Saturday, October 03, 2009

Peak Baggin' Shadow Monsters

Peak Baggin' Shadow Monsters, originally uploaded by preyingjaws.

This is our second attempt with in a year to hike Lone Peak UT. Our first attempt made last November turned into the story of stories as we post holed through deep snow and turned around as we got into the crique (basin) below the cliffs. This time, under clear sky and on fresh snow all of 2 - 6 inches deep, our legs and lungs churned the vertical feet into miles gained.

This is the most aggressive hike I have ever done. It's been low on my list of things to do in Utah and it is now not only marked off but, is high on the list of things to do again in Utah. The peak is only 6 miles from the trail head yet is nearly a mile gain in elevation. In the first third of the hike 2/3's of the elevation is over conquered. The majority of the last 1/3 is mostly at the summit.

The summit itself is on the far side (a short hike) across a basin doted with rock and lush meadows. The trail up is over and around boulders making up a near knife edge of cliffs. We followed mountain goats across and for the most part also followed them up the summit. Typically out door's men would say this is foolish, this time I'd say the goats had it right, their path easy and safe to follow in the snow.

Leading upwards I made sure of each step, as the snow melted it formed a sheen of glass like ice. In no danger of falling anywhere, I suppressed my fear of heights. Why do I climb then, oh yeah, to over come that fear. Nearing the top, I kept checking each boulder for that little brass plug known as a US Geological Survey Marker. A rather whimsy sigh of relief echoed out as I found it. Looking ahead I was more relieved to know we didn't have to journey up & down yet another bit of precipice.

I didn't make the summit, my hiking partner in climb did. I was her 'guide.' I just happened to be on the lead at that moment. I doubt I'd climbed it myself. I must give a warm thanks to her for saying, 'Lets do it, lets go this week.'

Our journey up took roughly 5 hours from the trail head to the peak. We ate a small lunch and took many a picture. We found 3 brass markers about 20 feet apart, can we claim we summited three times?

20 years ago another friend and I had made an attempt. 20 years ago we got lost on the lower elevations. As I looked out at the valleys below wishing we'd made a second attempt with someone who knew the way. Pictures of mine from far below show a far different city. These pictures show valleys of ever increasing suburbia. What will the pictures in 20 years look like?

Our decent took us roughly along the same path ways. We took notes on where we made minor wrong turns and where approximately time should be at each location. We also had 'remember then moments.' Finally, hit the chute of Jacob's Ladder Trail Sign just at sunset. In the next mile down we enjoyed the warm color of fall and fading light but still bright enough to see the trail.

I highly recommend this trail with caution. Don't go if you are freakishly afraid of heights or steep inclines. Don't go if you are out of shape. Don't go if you have poor route finding skills - there are sections where the trail disappears.

Do go if you are into awe inspiring views. Do go if you want a measure of your stamina and dedication to the task - the climb up from the trail head isn't fun. That's where 2/3's the elevation gain takes place. Do go if you are passionate about hiking.

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