I returned the way I came, enjoying a long butt side off the summer trail. Note to self: don't forget the trash bag, burr. As I slushed a long at the bottom, I looked up. There were two more wet slides since I headed up. They too, did not pose any danger however, the later one is in this area the danger rises. The danger is not only from above off of Red Baldy but from the snow itself. Not being on the trail puts one into a rocky region, post holing into a void is to be avoided.
As I highlight the danger, I can't say enough about the beauty this area is blanked in snow, a lake of ice rimmed in turquoise, barren peaks rising another 800 plus feet.
Salt Lake Tribune put this as one of the 5 must do spring hikes. I agree, so do the dozens I passed must agree too. 8 miles round trip with 2400 ft elevation gain. I count is as strenuous for the out of shape for the distance then the snow. Once the snow clears, the rating dips. The snow is replaced by a mix of wet trail, rocky tread, and the occasional atream crossing. Mostly, its good hard pack dirt. The White Pine trail is an old jeep road. It's not wilderness so mountain bikes are allowed. Please be respectful of all users.
If you have not reviewd Leave No Trace Principles, please do so. I try to promote this as possible. I believe we are all responsible for keeping the land in pristine condition for the enjoyment of others. This includes not blasting music on portable speakers; to hiking with one ear bud out so that the other ear can be alert to sounds around or other hikers (I'm light on me feet, I'll surprise an unsuspecting zoner); watcjing where breaks are taken; scaring of the land with the use of campfires; etc. Leave No Trace is located at https://lnt.org/learn/7-principles
I found myself back at the car, parking lot over flowing to the highway, sky still clear, thinking how lucky Utahains are for the mountains so close to the metropolitan. Let's protect and preserve this resource from development for money while helping backcountry users better manage access and mitigate ruin of trails and basins but, how? Save Our Canyons (http://www.saveourcanyons.org) is one organization adressing these qurstions. For me, it's about treading lightly, picking up trash, and breaking up those pesky fire rings, fires long cold out of course.
Hike on, Hike wise.
Sunday, May 20, 2018
Tossing and turning happens, with the anticipation of sunrise I make sure the last toss puts me inline for the sun peaking into the basin. I saw the first pink of new day on Dromedary Peak. I sat up. Sitting in a quilt is much like that of a mummy bag except the back can get cold. I snuck an arm into my puffy down jacket. After a bit, I flashed to pack with the intention of having coffee and breakfast on the rocks.
The fellow who camped near by was surprised that I was packed so early. A late night six pack of 20yr olds pitched a huge dome tent on the rocks and one had a 2 burner propane stove out cooking bacon. Where was their mule? No mule, they all took a chunk of group gear and time to get up here. PS they got in just after dark.
I laid out my quilt and ground sheet to dry in a light breeze. I struck the canister stove to boil water for an overnighter treat, mountain house sausage & eggs, followed by coffee. Not like what the kids were enjoying but, a treat for me. They missed out on the coffee.
Light blasted the Sundial. Day hikers made there way in. The morning, clear, perfect for a hike there and for myself, down.
Before I split, I took a look for trash. I found a cache of crushed beer cans, empty cigarette packs, and a bottle of ketchup. I didn't have a very big trash bag with me. I chose the near full bottle of ketchup since it's a food item and will attract rodents. I also kicked a part an illegal firepit. Why, oh why do people do this? There are multiple signs saying Pack it in, Pack it out. Also there is a permanent fire ban in this basin. Hundreds will hike this trail. Thousands will pass between Mrmorial Day and Labor Day. We all need to do our part of keeping pristine, pristine. End Rant.
I sit drinking more wake up juice in the afternoon, the gear is sorted and put away, clouds roll across the SL Valley. Rain follows.
Call this a micro-adventure (less than 24 hours) or call it a mock-overnighter. Call it a major event for some like the kids I met. The important thing is to get out there, get comfortable with the gear. Find an experienced friend, hook up with an outdoors group, or rent some stuff from an outfitter. Quit dreaming, go.
Liz Thomas, an established long distance hiker, writes an article on the how and why short adventures work... http://www.eathomas.com/2018/05/09/backpackingmockovernighter/ you'll need to copy and paste that line.
I also want to encourage all to be mindful of the trash (pick it up), respect others, and be wise with sharing online adventures. I'll highlight that one another day.
Micro adventures abound near SLC. I debated abound hiking up last night but, I held off, more on that later. Today, I debated when to go. I decided to skip Capital Church's afternoon and evening services. I stashed the pack from the bin, drove to the over flowing trailhead of Mill B or D. I'm forever getting these two mixed up.
I huffed and puffed a while, yes, I'm in shape but not the best of shape yet. I passed many a group going up and coming down on their day hike.
The Sun Dial came to view, dozens lounged on the rocks over looking the lake. I split to a camping area just out of sight. Lots of wet but, I did find a spot that is dry. I threaded my tent stakes into the ground with a given view of the peak.
As I set up another fellow asked where he could set up. My question of him is do you have a free standing tent. He does and he's in view of the masses and thankfully his tent is of muted colors. I hate the sight of bright tents up here, they make the place look crowded when it may only be one or two people.
I wandered a bit thinking of where I'll make my morning brew. Last night I found my way into the most expensive cup of coffes I'll ever enjoy, all of the cost for a conversation. I headed to one of my reading spots, finishing up, I took someone else's pate to the counter, struck up a conversation with another regular and the staff. He offered me a mug of private brew. The staff brewed it for him. This stuff is mellow, smooth, and nutty. A light roast with a unique processing, the coffee berries are fed to a particular kind of cat, then gathered, cleaned, and then roasted. Yeah, now when somome says coffee tastes like **** I'll respond if you have that kind of processed coffee I'd like a cup.
I'm set upon a rock watching light escape this basin, chilled, and enjoying sounds of waterfalls, birds, and the occasional passing plane. Snow covers most the high basin, Lake Blache's ice is spotty, doubtful it'd hold a fox any more. I ponder will I see moose in the morning?
Time to bounce to camp, grab the jacket. Time for a hot tea.
Hike On, Hoke Wise.